Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Semi-annual post! Q&A

Hello once again! While it's been quite a while since I updated, not a lot has changed, which is a good thing. I still get a lot of e-mails, and a lot of the questions seem to be recurring. So, it's time for another Q & A session!

Will you send me magnets? If not can you tell me where to get them?
No, sorry, I don't send out magnets anymore. I used stir discs from VP scientific, but I believe there are a number of options nowadays. I don't know of any off the top of my head, so put your Google skills to use.

Can you recommend a place to get a magnet implanted?
There are the usual suspects in the body mod world, but other than that I really don't know a good shop in your city or any particular way to tell the qualifications of the shops in your area. There are many good resources online for piercing / body modification / implants and how to go about finding someone qualified to do the procedure, so I  would recommend starting there.

Do the implants affect your day-to-day life? Do they prevent you from doing ordinary tasks?
They really don't affect my daily life. I still play guitar regularly, work on the car, weld, type, and so on. Though I have found I do need to take special care when metal working, as the steel splinters produced by cutting and grinding will find their way to the tip of my finger. While a metal splinter is no big deal to most fingers, I worry that the magnet will draw a shaving through the skin and compromise the coating. 

Have your implants lost sensitivity?
Nope, in fact, both implants seem to be increasingly sensitive.

How does the newer implant compare to the older one?
The newer implant is definitely not as sensitive as the older one. I think that this is for several reasons. The newer implant was professionally implanted by Brian Decker between skin layers, and it's almost as if it's too far from the nerves. It's also on my non-dominant hand on the opposite side of the finger, so it's likely I pay less attention to it since I've been using my right hand to explore fields for a lot longer. The older implant also is not as deep, so it's likely that the vibrations are more readily picked up.

Will you PLEASE send me a magnet? You MUST have spares!
No. Please stop asking me! I'm happy to talk about the implant and answer questions, but I won't even respond with a "no" if you e-mail me asking for one.

That's all for now! I'll try and update soon with some recent experiences, particularly metal working, as well as some awesome fields that I've found.

Cheers,
Nathan

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Learning to use a new implant

It's been 5 months since my second implant.

For a long time it's been completely healed physically.  It took much less time to heal than the last, and has been completely unobtrusive except for long finger stretches while playing guitar, and even then it's easy to adjust to a comfortable position.

The new implant is still significantly less sensitive than the older implant in my right hand, but is slowly growing more sensitive.  I'm using my old implant to train the new.  I'll feel a significant field with my right implant, then put the left in the same place.  It's still consistently less responsive than the old one, but becoming more responsive as time goes by.  At this point, the contrast is enormous.  For example, I can feel industrial battery chargers from a foot or two away with my right hand.  I put my left hand in the same place and feel only a very dim sensation.

I've also noticed that the orientation of the magnets makes a tremendous difference.  I'll find a very active field (a microwave oven for example) with my right hand and then put my new left-handed implant in the same place.  I'm surprised to feel nothing!  After rotating around a bit and playing with distance, I can find a similar intensity, but in a completely different finger orientation, in a different location.

Regardless, it's still an incredible ability.  I've experienced no negative side effects or limitations, aside from worrying about an MRI, and still think this is one of the most incredible and noteworthy things I've done in my lifetime.

Cheers,
Nathan


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another implant!



I had been talking with a fellow (also named Nathan) about magnets for quite some time, when I found out he was planning a visit to Chicago to get a silicone implant from Brian Decker, who was there for the week. By coincidence, I'm living in the area for a temporary work assignment, so I met up with him to see the procedure and talk shop about the implants. I also gave him a few parylene discs to implant, as he wanted to compare the two types.

We met at Metamorph Studios, a nice shop with a very friendly staff. I hadn't planned on getting an implant that evening, but I was very impressed by Decker's work, and was given the chance to squeeze in at the end of the night.

Placement
I decided to have the magnet placed into my left hand ring finger tip, on the side facing away from the thumb. After playing guitar for a while, I noticed that this area never came in to contact with the strings or fretboard, and wasn't likely to interfere with playing. The placement is a mirror image of where my original rejected implant was located.

The Procedure
Decker's method involved making a small incision with a scalpel, then inserting a tool to dig a pocket between the layers of skin. Once the pocket was made, he pushed the magnet in to place, then put two sutures through the incision. The pocketing procedure definitely felt more invasive than the approach that was taken with my other implant, but when all was said and done, the magnet was *exactly* where I had marked on my finger, the exterior wound was a tiny slit, and there was a very little swelling and soreness. I'm confident that this is the ideal way to implant a magnet for sensory purposes, and highly recommend Brian Decker's work.

Healing

After the procedure, my finger was throbby, tingly, and a bit swollen. This quickly subsided. The second day, my finger was sore to the touch. I noticed that my fingertip felt cold and numb, even areas that had not been touched during the procedure. This subsided that evening. On day three, the area around the stitches became sore and red. Since the magnet was deep in the pocket and not being held in by the stitches, I thought it best to remove them. Previous experience taught me that after a few days, the stitches can become counterproductive. In hindsight, I should have probably left them in for a few extra days, but it continued to heal nicely after they came out.

After 10 days, most of the feeling has returned to my fingertip. The area that was pocketed near my fingernail still feels a bit weird, but it's quickly returning to normal. I have near complete functionality of the finger already (unlike before, when I was terrified to reach into my pocket and get my keys due to the tenderness.) I can type with no problems, and have almost zero pain. It still hurts if I squeeze it or bang it on something, but not too bad.

Feeling
On the second day, I used my old implant to locate a weak field, then tried the same region with the new implant. I couldn't feel anything. The third day I felt faint weirdness when trying the same. On the fourth day, I could vividly feel the sensation, with more intensity than my original implant! I'll save the analysis of intensity for a later time, as I won't know for sure until it's completely healed.

I do already notice some distinct differences between the two. Finding a field with my right hand, I discovered that to locate it with my new implant in my left, that it's in a different physical location. I believe that this has much do to with the orientation of the magnet. With my right, the magnet is sideways through skin layers. With my left, the magnet is flat with relation to the surface of the skin. With my palms flat on a table, the magnets are rotated nearly 90 degrees from each other.

I think that this may lead to a new sensory setup, with two or three magnets in different orientations. Once I'm better able to perceive what the new implant is telling me, I'll be able to interpret the differences in sensations between the two from an identical source. Exciting stuff.

Waiting
Now, I wait. It will take some time for me to fully heal and adjust to the new magnet. It's definitely healing better than the original, and the pocket seems to have placed the magnet in a great orientation for sensory perception. Stay tuned for experiences with the new implant!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Three years later, still trouble free (and awesome.)

It has been close to three years since having a magnetic disc installed in the tip of my right ring finger. It still appears to be perfectly intact, and has given me no trouble at all so far. It has become seamlessly incorporated it into my sensory perception, much like taste or smell. I don't think about using it anymore, I just use it.

Recently at a self-checkout kiosk I scanned an item, and felt a short burst of electromagnetic pulses. The kiosk was destroying the hidden anti-theft tag on the item. There was no audible or visual indication that this had happened, but I had felt it happen. It wasn't just a sensation of vibration. I felt the event in vivid detail, like hearing a silent sound.

I truly hope that a commercially viable magnetic sensory implant is produced. When I hear about "grinders" coating magnets in hot-glue for implantation I cringe. While the parylene coated stir disc has served me well, I can only dream of a home implantation kit consisting of a syringe loaded with a purpose-made, biocompatible implant. Until then you'll just have to take my word for it: having a magnetic 6th sense is awesome.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm no longer sending out magnets.

Greetings!

People continue to ask me to send them magnets, but unfortunately I am no longer doing so for several reasons:

The first and foremost is liability and exposure to potential litigation. My significant other brought this to my attention, and insisted that I immediately stop mailing out magnets. While I'd like to think that people are reasonable and accept personal responsibility for whatever happens after jamming a stirring magnet into their finger, it was brought to my attention that in today's lawsuit-happy world this doesn't matter. Even with firm legal ground to stand on, defending against litigation can be a financially ruining sequence of events.

Then there's the time and money involved. This is not a money-making venture. I ask for a few bucks to cover the cost of magnets, shipping materials, etc, but in the end I don't even break even. It's very time consuming to carefully select and package magnets into individual bags. I was sending them out because I wanted to share the opportunity to have a magnetic sense, not to make money.

Finally, it's a largely thankless venture. I would be much more apt to continue accepting the risk and donating the time to get magnets to people, but after sending them I rarely ever hear from the person again. To the few that have, THANKS! It's really cool seeing people take the plunge and doing interesting things with their new sense. But more often, since I take quite some time to send them out, people become very insistent. "I SENT YOU MONEY A WEEK AGO WHERE ARE MY MAGNETS?!" Sure, it's not good business to promptly ship, but I'm not running a business.

Sorry I can't provide an easy and cheap source for you to obtain magnets. I'll continue to update this blog with my experiences, but you're on your own when it comes to locating a viable implantable magnet. I've given plenty of sources in blog posts, so it shouldn't be too hard. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

I get quite a few e-mails from people interested in getting an implant (especially when BME runs a picture or article about magnetic implants!) I'm always happy to reply, but here are a few commonly asked questions and answers.

"Where can I get one (and how much do they cost?)"

My implant is a parylene coated rare earth magnetic stir element, intended for laboratory use. The company that makes them is VP Scientific. The model that I use and recommend is the VP 782N-3 VP scientific caters to larger labs, and does not have an online store front. The 782N-3 comes in packages of 100, and you'll have to make a minimum order of $50 (plus $15 handling and shipping costs.) I still have spares from my original set, and mail them out frequently to people who request them. Drop me an e-mail if you would like me to send you a few, I just ask for you to cover the cost of shipping and materials.

"Where should I go to have it implanted (and how much does it cost?)"

Aside from breast augmentation implants, most (if not all) doctors won't implant anything that's not a medical device. Unfortunately, this means that it must be done by someone who is NOT a doctor, and as such will not have access to anesthetic. Body artists (i.e. piercers) are generally the only people who are both willing and capable of installing the implants. Be sure to find an artist who is familiar with implants and methods, not just some guy who pierces noses and ears for a living. Alternatively you can do it yourself, especially if you find a way to syringe inject it like an RFID implant. If you do happen to convince a medical professional to do the procedure or find an easy way to self-implant, I would LOVE to hear about it!

Pricing will vary widely based on the person you pay to install it. Some studios may be willing to do it for cheap or for the cost of supplies, while others may insist on a hefty fee. I can't imagine what a medical practitioner would charge.

"Do you ever get painful or unpleasant feelings from the implant?"
Yes, and they usually fall in to one of two categories. The first is pinching and crushing causing the implant to be sore. Grabbing something firmly just the wrong way or impacting it just wrong will cause it to feel weird for a few days while the tissue around it heals. The second is damage due to strong magnets. A strong magnetic field will pull and torque the implant; the resulting motion causes damage to the surrounding tissue which takes a few days to completely heal. Magnetic fields get exponentially stronger as you approach them, so you have a good idea of when you are starting to do something uncomfortable as you draw near them.

"How strong is it?"


In terms of magnetic attraction, the implant is quite weak. It's enough to suspend a small paper clip or drag a bottle cap across the table. It's definitely nothing close to the pictures you see on BME of people suspending zippo lighters or other large pieces of metal.
I believe that this is important - if the magnet can pull itself strongly to metal objects, it has a much higher chance of rejecting or accidentally scarring the tissue.

I'll continue to update this post, but I think that covers the most common questions. If you have any further questions or ideas, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Still going strong

As the year comes to a close, I wanted to give a short update. I still have the implant, and it's doing just fine. I continue to use my extra sense as if I'd had it all along. It's incorporated itself into the way I explore objects, gives me information about electronic devices, and continues to surprise me in its utility. Some recent examples come to mind:

-Debunking a "therapeutic magnetic bracelet," which as it turns out, had no magnets at all.
-Troubleshooting AC/DC adapters and devices. Since the transformers inside them give off a nice gritty field when plugged in, which increases under load, I'm able to feel that both the AC adapter is working and the device is consuming current when charging or turned on. This is handy when you think your Roomba's battery might not be actually charging, even though it appears to be.
-Fuel injectors and spark plug signal wires under the hood. Tinkering with the car, I found that I could feel, very clearly, the ingition spark and the fuel injectors actuating. While I can't see it being particularly useful, it's a cool otherwise-intangible connection with the car.

I'm quite happy with my implant, and still wish to see them hit the "mainstream." Quite a few people have asked me if I still plan to sell implantable magnets, as I'd indicated in a post a while back. The answer is no, I don't plan to sell them. There's too much risk for litigation in our lawsuit-happy society. Occasionally I get an e-mail from a curious sense-seeker, and I'm happy to assist them in locating the implantable magnets. A few have even gone forward with the procedure, with positive results. I don't update this blog often, because there's really nothing to continually update. I'm always happy to respond to questions via e-mail though, so feel free to contact me.

Here's to another year of magnetic sense!
:)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Over one year, no problems.

Well, it's been well over a year since I received my magnetic implant. I figured it would be a good time to give a retrospective view of what it has been like. There are a few topics that stand out, so I broke them up:

Dreams:
Since the first week of having the implant, I have periodically had dreams of the magnet falling out. I'll be picking at it in a dream, and it will squeeze out like a splinter, or it will just fall out. It may be a subconscious awareness of the implant slowly healing out of my body, or it may just be random dreams. In any case, after it happens in the dream I feel a sense of loss, giving me a glimpse of how I would feel if the implant did indeed heal out or warranted removal.

Injuries:
Just like any other part of the body, the tissue in the finger is subject to bruising and irritation. While it's not a constant problem or a hindrance to daily activity, I'll occasionally tweak it "just right" to cause pain and throbbing. Smacking my hand down on a concrete floor, for example, bruised the area. Rolling an object across it, like you would do losing grip on a metal bar, pushes the implant in just the wrong way to really squeeze it uncomfortably. In all these cases the finger was a bit sensitive, and the sense provided by the implant was dulled or numb for a bit.

EM Sensations:
The sensations, of course, have been the best part of the implant. Many things in our daily environment cause many varied and sometimes predictable feelings. I now know the buzz of a fluorescent light ballast without thinking about it. I still find joy in exploring the intangible parts of an object, sweeping my hand near a generator to feel the field or probing store displays for hidden permanent magnets. It's become another tool I use to indulge my curiosity.

Big Magnets:
I have developed a strong aversion to permanent magnets. I consciously keep my implant finger away from them, balling my hand into a fist to protect it when one becomes too close. Large magnets produce strong sensations, but often leave the implant numb for awhile. It's a bit like staring into a bright light and having to wait for the spot to disappear to see again. It's very easy to injure tissue around the implant by exposing the magnet to another strong magnet. I'd say during healing, and well after, permanent magnets should be carefully avoided. I've seen pictures of others with implants suspending a strong sphere magnet, and it makes me cringe to imagine the sensation. Perhaps this sensitivity is unique to the type of implant I used. A very strong magnet, such as a "super magnet" from united nuclear or an MRI, could very VERY easily rip the magnet from the finger, or even worse, drag it deep inside the body doing untold damage. Big magnets are BAD.

Party Tricks:
While it seems demeaning to reduce it to a party trick, many people simply cannot believe or grasp that you have a magnetic implant. They DEMAND proof. Since my implant is so small, it does not easily affect metal objects. It's just strong enough to drag a beer bottle cap across a smooth surface, but not pick it up. I did this to the amazement of a 'street magician' performing in a local hangout, who then asked me how I did it. I told him "magic!" Another interesting trick is to balance a piece of silverware so it rotates freely and coax it to spin without touching it. Really it's just a neat trick, and I'd never be motivated to get an implant for just this reason.

All in all, I'd love to see this enter the mainstream. It's an incredible extension of human perception, and is extremely easy to achieve. We have implantable RFID chips, heart monitoring devices, and many other medical tools, so hopefully it's just a matter of time before this will be available to many more people. I'll continue to post new experiences and insight here, and hopefully keep the interest alive for those who still need convincing that this is an awesome and highly functional body modification.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Experience the sensation - without an implant!

Over the weekend, a close friend asked if a magnet could be glued to a finger and yield the same results as an implant. I had quite a few 'reject' coated magnets from shipping damage, so we proceeded to glue them to our fingers with small dabs of superglue.


The result? It works! I placed one on my left ring finger, for comparison to my implant in my right hand in the same location. My friend used his index finger, and we both noticed sensations immediately.

My friend proceeded to run around the house looking for sources of stimulation. He cheerfully reported that he could feel fluorescent light ballasts, motors, transformers, and most everything else I could think to suggest. "It's like I'm getting a small shock!" he said, probing the field around a particularly torquey motor. "Great, now I'm going to have to get one of these implanted!"

In comparison to an implanted magnet, not surprisingly, the sensations are less pronounced, especially the pulling and pushing of permanent magnets. Oscillating fields are very noticeable, but feel "muffled." Overall the sensations are remarkably similar to that felt from an implant, so the experiment was a success.

The glued-on magnets fell off within an hour or two, so unless a more aggressive adhesive is used (which I wouldn't recommend for skin) long term attachment of an external magnet isn't too feasible. I'll be trying more experiments as well; my friend suggested attachment to the fingernail, which could produce some interesting results.

So if you would like a taste of the sensations a magnetic implant has to offer, grab a bit of superglue, some tiny (but strong) magnets, and try it out!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A trip to the ER - no MRIs with a magnet in your finger

A common question I get asked is "What if you have to get an MRI?" I almost found out the hard way. Following a heavy New Year's Eve celebration, I had abdominal pain. Not out of the ordinary, but in the two days following it worsened and I felt it was time to see a doctor. I went to an emergency clinic, where after a quick examination I was told "You need to go to the ER and get an MRI."

I immediately thought of my implant and asked the doctor if she would be able to remove a foreign body (i.e. the implant) if need be. She believed that it could be shielded, but I would have to ask the imaging technicians at the ER.

Several hours later I found myself getting a CAT scan of my abdomen, which was completely unaffected by the implant. The ER doctors said that an MRI would only be necessary if more detailed imaging were needed. They also said, however, that there was no way to shield the magnet in my finger from the scan, and that it's presence would make an MRI impossible. (The door to the MRI area even plainly stated "NO METALLIC IMPLANTS.")

Eventually I was cleared, given an industrial strength laxative and a clean bill of health, but the experience opened my eyes to some serious situations. What if I had needed an MRI? Would they have been able to quickly remove the implant? What if it had been a time-critical emergency, and I were unconscious? Could having an implant ultimately endanger my life by preventing doctors from acting quickly? What would happen if I were exposed to the machine without removing the implant - would it be torn from my finger or forcefully dragged through tissue?

There are definitely some serious issues that come with a magnetic implant. Don't forget others are in the same boat though, whether through joint replacement surgery or metallic shrapnel, or even an artificial heart. So if you are seriously considering getting a magnetic implant, be sure to weigh and prepare for the possible consequences.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Video: Playing with the G1's onboard compass

My last G1 related post, I promise. :) I made a quick video of me playing with the compass hardware on the T-mobile G1 Android phone. The application you see is called Orienteer, and is available for free.



As you can see, the North needle points to my finger, meaning that the South pole of my implant faces out from my fingertip. Neat!

Monday, November 24, 2008

G1: my Google phone tells me when it's transmitting

I was an early adopter of the G1, and since the day I began using it I noticed a dim pulsing sensation through my implant while holding the phone a certain way. This morning I finally got the location down, and was able to produce the phenomena repeatably by sending messages, web browsing and panning around on Google maps.

The little yellow dot shows the approximate location of my implant, and the red circle shows where the sensations are strongest.

To be honest, I have no idea what is causing a pulsing magnetic field during data transmission. The antenna is in close proximity, but the sensations directly over it are much less pronounced than other areas. Also, transmitting antennas produce electromagnetic waves (which don't wiggle magnets) - not magnetic fields. Perhaps the EM is inducing a magnetic field in the nearby speaker (directly above the red region in the picture.) Regardless, it's kind of cool to feel the 'packets' or 'data bursts' or whatever and seeing how the little send/receive display syncs up with what's actually going on.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Welding


While working on a frame for the arcade machine, I noticed that I could not only feel the transformer inside the main unit from quite a distance, but also felt through the MIG gun itself. Depending on how well I was laying the bead, the sensation intensified and changed. This is the first good example I have come across for an implant giving an occupational advantage: a welder could use their magnetic sense to give them information about the quality of their weld. With practice, I'm certain I could use the sense to help adjust the heat and wire feed speed to an ideal setting and tell if the bead was laying smoothly.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The sensations become a sense

In the past few months I have made a sort of transition. At first, the sensations I felt were foreign and new. I would feel a buzz from a dc adapter and think "woah! It buzzes!" As of late, though, I have found that I increasingly recognize specific sensations, and can feel subtle variations. This transition has been like the difference between feeling a surface with latex gloves, then with bare skin: I can feel the texture of a field. The field from the power supply inside my alarm clock feels smooth and clean. The DC adapter for my electric razor feels gritty. I found a long lost hard drive magnet under the couch without ever seeing or touching it... I sensed it, even knew which pole was facing my finger!

While technically this ability is an extension of touch, the human perception makes it more than that. A magnetic implant gives the human body the ability to detect and quantify what would otherwise be intangible. Truly, it is a sixth sense.

P.S. - I will be providing implantable magnets soon. Email me if you are interested.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Finger is better, way to go Parylene coating!

My smashed finger injury has gotten much, much better. The area doesn't feel quite back to normal, but has the familiar "almost healed" feeling to it. It appears the implant survived a pretty hard test, which is one more victory for Parylene coating.

I have gotten several e-mails asking about where to get the magnets or if I would sell them. I honestly don't know if I'm ready to hand them to just anyone, but at the same time I recognize that others are just as willing as I was to have one put in. It's likely that I will start an eBay store and sell packs of 4 or 5 magnets for close to cost. Before I do, I'll get a pictorial of how mine were installed and a general set of guidelines for handling, sterilizing them, and examining them for flaws.

I will say this, though I have said it before. This is a very experimental procedure in which you are implanting an object in to yourself that could potentially be harmful. These magnets are not designed originally for implantation. While you can take every precaution to handle and install them correctly, there is a definite possibility of a compromised coating, and you may be forced to remove fragments of magnet from your finger, or worse. These are risks that myself and the others that have tried have understood from the beginning.

That being said, I think that this is a body modification that has been on the verge of explosion for quite awhile. Purpose-made parylene coated magnets and implantation tools could make this procedure accessible to many, and just may encourage others to find ways to give humans more sensory perception through body modification.