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.