Legendary journalist and author Frank Gardner was shot six times at close range. And survived. In A Letter To My Younger Self, the 57-year-old told The Big Issue how the experience impacted him.
In 2004, Gardner was caught up in an attack by al-Qaida gunmen in Saudi capital Riyadh.
“I’ve changed since the first few months after I was shot,” he said. “I was seven months in hospital, I had 14 surgical operations. I was shot to pieces.
“That was a low time. I just thought, well that’s it. Life as I know it is over.
But, the BBC security correspondent added, that was nonsense. He was exhausted when he finally left hospital, wrung out by months of intrusive surgeries.
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“But I worked really hard in the gym and I started to get my strength back,” he said. “And I found there’s something oddly liberating about a near-death experience. I just stopped sweating the small stuff.”
Gardner never thought he would be in a wheelchair and “tries to ignore it”. It doesn’t stop him getting involved with things he likes and he still goes scuba diving and skiing.
“The wheelchair is just a platform to whizz me around,” he said. “But sometimes I see pictures of myself and I realise that’s what I must look like to other people. Because I look out of myself, not at myself.
“So when I see a photograph I think, God, that’s me in a wheelchair. How weird. I just can’t see myself that way.”
Read the full interview in this week’s Big Issue, available from your local vendor until Sunday.