Magnets: how do they work?

I’m working on my mental health with a treatment that sound pretty science fiction: HF-rTMS, which stands for high -frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. I spend about twenty minutes sitting in a chair every day with a figure-eight-shaped magnetic coil attached to my head. A series of electric pulses travel from a generator through the coil to my skull in quick succession, then pauses, then repeats. The therapy targets the left prefrontal cortex, which shows reduced resting activity in depressed people. It also contains a lot of motor neurons.

The sound is much like there’s a metal woodpecker inside my skull. The feeling is less painful, but it’s not something I’d do for fun. Often my eyes twitch during the treatment and afterwards I feel extra twitchy and shaky, because my already overstimulated (due to myoclonus-dystonia) motor neurons have also been getting more current.


Focal field for TMS positioning
Why magnets? Electromagnets are currently the least painful way to send current to brains.
The side effect is that sometimes I have a headache afterwards, which is common. I’ll take headaches for the chance to make a long-term improvement in my mental health. The neuropsychiatrist told me that about two thirds of patients respond. So far, no positive change in mental health, but I’m only two weeks in, and they see most responses begin in week three or four. As to why exactly it works…well, scientists are still working on that one. Best theory seems to be that evening out an electrical balance alleviates some of what can cause major depressive disorder.

It’s an every-weekday for six weeks treatment, after which there are three more weeks of tapered treatment. If I start responding on week six, I get another few weeks of it. It’s a hassle to get to and from the center- I have to leave work early. I get to spend the time in the chair reading, at least. So far I’ve read N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdoms, Jeffe Kennedy’s The Mark of the Tala and Lonen’s War, and Joan Vinge’s The Snow Queen. I’ve been too tired to work on my novel, but at least I’ve been filling the creative well with a lot of books.

Back from Asia

I didn’t get as much reading done over my Asia trip as I would have liked. Four and a half books is plenty, but there were many times I didn’t feel like reading.

Escapism is a popular reason to read genre fiction. Maybe there’s a little escapism in my reading. I don’t read with it in mind, though. I read fiction so that I can experience reality more deeply, so that I can empathize better with others, so my mind is more flexible. I want to know how everybody feels, fictional or non. The more experiences I can think through, even if they’re not my own, make my life richer. They make me ask questions about what I am doing and what I want to do in life.

Travel can be the same for me. I am still busy processing my experiences in Japan and Taiwan. I learned a bit more about where and who I come from historically and presently. To those who don’t have Taiwan on your wish list, I’d urge you to add it, especially if you love cities and nature.

Unrelatedly, I accidentally got myself into DRM purgatory by downloading a book I purchased and accidentally authorizing it with my library account in OverDrive. Now I can’t read it in Adobe Digital Editions, among other things. I thought, well my bad, I’ll purchase another copy, but I can’t do that with the same retailer since it’s in my eLibrary, though not readable there. I sent an email to the retailer to see if they can remove it from my library or issue another key.

For the rest of the year, I have a few books published in 2016 that I need to read if I’m to do the SFR Galaxy Awards. I have some books on my short list, but I’m looking forward to more travel reading (I’m going to San Francisco in a week and then the East Coast mid-December)!

Thank you, Hugo House. And now, to read.

And thank you, Rebecca, for teaching us a lot and facilitating discussions so well with structure and humor. Leading us may have felt like herding cats, but you got a lot accomplished: most of us would not have written a quarter the words without your help! As mentioned, thank you to Hugo House, a nonprofit place where they teach writing classes.

Since it’s been a long road writing my draft I’m not going to do NaNoWriMo, but I’m cheering for everybody participating. Instead, it’s time to binge-read! I’m getting excited for my vacation and I borrowed plenty of library ebooks. I don’t know which ones I’ll get to, but they all look interesting:

Then there are all these books on my TBR shelf I also am itching to read. Here’s the top of the heap, alphabetical by author:

Honeymoon reading

This morning I set out to New Mexico with John! There will be plenty of downtime and hanging out at cafes, just letting our brains unknot for a week. I’ll do plenty of reading, I’m sure. Here are some books that I’m thinking of getting to:

  • Aliens in the Barn by Kyndra Hatch. I’m partway through this, and I haven’t met such unique aliens in a long time.
  • Deep Indigo by Cathryn Cade. I’ve read the others in this series and enjoyed them, so why leave that incomplete?
  • Mission: Improper by Bec McMaster. The spinoff to London Steampunk.
  • Hell Squad: Cruz and Gabe by Anna Hackett, because I’ve read the later books and want to be able to fill in a few references.
  • Trapped with the Cyborg by Cara Bristol because I will read most any books with female cyborgs in them.
  • Seth by Eve Langlais because see above.
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. I’ve tried to read this a decade ago but had some trouble with it. I think it’s important for me to read more about hypercapitalism and classics of cyberpunk.
  • You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty by Dave Barry. Dave Barry was the first humor writer I read as a teenager and I appreciate his talent for the absurd.
  • Devil’s Kiss by Zoe Archer. I love her adventure stories. This is a historical with some supernatural elements I borrowed from the library.

I said recently that I’m not great at “just being” and reading is a good balance between doing and being. Do you have any summer vacation reading plans?