Sunday, April 06, 2003

Just woken and had breakfast and the first moment of bleakness since the accident has descended.

Until now the thought of getting home, seeing friends and family and hugging my girlfriend was enough to tide me over. Now, the real prospect of what lies ahead is beginning to dawn. It still doesn’t feel like all this has happened to me. It’s as though I’m in a dream that I’ll soon wake up from. Deep down, though, I know that’s not the case.

The value of the support I’ve received from family and colleagues has been immeasurable. I’ve felt buoyed up on a cushion of good wishes. Reading the cards, e-mails and messages has given me great strength.

Ultimately, though, I know there’ll be dark days ahead. At the moment it looks as though I’ll lose the foot and part of the leg. It could be worse, but it’s not great. I’m steeling myself for what’s to come and hoping I have the inner strength to deal with it. Then there’s the issue of learning to walk again, drive a car, stupid bureaucratic things like compensation. Just writing this helps.

Kaveh’s funeral is taking place today in Tehran. He’s foremost in my mind. He’ll be missed terribly. There could quite easily have been two funerals taking place and I thank whoever’s looking after me up there that I made it through. I was lucky. Very lucky.

Saw the surgeon this afternoon and the die has been cast; the foot goes tomorrow. He said when he opened up the wound yesterday he knew he had no options. There’s no soft tissue left to connect any new vessels onto, so the decision’s been made for him. Obviously it’s a heart-breaking thing to come to terms with but in a way it’s been made easier by the fact that there are no options to consider. The saddest thing is that I have five perfectly perky toes held in place with a meccano set of pins and bolts but, in medical terms, that’s not enough to save my ballrooom dancing career. Like a killer virus, the landmine has done what it’s designed to do with perfect precision. I feel no bitterness but I hope whoever manufactures the things is pleased with their handiwork.

And today, more devastating news; a “friendly fire” incident involving my BBC colleagues near Arbil, in which one of our translators was killed and a driver seriously wounded.) Just in case the Iraqis weren’t adept enough at killing innocent civilians, the Americans are helping them along (having said that, I’m enormously grateful for the wonderful treatment I received from US Special Forces at their field hospital in Sulaymaniyah.) This war becomes more ghastly by the day.

So, a tough day ahead tomorrow. How I’ll feel afterwards, I just don’t know but I hope that soon afterwards the rebuilding can begin. I urge you all to read Jim’s accurate and unvarnished account of what happened.


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