Borg Like Me


#1

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#2

Jeepers, if getting an artificial hip is all that's needed to be called a borg, I think we can call the Speak & Spell artificial intelligence, no?


#3

Quite hardcore. So far just mechanical. But electronic and electromechanical augmentation should be around the corner (cardiac pacemakers being the early vanguards).

Do less-hardcore things (dental caps and implants, temporary implants of the K-wire style) also count as the Borg Experience?


#4

Great article, great perspective on this branch of modern medicine.

Aging folks really do have an up-close understanding of this kind of thing. My dad was joking about my grandmother being "bionic" now that she's got a rod in her leg (to go with her prosthetic knees).

Then there's my sister-in-law, who, as part of treatment for thyroid cancer, spent a week in isolation (in her own home, fortunately) because she was radioactive. Thyroid cancer cells absorb iodine just like regular thyroid cells do, so the patient takes radioactive iodine as a kind of "seek and destroy" treatment. As worried as I was for her, I couldn't help thinking, "Wow, that's cool!"


#7

When my mom got her knee replaced I asked her which side she was going to stand on when the machines raised up and rebelled. She said the humans, but to be honest I don't totally trust her.


#8

I've pretty much come to accept that I'll eventually have to have at least one of my knees replaced; joint problems/surgeries tend to run in my family. One of the more encouraging trends that I've seen is for minimally-invasive knee replacement, which drastically cuts down on complications and recovery time. In the meantime, I tend to favor cycling for my exercise, which is of course low-impact.


#9

Wonderful article. I feel your pain, although I also side with the gentleman that commented on the morbidly obese woman and her joint replacements.


#12

Some think yes:

The question is, how to stop or at least sabotage this trend.


#13

Exactly. I have bilateral arthritis and AS as well and will need both hips done sooner rather than later. I'm only 43 (not a boomer) which means the distinct probability of at least one, possibly two revision surgeries in my lifetime when the artificial joints wear out.

Exercise is almost impossible - hell, getting out of bed takes 10+ mins some mornings due to the pain. If I drop something on the floor I have to weigh the pros and cons of bending down to pick it up.

Until about 5 years ago I was very active, exercised daily, rode my bike thousands of miles a year - now I can't even complete a single pedal stroke without excruciating pain. I've already had one major surgery on my back that I'm still recovering from 3 years later and I'm facing a couple more in the near future.

It sucks but these are the genes I was born with. Nothing I can do about it except persevere. I've learned that you shouldn't judge somebody until you've hobbled a mile in their shoes.


#14

Very informative and humorous article. As a citizen that has very limited resources, I'm curious what the cost of hip replacement would be? The subject of not being able to pay for it would cause more stress than the procedure.
Seems to be a forever money pit.


#16

The cost is a very serious issue and can be life threatening. I used to think I was a big pharma funded cyborg until I lost my funding when I lost my court case. I was in an accident that required the rebuilding of part of my spine with titanium, and the implant of a Medtronic Synchromed intrathecal morphine pump below my abdomen that connected to my spinal cord via a minuscule subcutaneously implanted tube to deliver a constant dose of opiates directly to my nervous system to stop the amount of pain induced seizures I was experiencing. That was all bubbles and kittens, kisses and lollipops, and I was able to learn to walk again.

Then I lost the funding.

The doctors who had worked this miracle of modern medicine who implanted this device would not remove it, would not manage it, even though they knew if it were not managed, it would be the end of me. The money issue is a big one. I made it through. I am still feeling the effects. I too have Ankylosing Spondylitis. I recently had new upgrades: 30 year titanium implants in my neck. They usually only guarantee 10 years and use donor bone, but mine don't. I told my Neurosurgeon I'm a Transhuman. I think that's a much better fit than cyborg.


#17

It's only a matter of time before rich people start replacing their entire skeletons, Wolverine-style, as a status symbol.


#18

Good. More volunteers to scout the augmentation/enhancement landscape of medicine/surgery, in addition to sports people!

(See e.g. souped-up laser eye surgery for Tiger Woods and archers, Tommy John surgery baseball players, gene doping, stem cell doping, surgical doping in general...)

And with some luck the research and procedures and materials will "trickle down" to Neuromancer-style Chiba City underground clinics. We are heading to a cyberpunk dystopia, so we can as well have the good parts too.

The sports/cosmetics/vanity commercial surgeries are preferable sources to the military research as that one tends to be kept under wraps for ages instead of hitting the streets and becoming available.

I am keeping an eye on the better-than-normal vision enhancement procedures, as I would not mind one (edit: a pair) for myself.


#19

Bah. Call me when it is adamantium -- with an optional "retractable claws" attachment.


#20

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for memory upgrades. The rest won't matter if I won't know what to do with it.


#21

Adamantium is a tough one to find off the shelf, as the dealers of fictional materials tend to not have published phone numbers.

A better bet is a metal matrix composite, aka MMC. Possibly with titanium alloy, e.g. Ti6Al7Nb (better than Ti6Al4V as vanadium is cytotoxic at least in vitro) as a matrix, with oriented fibers (carbon, boron nitride...) as reinforcement. The center part of long bones can be hollow (with bone marrow), as it does not carry much load. Choose the MMC composition wisely, as you want high strength and a degree of elasticity; you want the bones to be tough but not brittle, to absorb shock loads by reversible elastic deformation.

Random thought... what about replacing the bone from within, using some sort of nanomachines or gene-modded cells that would replace the existing apatite/collagen structure with an alternative material?


#23

I am really sorry for this, and I don't meant to be offensive (you seem pretty light about your situation so hopefully you can see I'm not trying to make fun per se)

But all I could think when I started reading this article is

My only regret... is having... boneitis!


#24

For a minute there I was expecting another one of those "unusual item" emergency room pics.


#25

I can relate.

I got my pacemaker, CRT-P specifically (it just keeps my heart beating), back in 2011. I managed to develop atrial fibrillation, and cardioversion (shocking the heart, specifically the atrium, into a regular rhythm) lasted almost a year before my heart fell out of rhythm. Three cardiac ablations (attempts to burn the nerves that might be causing the misfiring of the heart) later, each one getting less and less effective, and my only choice was to get a pacemaker installed.

It was essentially done as soon as possible, but I was depressed about it until the operation was over. My heart (ha ha. Not) wasn't in it evidently, at some point I was crashing with a low blood pressure. They had to put in an arterial monitor (and drugs, I'm sure) to get me back where they wanted me. I had become conscious a bit, and I felt the nurse/orderly/whoever pull the monitor out of my arm, although I didn't understand what was going on. I hadn't even opened my eyes at this point.

I'm OK with it now, but I'm also looking at least three replacements for new batteries in my life time now. Those are not what I am looking forward to. Although the company that makes my pacemaker just came out with one that can be inserted much like a stent with a cardiac catheter. No more hard not in my chest, and an easier recovery (at least the next time...). No incision to worry about infection, no worries about putting your hands over your head, once the groin poke heals, I should be ready to go as if nothing else happened. And it's battery lasts longer too.


#26

Yeah, so, degenerative disk disease has led to 3 L-spine fusions. Arthritis has led to 2 total hips, 2 total shoulders & a knee "repair" that failed completely. "As soon as you'll let me, let's replace that knee." 1 hip now has an "anomaly", lots of pain, 2 months 'til I can see that doc. 1 shoulder is "collapsing", "there's nothing we can do for it", lot of pain. 3rd spinal fusion was a disaster, lots of pain. (I think the other shoulder has started to collapse.) I've had too many pain drugs, opioids no longer work.

I'll see a pain doc next week to see if there's a new miracle drug out there. I'm still upright, but pain colors everything I do.