The Metro ad I couldn’t ignore


French surgeon Alain Herard poses next to the Da Vinci surgical robot, created by U.S. company Intuitive Surgery. (FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
April 24, 2012

Every now and then, there appears on a Metro train an ad that is so poetic, so evocative, so gripping that attention must be paid.

Now is that time. This is that ad.

Picture a smiling doctor next to this line of text: “Robot-assisted urogynecologic surgery is only as good as the surgeon who performs it.”

There is so much going on in that sentence that I barely know where to begin. It has a whiff of science fiction (robots!). It has matters of life and death (surgery!). Most strikingly, it has a word that you don’t see every day: urogynecologic. And you especially don’t see it in a robot context.

Frankly, the thought of a semiautonomous machine working down there is a little worrying. But never fear. Remember: “Robot-assisted urogynecologic surgery is only as good as the surgeon who performs it.” And as the next line of text puts it: “Meet Dr. Amy Park, Washington Hospital Center.”


Sad is the life of the goggle-clad, corneally abraded, pollen-allegic equine, such as poor Queenie here of Silver Spring, who kept rubbing her itchy eyes on fence posts. Hopefully she feels a bit better after the recent rains. (COURTESY OF KATHY LIPTON)

Dr. Park presumably rides herd on the robot, keeping the delicate procedure from becoming doctor-assisted urogynecologic surgery.

I think what I like most about this ad is its matter-of-fact tone. The signature line — in case you’d forgotten, it’s “Robot-assisted urogynecologic surgery is only as good as the surgeon who performs it” — comes across almost like a folk saying, something we’ve heard a million times before.

A penny saved is a penny earned. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Robot-assisted urogynecologic surgery is only as good as the surgeon who performs it.

Why, just the other day some friends and I were at a happy hour talking about robot-assisted urogynecologic surgery (as one sometimes does) when Pete said, “Well, you know, it’s only as good as the surgeon who performs it.”

What could the rest of us do but nod in agreement?

Glasses half full

I take some small credit for the recent rain, which came on the heels of my column about itchy, pollen-afflicted eyes. Just like washing one’s car (as I also did last week), writing about pollen is sure to bring a pollen-cleansing shower.

Many readers sent me suggestions for dealing with spring allergies, from eyedrops to drugs to ice-cold washcloths.

Silver Spring’s Kathy Lipton said it isn’t only humans who suffer this time of year.

“My horse has sustained two corneal abrasions after rubbing her itchy eyes on a fence,” she wrote. Kathy attached a photo of her solution. In addition to taking 20 antihistamine tablets daily, her horse, Queenie, wears goggles 24-7. They make her look like a fly. (A horsefly?)

By the way, Queenie came to Kathy after a career as an arabber’s horse. Those are the peddlers who sell produce on the streets of Baltimore from horse-drawn carts.

Statue scrub

The statue of Alexander Robey “Boss” Shepherd in front of the Wilson Building is looking spiffy these days. It got a scrub last month. It took three days for Howard Wellman and Constance Stromberg of Artex Fine Art Services to clean the statue, a job funded by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Shepherd is credited with, well, shepherding a building boom in the District when he served as governor in the 1870s. His statue was erected in 1909, but in the 1970s it was exiled to the grounds of the Blue Plains sewage-treatment plant. With the urging of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants of D.C., the Boss was reinstated in 2005.

Driving into the sunset

On Monday afternoon, I witnessed the timeless ritual that takes place at Arlington National Cemetery. Ace Rosner , the 94-year-old one-armed racing car driver I wrote about frequently, was interred in Section 59 along with his brother, Larry.

Larry passed away in September at age 95. Ace died in November. The two served in the Army together in World War II. Ace always credited Larry with saving his life. After a German shell tore apart Ace’s right arm and he was evacuated to a hospital to have the limb amputated, word somehow got to Larry, who rushed to Ace’s side and provided a blood transfusion.

Ace loved his family. He loved his cars, too. When he died, he owned dozens. Three of them — a Jag and two Rolls-Royces — will be on display Sunday at Britain on the Green, a car show on the grounds of Collingwood Library in Alexandria.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section.
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