- Depressed mother of three wrote about the 'perfect year to kill herself' in her diary after being paralysed
- But her life was saved when she found a baby magpie who had also suffered a fall and broken its wing
- Her inspirational story became the subject of book and has been made into a film starring Naomi Watts
A mother-of-three boys who became paralysed from the waist down after falling from a balcony at a resort in Thailand wrote in her diary that she was waiting to kill herself.
Sam Bloom, 49, from Newport, in Sydney, had all but given up, until she says an injured magpie named Penguin saved her life.
Her inspirational story was the subject of the best-selling book - Penguin Bloom - which has now been turned into a feature film starring actress Naomi Watts, set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10.
Sam and her husband Cameron had taken their children on a tropical getaway in 2013, about four hours southwest of Bangkok.
But while taking in the view and sipping on papaya juice, a rail she was leaning on gave way and she fell crashing onto the concrete six metres below.
Sam's skull was fractured in several places, she had bleeding on the brain, both lungs were ruptured and her T6 and T7 vertebrae were broken.
The Sydneysider had spent her whole adult life working as a nurse and was well aware of the predicament she was in.
After one month in a Thai medical facility equipped to deal with catastrophic injury, she was transferred to the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney where she was told that she would never walk again.
For the fit, sun-loving surfer, the news was overwhelming and she began to contemplate suicide.
'I would sit here and get so angry and sad. I'd say to Cam, I want to move to the desert, where there are no people and I don't have to see the ocean,' Sam told the Sydney Morning Herald.
'It was certainly hard for the boys, they'd say, 'If you're sad, we're sad.' And that would make me feel worse. I'd be lying in bed crying and feeling so guilty.'
In a diary entry from that troubled period, Sam plotted out the best year to kill herself.
It would have to be a time when her sons were old enough to cope with her death, but soon enough so that her husband Cameron could remarry and move on, she wrote.
The heartbreaking entry is explored in her memoir Sam Bloom: Heartache & Birdsong, to be released next week.
But three months after being out of hospital and 10 months after the accident, when things seemed their most bleak, a new member of the family would come to cheer her up.
Her son Noah had found a baby bird that, like Sam, had suffered a great fall.
The female magpie they named Penguin had dropped from a nest on a windy day and damaged its wing.
After consulting a vet, Sam and the family took it home to care for it.
'I thought I was saving her life, but she was saving mine,' she said.
Shortly after Sam worked up the courage to get back in the water and in 2015, she made the Australian paracanoe team for the 2015 world championships in Milan.
She even took to surfing laying down and competed in the adaptive surfing world championships in California in 2018 and 2020, winning the gold medal in her division on each occasion.
Sam has since been inundated with messages from people who have been inspired by her incredible story - especially from others who have battled spinal injuries.
As for Penguin, she eventually fixed her wing and returned to the wild.
If you or anyone you know is in need of mental health support, call Lifeline: 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au