You know those stories that sort of hit you in the heart and you can’t help but actually stop to think about what it would be like to walk a day in that person’s shoes? Well, folks this is one of those stories.
Meet Claudio Vieira de Oliveira, a 37-year-old man living in Monte Santo, Brazil. He suffers from an extremely rare condition doctors have recently coined congenital arthrogryposis. Congenital arthrogryposis is a completely debilitating disorder — Claudio was born with his head upside down (imagine a neck completely folded back on itself), as well as deformed legs and hardly any use of his arms and hands.
When his mother, Maria Jose, delivered him in the hospital, doctors told her that he had zero chances of surviving, and that she should probably stop feeding him because he was just going to die.
Miraculously, Claudio didn’t die; he persevered.
“But there’s only happiness now. Claudio is just like any other person – that’s how he was raised in this house. We never tried to fix him and always wanted him to do the normal things everyone else does. That’s why he is so confident. He is not ashamed of walking around in the street – he sings and he dances,” his mother explained.
Despite facing impossible odds, he has gone on to complete a graduate program at State University of Feira de Santana to work as an accountant and inspires others as a public speaker. To type, he holds a pen in his mouth, and uses his lips to function a telephone or computer mouse.
“Since I was a child I’ve always liked to keep myself busy and work – I don’t like to depend totally on other people. I do a bit of accounting, research for clients and consulting,” he says. “I have learned to turn on the TV, pick up my cell phone, turn on the radio, use the internet, my computer – I do it all by myself.”
Throughout his life, he has been able to familiarize himself with his body in order to survive in the world. And guess what? He sees himself just like you and I… like a normal person!
“I don’t see things upside-down. This is one of the things I always talk about in my interventions as a public speaker. Nowadays it’s much easier to deal with the public, I’m not afraid of it anymore and I can say that I am a professional, international public speaker and that I receive invitations from all over the world.”
His story will be featured on TLC’s Body Bizarre, which begins September 4, at 9pm.
Images: Barcroft Media