Outside the comfort zone

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 06 September 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:501
  1. Peter J Revington, consultant maxillofacial surgeon, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol
  1. peter.revington{at}

    I realised that there might be more to this Afghanistan trip than I had supposed when my “dog tags” arrived. For several months, I had looked forward to it with all the anticipation of a trip to the car wash: it was simply an unknown, and I was therefore neither excited nor apprehensive at the prospect. That changed the moment those shiny metal discs fell from the envelope.

    Only a few weeks later I found myself facing something of a challenge, both surgically and ethically. My six week deployment as a Territorial Army maxillofacial surgeon began uneventfully enough. The multinational team of doctors were all suitably eminent and charismatic individuals. The hospital proved remarkably well equipped for a war zone, and, despite the dust and occasional rocket attacks by the Taliban, it functioned with the quiet efficiency of a banking house. If you imagine the film M*A*S*H* but set in a high altitude desert surrounded by fairly impressive mountains, with occasional glimpses of the snow capped Himalayan foothills, and …

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