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National Editorials & Columns

Robotic Surgery: It does not compute

I go through coffee machines the way long distance runners go through shoes.

Coffee makers and I have an on-again, off-again relationship at best with one key understanding. My coffee maker understands it will only function properly for a time period of no longer than three months.

And I understand that when that time comes I will purchase another machine that’s just as unreliable and malfunctioning as the one I am replacing.

For a wedding present, some mysterious in-law whose name I can’t place a face to bought Christine and I one of those deluxe caffeine machines. There are more buttons on its interface than on the dashboard console of a space shuttle.

That’s just what I need, more mysterious buttons to press at the butt crack of dawn when I’m trying to peel my eyelids open.

And it doesn’t help that I have a button addiction.

Whenever I am placed in a situation where I don’t know what to do, I look around to see what nearby buttons I can press. When you apply that methodology to coffee makers it almost never helps and usually makes you late to work.

Suffice it to say the first batch of coffee I made was terrible as a result. A dazzling array of coffee grounds and a mysterious oily substance floated at the top of my scalding cup of coffee.

I’m not picky so I drank it anyway even though it burned my insides.

That’s when a commercial came over the airwaves of my enormous television set.

“Have you or a loved one experienced injuries or complications after robotic surgery?” pondered the deep legal voice of a swindling attorney.

My initial thought was that I couldn’t imagine what sort of possible complications could arise from a surgery-performing robot. Honestly, that doesn’t sound like a disaster waiting to happen.

Wait, wait, wait. That’s not nearly as sarcastic as it could be. I apologize, I haven’t had my coffee yet — and that’s part of the problem.

I don’t even trust a robot making me a cup of Joe in the morning, much less a robot conducting crucial surgery on some guy named Joe or other willing human specimens.

Complications from malfunctioning robots conducting surgery? No, you don’t say? Really, I mean, really? Robots aren’t equipped with the mechanical and medical wherewithal to conduct lifesaving surgeries?

Call me old-fashioned, but if something is going to slice and/or dice my innards I want it to be an actual doctor with a quarter-million dollar medical degree and steady hands.

The surgical robot in question is called the da Vinci Surgical System robot. Personally speaking, naming this machine that harms and maims people after Leonardo da Vinci is a disgrace to the celebrated artist’s work. They should’ve named the machine the van Gogh Surgical System robot. It just makes more sense.

Some of the injuries this surgical robot has been blamed for are phrases straight out of my nightmares, such as tears or burns to the intestines, punctured blood vessels, and severe bowel injuries. In some cases even death, which is a pretty typical symptom of someone who has had their intestines burned and their blood vessels punctured by a robot gone haywire.

That’s not even the crazy part. The most common surgeries these death machines (attempt to) perform are usually hysterectomies, bladder surgeries and prostate removals.

Think about that for a minute? I would seriously have to ask myself this question. Do I even trust a robot around my private parts? I can’t speak for you, but I go to great lengths to keep my private parts out of harm’s way and outside the reach of maniacal robots intent on burning my insides.

And when it comes to burning my insides there is only one machine that I trust for that sort of operation — my coffee machine.

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