The Time I Got A Magnet In My Finger

And my journey to get it out

Stephanie Coombes
Human Parts
7 min readJun 26, 2024


A few weeks ago I went to a doctor about something I’ve been putting off for around a decade.

I don’t have a regular GP, so I perused through faces on the local clinic’s website, trying to decide which doctor had the least judgmental face. I eventually chose a woman around the same age as me. She looked like someone you’d be introduced to at a book club.

At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, she and I exchanged pleasantries as we walked down the hall and into the consult room. She closed the door with a click, and sat behind her computer.

“So, what brings you here today?” She asked swiveling her chair towards me.

I took a deep breath.

“Well, this is a little weird…”

The doctor tilted her head to the side and drew her eyebrows together. It was a practiced expression which said: ‘I am an unflappable, sympathetic professional’.

“It’s about my finger.”

She nodded. How weird could a finger be?

“I got a a magnet put in it about a decade ago and I think it needs to be taken out.”

A look of confusion flashed across her face for a moment before she managed to recompose her expression into kind indifference once again.

“It’s in my ring finger,” I said extending my hand towards her.

She looked at my hand for a moment, and then gently palpated the skin between her thumb and index finger.

“I can feel it,” she said. “Why did you do this?”

Why indeed.

About 10 years ago I had my parents drop me off at a piercing parlour called ‘Flesh Impressions’ in the Gold Coast. I was working on a story about body modifications at the time and was there to interview a woman named Kyla working in the body modification scene.

“Don’t come back with a magnet in your finger!” My mother said jokingly as I stepped out of the car.

“Of course I won’t,” I replied with a forced laugh.

I was lying. That was precisely what I planned to do.

It was 2013 and I had a final project for my journalism degree to complete and a commission to make a documentary for the ABC in Australia. I had recently stumbled on a Reddit thread about extreme body modifications and read about a person who got a magnet in his fingertip.

He’d written that he’d had the procedure because it gave him a sixth sense. When he was in the vicinity of a magnetic field the implant would spin on its axis and emit a vibrating sensation. Fascinated, I pitched a radio documentary looking into this and other similar procedures.

At this time I, like a fair chunk of the western media, was going through a gonzo journalism phase. The meteoric rise of Vice had made practice of needlessly inserting yourself into a narrative somewhat acceptable. I had told both my university and the ABC that, in addition to talking to several people about body modifications, I was considering getting a magnet put into my finger.

“I won’t tell you not to,” my tutor had replied.

“Well… it would certainly add something to the story,” the executive producer said.

Both institutions accepted the pitch. All I needed to do was find someone who was willing to do the procedure. After browsing niche forums on all corners of the internet, I concluded that there were at least two people in the country who could do magnetic implants. They had very different techniques.

The first was a fellow conveniently working in Kings Cross. He would implant a small silicone-coated magnet by using a scalpel to create a pouch in the finger and then seal up the wound with a couple of sutures. This, of course, would be excruciatingly painful. So he had managed to illegally procure injectable local anaesthetic to numb the area.

For reasons I can’t fully remember, I baulked at the thought of anaesthetic. Getting a magnet shoved in my finger by some dude in a grungy parlour seemed fine and reasonable. But illegally using a numbing agent? That crossed a line.

Which left me with the only other option: a woman called Kyla. She would use a thick, hollow needle to pierce the skin lengthways through the pad of the finger and then drop the magnet into the newly-created fleshy hole. She didn’t use stitches and the skin would naturally heal in a few days. Kyla also used no pain relief.

This, I thought, was the most sensible, adult choice.

I sent an email asking whether Kyla would allow me to record the process for my story. She replied a couple of days later and agreed to take part in the documentary.

I remember walking up the stairs to the piercing parlour’s front door pale and clammy. I managed to get through an interview with Kyla talking about the procedure, it’s questionable legalities, how she’d learnt how to do it. Then with no more questions left to stall the inevitable, I lay back on the padded chair reserved for customers and gave her my left hand.

Honestly, even writing about what happened next still gets my heart rate up.

“If you pass out, I’ll just quickly get it done okay?” Kyla said.

“Okay.” I said desperately, desperately hoping I’d faint.

“How long will the needle be in?” I asked.

“Forever,” Kyla said. “Just prepare for that.”

I closed my eyes tightly and listened as she shuffled around me. I heard the clanging sound of something being placed on a metal pan. I then felt gloved hands prod at my ring finger.

“Deep breath in… and out” Kyla said in a slow, calm voice. “And in… and out”

On the second ‘out’ I felt a sharp stabbing sensation in my ring finger. The pain was like waves of electricity.

“Oh my GOD it’s so much worse than I thought,” I said.

“Remember to breath!”

Eventually, after what felt like a very VERY long time, I felt a tugging sensation. Kyla said that she was done. I opened my eyes, and laughed a little hysterically. The pain had been replaced with deeply unpleasant but manageable pins and needles radiating down my arm.

The needle Kyla used on my finger
The needle Kyla used on my finger

I was given some care instructions and I left the parlour in moderate shock. I hadn’t planned on telling my parents what I had done, but Kyla had wrapped the wound in bulky layers of gauze. It wasn’t something I could hide.

“How’d it go?” mum said as I hopped into the backseat car.

“I’m going to be honest with you. I got a magnet.”

There was a moments of thick silence as both my parents slowly swivelled around to look at me.

“You didn’t.”

“I did.”

My mother didn’t speak to me for quite a while after I got the magnet. I remember my sister saying that she didn’t know whether or not she was going to get over it.

But thankfully time heals all wounds. All up it took about seven days for my skin to close up and for my mother to start talking to me again.

Sure enough, after the wound had sealed, I noticed that turning on a microwave or going near a powerboard resulted in a slight buzzing vibration in my finger. This new sensation somewhat compensated for the nerve damage caused by the needle.

My finger a couple of days after the magnet was implanted

These days I barely notice magnetic fields. But the implant has still changed how I perceive the world. For example, I find myself subconsciously testing whether all manner of metals are ferrous or non-ferrous. This is useless information of course, but the brain doesn’t care. In some ways it’s no different than being compelled to feel the texture of a leaf or tree trunk as you walk past it.

On the downside, the implant in my finger can be both painful and annoying. When it attaches to another magnet or metal, my skin is pinched on both sides. This means on trains and busses, I can’t hold the metal poles with my left hand unless my ring finger is slightly elevated. I’m also fearful of strong magnets, and handle anything I suspect might contain one with the same finger protectively curled in.

At the gym, the heaviness of weights compresses the magnet against the bone which is quite uncomfortable. It’s a bit like having a stone in your shoe, except the stone is actually sitting under several layers of your skin. When I’m doing deadlifts I have to wrap a hand towel around my ring finger to add extra cushioning.

All of these things have affected the grip strength on my left hand significantly. So the time has come to get it removed.

I asked the GP if she was able to take the magnet out herself.

“No,” she said without hesitation. “You’ll need to see a hand surgeon, I’ll give you a referral.”

This, I imagine, is not going to be cheap.

I listened back to the radio documentary a few months ago. Hearing it with fresh ears, I was certain of one thing — it was utter shit. The story was totally garbled, there’s no narrative thread, and the only good part is when I’m in total agony. There are a couple of ideas which could have been interesting if they were properly explored, but I didn’t narrow my focus. Some things don’t change I suppose.

But even knowing the story was shit and that the magnet removal is likely to be expensive and painful, I still can’t bring myself to regret having it done.

When people ask about the magnet, I tell them it was put in for a story. It puts the thinnest veneer of acceptability on what could be seen as an act of madness. But really? I did it because I could. I wanted to see what would happen. To know what it felt like. To act out of my usual nature. The magnet is a good reminder that in a rational world, I have acted completely and utterly irrationally.

I’m glad that I did. I’d rather have an interesting life than a sensible one.



Stephanie Coombes
Human Parts

Stephanie's an award-winning journo with a taste for the weird. She writes about culture, society, and unseemly stuff she finds on the internet.