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Claudia Mitchell had no idea when she accepted a friend's invitation to go on a motorcycle ride in the mountains that her life would change forever.

Claudia says on a dangerous curve, her friend lost control and they were both thrown from the bike. Claudia hit the guardrail and completely severed her arm at the shoulder joint. Rescuers found Claudia's arm down an embankment, eight feet from where she landed. She was rushed to the emergency room but doctors were unable to reattach it.

After two weeks in the hospital, Claudia went home to face her new life as an amputee. She quickly grew frustrated with the prosthetic arm doctors gave her, and stopped wearing it. "I felt like I was pretending, you know, like I didn't have my arm for a while, and then I would have it back and life would be okay again," Claudia says.

Claudia was forced to improvise. She learned to use her feet instead of her hands to accomplish the simplest tasks, like peeling a banana, but it was a hard adjustment. "I was angry that I had to use my feet," Claudia says. "I pictured a monkey, you know, sitting down opening a banana with their feet and I thought, 'I'm not human because I have to do it this way.'"
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FROM: The Secret Language of Babies
Published on September 23, 2008

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