Body Mod Part 4/5
Sorry everyone, I neglected my posting duties last week, so here’s a double post to make up for it. Here’s the next part of my journal, as well as the implant video. If you don’t feel like doing all of the reading, skip to the bottom of the full post to watch the video.
Nov 2nd, 2009
I’m sitting here in my dorm room, eating one of my favorite snacks, a chocolate bar with crunchy peanut butter, my favorite movie running on the screen above my laptop, and listening to the mellow sounds of my roommate talking to his girlfriend on the phone. It’s all just background stuff compared to what’s going on in here, inside my head.
Two RFID glass tags have been ordered. One is the smaller 12 x 2mm tag, which can be swapped out and injected using a kit. The other is a 13 x 3mm tag, which cannot be injected with the kit, but has an extended read range by comparison. After exchanging information with Amal Graafstra, I’ve decided that when the range of the tag is already dropped by the flesh in the hand, every little bit of distance helps.
That’s why chances are I am going to settle on having the larger of the two tags ‘installed’. The incision will probably have to be done with a punch, since a needle injection is out. I’ve done a little research online, but I’m still not entirely sure how a punch works. Viewing a few videos has helped, I think the extra ‘damage’ from the procedure is worth the extended read range.
I just pulled out a digital caliper I keep on hand for precise measurements when doing 3D modeling and compared tag sizes. The 3 x 13 isn’t really that much larger, though the thought of punching that size of a hole in my flesh is a little… disconcerting to me. I’ve never been a fan of needles or anything medical like that. Don’t get me wrong, I can have my knee torn wide open climbing a tree, crimson dripping down my leg and discoloring my socks, and I’ve never felt better, never felt more alive. But the last time I had a needle put in me, I was 14. I panicked, and they had to hold me down. Luckily, this time it’s voluntary.
Nov 4th, 2009
The tags arrived today. Shipping cost as much as the tags themselves, which kind of irks me. I bought both tags and tested them using a Basic Stamp 2 SX and a RFID reader module from Parallax. The device simply beeps twice when it recognizes a working RFID tag, and both passed the test no problem.
An hour or so after I received the tags I drove the mile or so to the shop where the procedure is going to be done and showed Dave the tags. He’d been doing a bit of research himself and seemed just as interested as before, if not more. After a short chat, we decided that we would just go ahead and do the procedure tonight, as he thought he would have time and I saw no real reason to wait. (In my mind, I saw no reason not to get it over with. I did mention I’m not fond of needles, didn’t I?)
The tags are being run through the autoclave now, and in about an hour I’ll be on my way back to the shop to have it done. I’m having the 3 X 13mm tag injected into the webbed flesh in my hand as planned. Dave is planning on using a 10 gauge needle, assuming it fits, I’ll find out when I get there. I’ll be recording it with at least the laptop camera, if not a handheld camera as well.
Nov 4th, 2009
It is done!
When I got to the shop “Liquid Swordz” here in Ypsilanti, Michigan, the autoclave had another 15 minutes to go before the cycle was complete. If you’ve never seen or heard of an autoclave, it’s a machine that uses heat and pressure to sterilize things like piercings or surgical equipment, or in this case, glass RFID tags.
The manufacturers of the tag warn that they can handle the heat or pressure of an autoclave (not to mention the store I bought them from says they are not to be used as implants). But Amal Graafsta has tested some standard tags identical to mine, and they seemed to hold up fine.
Such was the case this time. While waiting, I signed a typical medical form clearing Liquid Swordz of liablity and whatnot. I chatted with a few of the guys at the main desk, answered some question about the technology, including how easy it could theoretically be to spoof the tag. I even chatted about it with a man just behind the desk who looked to be having some kind of large tattoo done on his arm or side.
After the tags were finished Dave led me back to a secluded room where I can assume other piercing work is done. He started preparing the needles and other equipment on a clean tray, his hands covered by sterile black plastic gloves. We chatted, I commented on the unusual (yet cool) paintings that were in the small room. He placed the tags on the metal tray. They were enclosed in clear plastic bags that kept them clean after removal from the autoclave.
We agreed to try them out on the test device. He took each bag and held it near the antenna, and at the appropriate distance, each set off two deep beeps from the attached speaker. Success!
As we chatted about what was going to take place and found a good place to set down the laptop and start recording, two more men came in, (Carl and Alex). One of the them, Alex, the tattoo artist, agreed to hold the laptop for a slightly better angle, even though he wouldn’t be able to see the screen while recording. Carl, was there to help with the procedure.
It would go like this: Dave would make an incision with an 8 gauge needle. Yes. and EIGHT gauge needle. I’m excited to see my expression on seeing the needle in the video. It was rather larger than I have ever been subjected to before. After the incision was made Dave would remove the needle and Carl would apply pressure to the spot with a cotton swab to hold back the blood flow while Dave retrieved the tag. Dave would then use a small device to push the tag into the incision and seat it inside. After that it was just a matter of clean up and slapping on a bandaid.
It went about that smoothly. I sat down on a table similar to the kind you would find in a room at a medical clinic, and held up my arm. We chatted some more as Dave applied some kind of iodine based cleanser to my hand to sterilize it. “So what’s your real story,” one of the guys asked. “You FBI or something?”
“Well…” I paused for a moment. “I can’t tell you that.” Laughter ensued. I was told this was ‘pretty cool’, what I was doing. I agreed.
Once sterilized, Dave started feeling the skin, deciding on the best area to make the incision, and where the tag should sit. He marked a few places on my hand while I looked on, my mind numbing slightly with the realization this was about to happen, I was about to have a huge needle shoved into my hand. I nodded when asked a question, probably something aside the lines of “Are you ready”.
“Just don’t mind me if I decide not to watch.”
I looked to my right and felt the others maneuver around into better position. I felt a slight pinch near the point where the incision was to be, which then escalated. I don’t know if I winced, but I’m sure I gritted my teeth a bit, and I know I was squeezing the table with my right hand. I decided I was not going to look. It would just freak me out more.
The pain dimmed and I starting thinking about how there probably aren’t many nerves inside the hand, just on the outside near the skin, which explains why the conversations I had had with other online was true. There really wasn’t that much pain involved after the incision point. I felt him finish pushing and start pulling it out, my nerves registering the slight tugging. I could see them maneuvering again in my periferal vision, places the cotton swab. I think Dave may have ended up doing it himself.
They jostled around again for a moment, and I heard words hinting towards the end of the procedure. The next part went quickly. Wondering if it was over, I chanced a look. I saw red, and a fleshy hole, and looked away again. Needless to say, that didn’t help. Moments later it was over, and I had a bandage on my hand.
Dave announced the end of the procedure, and Carl exclaimed “There you go, man, you are bionic!” He followed up with “You alright? Looking a little pale,”. I nodded and requested some water when asked if I needed anything. The laptop was set down and I was able to lie back on the table. After some conversation on how resiliant and amazing the body is, to be able to heal up from things like that, I drank some water, had some ‘M N M’s, and soon felt much more stable, enough so to be on my feet again.
With my wallet ten dollars lighter for the supplies used, I was shaking hands and promising updates mere minute later, then walking out the door. It was a very pleasant experience, everyone there was very nice, knowledgeable, and most importantly, clean and professional. If you are ever in the Ypsi area, check out Liquid Swordz. They know their stuff.
The implant is there, the operation was a success, and post testing confirms that the tag is functioning properly. I’m now a ‘bionic man’.
Later that evening:
One of the first things I did on returning home after the procedure was get the test platform out and run the implanted tag by the antenna a few more times. Too cool.
The next thing I did was to start writing the previous entry. I was typing normally with my right hand, and tapping keys with only my pointer finger with my left hand. I was being careful and moving it gingerly. It still hurt, not sore, but actually raw nerve pain. I downed some tylonol, and for the first time in my life, it actually worked completely, I found myself pain free, which explains how I was able to write all of this so quickly. The bandage has the puncture site covered and is keeping it clean. I’ll have to pick up some waterproof bandages tomorrow. I can see where a small blot of blood discolored the white part of the bandaged, but other than that, there has been no excessive bleeding. I was told both by Dave and by other contacts to expect some bruising, which is understandable. I’m feeling pretty good right now, we’ll see if that changes in the morning.
For updates and alerts on new posts, be sure to click the subscribe button at the top of the page! Thanks!