Welcome to Consumerism Reports, a recurring series about all my devices. I’d like to clarify that it is NOT a tech column — it’s about spending money to speed up self-transformation, and then buying more stuff when that doesn’t work. And so I have acquired an endless array of devices: from products that promise to make my face look more triangular and the skin around my eyes less purple to ones that shrink specific parts of my salt-logged body. Do any of them work?
I am Our Lady of Perpetual Motion Sickness, a distinction that has not served me well of late, as I have been traveling non-stop this past month for reasons of both deep sorrow and everlasting delight. We have a vengeful, uncompromising god, but on the other hand, everyone I know is getting married; as a result, it’s been a big sticky mess of planes, trains, automobiles, skateboards, and, at one point, a boogie board.
Thirty years into my life as a traveler, I am not any closer to becoming a steelier passenger, and — not to sound like Ron DeSantis, Governor of the Boogie Board State — but masks on transit do not help my cause. I basically always feel like barfing, and no, I’m not pregnant, you sicko. Early last weekend, clunk-clunk-clunking through Midtown Manhattan in the middle seat of a handicap-accessible Lyft we really shouldn’t have been using, I looked straight ahead and shut my eyes in an effort to forestall the inevitable nausea. There would be more trains, more cabs, and a shuttle bus in the ensuing days.
My friend Megan, a long-time fellow sufferer of landbound mal de mer, offered me her window seat. She didn’t need it anymore because her fiancé Matt had bought her a “shock bracelet” that cures motion sickness. I know how that sounds: The Yellow Wallpaper much!? Though re-coordinated electroconvulsive therapy strategies have helped so many in the past decade, we don’t need to be shocking our girlfriends into complacency just because they keep saying, “I’m gonna puke” over and over and over again. We’ve moved on as a society.
But no, the EmeTerm Motion Sickness Wristband doesn’t have anything to do with brain neurons. It’s a rechargeable wearable that you fasten on your median nerve, two fingers’ width down from the crease on your inner wrist. The EmeTerm purports to use five different intensity levels of electrodes to “release a low-frequency pulse” that can “adjust the vagus nerve signals traveling to and from the stomach, and can prevent or postpone the brain from transmitting nausea signals to the stomach, then reduces the nauseous sensation for the users.”
It’s a disruptor — how very Elizabeth Holmes-chic!
Three days later, the EmeTerm was mine. It didn’t arrive fast enough to use on the shuttle bus the next day, but I wore it on the subway, in a cab, and during Pure Barre class, during which I sometimes get nauseous from simple and humiliating overexertion. I was surprised by just how strong the current is, even on the lowest setting. It feels like you’re being slapped with a tiny open palm, and the tingle that follows, while not painful, certainly shot up my middle finger. But if I’m paying up, I like things to hurt a little bit. That means it’s working, or at least the pain is a distraction from all the other bodily and psychological sensations while stuck in an enclosed space. I would consider the EmeTerm a success, in that it definitely quelled mask-in-cab related retching. Further research is needed to determine if it will quell my nausea at its worst, like when I’m on a city bus or a bumpy flight.
One strike against the EmeTerm is that it’s blue-gray and clunky, like an uglier Iron Curtain-era Apple Watch. While wearing mine out and about, I found myself trying to do the opposite of flaunting it; I’d rather no one saw me with it on. But I did have a bit of fun ideating about Hermès making a special post-market strap for the EmeTerm. I’d wear that on my wedding day. Or, you know, someone else’s wedding day. Only four more to go this summer.