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HealthIamA amputee student engineer, wearing the world’s most intelligent prosthetic limb, AMA!

Feb 24th 2017 by Rishi_Vegad • 20 Questions • 3632 Points

EDIT: 3rd Remission Anniversary today! Happy anniversary to me and my lymph-nodes. Closing this officially now, thank you to everyone who asked me a question. You guys are great and you've given me the push to start writing this book. Feels weird to type that and mean it. :)

Hey guys! I am a twenty-two year old Irish woman, working as a freelance content writer. I love whiskey, sleeping, Drake and dogs. I also happen to be a stage four cancer survivor.

I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2013, which had spread and metastasized/spread in the lining of my left lung. I was 18 years old at the time and had just started my first week of university.

After a grueling course of chemotherapy, I was given my NED/remission status on February 24th 2014. I developed both depression and PTSD post-treatment, which I have since overcome.

I have always been a storyteller and writer by nature, and my goal is to write a book about my experiences with cancer and the stigma of surviving. However, I'm not quite comfortable enough with it to write about it at the moment.

The objective of this AMA is to give me a little insight into the kinds of questions people have about cancer, young people with cancer and surviving cancer. It'll also help put me on the path to finally writing my book.

I'd really like to break down the stigma and preconceptions of what it means to "survive" the shit-show of cancer. If I've learned anything from past encounters as a survivor, it's that people are misinformed and often wrong. So with that in mind, there are no stupid questions!

Ask literally anything, it doesn't matter if you think it's dumb, offensive, disgusting etc. I will answer with frank honesty.

Let's go!

Proof: Me today, holding a sign with my username and the date.

A picture of my first ever PET scan results. All of the black is cancer, with the exception of the larger black shadow at the bottom. That's my bladder which was full of dye for the scan.

My lovely baldy head about four months into chemo.

Me on my last day of chemo.

My Facebook page and my Instagram.

Q:

Do you ever have phantom limb symptoms?

A:

Hey Frank,

I just found out yesterday that you were a writer on INVADER ZIM! What was it like writing on that show? Love you guys and your work!


Q:

Thanks for doing this today!! Bates Motel has some really great wacky humour (which I love). For Freddie, do you feel that this has shaped your writing style in any way?

A:

Hello, Dr. Rojas.

How do you think the Black Lives Matter movement will be viewed 25 years from now in the context of civil rights?


Q:

When you were going through chemo, did you ever act like sméagol in front of a mirror and scream "my precious"?

A:

Yes I do - ranging from itches to electric shock-like pain - these were quite bad immediately after I lost my leg but have faded since.

It's strange and sometimes quite painful but you get used to it. I have been lucky as I know some people suffer with it a lot more.


Q:

Working around the designers and animators of Invader Zim was truly inspiring. -Frank

A:

I don't think I would be able to have started to write without Kerry's support. I feel that doing Bates Motel and being a part of a long running tv show, showed me that writing and directing was something I really wanted to do. I always had a slightly unfocused sense of wanting to write one day in the future, but Bates Motel honed me in the sort of thing I wanted to write. --FH

Freddie has an inherent idiosyncratic and wacky sense of humor, so it would have crept into anything he would have written...including dark things. It would always infuse in his writing, the way he looked at the character of Norman...little things in scenes that are so subtle. Little touches that made the character very endearing...that's pure Freddie.-- KE


Q:

Great question. In some ways, BLM will be seen as a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement. BLM seeks racial equality and pushes back against policies that are thought to target African-Americans. In other ways, BLM might be seen divergent from the Civil Rights movement because of its focus on cultural nationalism.

A:

Dude. So many fucking times you wouldn't believe it. My mother used to ask me to do it for people.

Other favourites included Lord Voldemort and Sinead O'Connor.


Q:

It must be quite the annoyance to have an itch you literally can't scratch.

A:

HI everyone! I love you guys! Thank you so much for MST3K. You helped me and my kids through some really rough times. Thanks for getting the band back together, you may not realize how much this show means to us fans but the whole cast kinda feels like family. Frank, I love your quips on Facebook about our butthead in chief keep up the good work. Anyway my question , do you all feel rather overwhelmed by your fans? Have the cast stayed in touch over the years? I always got the feeling that there was a closeness to the cast.


Q:

Freddie,

How does it feel going from playing more lighthearted fantasy stuff (Spiderwick Chronicles, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) to someone really dark like Norman Bates?

Also, happy belated birthday fellow Februarian!

A:

How can you compare all the good Martin Luther King did to what these people do?

note the sign that reads kill cops


Q:

Stop waiting, write your book please

with writing like this, i'd buy it in a heartbeat

A:

It definitely can be! It was worse when I first got the limb, but you figure out ways to deal with it, it's just background noise. I've found that if I scratch my prosthesis, it disappears - it tricks my brain into thinking it's gone!


Q:

No, we love all the fan support. -Frank

Yeah, the cast has stayed in touch. Except Frank and I are no longer on speaking terms. -Trace

I met everyone at the MST3K reunion and everyone was super super cool. -Carolina

A:

I don't think that Norman is really dark. Bates Motel has more humor than anything else I've done. It may be a dark humor but there's as much humor as anything else. That is what makes it something special. -F

I think Norman doesn't consider himself dark. He's very hopeful and optimistic, but the world around him is very dark. - K


Q:

Both Martin Luther King, Jr. and BLM were deeply concerned with how the police interact with minority communities. Furthermore, many BLM activists adhere to a philosophy of non-violent protest advocated by King and his allies in the Southern Christian Leadership Council. There are clearly points of departure between classic civil rights activism and BLM, but there is overlap as well.

A:

Omg thank you. I'm actually blushing!


Q:

Does the mirror trick that House M.D. uses in Episode "The Tyrant" work?

Or is it not something you've tried?

A:
  1. What are each of your personal favorite host segments?

  2. Is the lab in good hands with Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt?


Q:

It seems like I just got into the show only like a year ago, and I have been completely into it since season 1 was released on Netflix. What is your favorite season you have done? Least favorite?

EDIT: How did it feel for you when you got to direct an episode as well?

A:

Hi, thank you for taking the time to do this AMA. What is the best way you could describe racial equality; what does it look like, how does it impact cultural status quo, how do we go about implementing it, and is there a way to do so without "lessening the equality" of other racial groups to achieve a neutrality?


Q:

I don't know how it is in Ireland but in the US there is a certain amount of time you have to sue depending on the situation, sometimes it's years so you may be able to still. Also, sueing someone isn't always about "punishing" that person in particular, it's about setting an example and bringing to light a certain problem, in your case it's the fact that your doctor didn't take you serious because of your age. Ageism. There are many laws in place to protect elderly people from ageism but maybe not for younger people since it usually isn't an issue… Anyway, really glad you are doing well and thanks for sharing everything, it's really interesting and important.

A:

I haven't tried it but I have heard about it - if House is doing it, I clearly need to check it out ;)


Q:

RE: host segments, mine is the Rat Pack Chess set. I'm a big fan of both of Patton and Felicia. The lab is in good hands. -Frank

A:

Hmmmm.... I think season 4 and 5 have been perhaps the most challenging. Especially 5 because it's that sense of time running out and the countdown beginning. We wanted to make sure all the characters had a fitting conclusion. They were also the most fun to play for me. Norman changed and matured over these seasons and it was a lot of fun to play. - F

It's kind of like asking which child is your favorite. I love them all for different reasons. I'm closest to the last two right now, but I have to say I sort of love season 2 because it was a time when Norma was starting to hope that she could live the life she had dreamed. I thought that was really lovely and my favorite episode was the trying out for the musical. I remember questioning the decision to have that episode. There's just a lot of good storytelling in season 2. -K


Q:

Hi, thank you for taking the time to do this AMA. What is the best way you could describe racial equality; what does it look like, how does it impact cultural status quo, how do we go about implementing it, and is there a way to do so without "lessening the equality" of other racial groups to achieve a neutrality

Thanks for the note. Equality would mean that people are judged on their actions, not their social status. What does it look like? Hard to tell, but we have hints. For example, some institutions are better at addressing inequality than others (such as the US Military). What matters is explaining to people how the rewards you get are tied to your actions.

A:

Y'know something, since this was brought up earlier I haven't stopped thinking about it. I'm considering my options now more than I ever have and thinking about getting in touch with a solicitor to see if I have a case.

But suing takes money too, so that's another unfortunate issue. I'd have to be reaaaally certain I'd win, and with the sate of the Irish court system I doubt I would.

Thank you for commenting, I appreciate it. :)


Q:

Do you plan to use your Aerospace Engineering and Rocketry experience to craft a Rocket Propelled Prosthetic?

A:

Will you guys ever make it to seattle? And how does carolina feel about parquet floors?


Q:

Did any of the cast and crew members keep any of the props? I think one of the room keys would've been a pretty cool souvenir! :)

A:

So, are you saying that a meritocracy would be a better way to implement a sense of cultural and societal worth? How is it possible to overcome what seems to be a natural predisposition towards forming groups and order from perceived accumulated generalities and commonalities (aka stereotypes)?


Q:

Damn..so sorry to hear of what you've been through, but thrilled that you are alive and ok :)

A:

Do you mean like Ironman? If so, that would be brilliant! The laws of physics mean that would technically be possible, however, economics wouldn't allow it.

One thing I would love to do one day is build a model jet engine


Q:

You say parquet, I say butter. -Frank

Parquet floors? At first indifferent, but now strongly opinionated. - Carolina

A:

Oh yeah. I kept the manager's badge! Norman is more of a manager than ever before in season 5 so I was keen to keep the badge.- F

I kept some things from the house but nothing of great significance (I just liked them!) I also have the bunny in Norman's room that belonged to Emma. I also have a Norma dress. - K


Q:

There is no easy answer. But first, try to enforce rules that are transparent. Second, try to get people to break out of their small social networks. For example, a lot of occupations are built on social ties, which tend to be mono-racial. Third, try to create a new sense of in-group and out-group. Religions, for example, are good at getting people to see each other in terms of an in group.

A:

Thank you pal. :) I'm thrilled too!


Q:

So, my best friend lost his leg from an amputation in the hospital over a year ago. He and I have always dreamed since that he can get a cool robo-leg. How did you go about getting to trial the leg? What's a general way we can go about getting him a cool prosthesis?

A:

Frank, I have your book "Twenty Five MST3K Flims That Changed My Life in No Way Whatsoever" and enjoy it very much - so what MST3K film did change your life? (And to make it more difficult "Manos" doesn't count, because we all know you changed the course of world history by finding that stinkburger.)


Q:

If you could've changed one thing in the Bates Motel storyline, what would it be?

A:

You're welcome.


Q:

That's so scary, were you certain it was cancer right away? How quickly did you adjust to beating it?

I had a scare late last year for a different kind of cancer but luckily it was just a scare.

A:

First, you would need to get a functional prosthesis before getting a cool prosthesis! You want to make sure you can walk and live your life first, before thinking about looks. Although to be honest, all prosthetic legs look cool ;)

Here in the UK, if you can receive funding on the NHS for it, you can go through trials that way. Otherwise, you can buy them privately, and trial them before you buy.

Hope your friend gets his cool robo-leg soon!


Q:

No MST3K film changed my life. But meeting with and working with the cast and crew of MST3K did change my life. -Frank

A:

In my own heart, everyone would live happily ever after. -F


Q:

Racial equality means that people are judged on actions, not their social status. It is hard to tell what it looks like, since it is so rare. We have some evidence. I think we can promote equality without lessening others by focusing on actions and responding thoughtfully to perceived and real discrimination. Thanks for asking!

A:

Well I was sick for about a year before the diagnosis, and my GP kept telling me it was just anaemia and eventually hypochondria. I knew inside something wasn't right, so I googled it one day and my cancer came up. I shut the laptop, pretended I didn't see the result. Don't self-diagnose via Google right? That's what a hypochondriac does.

When the word cancer was mentioned first by a doctor, I knew. They ran more tests to be sure and everything, so my parents held out hope. But I knew. I screamed and cried and had to be sedated and cried some more. That lasted about a fortnight. Then I grabbed my diagnosis by the balls and set to work beating the shit out of it.

I'm sorry you went through that, but I'm really glad that you're okay and it was just a scare. It's not a nice experience! <3


Q:

Hi - awesome limb! how do you handle metal detectors etc at airports?

A:

It's truly amazing how big the concept of riffing movies has gotten, considering it was basically nonexistent when you guys started


Q:

Hey Freddie! Love the show and everyone's acting, y'all are awesome :D

What are you planning on doing after Bates Motel is over? Were you perhaps already approached by someone for a new project (movie/show)? Thanks and have a nice day!

A:

What is your opinion of race relations today and to what do you credit the current state?


Q:

what were your symptoms?

A:

Thanks! Firstly, I walk through...

them come the beeps and my eye-rolling...

then come the swabs and further scanning. I've only ever had to actually remove it twice - once in Dubai and once in Germany.


Q:

RE: deep sadness. Santa Claus vs. The Martians. -Trace

A:

I think I'm still in mourning.--FH

I'm doing development. Two projects. --KE


Q:

I believe that we are in much better shape than we were decades ago. For example, legalized segregation is thankfully a thing of the past. It is hard to find people who would say that we would be better off returning to the pre-Civil Rights era. At the same time, there are some bad developments. For example, mass incarceration mainly affects African Americans and Latinos. There is also the issue of immigration. The harsh and draconian immigration policies of the last few years have fallen mainly on Mexican and Central American migrants. So, yes, I am clearly happy that we live in a post-Civil Rights world. It is a huge improvement. At the same time, there is still a lot of work to be done.

In terms of causes, there are many. Scholars who study mass incarceration note that it stems from concerns about drugs, harsh sentencing aimed at specific populations, and the public's willingness to tolerate these policies.

A:

I had all the classic Hodgkins symptoms as well as a few more serious ones, as the tumours grew.

  • Swollen, lumpy armpits/groin.
    *Night-sweats - I'd have to get up at night and change my PJs as well as the towel under me
    *Sudden, inexplicable weight-loss
    *Fatigue
    *Wracking, perpetual cough
    *Anaemia
    *Fevers or chills
    *Itchiness in my legs and arms
    *Constant chest infections
    *Shortness of breath when walking short distances or climbing steps

Q:

What makes a good prosthetic vs. a bad one for you personally?

A:

Love the podcast and hope to see you live soon. Did you guys discuss how much the podcast would focus on good vs. bad movies? I like how much of it is positive despite your background in snark.


Q:

Freddie, What's your favorite norman bates quote?

A:

For example, legalized segregation is thankfully a thing of the past.

Not true at all - and largely thanks to the desires of blacks to be able to legally exclude other people, not the other way around.


Q:

What was the funniest moment during your ordeal with cancer?

A:

The socket - the interface between the residual limb and the prosthesis - is the most important part, for me anyway. It's like wearing a well-fitting pair of shoes, really!


Q:

A lot of it depends on which movie came out that week. If it's good, it's good. If it's bad, we shit on it. -Frank

We're fair. -Carolina

And I like that we don't always agree. -Trace

Agreed. -Frank & Carolina

... -Trace

A:

Laughs Mother! The funeral scene when Norman is giving the eulogy, it perfectly encapsulates that dark humor...balanced with that heartbreaking insanity underneath it is. On the surface, it's all incredibly funny. --FH

That low guttural noise he makes. Whenever he gets close to a girl, he breathes and it comes out like a gurgle noise. That noise will always remind me of Norman Bates.--KE


Q:

My mistake - the AMA is longer. I will answer questions below!

A:

There were honestly so many!

My BFF used to put her hands on my head and pretend to be a faith healer when we were in public. She'd be saying things like "Praise JesusAH! Exercise the demons from this sick child!" and I'd roll my eyes and pretend to speak in tongues.

Not a lot of people found that one funny. I did.

Another fave was when I got drunk and ripped my wig off at a Drake concert to get him to notice me.

It worked. Got a shout-out. Regret nothing.


Q:

I'm mostly interested how you mentally overcome and learned to live with such great loss?

A:

Thinking about your episode on Ed Wood (and your careers in general,) it's prettt obvious that movies as a medium are particularly special to you guys. So my question is simply- why? What is it about movies that has compelled you for all these years?

Another question for Frank in particular, are you planning on doing anymore essays or blog on a regular basis? I enjoyed your book but that old blog you had on Cinematic Titanic just sticks with me as one of my favorite things you've ever done- especially pieces like "Wonderful Horrible" or "It Was a Very Good Year." Thanks for the ama!!!


Q:

Hello Freddie, :)

Just wanted to say I'm a big fan of your work! My question is which dead Bates Motel character would you bring back to life?

A:

Very interesting set of responses and questions...still wanted to ask if you were aware/had an opinion on the recent black british studies degree in England? Has black studies successfully dealt with the black experience in other countries as a discipline?


Q:

What were the odds of a positive outcome for you?

A:

I'm lucky in that I had great family support, I met lots of new people - other patients that I learnt to walk with, the physios that taught me to walk again. When I returned to college and went to University, I've always had positive experiences.

The opportunities that I have now may never have come to me had I not lost my leg.


Q:

Thank you for the kind words. I have more books in the works, with one being published next month. Details TBS. -Frank

A:

I guess everyone always wanted Jiao to come back. I guess the question was if she ever really died. But I guess it's too late for that one. - F

Blair Watson. I really liked Blair. - K


Q:
  1. I have heard of the degree but I have not looked into it. I wish them the best of luck.

  2. Black Studies has moved in the direction of "Diaspora Studies" to properly contextualize the Black experience across the world. It is a very promising avenue of thought.

Thanks for asking.

A:

Because I was so young and "mentally fragile" at the time, nobody would ever give me a straight answer on that one in case I had a second emotional breakdown. Instead they used flowery language and dressed it up to make me think I had a really good chance.

For example, if I asked the odds I would get "your cancer has the highest odds of survival out of every kind!" instead of "in stage 4 cases, the odds of survival drop from 90% to 65%."

Due to my lung tumour, I would imagine I had a 50/50 chance.

I must ask my oncologist the next time I see her!

Also, Hodgkin Lymphoma does actually have the highest cure rate of any cancer - 90% in the first two stages, 80% in the third and anywhere from 65% below in the fourth.


Q:

Interesting, though not surprising. I imagine holding a human leg in your hands it would feel heavier than you expect.

A:

First off thank you for everything! I havent heard of Movie Sign with the Mads but it is now on my list.

If you all had a superpower what would you want it be? And would you use the powers for good or evil?


Q:

Freddie, this character changed anything in you?

A:

In my English class, we spent last week contrasting various speeches from the Civil Rights movement. We ended up talking a lot about the role of the media in presenting direct actions to the American public, and how MLK's brand of civil disobedience wouldn't have been nearly so effective without the eyes of the news cameras immortalizing their bravery and self-control.

Do you feel that movements like Black Lives Matter are leveraging media technology as effectively as their forebears? Has the recent concern over partisan reporting and fake news influenced how social justice advocates are perceived by the general public?


Q:

Are there different odds of it coming back? All the best to you tho man!

A:

Absolutely!


Q:

I don't know. But I would NOT BE EVIL. -Carolina

The power to answer rhetorical questions. -Frank

A:

It has awakened my darker side... I don't think so. I certainly changed since I've been doing Bates Motel, I was 19...and I just turned 25. There are huge events that happen in life that change you. And, the experience that Bates has had...but, it's hard to pinpoint any Norman traits that I've taken on my self and that's probably not recommended.


Q:
  1. It is different now than in 1965. Back then, people were just learning how to use TV as a way to project a movement. Now, everyone is way more experienced. Also, in an age of social media, people get desensitized.
A:

The odds of my cancer coming back in the same place, same manner are virtually none.

If I'm gonna get it again it'll most probably be somewhere else. Which is both comforting and terrifying, but hey - variety is the spice of life.

Thanks dude!


Q:

How heavy is it to move with?

A:

Now that there is a functioning information superhighway, is it more tempting to you today to do thorough background research on a bad movie, in order to generate riffs?


Q:

Freddie - What was the hardest scene to shoot in season 4 ?

A:

Hello Professor Rojas,

A question for you on sociology more broadly: why do you think it is that insights from some of the 20th century's greatest economists (particularly Hayek and Mises) haven't seen a great deal of penetration into the discipline, when it seems like they would be highly relevant and informative to so many of the questions that sociologists grapple with today?


Q:

So if you get cancer again, its legit just bad ass luck.

A:

To pick it up it feels quiet heavy but once attached to my residual limb (stump) the perception of weight is totally different. It then feels quite light to walk with.


Q:

We just watch the movie. We proved on the original show that you don't need the internet to have a head full of useless information. -Frank

A:

The hardest scene in season 4 for me was when Norma died. It was so hard but I got violently ill and couldn't go to set- I'm CONVINCED its because I couldn't stand to go see it- K

I think some of the bigger moments with Dr. Edwards were challenging. For episode 10 Kerry and I chatted for a while about that one and tracked Norman through the entire episode to make sure everything lined up. It was an internal episode for Norman. - F


Q:

Another great question. Here are my thoughts: a lot of sociology was initially framed as a response or critique to industrialization. So, you would not expect a lot of sociologist to embrace economic theory. But, at the same time, there seems to be a lot of similarity between some types of economics and sociology. For example, Hayek's most important idea is that society is a spontaneous order built from evolved norms and relationships. This is very similar to modern sociology, which sees society as built up from a web of decentralized social relations. I hope that there can be more contact between sociology and various schools of economics, such as Austrianism.

A:

Yeah, that or shitty genes. Cancer is rampant on my mother's side of the family.

My dad's side is all fine tho, so I'm hoping the first bout of cancer was the cruddy genes and the rest of my life will be dictated by the good ones.

This is completely unrealistic and impossible but hey, a gal can dream.


Q:

since it has bluetooth, have you ever worried that your limb might get hacked?

A:

Where should I start if I want to get into the music of Laura Nyro? And who among contemporary artists do you consider to be her equal?


Q:

Kerry! How was you knew Freddie will be perfect to be Norman Bates!!?(:

A:

Many classical liberals charge that some civil rights legislation violates the rights White Americans. They see affirmative action as legal discrimination against Whites, the outlawing of racially restrictive covenants as infringing freedom of association, etc. Do they have a point? Shouldn't private citizens and businesses have the right to discriminate?


Q:

I'm sorry, this isn't really a question, just me being baffled. Your family has a cancer history and your doctor still didn't take you seriously? That should be enough reason to get at least some testing done.

But I'm glad you're okay, and you're an amazing writer. I'd love to buy your book when you get around to writing it.

A:

No, never worried about it! If anyone hacks into it, it's such a niche piece of software what would they do with it? The only people that would do damage are my enemies!


Q:

Frank gasps Start with the album "Eli and the 13th Confession". Any of her first five albums really. Laura Nyro has no equal. Although I love Kimbra and St. Vincent. -Frank

I have that first one on vinyl. Rilo Kiley is among her only equals. -Carolina

A:

Carlton and I skyped with Freddie- he was the first person we talked to and met with. We loved him. But we thought we can;t just hire the first person we meet with! So we looked some more and read with some more people and it became increasingly clear at every point that he WAS Norman. he has very unique qualities that fit this role so well and we are so blessed and lucky to get him to do it. It would not be the same show without him. - K


Q:

You have to be careful here. There is generally not legislation that mandates affirmative action. For example, the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not mention it. Affirmative action is a range of policies developed by private and public groups to address real and perceived discrimination. In my personal view, some types are more justified than others. For example, some institutions have tried to set up quota systems, which seems unwise to me. However, in other cases affirmative action means that the decision maker (a college admissions committee) consider that people from certain economic or social backgrounds may not have identical opportunities (e.g., not all high schools have AP courses). Being more sensitive in college admission to the fact that many African Americans don't come from well funded high schools seems like a reasonable thing to consider.

A:

Yeah, just not a history of Hodgkins. Breast, bowel, liver, skin and brain, but not Hodgkins. And all of the relatives were in their 40s-60s when they got it, so in a fucked up way I can see her reasoning.

If I could go back and speak up about my google findings, I would. It was unprofessional on her part and unfortunate on mine. But oh well!

Thank you so much! This AMA has definitely given me the kick I needed to start. I was very apprehensive before as it's such a personal topic, but I think I'm ready.


Q:

Do you think intelligent prosthetics are a more viable solution than stem cell lattice and regrowth?

A:

Never heard of it, what's it all about?


Q:

Freddie,

What do you think it is that makes Norman often so irresistible to women throughout the seasons of Bates Motel?

A:

So what do you think about the claims that alot of sociology professors are more concerned with indoctrinating students to an ideology rather than teaching from a neutral standpoint and introducing conflicting opinions thus promoting independent thought?


Q:

What advice would you give to relatives/people of those who have cancer?

A:

Right now, as medical research stands, yes. As in, we haven't yet seen them in humans as of yet as far as I know. The complexity of the human body means stem cells working at this level is probably years off. And the strides that prosthetics have made in the meantime mean I can live a full life, with no barriers.


Q:

Carolina, Trace, and I talking about movies. And tangents. That's it. -Frank

A:

A. He's really cute. B. He sees them. The women who have been drawn to him, they're all kind of emotionally damaged, and I think that he feels like this quiet, safe place for them. They feel emotionally safe with him, which is ironic, because he kills peoeple. - K


Q:

In every discipline, there are some instructors who choose to indulge their own proclivities. It is also true that most sociologists are politically liberal But I have found that most sociology classes actually teach sociology!

A:

During treatment: don't smother them. They're the same person, they just happen to have a tumour. Nothing else has changed. If they need help then they will ask. Trust them to make their own decisions, including on support groups, treatment courses etc. Trying to dictate everything feels like you're taking away the last bit of freedom cancer left behind.

Try to keep them busy. Idle hands are the Devil's work, and so is an idle mind IMO. Chemo is boring, staying at home all day is boring, being sick is boring. Get them Netflix and nice blankets, puzzle books, video games, whatever it is that'll give them something to look forward to on the nights where they can't sleep. There'll be plenty.

If they need to scream/cry/rant, let them. Don't try to soothe them if they're having a rage about cancer - it's therapeutic, and no one will ever understand it exactly like they do.

Always, always ALWAYS visit them in the hospital if they're in for a long-term stay. My town was 40 mins from the hospital and I spent so long wishing more people would visit. :(

Post-treatment: don't expect the world. Let them take their time. If they say they're not up for drinks at the bar etc., don't be mad because "hey, they beat cancer months ago, they're fine!" That's not cool.

If you think they might be depressed, encourage them to see a professional. Mental health post-cancer can really take a nosedive if it's not taken care of properly.

And most importantly, don't take any of it personally. If the person was snippy/upset one day, demand an apology because they're being an asshole and then brush it off.

PS: Don't forget to take care of yourself either! It's hard having a relative or loved one who's going through this. My mother struggled a lot when I was sick and it hurt me to see her in pain. Self-love, seeing a support group or a therapist, and taking care of your own needs is v v v important. :)


Q:

Was the person who hit you ever caught?

A:

Freddie, what was your experience working with Rihanna like? Love you, Freddie!


Q:

Hello Dr. Rojas! I was reading I've Got the Light to Freedom by Charles Payne, and one thing he said really interested me. Essentially, he said that the fact that lynchings were happening all over the south in the 1950s-1960s was not unique by any manner, but what was unique was that the national news actually started covering them.

Frankly, it feels similar to what is going on now with Black people and police brutality/violence. I'm sure there's no more or less of it happening now that in the last 20 years or so, but all of a sudden people/the media care enough to pay attention.

Anyway, just curious about your thoughts. Does the media need to cover these events for them to grow into a social movement? Does social media kind of negate the "mainstream media"?

Lastly, Payne also argues that grassroots movements are really what drove the Civil Rights Movement. That these smaller movements acted as a coercive pressure on federal government. Thoughts on how that mimics today's political atmosphere?

A:

Did you watch Breaking Bad, and if so, what did you think of it?


Q:

Yep, he was caught.

A:

Oh she was wonderful. It's hard to say too much without giving away what she gets up to in Bates Motel...but she was incredibly engaged, professional and always gave absolutely everything. She threw herself into the role and made her Marion Crane unique and special with arcs back to the original performance in Psycho, but she made the character her own.


Q:

Excellent point. A major argument in research on social movements is that movements need allies in the media. This was certainly the case in the Civil Rights movement.

Well, BLM is grassroots by most accounts. We'll have to see if they develop in a way that allows them to systematically apply pressure for state and federal agencies.

A:

I flat-out refused to watch it when I was ill because of the cancer storyline.

I started it last year and finished it about three weeks ago. I loved every minute of it and I'm sorry I didn't watch it when I was sick. Heisenberg was a bad-ass and I could have learned a lot from him, attitude-wise.


Q:

If you could customise your Linx limb in any way what would you do?

A:

Thank you all for doing this! Love the show and I can't wait to see what's next from you both!

Norma always makes Norman eggs, bacon, and biscuits for breakfast. What's your favorite breakfast food?


Q:

Professor Rojas, thank you for doing this AMA!

I am very curious about the circumstances of shifts in societies / public perception - what would you say were the most important factors that lead to the civil rights movement rising up at the time when it did? Which institutions were essential to its formation?

A:

Storyteller and writer? Sounds good! Did you have a favourite author/genre?


Q:

I would make sure there was no paintwork and you could see all the carbon fibre - the look of that is really cool, especially for an engineering geek like me!

A:

Tequila--KE

I'm enjoying bacon rolls back in England. It's like a bacon/sausage roll. Circular roll, bread roll, with ketchup. I like pancakes, scrambled eggs. Marmite. --FH


Q:

We have had a lot of great questions. The classic civil rights movement (1950s) appeared after two things happened: the decades long development of Black political groups (like the NAACP and various churches) and the global attention given to American segregation (e.g., the Soviets could accuse Americans of hypocrisy). Also, there was a modest shift in public opinion, which helped Civil Rights groups enormously.

A:

Haha it makes for interesting work anyway!

I'll read anything. Literally any book you hand me I'll give it a flick through as long as it's not something ridiculous like Nazi sympathizing or automotive repair or some other really specific niche.

Lately its been fantasy series like ASOIAF, but I do love me some Stephen King. Goddamn that man can write a creepy book.

In terms of poetry, it's a tie between Sylvia Plath and Charles Bukowski. Cliche, but I love them both. I've also been feeling some Rumi lately, and Jim Morrison's poetry is a trip from start to end.

After I get over my fantasy obsession I have a stack of classics I want to get through. I don't like being an Irish writer who's never read Ulysses.


Q:

How does the robo-leg receive power? Battery Pack? Would be cool if it recharged it self with kinetic servos!

A:

Freddie, in your opinion, what is the best scene between Norma and Norman?


Q:

Also, there was a modest shift in public opinion, which helped Civil Rights groups enormously.

Could you elaborate / speculate on the causes of this shift? How did rhetoric in e.g. media change?

A:

The only Nazi book I ever read was Mein Kampf... but just for a research :P

I much prefer novels than poetry. Classics are good... can I suggest you Il Decamerone by Boccaccio?


Q:

It runs on a lithium ion battery, which I charge approx. every 3-4 days. I agree, kinetic servos would be cool!

A:

I think there are so many. One of my favorites is when he talks about moving to hawaii and sing Pearly Shells, knowing in the back of his head htat he's going ot trun the gas on. It's creepy and heartbreaking at the same time. Writing that scene I was thinking about if you hjad a kid and you knew something terrible was happening the next dayand you had to fkill them for their own good how would you do that? He had to think about how to put her to sleep peacefully and was so well done by Freddie and Vera. - K

In the first episode of this season when Norman comes home and they're at the dining room table and you get this sense of where their relationship is at, I feel that all the stories we've had are written with such nuance and and are never long but are done so well and so fun to play with Vera. It's really sad (not to be down about it!) that we won't working in a scene like that again. - F


Q:

According to political scientist Taeku Lee (whose book describes this shift), local activism (e.g., court cases, protest) slowly chipped away at public opinion outside the South. This built up over time, and created a political system a little more open to reform. Also, the adoption of Ghandian non-violence helped enormously. It is hard to trash people who adopt a Christian, pacifist stance in the media.

A:

I'd probably read it out of curiosity to be honest - but no other pro Nazi books hahaha

Really? I think poetry is good for a short, sharp burst of emotion. You can pick a collection up and put it down a thousand times over and you'll always get something different from it.

I'm always open for book recommendations! I've bookmarked it for later purchase. :)


Q:

What happened to the dog??

A:

Dear Freddie,

Would you say the interactions between Norman and Norma are emotionally taxing for you? Especially in season 5, now that all of his interactions with Norma have this undercurrent of sadness to it, since it's all in his mind.


Q:

I assume this is the monography you mentioned? I will look into it, thank you.

Taeku Lee, 2002. Mobilizing Public Opinion: Black Insurgency and Racial Attitudes in the Civil Rights Era. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Also, the adoption of Ghandian non-violence helped enormously.

That sounds very logical - thank you for your time and your answers!

A:

You said one of your goals is to travel lots. Where do you wish to travel or where have you already travelled?


Q:

Haven't seen him in years, but he wasn't hurt!

A:

I think all bigger scenes (which there are lots in Bates Motel) are challenging. You put real emotions into them and in some ways acting should be seen as a form of therapy, it can be very cathartic. Like after a big cry, you feel better. I get to vent my anger in Bates Motel, and then in my real life I'm endlessly happy. I never stress about anything.


Q:

You're welcome!

A:

Since recovering, I've been to Vienna and Budapest as well as places in Ireland that I never visited before.

My list is loooong. Top three currently are Venice, Bali and Machu Picchu. I'd like to do every major city in Western Europe, as well as a driving tour of Italy (my boyfriend and I are currently planning this one!)

I want to do the cliché cross-US roadtrip, and I'd like to do a historical tour of the world as well - concentration camps, catacombs and everything in-between. Asia, South America and Africa all have places on the list too.

If I get through a quarter of the list before I die then I'll be doing well.


Q:

What types of engineers were involved in the development/construction of the leg?

A:

Kerry, in which scene did Romero really fall in love with Norma? Or was it love at first sight?


Q:

what 5 things would u try to experience if u could be the opposite sex for a day?

A:

Mechanical, electronic, design, software - it's really multi-disciplinary. Especially on the software side, the Linx uses an app to set speed boundaries, how free it feels when you walk, and knee resistance when you walk down stairs/slopes, all when it is first fitted. People don't realise the varieties of specialties involved!


Q:

Personally, I think he started to fall for her around episode 6 of the first season. When he went into his office later that season and tried to play ball with him on a criminal level and he slaps that down, at that point she already has a little pull on him. I think that's when they both allow themselves to see it. - K

A:
  1. Masturbate
  2. Walk down a street alone at night without putting my keys between my knuckles as a weapon
  3. Do the dick helicopter bc why not
  4. Pee standing up without soaking my thighs
  5. Get a blowjob because they look fun

Q:

In your picture, why are you wearing two different kinds of shoes?

A:

Conversely, what advantages (physically) do you see being a girl instead of a guy?


Q:

Those are Air Max 1 ACGs. They come with two different coloured laces out of the box, as well as the option for them to be both white. I have approx. 50 pairs of trainers! I went through a phase of buying lots of limited edition trainers after I lost my leg because it helped me cope with people looking at me when I was out and about.

A:

Again, completely off-topic but I did say ask anything.

We get to play with our own boobs.

According to some guys a female orgasm is way more intense and complicated - I like the complication of it.

Also very hairy backs, faces and chests just seems like an awful effort. Shaving to the knee is an effort for me alone, can't imagine having to tackle my titties and my back too.

And penises just hang there, like do they not stick to your leg or flop around a lot? Everything we have is tucked away safely. Mother nature's pocket.


Q:

How does your prosthetic limb respond to your brain commands ? Can you move it voluntarily ? What makes you say that its the most intelligent prosthetic limb ? Thanks in advance

A:

would you try the bad stuff, like getting hit in the nuts or a boner in public?


Q:

No it doesn't, it's a passive device. It reacts to what the sensors in it see. I use my brain to make my stump move, and then the limb reacts based on the terrain it's on, the load on the front/back of the leg amongst other things.

It's the most intelligent prosthetic because it's the only limb available on the market; as it's a limb it has to deal with two joints and communicate between the two.

A:

These questions are incredibly off topic even if they're making me giggle like a schoolgirl. But no, I would not try the bad stuff.

I only get 24 hours to play with my penis, I'm not gonna fuck that up with a kick to the sack.


Q:

What (if anything) is something you feel your prosthetic / prosthetics in general havn't quite managed just yet? Any aspects in particular that you feel there's room for significant improvement as technology advances?

A:

So your blood test results through out the year that you felt symptoms and were called a hypochondriac never showed any signs of something being wrong? Red blood cells/ white blood cells, etc?


Q:

The main thing is having a lot of different legs for different activities. Developing one that does everything is the next step. Problems like waterproofing - a big hurdle - need to be solved; these are massive steps that will make a huge difference.

A:

I was severely anemic and my vitamin D level dropped to 14, whereas a regular level is up around 70-75. I was dying and all she could do was tell me to get more exercise and hand me vitamins. My white blood cell count started to fluctuate too. But Hodgkins Lymphoma won't show up on any blood test, only scans, which I was never sent for despite asking.

I also had severe bowel issues at the time which she put down to IBS, and then tried to blame everything that was wrong with me on a bad diet.


Q:

How has this leg situation impacted your intimate life?

A:

It hasn't ;)


Q:

You do realize its his leg not his penis that's the prosthetic?

A:

Bravo!


Q:

I just got my bachelor's in biomedical engineering last year and am going for my masters

I also want to work with prosthetics. Any advice you have for me to get myself there?

Thanks you for the AMA :)

A:

You need to approach companies and say you're interested. That is the first step. Just put yourself out there! I spoke to The Engineer about what I did, you can read a bit more here :) https://www.theengineer.co.uk/inprog/


Q:

So how far has the technology for limbs come? How far off do you think it is that well be able to wire these things directly into the nervous system? And how long till the technology on your leg becomes widely available? Will I one day be able to live my dream of being a human Dr. Octopus with extra cyborg limbs?

A:

From the purely mechanical to the mechatronic (addition of electronics and intelligence) was the biggest recent development. The Linx compared to other purely mechanical and microprocessor prosthetics, ensures the knee and ankle talk to each other making a massive difference to users in terms of terrain that can be tackled and helping keep the load off the other limb.

Direct wiring into the nervous system is a far away reality in my opinion - there are things currently indirectly connected (which use muscle signals produced by the contractions) meaning we are potentially making steps in the right direction. Perhaps then your Dr Octopus dream will one day come true!


Q:

How do you shower? :p

A:

I use my waterproof limb, which is not the Linx. I've lost my leg, but now I've got more than I started with!


Q:

Have u seen that rock climbers new leg? What do u think of it ?

A:

Do you mean Hugh Herr? His legs have powered ankles which mean he can move more efficiently. These are different to mine, but it's amazing to see someone turn their adversity into amazing technology and highlights just how engineering provides solutions to society's problems. The engineering is brilliant.