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Last Updated: Friday, 10 October, 2003, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Back to the day job

By Stuart Hughes
BBC News

BBC producer Stuart Hughes lost part of his right leg after stepping on a landmine in northern Iraq.

Stuart, 31, has returned to work part-time in London, after months of recuperation and getting used to his artificial leg in Cardiff.

Here's the last in his BBC News Online diary series.

Stuart Hughes and BBC journalists in London
Stuart (seated) was welcomed back by colleagues in London

I never imagined the day would come when I'd look forward to going to work.

But, more than five months after losing my foot, returning to the workaday world feels like the culmination of all those long weeks of rehab and recuperation.

I was filled with apprehension - even though my hours are only part-time to begin with.

Would I remember how to do my job? Would I be able to cope physically and mentally? Would people treat me differently as a result of what has happened?

I felt rather like a child returning to school after the long summer holiday - except that in my case the break has been almost six months long.

I can never forget what's happened but over time I hope it will become just another part of who I am
I needn't have worried.

Within a few hours of getting back to the office it was as though I had never been away.

It's easy to be dismissive of the 9-to-5 routine but at this stage of my recovery that's exactly what I need.

From the start I've been clear in my mind that I'm a journalist first and a landmine survivor second - and not the other way around.

Getting back to work marks another stage in moving on from my accident.

I can never forget what's happened but over time I hope it will become just another part of who I am - an important part, for sure, but not the defining characteristic.

Within a few days of returning of work I was able to test my prosthesis out "in the field" for the first time. I was sent to Rome for three days to cover a summit of European leaders.

Summit venue

It was strange to see the flight cases full of broadcasting equipment stacked up in my hallway for the first time since I left for Iraq in February. So much has changed since then.

When I arrived at the summit venue on the outskirts of Rome I quickly realised that I need to learn the words "artificial leg" in every major European language.

The entrance to the press centre was guarded by armed police officers from the Italian carabinieri and security guards manning airport-style metal detectors.

Of course, the metal in my prosthesis set off the scanners, causing the policemen to reach instinctively for their pistols.

Carabinieri

'Artificiale' I said in my best comedy Italian accent, while at the same time pointing to my right trouser leg.

I had no idea whether "artificiale" was the Italian word for "false." It just sounded like it should be.

The carabinieri looked at me suspiciously, clearly unconvinced by the one-legged Welshman gesturing wildly in front of them.

I hitched my trousers up a few inches to try to prove to the doubting cops that my leg really is 'artificiale'.

It seemed to work.

I was waved through security with a dismissive grunt.




SEE ALSO:
Another big step forward
25 Sep 03  |  Wales
'Sickening low' in Iraq war
11 Sep 03  |  Wales
Hughes' diary: I want a Ferrari
28 Aug 03  |  Wales
Hopes rise in war on landmines
14 Sep 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Sunbathing in a spacesuit
14 Aug 03  |  Wales


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