Sometimes you get all ambitious about writing and blogging. Then life happens and you encounter a surgical robot instead.
I was diagnosed with relatively early stage prostate cancer in March. This would normally be a nuisance more than an issue of concern. In most cases, men die of old age long before prostate cancer could kill them. The biopsy analysis included a worrying bit about a relatively small amount of grade 4 cancer, which can become more aggressive over time. In theory, we could still just watch it. But my wife and I decided, to paraphrase Ellen Ripley, to nuke it from orbit to be really sure.
So on May 1st, I underwent what’s called a radical prostatectomy to remove my prostate. The surgeon was assisted by a robot designed and built by Intuitive Surgical right here in Sunnyvale, California. This is a clear example of overuse of a word because the DaVinci system isn’t really a robot. The system is more properly a Waldo, after the Robert Heinlein story. The system enhances the surgeon’s capabilities, allowing for greater precision and additional degrees of freedom, as well as including a tethered camera which allowed my surgeon to see what he’s doing.
Because of the vagaries of general anesthesia, I don’t remember seeing the DaVinci system. I recall being wheeled towards the operating room, then waking up in post-op. When we met with my surgeon a week after the surgery, he told us that roughly 6% of the prostate was cancerous, with about 1/4 of that being grade 4. Biopsies of local lymph nodes and other tissue showed no evidence that cancer had spread beyond the prostate.
Recovery has gone pretty well; I had to live with a catheter for a week, but I’m now up and about walking around. I expect a gradual resumption of bicycling and other physical activities in the next few weeks. I plan to write more as well as resume the Improbable Insights podcast. It’s all been a sobering experience, though. But even though life happens, I figure I’ll just keep moving forward. What else could I do?