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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

My Self-Installed Magnet Implant Experience


 I got my start in biohacking searching for a way to augment myself.   At the time, as part of my job, I was surrounded by communications equipment and heard about these magnetic implants grinders (a.k.a. biohackers) were using for electronic diagnostic work. 

The following column is a retelling of my two magnet insertion experiences with some helpful tips if you're going to try it out yourself.  I will discuss why I chose to implant, how I prepared for and conducted surgery on myself, the differences between the two types of magnetic inserts I used, and the pro’s and con’s of having an implant.

As a disclaimer, I don't take responsibility for any reckless actions, infections, or if your limbs fall off.

Why Implant?

This is a complex question for me.  The best answer I can come up with is I suppose I wanted to experience it for myself.  There’s a difference between reading how electromagnetic (EM) waves work and actually feeling them vibrate up against your nervous system.

Second, I want my hands to look like this:

In 40 years, maybe.

. . . so a magnet seems like a good first step.  I plan to implant a series of magnets and RFID chips to interact with devices that are still ideas in my sketchbook.

The third reason is a bit more personal, perhaps spiritual. I am absolutely fascinated with electromagnetic physics. I worked in the field for over a decade, studied it daily, and it became a huge part of my life. Being able to interact with these forces directly enables me to become a better teacher, as well as experience the invisible in ways that are deeply profound to me.

Before I just went and stuck a bunch of magnets in myself all willy-nilly though, I had research to do.

Surgery Preparation

Some of the best guidance I’ve seen is in the forums. They are a great resource to help you get started and find materials.  The forums suggested implanting in my left ring finger first.  The reason why?  Because I’m right-handed and if my left ring finger falls off, it won’t be as big of a loss as say, my right index finger.

Once I’d selected a finger I looked up everything I could about left ring finger anatomy. I consulted our Battalion Surgeon, several Navy Corpsmen (medics), and began gathering supplies.

Instead of opting for the more common incision method of implanting, I decided to go with (what I imagine to be) the less-invasive and painful puncture method. I didn’t feel comfortable cutting as deep as I needed to go and suturing afterward. A puncture wound would be created with a needle (about 1.5mm wide, depending on the size of your magnet) parallel to the finger bone, about a half an inch deep.

I learned it’s dangerous to inject an anesthetics like Lidocaine or Novocaine (or any of the others in the “-Caine family”) because it can vasoconstrict circulatory pathways in the finger(s) and hand. I also didn’t want to be under the influence of any drugs or alcohol because I didn’t want my hard work to go to waste by making mistakes. I ended up using ice and a constrictive band to numb pain and control bleeding.

My surgery kit consisted of:
Profound anxiety not pictured.

1.  Isopropyl Alcohol
2.  Sterile latex glove (if preferred, for the hand opposite your implant hand)
3.  Bowl of ice (ice not pictured)
4.  Plastic bag
5.  Permanent marker or pen
6.  Rubber band
7.  Surgical or leather-working needle
9.  Spare suture glue application nozzle (or other thin, non-magnetic material)
11. Antibiotic ointment and bandaid

Whether you’re performing the surgery on yourself or someone else, it’s ideal to mark your tools and finger. Place the magnet on your finger of choice and mark where you want the bottom of the magnet to rest.  Then, mark where you will insert the needle and miss your phalange bone:

It's also wise, given the nature and circumstances of your procedure, to mark your tools as well.  With adrenaline going, I'd hate to accidentally overshoot my target.  Marking your needle will give you a visual indicator of depth.  During the procedure, if you see the line disappear, take it easy, and back it out:
"Don't Get Carried Away" markings.

My first implant was a bit more crude and I didn’t pay as much attention to sterilization as I should have.  My second implant I took extra measures to deliberately sterilize my equipment and the implant healed up in a week.  Please use the sterilization guide for tips and to avoid amputations.

With all my ducks in a line I picked a day and time and told myself I’d do it.

Surgery Execution and Recovery

 When the time for rehearsal was over, I sterilized all of my equipment and reapplied my markings.  If you’re following along because you’re about to stick yourself, make sure all sterilization and material gathering is complete before continuing.

I filled the bowl with enough ice to cover one left ring finger and put about half a cup of alcohol in the plastic bag.  After fixing the rubber band around my finger between the second and third joints, I dunked my hand in the bag of alcohol and rested it in the bowl of ice.  Keep the rubber band tight enough to reduce circulation, but also rely on the ice to reduce blood flow and numb the area.  I kept my hand in the cold alcohol against an ice cube for about five minutes.

Every couple of minutes, test your skin with the needle to check numbness and for cold injury.  You know your body best, so if you're using this method to numb the area, make sure your keep tabs on your implant site.

When you feel you've reached the appropriate amount of numbness, line up your needle and carefully insert it down your predetermined route.  Both of my procedures were painless because I'd sufficiently numbed my finger.  Everyone's body and pain tolerance is different, so if you need to stop it's okay.  It's better to stop than pass out and fall on your needle.  If your needle won't reach your marks, you can still insert the magnet as long as it won't protrude out of the skin.

After you remove the needle, quickly press your magnet into the puncture.  Use your thin, non-magnetic material to get the magnet as deep as possible.  Be prepared for a bit of pushing if you skimped on needle diameter.  When the magnet is in place, squeeze the puncture wound shut as tight as you can and apply a dab of suture glue.  Do not apply glue without squeezing the puncture shut, because there is potential to create a column of dried glue in the tip of your finger.  Apply antibiotic ointment, your bandaid, and you're finished.

The numbness should wear off in a few minutes.  The wound should only have a low level of dull pain and shouldn't bleed.  Wash the area carefully often, sterilize, and reapply bandages often.  If you notice any infection (swelling, burning, etc.) please go visit a doctor.  The implant site should completely heal within 2 to 4 weeks.

I didn't feel any effects for the first two weeks.  In fact, I thought I'd been duped into a sick form of online-encouraged self-harm in my impatience.  A day before the third week I woke up to turn on my stereo and I definitely felt it when I flipped the power switch.  It felt like a strong buzzing, a motion similar to phone vibrations, in the tip of my finger.  I get a kick out that sensation to this day.

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