On the Practice of Robot Urology - by @RickTalbot

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Conversation recorded with Dan [last name redacted], January 8, 2025:

It was about three weeks before my fifty-second birthday, when I discovered that I had suddenly lost the ability to urinate in a comfortable or timely manner. Previously, I could sit or stand and let the torrent rain down without any conscious thought or effort on my part. Now, it was as if I was trying to pee my way through mud, or concrete even. It was like there was a tiny Hoover dam jammed up inside me, and somewhere along the river there was a sluice gate that I had to struggle to raise every single time. And once that ridiculous effort was complete, a tiny streamlet would emerge.

My wife Eileen – Dan, what? You don't remember her? You met her the year before, at the company dinner. She was the one wearing the blue dress with the flower pattern on it, and we were together and I introduced her to you. I think I said, 'this is my wife Eileen'. And you shook her hand.... That's right, the brunette. What school does she teach at? That's not really relevant.... Yes, fine.... Saint Bonaventure Secondary. Anyways, I'll continue, because it's not really important. I told Eileen about the issue, and she suggested that I go see the doctor right away. So I did.

The doctor referred me to a specialist, after first ruling out the most common infections. So I got an appointment with Doctor Carfax over at Western Hospital. He had a room in the basement. It was shabby, dark, lacked windows and had low ceilings. I remember that the door had a sign on it: please come in and take a seat.

So I went in and sat in this rather funky room. I was the only one there. The walls were bare except for a poster with a quote on it: "Hang in there." You know, the one with the kitten hanging from a branch? The door to the examination room was just to the right of that stupid poster.

"Come in," Doctor Carfax said as he poked his head out from the examination room. I went in and the doctor asked me to describe the problem. So I did, and he asked me to take off my pants, lie on the table on my side, and face the wall.

"This will only take a few seconds."

He reached into a drawer and pulled out a latex glove. He put it on, slathered it with lubricating oil, and stuck his finger right into my butt. How long was he in there? Really? Fine.... Five, maybe ten seconds.

"Your prostate is much larger than it should be for a man your age."

"Larger? Is it treatable?"

"We'll have to test for cancer. I can do the biopsy right now, if you'd like."

"Well, uh, sure, I guess."

So the doctor inserted a tool into my behind, which he then used to retrieve a small sample of tissue. It hurt like nothing else I had ever experienced before, but it was a short-lived thing.

"I'll just put the sample in the tester."

He placed the little chunk of tissue in a vial, then placed the vial in the tester. The machine hummed for about a minute, then stopped.

"Here come the results.... The sample tests positive for cancer."

"Oh no."

"It's a lot more treatable than it was even 20 years ago. You're young relative to its advanced stage, so surgery is a good idea. Sorry about the news."

"What kind of surgery?"

"We'll leave that up to the robot urologist."

"The what?"

"The robot urologist."

"I'm confused. Do you mean a urologist for robots, or a urologist who is a robot?"

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