I am in a hotel room in silicon valley. It smells like money. I am here to learn how to operate using a robot. The surgeon sits in a console away from the patient and looks through a 3D monitor and controls three ooerating arms and a camera. Four limbs. It feels like playing an organ connected to an octopus that is working inside a human. It is like working at the table with all the range of motion of my wrists but through 1/4 inch incisions. One can even just do all the work through one incision hidden in the belly button, making it look like…nothing. Like I wasn’t there.
When I started in surgery I thought I would always be enamored with being inside someone. This is like being a thief and stealing organs while the person gently sleeps. When they awaken something is a little off, something missing here. Hey! Where’s my gallbladder!
In spite of the unbelievably intense technology that brings an enormous hydra-like console into a person with me ten feet away it really is as easy as riding a bike in that the movements feel instinctive, balanced, familiar. For a guy who blew every last quarter of his high school busboy income on asteroids and felt bad about it, I feel vindicated. Something in me knew what skills I was looking for. And another several thousand people were working away to bring me and a robot to you to quietly and joyfully remove something that isn’t working quite right. I gotta say, I am amazed. Feels like I am in the next century. Spock, go get Bones. We are beaming down.