So after what seemed like four hours and five connecting flights, I arrived at Addenbrookes hospital on the outskirts of the city. Thanks to a bus timetable as reliable as US Senator Strom Thurmond's integrity*, I arrived at the talk late, but slunk in just as Mr Henman started talk, titled Combat Surgery: The Great Game from the Sidelines with a foray into his posting to Kuwait during the earlier war there, and how he coped with being a trauma surgeon on the frontlines.
He went on to describe his posting in Afghanistan before George W. Bush went trigger-happy into the region, and his medical work whilst the Taliban, the hardline Muslim government in power at the time, were still the recognised rulers there. Whilst his assignment with the British Territorial Army meant that his primary duty was to treat British servicemen there, the trauma unit he worked in couldn't turn away emergency cases being brought in from the battlefield, and these were mostly locals. So, in effect, he was a doctor for the Taliban. Back when they were still the good guys.
Read my latest post about what Mr Henman said over at Medscape. It describes how, from a combat surgeon's point of view, the conflict there was very different from what was reported in the media. A great example was when he had a conversation with one of his patients, a benign-looking man playfully holding a flower in his mouth when his photo was taken. This man also just happened to be the local Taliban commanding officer. Confiding in Mr Henman, he told him that all the Taliban wanted to do was to start from scratch, rebuilding Afghanistan, and once that was done, all he wanted to do personally was to settle down and open a hotel.
It was an enlightening talk, not only because of the unique view of the battlefield from a surgeon trapped in the middle of it (in an absolutely horrible-looking army camp complex, might I add) but also because Mr Henman gave us some insight into bullet injuries and landmine blasts, complete with gory pictures and actual bullets fired in the war. Do read the post over at Medscape's The Differential and leave a comment if you like it. (Careful though, there are already some comments there, and just a BIT of temper, so you might--- heyyy waitaminute. I'm getting the oddest sense of deja vu now. As if I've said something similar before... --Ed)
*(come on. Dedicating your life to denying human beings basic rights on the basis of a little melanin in their skin, then losing it, banging one of them and plopping out a baby? Disgraceful. They don't make racists like they used to. --Ed)