Becoming A Metalhead


Since my brain surgery, life has changed.

When I bend over I feel woozy. I have a noticeable scar from the top of my head to my ear. Sleeping on my right side is impossible.  I always have a slight to mild headache. Healing is slow when it comes to bone and brain.

In the mail today came a notice of another change. The contents of the letter told me what is inside my head.

Before today and prior to surgery, the mail predictably informed me of what is inside the heads of others. Its contents contained information people desired to place inside my head, not tell me precisely what was already inside of mine.

Today I received a thank you note for a gift, junk mail from an insurance agency, and the latest Poet’s & Writer’s Magazine. All these items contain ideas that other people wish to place in my head. I’m comfortable with that.

The fourth item that arrived today was different. His office sent a medical identification card. It testifies that I have a specific brand of neurosurgical implant in my brain. The note accompanying the card said it is important that I carry this card with me at all times, just as people who are allergic to penicillin or hemophiliacs do.  This card certifies that I am a metal head, which I knew, and that the metal in my head has a safe use limitation, which I did not know.

The reason given for carrying the card is that the alloys in my head can set off airport security systems. This makes the idea of travel even more fun. From now on I won’t just take off my shoes and belt, and emptying my pockets. Now I need to divulge something inside my body that I can’t change, something that is a part of me, something that keeps me alive.

Now life in the security age gets more invasive. There is a chance of walking through the body scanner, setting off an alarm and being searched for something that can’t be seen. Is full-body groping and cavity searches in my future? It is a possibility.

The card states that the titanium clips and screws holding my head together are safe to 3.0 TESLA. What the hell does that mean? Does that mean ratings above 3.0 TESLA will heat up the metal in my head and fry my brain? Or will it corrode the device holding my artery together?

Traveling with metal in my head is different from traveling without metal. Along with my passport, driver’s license I will now need to present my medical identification card. The question is, do I disclose to the TSA that the scanner may activate when I walk through it, thus arousing suspicion?

“Oh, by the way, I don’t have a bomb or anything but the metal in my head may set off your scanner’s alarm.”

Or do I wait and take a chance that their machines are calibrated correctly (below 3.0 TESLA) and I won’t set off an alarm? What if it’s not calibrated correctly, the alarm goes off and my pockets are empty? Does that mean I get cavity searched?

Not only is airport security a concern but new hospital technology is too. Most Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines function at 1.5 TESLA. Newer machines use 3.0 and some zap patients at 7.0.

Either way, traveling just got more complicated. I’m flying again in two weeks. My doctor in Seattle wants to look inside my brain again and see how my metallic implants are getting along with my brain.

Have you underwent a medical treatment that produced unforeseen results?