- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2020

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - For more than nine months, Melissa Norris has struggled to do even simple tasks - like putting her hair in a ponytail.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 11, the 55-year-old’s life was changed forever.

Ryan Tyndall, the man she had been dating for 10 months, cut her arm off with a machete. Tyndall pleaded guilty to assault charges in October.

On the night of the attack, Norris said in an interview, Tyndall called her into the bedroom. When she did not initially respond, he called her a second time.

Norris said when she entered the room Tyndall was standing behind the door.

“I saw a shining object and put my arm up,” she said. “I felt like I had been hit with a two-by-four. ”

She said she then saw her arm across the room and noticed that she was bleeding profusely.

Norris’ left arm was cut just below her elbow. She went to a neighbor’s house down the street for help. Police officers gave her life-saving aid until emergency medical crews arrived.

Norris was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center for treatment, then airlifted to Duke Medical Center. Doctors there were unsuccessful in an attempt to reattach her arm. She was in a medically induced coma for four days and in the hospital for 28 days, and she underwent three surgeries.

Life for Norris is now different. She has to have help with everyday tasks, everything from getting dressed to doing household chores.

“Everything that I could do with two hands, I’m no longer able to do,” she said.

She said there are days when she just cries.

“I have to have help with putting on my clothes, preparing my meals. Just day-to-day tasks require help and takes more time to do,” she said.

Her days are filled with doctor’s appointments. She said she does not get out to do the things she once did and is afraid to leave her home.

“I just don’t want to go out anymore,” she said. “It’s just something that will not allow me to leave home.”

In bed, she said, she wakes up in cold sweats and panic attacks.

“Before this attack, I had a fulfilling life,” she said. “I could do my own hair and other people’s hair. Now I rely on someone to do my hair.”

Although she is not seeing a counselor, she said that she needs one to help her cope.

Before the attack, Norris said, she saw no signs that Tyndall would do anything to harm her.

She saw him for the first time since the attack on Oct. 28 in court at the Cumberland County Courthouse.

During the court proceedings, Norris said, he held his head down.

“I was not able to look at him when I spoke about him in court. I would only point in his direction,” she said.

Tyndall pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, severely injuring a body part and larceny of a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, according to Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West.

Now that the court case is resolved, Norris said it does not bring any closure for her.

“I still have to live without an arm,” Norris said.

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