I am a Mutant with an enlarged brain, and a device implanted into my head but its very sensitive to electromagnetic fields.. please help me avoid them.
April 5, 2007 11:10 AM   Subscribe

I am a Mutant with an enlarged brain, Ive had a device implanted into my head but its very sensitive to electromagnetic fields.. please help me avoid them.

okay.. your questions first..

My mutation is called an Arnold Chiari Malformation (relatively common as mutations go) only in me its very much more advanced and has led to a condition called Syringomyelia (very rare) basically it causes my spinal cord to slowly destroy itself.. which is cool at the moment cos it means I can punch through walls and stuff, but long term its not hopeful.. so ive had a device fitted into my brain to lower the pressure, in the hope that it will stop the damage to the spine.

The device is called a programmable Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt, its programmable because it has small magnets in it that control a valve inside it, which in turn controls the pressure inside the brain.. if its set too low i get sick.. and if its set to high the damage to my spine continues.. its a fine balancing act but we've found a more or less correct setting.

Only last month it went haywire.. at first i thought it was because i had entered a marathon and had over done it.. but I went for an MRI and it showed the setting of the device was way off the scale.. so I must have gone through a electromagnetic field of some kind and sent it off.

The only thing i could think it could be is the new mobile phone i was using was more powerful (it was one of those new walkman phones.. so i guess it had a strong magnet in it for the speaker also)

This has got me worried.. because if i need to be careful about small things like mobile phones.. what about other things like powerlines.. electric gates..etc.

basically im after a list of every items that generate electro magnetic fields and how strong.. so i know what to avoid.. and if anyone knows of a cheap device i could make or buy perhaps that would warn me of these fields that would be great and any advice or general information about electro magnetism.

posted by complience to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I recall a post on BoingBoing about a girl who had a magnet implanted in her finger and it gave her a 'sixth sense' - moving through EM fields would tug on the magnet and she would feel the pressure her finger. Unfortunately the implant isn't permanent; the magnet tends to disintegrate after a while.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:23 AM on April 5, 2007

This guy modded himself to add a "magnetic" 6th sense Wired Article, though it seems he implanted a magnet in himself, which is likely something you can't do.

Were you told how powerful the field needs to be to affect your implant?

Here are a bunch of Gauss meters some with with audiable alarm if the field strength it encounters is above a settable limit for sale.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:23 AM on April 5, 2007

It doesn't solve the core problem, but have you established with certainty that your phone is a problem? If it's possible you had incidental contact with some more powerful magnetic field during that period, it'd be a shame to lock yourself out of mobile phone usage unnecessarily.
posted by cortex at 11:27 AM on April 5, 2007

You shouldn't take your programmable VP shunt into an MRI machine, the strong magnet in the MRI reprograms it in unpredictable ways.

So that's step 1.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:27 AM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've never once said "get your tinfoil hat" and meant it, but I'm wondering if the problem is that your device and/or devices are improperly shielded, and are either emitting a field or failing to protect against one. This is a fairly common problem among household devices, like old microwaves and such.
posted by frogan at 11:39 AM on April 5, 2007

There's a small German company that makes a line of closed headphones (the big phones for DJs that fit over your entire ear and reduce external noise levels) which are supposedly engineered to help protect the brain from everyday EM fields.

These happen to be outstanding phones for the price (IAAAP / I am an audio pro), so although I haven't done any of my own research into the EM-reduction claim, I have only the highest opinion of their engineering & design overall. The company was very helpful when I contacted them directly with a question, so I encourage you to contact/research them...
posted by allterrainbrain at 11:40 AM on April 5, 2007

If anyone knows about what could cause this problem with your device, it'll be the company that manufactured it. Have you contacted them and talked to an engineer?
posted by Hogshead at 11:45 AM on April 5, 2007

Are you sure it's an EM field that did this? As ikkyu says, if the thing really is metal, and has magnets, you shouldn't be getting into an MRI, it could alter the device--and rip it out of your head.

I think this is a question for your neurosurgeon, and he or she can point you in the right direction, or give you a contact from the manufacturer of the device.
posted by gramcracker at 12:02 PM on April 5, 2007

Is this by any chance for a story?

When you were running, did you run beneath any high tension power lines? Because they give off a lot of waste energy. See here.
posted by Roger Dodger at 1:49 PM on April 5, 2007

Perhaps this stylish hat would do the trick?
posted by benign at 1:54 PM on April 5, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the concern about MRIs, they do certainly effect the device.. which is why after i have any MRI we reset it to the correct known level and the check its position with a fluoroscope.

Its not for a story... apart from the crazy story of events that seems to be my life.

Not sure i want to implant a magnet into my finger.. but the EMF alarms look hopeful.

I am not sure how powerfull a field needs to be to effect it.. We change the settings with a small handheld device that generates a field and spins around, allows use to change the settings from 0 - 200 going up in 10s.

So from this i would guess not a very large field is needed if it is directed in the correct direction.. the device is located just above and behind my right ear.. which is probably why a mobile phone could do this.

luckily my mobile has a speaker phone.. which i now use instead.

fluoroscopes are so cool :)
posted by complience at 2:24 PM on April 5, 2007

Did the marathon use transponder timing?

If you want to block EM, you could put a conductive wrapping around your head (flexible copper foil or mesh would be ideal) and put conductive plates in your shoes. Run wires from the mesh to the plates... and voila. You could put it inside a baseball cap or something, no one would be the wiser.

But really, I doubt EM is doing this, as your big wet meaty head is already not bad shielding in and of itself and any such device would have to be designed better than that. I hope.
posted by phrontist at 3:24 PM on April 5, 2007

I'll second the advice to talk to an engineer at the company that made the device. It seems like you only suspect the phone or possibly other EMFs; of course it's not something you'll want to test to isolate the cause. And in this world it's virtually impossible to avoid them. So talking to the company seems like a good first step.

The article linked on the boy not going too close to his gate is interesting but if the gate works the way I think it does-a very strong electromagnet holds it closed-I'm not sure if a cell phone can be correlated to that since it doesn't put out specifically a strong magnetic field.

I like the idea of a portable Gauss meter or similar, with a warning alarm. But those devices look a bit clunky. If you do establish that EMFs cause the problem what I'd like in your shoes would be a pager-sized device to be worn on the belt. In fact I'm picturing gutting an actual pager, keeping the vibrating function and using the screen to display current levels, with the device set to vibrate and/or beep above a setable maximum. Do you know any local electronic geeks that might be interested working on a project like that in their spare time?
posted by 6550 at 3:32 PM on April 5, 2007

mefi posts stay on the web indefinitely, meaning that even if this is a made-up question, other people with a real need for the info -- or with any reason to reduce their EM exposure -- may google this page in the future.
posted by allterrainbrain at 4:26 PM on April 5, 2007

Response by poster: i see we have an expert in spinal cord injury in the room great.. lets see what other pearls of wisdom he has to share.

and it doesn't read like its written by a "sufferer" because im not a sufferer... mutation is how evolution works... i can think of worse things than having an enlarged brain and a reduced sensitivity to pain.

As for sneezing i can certainly relate.. people don't realise how enjoyable a good sneeze is until you start to fear it might actually kill you and do everything you can to avoid them.
posted by complience at 5:17 PM on April 5, 2007

i can think of worse things than having an enlarged brain and a reduced sensitivity to pain.

Like a business degree without even a rudimentary understanding of macroeconomics?

Sorry, I'm not usually one to call people out, but there's a pattern here which is at least worthy of being MeTa'd...
posted by Pinback at 5:57 PM on April 5, 2007

Punch through walls and stuff? How is no one else calling BS on this...

Cool it my fellows, he or she's just letting us know some sensation has been lost and pain is muted.

Complience, I think you only need to worry about magnets that are very close to the valve, or which are strong and have widely separated poles, because magnetic dipole strength (dipoles are the least diluted we've been able to find despite a lot of looking for the predicted monopole) falls off as the cube of distance when that distance is large compared to the distance between the poles.

I'd think earbuds and headphones would be more dangerous than your cellphone because the magnets are very strong and they are even closer.
posted by jamjam at 6:11 PM on April 5, 2007

ditto jamjam and everyone who said to contact the manufacturer of the device. the distance from the source of the field is super important, and the manufacturer is going to be your best source of info.

you might ask the manufacturer how the sensitivity of your device differs from the sensitivity of pacemakers. There should be a lot of info available for pacemaker patients, so that could be a good reference point for you.

for industrial (high power) equipment, I think 5 Gauss is the level that requires a warning sticker for pacemakers. most stuff capable of 5 gauss has plenty of shielding, I'd think.

Some low power, high frequency stuff could be worse. So keep your right ear at least 12 inches away from coffee grinders & blenders.

good luck!
posted by craicer at 2:15 AM on April 6, 2007

For now, you could consider putting that giant brain of yours to better use and try holding the phone to your left ear.
posted by The Monkey at 4:37 AM on April 6, 2007

Response by poster: i love the hat :) not sure if its my colour tho.

Im using the speaker phone on my mobile now.. although its not so easy just holding the phone to your other ear.. its like how you only wear your watch on one side.. or write with one hand.. you naturaly go for one ear or the other.. and with me it happens to be my right.

Ive put my phone right far over on that side of the desk which is a help.. but i still have to catch myself from doing it.

The reason why i don't understand macroeconomics is exactly that.. they are Macro, i.e - theories that apply to the collective thinking of the 7 billion humans on the planet, but I am not like the other 7 billion people on the planet, i am different, my brain is different and i think different.

So when i see 7 billion people doing something that me looks like very stupid behaviour, I find it very hard to understand it.

Chiari has known links with autism and savantism. No one calls Kim Peek a moron cos he speaks funny tho.
posted by complience at 4:57 AM on April 6, 2007

Check out the Ramsey Tri-Field Meter
posted by phrontist at 7:04 PM on April 7, 2007

Response by poster: Ive just been reading about Photochromic Lenses, and apparently they work by Electronic magnetic radiation.

Would buying a pair of these give me an early warning of when im in a electromagnetic zone?
posted by complience at 11:37 AM on April 30, 2007

No. They are sensitive to UV radiation, which is very different.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:52 PM on July 24, 2007

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