Wednesday, July 30, 2003

This week is turning out to be quite a traumatic one.

I wrote last week's News Online column about seeing a set of photographs taken while I was under the care of US Special Forces in Sulaymaniyah.

I hadn't seen anything yet.

Greg Hamon, the surgeon who looked after me, has sent me the snaps from his album. Maybe I was expecting them to be similar to the last ones because I certainly didn't open them with the same trepidation.

I wish I'd steeled myself because I got quite a shock.

The damage to my foot was far, far more extensive than I remembered (although I made a conscious effort not to look at it because I knew that if I did I'd probably pass out.) How I still had any feeling left in my toes, I just don't know. How I remained conscious after the accident amazes me.

I just sat there, looking at the photos with my hand on my mouth, saying "fuck, fuck, fuck."

By the time I came around from the anaesthetic, my foot was neatly wrapped in clean white bandages, the gore hidden from view. I never saw my right heel again.

Now I understand why they couldn't save my foot, why Dr Hamon said the chances of salvaging it were small from the very start. Now I understand why the surgeons in the UK said they couldn't even attempt reconstructive surgery. For that understanding alone, I'm glad I've seen the photos -- even though it's hard to look at them. And now I feel even luckier than ever that I'm here at all.

And seeing as you've all been with me this far, I guess it's only fair to share the pictures with you. I warn you, though, they're nasty. If you can't sit through an episode of Casualty or ER without closing your eyes, I suggest you give them a miss.

Oh, and if you look at the pictures and think "how terrible" -- don't.

I got first class medical treatment and access to some of the best prosthetists in Britain. Most landmine victims don't. Think instead about what landmines are doing to men, women and children in some of the poorest countries of the world -- then do something about it.



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