The computer technician who's allergic to technology

Phil Inkly, 36, now lives in the woods because, he says, gadgets give him nosebleeds, blackouts, and many other unpleasant things.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
Imagine being allergic to the latest phones. Josh Miller/CNET

Imagine if you were a food critic and suddenly developed a wheat/dairy/corn/carb/fat allergy.

Or what if you were a car mechanic and the smell of gas brought you out in itchy purple hives and then made you have convulsions?

This is the fate of computer technician Phil Inkly. Or, rather, former computer technician.

Inkly, you see, claims to be allergic to pretty much everything to do with, well, technology.

You name it and it affects him. If it's some kind of gadget, if it's even a battery, it might give him nosebleeds, burning headaches, sleep problems, or even blackouts.

These symptoms have caused him to move into the woods, as far away from technology as he can be.

And yet, as the Daily Mail reports, no doctor has diagnosed his condition. Instead, Inkly himself diagnosed it as Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity.

He lives in a small caravan in rural England and says his life has been completely destroyed. He has no friends, no love, and he doesn't even know how seriously ill he might be.

"I'm always ill and can only handle being in remote areas with little radiation so because of this, money is tight," he told the Mail.

Inkly was not some reluctant techie.

He told the Mail: "I've been passionate about technology from childhood, previously working as a sound engineer and tutor of music technology. I frequently repaired computers for family and friends -- all was fine until things started going wireless."

He says he began to notice that things weren't quite right when he was around computers and cell phones.

Then he moved near to a former Army base. Since then, the symptoms have become only controllable by fleeing to the wilderness.

"Now I suffer from extreme pain on the side of my brain that I used to hold my phone to, and when I get nosebleeds it comes from the nostril on that side of my head too so I believe it's linked," he told the Mail.

Even when he moved into the woods, he felt pain that he says was caused by a nearby office that used phones. So he bought them phones that turn off the radiation when they're not being used.

It's not as if he's avoided doctors. The problem is that the doctors can't use modern technology to examine him.

"There is a worry it could be a tumor or a hemorrhage and they have strongly recommended I have a brain scan, but of course I would be in so much pain if I did that," he said.

Couldn't he be sedated first, perhaps?

Inkly isn't the first to suffer similar symptoms. There are two French women, Anne Cautain and Bernadette Touloumond, who chose to live in a cave as their ultimate option.

The most famous sufferer, though, is Dr. Gro Harlem Bruntland, the former prime minister of Norway. She has tried to get more attention paid to the condition since 2002.

Some, like Florida Gov. Charles Crist, have tried to do something. In 2009, he proclaimed May as Electromagnetic Sensitivity Awareness month.

The World Health Organization, however, believes that these symptoms don't necessarily reflect one single medical problem.

Given that few in the medical profession seem to believe that the condition is real, it's hard to imagine how Inkly can go on.

What can he do? Opt to live in a cave too? Even then, what kind of life can he have?

It seems a great pity that medical science doesn't seem to have done too much to discover whether symptoms such as Inkly's can be definitively traced to electromagnetic signals.

Meanwhile, he must try and find a bubble to live in. But where?