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The grey padded surface of the operating table was pristine. The sheet of absorbent paper that covered it an additional barrier against contamination.
At one end a clamped brace for the head, at the other a double recessed brace for the feet. Arm and wrist braces made the whole thing ominous.
The surgeon's light, its five brilliant segments beamed over a stainless steel table of instruments.
These were not normal tools of surgery. I had made them myself. Each had a large interlocking extension attached. A normal surgeon would be like a bricklayer trying to use them. They were heavy, cumbersome, but absolutely essential for what was to come.
I lay naked on the table, it was not necessary for modesty, there would be no-one else present. The angle of my head allowed me to monitor a computer screen showing two images of my head above and to my right. Cross hairs from light beams showed on the side of my temple, not quite where it should be yet.
My right hand reached out to the keyboard built into the table and pulled it until it was touching the bed. I checked I could reach it while my wrist rested in the recess. When all was well there I raised my left hand and pulled down a microphone.
Speaking the words “Voice Test” the screen immediately added a dialogue box beneath the images and awaited input by the ticking cursor “Mary had a little lamb,” I said and saw the words appear in the box. “End Voice Test”.
Satisfied the microphone was working. I called up an additional display, the voice dialog box shifted over, I now had four images, all easily read from where I lay.
I saw a red traffic light in the new display and waited a few minutes for it to go through its start-up routine. The light changed to amber.
“SILAS on Stand-by” an electronic voice uttered from the depths of the room where darkness reigned outside of the circumference of the surgeon's light.
“Action SILAS: prepare simulation Alpha, Beta, Four, Zero, Three. Proceed.” I ordered.The traffic light turned green.
The whirring noise changed as the servo's began to work, and a robotic arm on wheeled platform drew into the illuminated circle. Stopping a short distance from the table and my head.
I maintained my head position and watched while the red crosshairs aligned on the area behind the right temple. The area was already hairless. A black dot painted on the skin centred the target.
Watching the two robotic arms proceed with tool selection and simulated cutting actions as programmed I was satisfied once the simulation ended that everything was ready.
Taking a deep breath, I forced myself to relax, reassuring myself I could still reach the keys; I adjusted my feet and gave the command that would change my life.
“Action SILAS: Proceed Operation Alpha, Beta, Four, Zero, Three. Continue.”
The foot clamps connected first locking them securely, comfortable, but no play. Next came the head clamp, it was snug fitting also with no play. Movement must not occur once the operation was under way. After a thirty second delay giving me time to abort, the hand and arm clamps dropped into place securing me completely from movement and the possibility of self harm.
“SILAS ready to Proceed: Operation Alpha, Beta, Four, Zero, Three. Continue?” the mechanical voice spoke awaiting confirmation.
“Action SILAS: Continue Operation Alpha, Beta, Four, Zero, Three. Proceed.”
Having given the final instruction I sighed. Now I could only watch the operation on screen.
The first incision when it came, stung, despite the local anaesthetic I had pre-applied. I wondered briefly if I had misjudged the amount in the injections. Three cuts and one robot arm secured the flap of skin leaving the side of the skull exposed.
The operation proceeded with a small square section of bone removed, no bigger than a silver dollar. Drilled in the centre a hole big enough to poke a matchstick through. I could see the sweat forming on my forehead. Damn! I had not accounted for the perspiration.
The robotic arm inserted a tiny chipped board that had been insulated in silicone except for six tiny gold contacts that extended out from the side of the chip and one on the top with longer wires; I watched as the robot's actions gently shifted my brain matter around making space for the board taking care not to allow the contacts to tear and cause internal bleeds.
Creepy, even though I had run through this so many times with cadavers it still threw me totally.
It took an hour for the skull plate to be reinserted with the gold electrode protruding from the hole.
The robotic arms dried the area, then secured it with fast surgical super glue until completely repaired.
It then attached a small wired membrane to the gold connectors protruding through completing all the connections. Leaving it flattened against the skull.
I had decided against stitches, there was only so much I was prepared to take in terms of inflicted pain. It replaced the skin flap and pressing it to the skull allowed the glue to take hold. then also wiped a thin bead along the cuts so they sealed the wound.
The voice broke through my concentration. My eyes had closed as the sting of the glue on the cut flesh settled into a throbbing ache.
“Action SILAS: Operation Alpha, Beta, Four, Zero, Three. Completed”
The clamps rescinded together. I was suddenly free. My hand automatically went up to feel the wound, it was smooth, no ridges, scarring would be minimal. A success.
SILAS now withdrew to a distance of a metre. The light on the screen returned to amber.
Now it was up to the stem cells to complete the connections. I anticipated between three and six months for new generation of tissue after which I would hopefully be permanently wired to the internet.