Following a series of operations to restore some of my vision and fix my caved-in face, I made it back. The first time I set foot outside the wire, embedded with American soldiers, my entire body jangled with fear. I cursed myself for returning to a country that had already tried to kill me once. But after a few patrols, during which I often repeated, "What are the odds I'll get hurt again?" like a mantra, I was able to relax, and once again appreciate the beauty of the place anew, even if I always kept my one good eye peeled for boogeymen trying to finish the job.
That's right: Even though Afghanistan almost killed me, I'm still one of its most ardent advocates, which should tell you a lot about the place. Sure, amenities like proper roads are lacking, creature comforts are nearly nonexistent, and even the so-called safe places are sometimes just as dangerous as the hotspots. But for the intrepid few seeking true adventure with a potent dose of risk, there are few places like it. As Dr. Hathaway put it: "Afghanistan is a whole other kettle of fish."