Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Week 3: Microwave ovens, RFID readers and more!

It's been three weeks since the magnet was implanted, and things seem to be going very well. I have experienced a notable increase in sensitivity, and have been searching for things to feel with my new sense. I find that with each passing day I can pick up weaker and more subtle fields, and I'm continually surprised by the increasing sensitivity of the implant. Here are some items that I found produce distinct sensations:

Transformers and fluorescent light ballasts - These were the first items I could sense, and produce an even more vivid sensation than before. Passing my finger nearby results in a distinct buzzing vibration. By grabbing at the invisible field I can visualize its shape, more intense in places, less in others.

Microwave ovens - passing my hand near the running magnetron gives me a unique sensation, though it's not as intense (at least not right now) as I thought it would be. Perhaps my microwave is just very well shielded.

RFID readers - My coworkers must think that I'm crazy. I was pawing curiously at our RFID badge readers and found a weak but interesting sensation. The field itself is more complex than that of a transformer and seems to change shape and intensity over time. It's a weaker field, so I have to concentrate to find it. ***EDIT: Later exploration revealed that I actually cannot feel these devices. It makes sense, too, given the nature of their operation.***
Brushless fans - the tiny cooling fan of my eeePC is quite noticeable. It's very intense near the center and has a very different frequency than the standard 60 hz that I am becoming familiar with in my daily environment.

I can find the power supply in my LCD monitor by feel, and my roommate's sonicare toothbrush (not surprisingly) is quite intense. I feel I have just scratched the surface of the sensory capabilities of this implant and can't wait to find new, interesting things to feel!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Two week report: entry cut is healed.

After two weeks of pampering my implant entry wound, I figured it was time to pull the band-aid off. Up to this point I had kept it loosely covered, changing the bandage as necessary and treating with Neosporin. At first glance it looked as if the wound had yet to heal. The area around the entry cut had turned white and it looked like a popped blister, for lack of a better comparison. I was afraid that the magnet was once again rejecting and working itself out of my finger. After a quick shower and a gentle scrub, however, the layer of dead white skin came off and revealed that the entry wound had completely closed up.

Implant entry point after 15 days, up close and under direct LED light. The camera makes it look a lot worse than it actually is.
The second attempt is officially more successful than the first attempt which, as you may recall, failed at week 3 when the magnet came out like a splinter. In the picture above, you see the freshly healed layer of skin where the incision was made, surrounded by dry, cracked skin (I don't exactly moisturize regularly...) The photo makes the area look quite ragged, but it's the same effect you get when you examine your skin with a magnifying glass: what's normal and healthy to your eyes looks rough and gross up close. In fact, the site of the first rejected implant is noticeably lumpier and has been slower to heal than the now healed implant site.

Under normal light, the cut is barely noticeable. The speckles in the background are magnets being inspected for flaws.

At the time of writing, the area is no longer painful in any way. Full sensitivity has returned to the region and I can grab, touch, poke, and submerge with no problems. The implant is not at all visible, and can't be readily found by touch.

The next few months will tell for sure if the tiny Parylene coated magnet was indeed suitable for long term implantation. As for now I'm just happy to not be wearing a Neosporin treated bandaid.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stitch is out

It's been a little over a week since the second attempt magnet implantation. After examining the healing wound, we removed the stitch.

While the photograph makes it look very irritated, the cut seems to be healing nicely.

Now I just have to heal what amounts to a small cut. While I'm not "out of the woods" on this one (the first attempt also appeared to be healing well before ultimately being rejected,) it does appear much healthier than the first. The hard part will be avoiding absentmindedly playing with the wound. With the stitch in, it was painful to anything more than the lightest of touches, which kept me from messing with it. Now that I can touch it again I find myself rubbing, playing with the band-aid, etc. which is definitely NOT helping the healing process.

I have started to get sensations around stronger fields again. I can once again sense the buzz of AC adapters and electric toothbrushes. Magnetic attraction is much weaker though, presumably due to the deeper placement of the magnet. With the last placement I could easily pick up a large paper clip, but this implant is barely able to lift a small paper clip. This does not bother me at all, as the implant is for sensory enhancement rather than utility.

Things look good for now, and in the next few weeks I should know for sure if the implant has taken.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Implant #2

After receiving a shipment of Parylene coated magnets, I once again had one implanted. After some discussion, we decided to try a slightly different approach. We theorized what went wrong and adjusted the implantation method to better the chances of a successful healing. I made a nifty diagram to illustrate:
Note: The bevel of the needle in the diagram on the right is not in the proper orientation. It was actually rotated 90 degrees so that the pointy long side was facing my fingernail.

The first time, which ultimately ended up rejecting, is on the left. The needle was inserted as shown, making a pocket close to the surface. As the wound healed the magnet was pushed out with the help of gravity and the lubricity of Parylene.

This time we went straight into the side, deeper into the tissue with no angle to the cut. There was more bleeding this time, which made the magnet a bit tricky to get inside. The suture was probably the most uncomfortable part of the procedure (the black squiggle I drew on the diagram), but I really think it's the key to getting this implant healed properly.

I've now started the healing process once again, and am being extra careful not to stress the area or expose it to any strong magnetic fields. With any luck everything will go smoothly and I will be feeling fields in no time!