GRANDMOTHER Violet Harland is a prisoner in her own home - barely able to venture outside, but miserable and wracked with pain within.

At night she sits alone in darkness in her Birkenhead end terrace with the TV dark and silent, entertained only by reading by the light of a torch and a couple of candles.

"Every day is a misery," said the 82-year-old. "Sometimes I just think about taking a load of pills and saying to hell with it. I'd sooner be dead."

Violet believes she has developed acute electrical sensitivity - a supposed allergy or extreme sensitivity to electric charges currently the subject of debate and controversy among the medical fraternity.

In February, the widow began to feel drumming sensations in her head. She could feel her chimney breast vibrate. Her legs "seemed to shake inside themselves" and her hands "trembled without visibly trembling".

"And my head felt like it was going to explode," she added. "And it's been pretty much constant since then."

She explained: "It started with the microwave. It began to make me feel physically ill when it was heating food. Then it was everything I plugged in and switched on.

"I have to use the washing machine sparingly - I literally put my hand around the kitchen door to turn it on, then hurry out for the entire cycle because the pain is just too much. But when I'm outside it's no better. There's no relief. The buzz from streetlamps makes me feel sick. And I can sense mobile phones, especially camera phones. They make me feel faint."

Vie can't speak on her home phone for longer than five minutes before the pain gets too much. And going to shops with fridges or freezers is out.

She hasn't had a TV switched on since February. Sometimes she sleeps in the bath, with a sponge mattress, because it's the room with the least electricity.

Once, she slept in a tent in the garden because the pulses of electricity she could feel coming through her neighbour's wall - from her television and wall-lamps - left her in exhausted tears.

Save her fridge, she has no electrical items turned on at home.

"I'm dreading the winter, with those long nights starting at 4pm," she said. "It's going to be so awful. It makes me weary just thinking about it. The doctors can't help me. I know that there have been cases in other parts of Britain, but I feel so alone with it here in Wirral. Is it really only me who suffers like this?"

In April, Dr Sarah Myhill, a GMC-registered GP who practises privately in Wales, was quoted in a national newspaper saying: "There' s no doubt electrical sensitivity is a real pheno-menon. I have seen too many people affected by electro-magnetic radiation.

There are many symptoms that can be switched on by electrical sensitivity, and it appears that almost any electro-magnetic frequency can be the cause."

To get in touch with Vie, contact us on 0151 906 3053 or write to her at: Newsdesk, Wirral Globe, Haymarket Court, Hinson Street, Birkenhead, CH41 5BX.