We may all come into this world in more or less the same way, but one thing that’s absolutely certain is that our experiences from there on out will differ drastically.

In the eyes of many people that’s what makes this life of ours all the more special. Our time on Earth is unpredictable, the things we get to see and do wholly unique to us alone.

Sometimes that’s for better, sometimes for worse, but there are few people who can claim to have lived a life quite like Dianne Odell’s.

As per reports, Dianne lived inside a 7-foot-long metal tube known as an “iron lung” for almost 60 years. Despite facing enormous challenges – those that few others will be able to relate to – she maintained a zest for life that is truly inspiring.

Dianne was born healthy in 1947, but contracted bulbospinal polio when she was three. This was a few years before the dawn of the polio vaccine, and so the little girl was to be confined to an iron lung for the remainder of her long life.

If you’re one our regular readers, the term ‘iron lung’ might be familiar to you. You’ll perhaps recall reading about 76-year-old Paul Alexander, one of the last people alive today with an iron lung. Paul’s lived in the contraption since being left paralyzed after getting polio as a six-year-old.

There are certainly comparisons to be drawn between Dianne and Paul. Both are shining examples of a will to enjoy life that a lot of others could – and probably should – take note of.

From the confines of her 750-pound iron lung, for example, Dianne was able to get a high school diploma, take college courses, and write a children’s book.

In a 1994 interview with the Associated Press, Dianne said: “I’ve had a very good life, filled with love and family and faith.

“You can make life good or you can make it bad.”

Dianne lay on her back in the iron lung, only her head exposed, and made eye contact with the people around her via an angled mirror.

By all accounts, Dianne made her life a good one indeed. Sadly, however, she passed away in 2008 when a power failure shut off electricity to her home and caused a stop to the mechanical pump drawing air into her lungs.

Dianne lived with her parents, Freeman and Geneva Odell, and their house was reportedly equipped with an emergency back-up generator that should have fired up in the event of a power outage.

For some reason, though, it failed to.

“But for some reason, it didn’t come on,” Will Beyer said, Dianne’s brother-in-law said.

“We did everything we could do but we couldn’t keep her breathing.”

“Dianne had gotten a lot weaker over the past several months and she just didn’t have the strength to keep going.”

By the time of her passing, Dianne had become one of the longest time users of the iron lung. Though the huge devices were phased out in favor of positive-pressure airway ventilators by the late 1950s, Dianne was unable to wear the more modern, portable breathing device due to a spinal deformity she had suffered as a result of polio.

On her 60th birthday, a year before she died, Dianne was celebrated a party thrown by her family and friends. Around 200 guests attended the event in Jackson, Tennessee, while Dianne received a 9-foot birthday cake and letters from people all over the country.

I can’t help but be inspired by the stories of people like Dianne. Her life differed greatly from the ones most of us will lead, but she proved that anything is possible with the right mind-set.

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