Dr Kerrie Tessier
Team Australia Invictus Games The Hague 2022
Kerrie joined the Australian Army after completing her training as a physiotherapist in 2012. She worked at 2nd Close Health Company Lavarack Barracks and 8 Close Health Company at RAAF Base Edinburgh. Some of her most fulfilling work involved helping injured soldiers to get back to operational duties or find new adventures outside of the ADF.
In her graduate year, she worked on the way we deploy physiotherapists into operational environments. Kerrie also worked with the ADF hockey and cricket teams.
After sustaining a serious shoulder injury during her military service, Kerrie was medically discharged from the army and knew that she would never be able to work as a physiotherapist again. The physical injury also led to mental health challenges.
At that point, Kerrie didn’t know what she was going to do with the rest of her life.
“I faced losing everything I had worked towards and was unsure what I would do in my future. For me, undertaking more study seemed the safe option to securing a new career. I loved helping people overcome injuries and helping people understand their longterm conditions to enable them to individualise their training and overcome their own challenges. With steadfast resolve that I wanted to help people on their journey through injury and illness I stepped into the world of medicine.”
However, with this ambitious decision came it’s own challenges.
“The entry test was long, but it was nothing compared to hours spent pouring over textbooks trying to understand the human body or the hours invested in helping a diabetic patient understand his own health needs. Things went along ok for the first year. I threw myself into my studies, coming home to fall asleep on the couch before dinner and dragging myself out of bed to make sure I didn’t miss the train the next morning. I was surrounded by some of the smartest and most dedicated people I had ever met. For me to merely keep up with them I had given everything to this one pursuit and lost sight of the world around me. I was ready to give up. It was too hard, I couldn’t do it, I would never be that smart, I would never be that dedicated, I didn’t want to be a doctor. The weight of self-doubt in these moments is intense and many times unshakeable.”
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, I think it takes a village to recover from injury and illness. Recovery is an ongoing process and I feel like the Invictus Games is not only part of my recovery journey but a chance to reflect and celebrate my successes whilst setting new goals for the years ahead. Importantly for me, I see it as an opportunity to be a part of someone else’s recovery village just like the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 team was for me.”
Through the power of sport Kerrie learned to run again with her injury and joined her local parkrun community at Christies Beach. Here she truly found her tribe that helped reinvigorate her love of sport and her community spirit.
It was these people around her that got Kerrie through, helping find balance and perspective through their love and compassion.
“I got help and through recovery I found adaptive sport and the Invictus Pathways Program and through the empowerment of these programs I found parkrun and my very own amazing community of people. “
With the support of the veteran community Kerrie was able to access the Adaptive Sports Program and get involved in a range of sports that didn’t leave her sore all the time. She took to cycling and with the support of Invictus Australia (then known as Veteran Sport Australia), she made it to Florida with a team of veterans competing at the Warrior Games across five sports.
Kerrie is now preparing to represent Team Australia yet again, at the Invictus Games The Hague 2022. “I applied to the Invictus Games to give myself a goal to work towards and to continue to put myself and my health first and foremost in my mind.”
Like most competitors, Kerrie believes the Invictus spirit & Games is not about winning gold. ‘For me, getting to the Games is a massive win. Being there shows me I can achieve anything I set out to achieve and I can look after myself as well as others.’
Kerrie is competing in cycling, indoor rowing, athletics, swimming and sitting volleyball.
And, what happened with medicine? Well, she finished! Kerrie came through stronger than when she started and whilst still longing for the career she, Kerrie now feels like she can finally look ahead and start to forge a new path. “What I have learned is that what you end up doing with your life isn’t always what you set out to make it, but a job isn’t everything. It will be hard, some days I am sure I will question why I stepped into that crazy world of medicine, but my village will keep me strong and balanced. Life outside of a career isn’t just important, it is who you are. I don’t define myself by being a doctor, like so many of my peers and I think that is just what keeps me happy and hopefully what will make me an okay doctor.”
“Sport has been a life-changing part of my rehabilitation. I studied medicine, which was hard and without re-discovering sport through the ADF Adaptive Sports Program I would not be able to do what I do every day. Sport gets me out of bed in the morning.”