Monday, April 28, 2008


Exactly three weeks after implantation, the Parylene coated magnet emerged from my finger. I have several theories as to why the implantation process failed, but will first describe the events of the past week.

Last Saturday I made an entry describing what I saw could be beginning of the end. The small cut on the surface of my finger still had not healed, and exploratory poking revealed an unhealed pocket and what looked like the tip of the magnet. I used a band-aid to keep the wound covered and treated it with Neosporin. Things seemed to be going OK, but at the same time it was not healing as I'd hoped.

A week later, I took the bandage off for several hours and the events that had happened the previous week repeated themselves. The area around the magnet puffed up and a small discharge came through the cut. This time the discharge was yellowish - a sign that things weren't going well at all. It was at this point that I decided to remove the magnet.

After 3 weeks, the dark colored magnet could be seen from the original insertion point.

Squeezing just underneath the puffy tissue caused the magnet to peek out of the hole. I used another small magnet to pull on it and the implant loosely moved, held back by a small amount of transparent tissue. I used a sterile razor to make a small incision, which I did not feel at all. The magnet popped out easily at this point, followed by a tiny bit of blood.

After removal, the area was irritated.

My finger was a little bit sore afterwords, but without the magnet beneath the skin it has since healed much more quickly. The magnet itself appears to be completely intact. There was no tissue attached to it nor discoloration. The coating seems to have performed as expected, but due to it's exceptional lubricity the implant moved easily around inside. My theory is that the wound, being a puncture wound in nature, healed from the bottom up, moving the magnet along as it healed. Eventually it was just pushed out like a splinter. I believe the next attempt at implantation should most definitely have a suture. This would cause the surface to heal much more quickly, resulting in a more successful healing process.

The magnet is perfectly intact, and shows no signs of degradation.

It was discouraging to have the magnet come out so long after implantation, but at least it was a painless removal. I'm happy to see that the Parylene coating worked well and think that it is an excellent way to protect an implant. Even the small taste of extrasensory perception has propelled me to continue seeking a stable, long term implant. Additional magnet specimens will be arriving within a few days, so hopefully I will be attempting the procedure again soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


It's been a little over two weeks since I had a Parylene coated magnet implanted in my finger.

Over the past few days there have been apparent complications with healing. I'll recap the healing process, and where I think things went wrong: After the initial procedure, I kept the entry wound covered, first with a liquid bandage, then a bandaid. After the wound decreased in size and scabbed I stopped dressing it and continued in my day to day life. Healing seemed to be going well until a circular area surrounding the magnet became raised and "poofy." It was not painful or sensitive - in fact, the area largely lacked sensitivity. It stayed this way for a few days. While showering, I gently pressed on the raised area and a small amount of clear fluid discharged from the previously closed entry wound. The wound became "unglued" revealing that the inside was not healing as I thought. My body seemed to be rejecting the implant.

I gently prodded the area, and could actually see the black edge of the disc through the entry wound. It's possible that exposing the partially healed implant to other fields and metals as well as typing had led to it's distress.

I was faced with a choice: remove the implant and try again with a different installation method, or continue trying to heal. I opted for the latter. I cleaned the now sore-from-poking entry point and wrapped a bandaid relatively tightly around it so that a gentle pressure was applied. My plan was to heal the pocket of separated tissue by using a bandage to keep it pushed together.

After 2 days of keeping slight pressure on it, there is no longer a "puffy" spot and normal feeling has returned to the area. In fact, the area has become more sensitive than it ever has been. The entry wound itself has closed again, and has not discharged any more fluid. As far as I can tell, it's once again on the path to healing. I have resolved to adamantly "leave it the hell alone" until I am certain that it has healed or necessitates removal.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Feeling Fields, not Waves

After writing the previous post it became very clear that the title "Feeling waves" is a bit misleading. In short, I'm not feeling waves at all.

For any sensation to take place, the magnet has to exert force on the tissues surrounding it. This happens when the magnetic field of the magnet inside my finger interacts with another magnetic field (or is attracted to a ferrous surface.)

Iron filings can be used to visualize magnetic field lines.

In the case of power transformers (like the one in my alarm clock) the field oscillates with the voltage, at 60 hertz. Unlike a stationary field, which would repel or attract the implant constantly, the changing field repels then attracts, changing 60 times a second. This makes the magnet vibrate. Stronger fields would mean more pronounced vibration. Higher frequencies would cause faster vibrations.

A sine wave. Like the voltage in a transformer, the magnetic field within it also oscillates.

So I'm not feeling waves, I'm feeling the effects of a sinusoidally changing magnetic field. This also means that I will not be able to feel electromagnetic waves like those emitted by antennas. I won't go into the specifics, as I can't really think of a way to explain it without getting very deep into the theory.

If any of this sparked an interest or left you going "HUH?" Wikipedia has great articles on it all, ranging from magnet basics to Quantum electrodynamics.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The first wave

While I have felt the sensations of stronger magnetic fields, such as other magnets and attraction to ferrous surfaces, until last night I had not felt the effects of an electromagnetic field.

I was adjusting my alarm clock and felt a faint vibration. I explored the space around it and found regions of varying intensity... as if the field was a flowing arc of vibrating air. While it is tough to describe exactly, I would liken the sensation to feeling a loudspeaker's vibration by holding your hand near it, only with no sound or visual feedback. It's kind of eerie feeling something tangible in the air where there was nothing before, but at the same time extremely exciting.

Here's what I think caused the field, and will be the source of many other "in the wild" detectable fields:

My alarm clock, which is a cheap Wal*Mart plug-in unit, has a remarkably noisy AC to DC power supply contained within it. One of the main components of this type of supply is a transformer, which changes 120 V (the stuff from my wall socket) to a more manageable voltage (probably 5 to 9 volts.)

They look something like this:Basically, the transformer converts electrical energy into a changing magnetic field then back to electrical energy. To keep things simple I won't go into further detail (wikipedia explains it a lot better anyway,) but the interesting bit is the flux leakage. See, ideally the magnetic field would be completely contained within the core of the transformer but in reality, transformers partially leak some of the changing magnetic field. This field loops outside through the air and in the case of very inefficient transformers, this flux leakage can be quite significant..

A graphic depicting flux leakage (source: wikipedia).

This kind of leakage is prevalent in our modern environment, and will likely be the source of further discoveries. I have begun exploring things around me in a new light, trying out my new sense.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

One week after installation: xray!

So it's been one week since I received my magnetic implant. Healing has progressed rapidly, and by next week I expect the surface skin to be healed completely. A good friend of mine who happens to be an xray technician hooked me up with some cool images of my finger!

These are top down views, so it's as if you are looking through the back of my hand. The middle image is with my finger rotated 45 degrees and far right image was rotated 90 degrees. Cool! Here are some closeup shots:

This is the top down view of my right ring finger. The tiny 3mm magnet shows up quite well. You can see the faint outline of a small bandage on the outside of my finger. Here is the side view:

Hopefully soon I will be able to feel magnetic fields!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I figured I would snap a picture to give an idea of the strength of the magnet. It's just powerful enough to suspend a large paperclip (2" long).

The region around the implant continues to heal. Today the area around the magnet is particularly tender, moreso than since the first day. The region immediately surrounding the implant is slightly discolored, almost bruised looking (as opposed to the entire side of the finger being discolored the past few days.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

The implant

So the implant is in, and my finger is healing. I'll take a step back, as I never went in to the size, shape, and appearance of the magnet that I had implanted. The magnet was one of several samples that I received from a scientific supply company, and was designed as a magnetic stir element (a little disc that would be in a test tube on top of a magnetic stirring machine.) The dimensions are roughly 3.5 mm in diameter by .6 mm thick, with a Parylene C coating of about .05 mm.
The magnet on top of a dime.

While it looks like a plain old magnet, it is actually coated with a transparent layer of Parylene C, which acts as a biocompatible barrier that protects the magnet, and in turn my finger. Since the magnets are specifically designed to rotate under influence of other rotating magnets, I think that they are particularly well suited. Additionally, since there is no silicone sheath, there is no soft buffer to dampen vibration between the magnet and the surrounding tissue.

As far as I know I am the first to receive a Parylene coated magnet like this one, so the next few weeks/months will tell if it is viable. Part of me is a tiny bit paranoid that the coating was compromised in shipping, or during implantation. Such defects would not be visible to the naked eye, or most conventional optics. Since I didn't have an electron microscope handy I'll just have to trust that the coating was intact.

As far as healing goes, things appear to be going very well. It's been four days since the implantation and the incision has almost completely healed. The area of skin above the magnet is still slightly discolored, but is no longer painful to the touch. Yesterday I noticed a dull pain in my tendon, extending all the way up my forearm. It quickly subsided and has not returned.

I can't wait until it heals completely!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The procedure

Note: Once again, I will say this is a highly experimental, possibly dangerous procedure with unknown side effects. While Parylene C is biocompatible and used in similar applications, a magnetic laboratory stir disc is far from a surgical grade implant. I would recommend against seeking out this type of implant until it is very clear that it is a viable long-term solution.

Finger 3 days after implantation (the stuff above the cut is the remnant of a New Skin liquid bandage which I used the first day.):
After receiving several sample stir discs I decided it was time to go back to ----- and show them to -----, who would ultimately be doing the procedure. I initially thought that he would want to examine the implants, then schedule a time to come in and do the procedure. We looked at and discussed the various magnets that I had brought, and showed him the one that I intended to have implanted: a 3.7 mm x .7 mm Parylene C coated stir disc. He offered to go forward with the procedure right then and there, and I enthusiastically agreed.

*I have put ----- in place of names until I get the go-ahead... have to respect privacy you know!

He sterilized the coated magnet using a solution (using an autoclave would have destroyed both the coating and the magnet) and laid out the various supplies that would be needed. He walked me through the procedure one more time, then we began.

To give him the best angle for working, I sat, then twisted my arm counterclockwise 3/4 of a turn from palm facing down (imagine making a 'C' with your index finger and thumb flat on the table.) While a bit uncomfortable for me, it also helped me keep perfectly still. The implant was to be located where I had previously decided, on my right ring finger, on the side of the tip.

After a deep breath he inserted a 6 gauge needle deeply enough to make an incision the width of the magnet. (about 3.5 mm). This was the painful part of the procedure and felt, well, like having a needle poked in to my finger. He removed the needle, then pushed the magnet in to the hole (which I barely felt at all) using his finger. He then pushed the implant a bit deeper using the back of a 10 gauge needle. The wound bled a little, but not excessively. He put pressure on it using gauze and the bleeding stopped almost immediately. We had discussed the possibility of using a single suture if necessary, but the bleeding was minimal so we decided not to stitch. (hindsight tells me that a stitch may have been a good idea anyway.) The procedure was done in about one minute.

We discussed aftercare, which turned out to be easy. Unlike a piercing or dermal anchor, we actually want the skin to heal the way it originally was. Given that the wound clotted and closed up almost immediately it would be no worse than healing a small finger injury. He asked me to come in after a day or two to check on healing progress and I headed home.

For about an hour and a half after the procedure it throbbed and ached slightly, but that soon subsided. It remained very tender and sensitive to the touch for the rest of the evening. Curiosity got the better of me and I passed my finger close to the strong magnet on my cell phone (the model I have has a rare earth magnet to hold a sliding mechanism open/closed.) I felt the implant move within my finger, and it was unlike anything I had ever felt.

I spent most of the night with my hand in an elevated position, finger pointed up. I was concerned that if I were not careful the magnet would migrate closer to the entry point - or even worse - emerge from the hole.

After waking up the next day, I cleaned the wound and applied a fresh coating of New Skin. While still slightly sore to the touch, much of the discomfort was gone. I went about a normal day, and bumped/squeezed/grabbed with the healing finger several times accidentally, which resulted in a few moments of sore throbbyness. The area just below the entry point was the most sore, and gentle prodding revealed a slightly harder spot directly underneath it. I was very concerned that the implant had migrated. To verify, I placed a small magnet above my finger, and it stuck to the skin a good distance from the entry wound. Fortunately, the implant had not migrated at all. In the future, I would DEFINITELY recommend using a single suture to close the incision, even if it is not necessary to stop the bleeding. It would serve to provide a barrier to prevent the magnet from emerging if it did end up migrating. I switched from New Skin to a simple band-aid with Neosporin applied to it, changing as necessary.

A magnet attracted to the implant

I'm very anxious to feel the results after my finger has finished healing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The waiting continues...

For the past two weeks I have been waiting on samples of implant candidates to arrive in the mail. One is simply a parylene coated neodymium magnet, like I originally wanted to use. Another is a parylene coated stainless steel magnet, but is not as strong. The Third sample is a machined PTFE (teflon) case - like a hollow tube with a wall in the middle with two parylene coated magnets holding each other inside the case. -This one might be interesting as it provides better resistance to wear than a lone magnet.

After following up, it was obvious that the magnets should have been delivered quite some time ago. A good friend of mine (who also would like to get the implant) jokingly suggested that the envelope was magnetically attached to the side of a mail truck.

I offered to pick up shipping costs to have them expressed, so they should be here in two days or so. I can't wait!