Dr Jerri Nielsen had a lot going for her. She had a great family who instilled strong life values—siblings who loved her, smart parents who encouraged her. She was smart, athletic, and going to med school with dreams of many things for her future. Being Ice Bound, at the South Pole, and dying of cancer was not one of them.
While doing her internship at a busy hospital in Ohio, Nielsen suffered a physical set back that changed her life and the way she viewed certain situations. It made her more compassionate towards patients, but it also made her feel less strong and a bit less worthy.
Never before had she been weak or awkward. One of the things the reader comes to admire about Jerri is that she was always learning to take-in more. She seemed to always be learning to re-arrange her thinking to encompass new points of view. That Dr. Nielsen ends up in a bad marriage is startling information. You just don’t picture this happening to such a person. But, it does—and it ends badly.
When she finds herself back where she was years before, living at her parent’s house and suffering the loss of her children, Jerri becomes restless and downhearted. Then, one day, she sees an ad in the back of a medical journal that sounds like just the ticket she needs to start her life over.
The ad is for a physician. This physician is to join a team of 41 scientists and researchers at a station in Antarctica! The idea thrills and delights this strong, but battered woman, and she is on a plane to interview for the job two days later.
Nielsen is hired and prepares to spend the winter of 1999 down below. Her journey is everything she’d hoped for. She loves the unique beauty of the region, the camaraderie of the team, the way she feels against the enormity of her surroundings and its utter isolation.
Everything is going well for her until the day she discovers a lump in her breast. Faced with the impossible fact that there can be no rescue from her beautiful but hostile world, at the bottom of the earth, for at least five more months, Nielsen draws upon the make-up of her very soul.
She performs a biopsy on herself, and with the guidance she is lucky to have, via satellite communication, she treats herself in hopes of staying alive long enough to meet the rescue plane when it finally can get through.
Nielsen tries to settle into the fact that she may die before anyone can get her back to civilization—and true to her nature, she worries more that this will leave the rest of the team without a doctor than she worries about herself.
Ice Bound is a story of true grit and one woman’s remarkable determination to bounce back from devastation…repeatedly! (And becoming a better person for it.) It is a factual and emotional view into a world few of us can even imagine. I enjoyed it immensely while I shivered just hearing about it.
100° below 0? Nothing but bitter winds, snow, and ice for months on end? Not for me! However, hearing the telling of the tale and learning how a group of adventurers can survive such conditions—what keeps them amused, amicable, and interested in their work—is definitely my cup of tea.
Dr. Nielsen narrated this book herself. There were times her pronunciation was amiss, and times she seemed at a loss to finish a word or a sentence. To me, knowing that this was the woman, herself, who went through this ordeal, was reason enough to overlook the misses. Perhaps she got lost in reminiscing, or perhaps her emotions made the words catch, sometimes, in her throat. A professional narrator wouldn’t have struggled with such issues, but it wouldn’t have felt as personal, either