Never Tell Me Never
Ever had one of those experiences of remembering exactly where you were when you read or heard something? For example, I remember the precise moment I heard that Princess Diana had died; and, I remember clearly hearing the news unfolding, about September 11. Exactly. Down to the details.
Know what I’m talking about?
When I wasn’t studying, I spent a lot of time doing ‘nothing’, which for me included reading in the sunshine on the back veranda of my family home. I was lying on the banana lounge (as you do!) reading the book “Never Tell Me Never” by Janine Shepherd. Autobiographies appeal to me because I believe we have so much to learn from other’s experiences of triumph over trials. I don’t really read fiction books (if I do, it has to be pretty realistic, or I won’t finish it!).
I can’t remember the exact day or the time, but I remember exactly where I was when I read this thing that would change forever the course of my life.
Janine’s bio on her website says this:
“A champion cross country skier in training for the Winter Olympics, her life was irrevocably altered when she was run over by a truck during a training bicycle ride to the Blue Mountains. Her neck and back were broken in six places, and her right arm, collarbone and five ribs fractured. Her right leg had been ripped open, she had sustained head injuries and massive internal injuries. She had severe lacerations to her abdominal area and had lost five litres of blood. The bleeding alone was enough to kill her. Doctors warned her parents that she was not expected to survive her ordeal. Even if by some small chance she recovered, she would never walk again.”
Can you see how it piqued my interest? This book resonated with me on a few levels. Firstly, she was an Olympic athlete, and up until that point, I was still hopeful that I would be able to regain my athletic prowess (it never happened).
Secondly, I had been asked to train for the Olympics for gymnastics as a child, so, if circumstances had been different, I could have been in her shoes (I love how the young mind works, it’s very unlikely that I would have turned out to be an Olympic gymnast, really). (Read more about that here)
And thirdly, more than anything, she had had an injury which had seemingly RUINED HER LIFE (if not taken it, completely). I felt like my hypermobility, and chronic pain (and all the surgeries I had already had by then) had ruined my life, so I felt instantly connected to her & her story. The minute I started it, I was hooked.
The moment I remember so clearly was the moment she began learning to walk again. Talk about a woman of strength. I still remember it so clearly; I could almost see her. The determination. Her inextinguishable spirit. At that moment, I realised that I wanted to see that happen over and over again. I wanted to be someone who helped other people overcome their challenges and rise above them.
Initially, I thought I wanted to be a physiotherapist, but once the realistic side of me took effect, I realised with such a bendy body, this was a terrible idea. So then I thought – Rehabilitation Counselling – providing support to people coming back from injury (except that degree wasn’t what I thought it would be). And then… then came Occupational Therapy. OT was how I could see me making a difference in the world (but even that has had a lot of setbacks!).
Janine’s story, reading her book, was a pivotal moment in my life. I had always been others-focused, always keen to lend a hand and help other people. I think it’s just part of my personality. So being able to do that for a living sounded like the ultimate career; it would be a dream come true. And for many years, it was a dream come true (well, it was until it wasn’t).
Have you read a book that had a profound impact on you? Share it with us in the comments so that others can read the inspiring stories you loved!
Michelle is a Senior Occupational Therapist working solely with adults with hypermobility and related conditions. Michelle is the owner of Hypermobility Connect, an online platform for people with hypermobility to connect with resources, health professionals & each other. Michelle practices OT in her private practice and provides education to health professionals relating to hypermobility conditions.