When Sam Bloom fell from a rickety balcony while holidaying in Thailand with her family in 2013, her world changed forever. Paralysed from the chest down, the active life she’d led before seemed lost, leaving her deeply depressed at the prospect of a bleak future.
But in her darkest days came hope – Penguin – a wobbly-headed magpie chick who’d tumbled out of her nest. When no veterinarian would take Penguin in, Sam and her family carefully gathered her up and carried her to their own home.
Suddenly Sam felt she had a purpose, driven by her instincts as a nurse and mother to bring the little bird back to health, and in doing so, finding the focus she needed to move forward in her own recovery.
Her story became a best-selling book – Penguin Bloom – and is soon to be made into a film starring and produced by Naomi Watts.
Here, Sam shares a ‘real and honest’ account of how the new realities she’s been forced to face following her accident have changed her, but how little by little, she’s rediscovering her sense of self and setting new sporting goals along the way.
I’ve never felt more vulnerable in my life as I did straight after the accident. I had no control over anything and had to put all my trust in those around me.
Visualisation helped me lot. When I was flown back to Australia I’d lost a lot of weight and I was on an air mattress because I had a pressure sore from lying on the spinal board for so long – something that shouldn’t have happened. The air mattress would make this swooshing sound so I’d close my eyes and picture myself back in India – this beautiful arid place – with no-one else around me.
In the hospital back home I would just cry when the nurses would wheel me into the shower. I was a complete basket case. But I’d sit under the water and imagine myself surfing again.
Being paralysed means a lot more than not being able to walk. It’s the loss of independence and control of your life and your body; the loss of spontaneity. We used to do what we wanted with no plan but we can’t do that now.