Jun 17, 2012

Article about Dafna Tachover & EHS - Radiation Victim - Published in an Israeli paper Yediot Ahcharonot

On June 15th, an article about me and EHS was published in the leading paper in Israel, in its weekend issue in its most important section 'HAMUSAF'. Following is a picture of the article and a translation to English.

ב 15 ביוני פורסם מאמר עלי ועל רגישותי לקרינה במוסף סוף השבוע בעיתון ידיעות אחרונות.
להלן תמונת המאמר (ניתן לקרא את הטקסט לאחר לחיצה על התמונה) ותרגומו לאנגלית.




לחץ על התמונות כדי לקרא את הכתבה המלאה


Radiation Victim

In an isolated house, in the mountains of a natural reserve in northern New York, far away from antennas and cell phones, from laptops and wireless Internet, lives attorney Dafna Tachover. She escaped there after being diagnosed with Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity. From there, she conducts her fight for those who suffer from this condition. “The life I wanted to live I already lost” she says, “but not my fighting spirit”.

By Smadar Shir. Photos by Nadav Neuhaus.


It was the happiest time in the life of Dafna Tachover, a lawyer. After years of intense work as senior executive in an investment company in Manhattan, she married Dr. Richard Stein, a doctor and a scientist who received a research position in Princeton University, so they moved to Princeton and hoped to change from a couple to a family. The first step in her plan to start a law practice was to purchase a new laptop. “I brought the laptop to our leased apartment, I took it out from the box and started working” says Tachover, 39, going back to July 19th, 2009, the day her life changed. “A few minutes after I started working, I started feeling vibrations in the area near the mouse pad. Then I started feeling tingling in my feet and my hands.”

“The next day I returned the defected laptop to the store and received a new one but I got a weird sensation. As if someone was putting my brain on freeze. I could not think, I could not breathe, as if someone is strangling me. The third laptop I brought home caused my heart to beat violently. The fourth time, I did not trust a regular store and I drove to an “Apple Center”, but the computer I purchased there gave me inhumane headaches. Until then, I never had to take a pill for a headache.

“In three weeks I changed 5 laptops, all of them were discovered to be defective, and all caused me symptoms that I did not know before, such as nausea and memory problems. I suddenly could not touch my cell phone and could not sleep in my apartment. I thought it had to do with electricity, but I was not sure exactly what it was”.

She was not the only one who did not know. The family doctor asked her of she wants to see a psychiatrist, the cardiologist referred her to an occupational clinic, and a neurologist who checked her told her that, had he not talked to her, he would assumed it was a mental issue.

The name of the condition, she heard it for the first time from the secretary of a doctor in NY, Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity, EHS. Those who suffer from this condition experience severe symptoms when they are exposed to electromagnetic fields, especially from radiation from RF and Microwave frequencies that are used for cellular technologies, including cell phones, cell towers, antennas, radars, and wireless routers that are used for WIFI.

The typical symptoms include chest pains, difficulty to breathe, pulse and blood pressure changes, headaches, sleeping, memory, and cognitive problems, weakness to the point of fainting, nausea, pain in the ears, nerve problems in the eyes, skin rashes etc.

Since Tachover was diagnosed, from a healthy and vibrant woman who dreams of maneuvering between career and motherhood, she transformed into a disabled person that cannot be in the presence of other humans. In the most difficult times she drove for hours trying to find a parking lot where her ears would stop getting electric shocks, a symptom that signals that there is a wireless network in the area and put black sheets so those passing by would not see her from the outside when she tried to sleep.

            Today she lives in the Catskills, an isolated natural reserve in the northern part of New York, far away from neighbors, in-between mountains that block the radiation. “Some people may think that this is paradise”, she smiling sadly, “but I never dreamed of ‘glorious isolation’, and I feel as if I am serving a life sentence here. “

“I was forced to give up my profession because I am unable to get to court, which has WIFI, and I cannot go on a train or stand beside people who are using cell phones. The pains are intolerable, it feels as if I am burning. I separated from my husband when I saw the extent to which my condition was causing him to feel miserable, and I also gave up the dream of motherhood”.

Even in her isolated house she does not have peace. Ten seconds before we hear the airplane she is already folding from pain, the refrigerator and the range are disconnected, and she cannot sleep on the second floor because of the proximity to the power lines, and in front of her monitor, which has an external transformer and a screen that blocks magnetic fields, she is able to sit only at a certain angle and not for long.

“The life I wanted to live I already lost”, she says, “but not my fighting spirit. The only reason for my life now is to help other people who suffer from this horrendous condition, to inform the public, and to force governments to take action and to bring to justice all those who abused and betrayed their duty to protect the public.

“This mission seems almost impossible, considering the fact that I cannot fly, drive on a highway, or get to any public places to reclaim what was taken from me in the name of progress, but I know that if I would not fight, no one would do it. In days of agony I am trying to look at the full half of the glass and tell myself that the life that was forced on me has caused me to become involved with public work that is significantly more important than the life I would have lived if it had continued on its planned course”.

THEY USED TO CALL ME ‘MISS GADGETS’

Her normal life course included childhood in Beer-Sheva, army service as a commander of the computer center of the army operation center, law school, and landing in Manhattan as legal and business adviser in Boymelgreen, an investments company.

Six years ago she met her husband. “On the internet”, she is smiling a bitter smile, “while I was sitting in a coffee shop and complaining when would the day when there is free WIFI everywhere come”. I never thought about the dangers of the cellular-wireless technology. On the contrary, I had two cell phones, and I was called ‘Miss Gadgets’. I worked with wireless internet fourteen hours a day and spoke on my cell phone seven hours a day, and I laughed when Richard used to ask me to get my hands off the cell phone for a minute”.

When she got the condition, Tachover decided to go to Israel for a home visit. “I hoped I would feel better in Israel”, she explains. “In my parents’ apartment in Modiin I felt a bit better, but when I drove to visit my brother in Ashdod I got intense pain in my head, like knives. I looked up and in front of me I saw the huge cell phone antennas on top of the roof. The first thing I said was “For God’s sake, there are children here”. “I truly thought more about the harm that is caused to the children than about my own pain”.

When she returned to the Unites States, she was looking for a place without cell towers, and got to Green Bank in West Virginia. “There is an astronomy center there, which belongs to the Federal Government and it is the only place in the US in which cell towers are forbidden, because they would interfere with the reception from out of space. I slept in a tent when there were -20°C outside, but at least I could think clearly”.

But at home, in Princeton, my condition deteriorated. “I could not be in the apartment, I slept in my car, I could not go anywhere – not to the library, not to a coffee place, not even in the street. I felt like an outcast. I wanted to commit suicide, not because I was depressed but for practical reasons. How could I survive in this wireless world and with such unbearable pains?”

Because she did not want to separate from her husband, she looked for an isolated place without cell towers and neighbors without WIFI, to enable her husband to maintain his position in the University, and she found a place on a farm in Hillsborough, NJ. “I, who never even had a dog, took care of horses, goats, lamas, and a ship. When I called my sister in Israel, her 12 year old daughter said that finally I speak like Dafna used to speak, not slowly and heavily, but still the power lines in the area hurt me a lot”.

In the process of moving to the isolated house in which she lives now, she also divorced her husband. “Not with anger and not in a quarrel”, she emphasizes. “One day I came to meet him at the university, I sat with my hands on my ears suffering and tortured when a female friend told us with excitement and happiness about her new appointment. Richard looked at me and I saw the sadness in his eyes. He wanted me to be happy as well and be able to reflect happiness. But we both knew that it was not going to happen”.

HOW WOULD I GO BACK TO ISRAEL?

The medical establishment is suspicious of this phenomenon, if it is willing to consider it at all. In 2005 the World Health Organization determined that “The symptoms that are suffered by people with EHS are real and are significantly different from one person to another. Irrespective of the phenomenon, the sufferers may develop a real disability. There are no accurate criteria to diagnose EHS and no correlation was established between EHS and radiation. Therefore, EHS is not a medical diagnosis, and it is unclear whether it represents one medical problem”.

The data regarding the rate of people suffering from the condition are not up to date and controversial, and estimates range from single cases to a million people and up to 5% of the population – depending on the country in which the survey was conducted. Nevertheless, despite the lack of research and sometimes the mocking attitude, there are over 30 support groups around the world for people suffering from this condition.

Tachover has an explanation to the disregard of the establishment towards the needs of the patients. According to her, thousands of studies were conducted prior to the commercialization of cellular technology, “but the private companies, those with financial interests, preferred to present people with EHS as suffering from a mental condition, and the funding of research about this condition was prevented”.

Tachover also provides some data: according to her, Sweden recognizes the condition and about 3% of the population is receiving disability benefits. There are villages in Sweden for people with EHS, and in the hospitals there are special rooms adjusted for people with the condition. According to Tachover, in Germany the number of people with EHS was estimated to be 8%. The Austrian Medical Association published recent guidelines to doctors on how to diagnose EHS and how to help patients. Spain recognizes the condition as a permanent disability. “Last year, after a comprehensive review of the issue of radiation, The Council of Europe determined that EHS is a real condition, not a psychosomatic and not mental, and that it is caused by electromagnetic radiation”.

If so many people are sick, how come we don’t hear of them?

“When you live like a refugee and nomad, and cannot even speak on a phone, how would you fight? In addition, many do not know that the cause to their symptoms is the radiation and many are misdiagnosed, others don’t know that such a condition exists, and there are also those who are afraid of the stigma”.

What hurts more: the symptoms or the stigma?

“It is sad to see that there are people who try to present people like me as suffering from a mental condition. The people with EHS that I have met are the most talented and sane people I know - Doctors, a pilot, a scientist who worked for the NASA, an engineer. They are escaping to farms in Nevada, to caves in the Alps, to places that no normal human being would live in, unless there is no other choice. Even to those who mock us I do not wish the pain we are experiencing and on the other hand – those who are able to continue and live with this condition and keep their sanity are capable of standing any challenge”.

Are you hoping to become the Erin Brockovich of this condition?

I want to fight the Government. The reason the industry is causing so much damage is because the governments, through their public officials, allow it to do so. Brockovich fought to get monetary damages, while I am fighting to demand basic human rights to people who are under intense physical pain. Money as compensation at this stage is much less important than finding a way to enable people to live. On a daily basis I hear of people who committed suicide, tried to commit suicide, or want to commit suicide. And I understand them”.

How do you survive financially?

In the meanwhile from savings, but sooner or later they would run out and I have no idea what I would do then. Since I divorced I do not have medical insurance, I am not entitled to unemployment benefits as I did not work in the US long enough and if, let’s assume that tomorrow morning I would collapse financially or from loneliness and decide to leave my advocacy activity in the US and come back home to Israel, how would I be able to get to the airport? How would I go on a plane?”

In any event, she intends to also bring her advocacy activity to Israel, and this includes a demand for the immediate recognition of the condition, for ensuring that doctors are informed about the condition, and the top priority – to demand to ban WIFI from schools.

With hand on your heart, do you really believe that your activity would stop progress? 

Progress? You call this progress? If something kills us it does not advance us. The nuclear power plants and the nuclear waste do not represent progress either, but a disaster. I think it is a legitimate demand to ask for areas free from radiation, that public places would not have WIFI, that hospitals would have rooms which are shielded from radiation and that in government offices people would be required to deposit their cell phones so that me and other people like me would be able to receive services. We are also human beings with rights.