HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Ouch! When you're hurt and can't cook.

cayjohan Jun 24, 2007 12:13 AM

A recent surgery left me without the use of my dominant hand for the past month, meaning no typing (my livelihood depends upon it), no undue use of my right hand ( and I am soooooo right-handed), and no “hard” pressure on said right hand (oh, I want to use my knives!). Thank goodness I could still “click” and read Chowhound.

The worst was not being able to cook, which I do (did? do now...hopefully?) daily and with great use of both my hands. I am able now to do most of what I could - still healing - but want to type out this question of interest to me: Have any of you CHs been prevented (by some means) from cooking, how did it affect you, and how did you deal with it?

My family was wonderful with my injury and the Hub stepped up to cook (not his forte; he has other strengths), but still I was “itchy” to cook. Drove me nuts sometimes. Yes, I have my controlling issues in the kitchen!

So, has anyone been put on sabbatical from their own kitchen and hated it? How did you deal with it? How did you get back into the kitchen groove while others said “ Naw, don’t cook; we’ll make X?

.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. w
    wayne keyser RE: cayjohan Jun 24, 2007 12:55 AM

    A stroke left right-handed me a "left-hander in training." Plus only about half the ability to use my right as a "secondary" hand (holding jars while turning lid with strong hand, etc).

    Fortunately, the needs to type and cook were stronng incentives to practice practice practice. Now I type "leftie" (badly, as I did "rightie" before) and cook "leftie" (as I did clumsily "rightie" before.

    Can't do the "pro" quick-chop or fillet fish left-handed, but it doesn't matter ... I never could do them right-handed either.

    BTW, in my family, "don't cook, we'll make it" translates to "Ahoy, tasteless, leaden meal ahead off the starboard bow!" All the more reason to re-learn fast.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wayne keyser
      Quine RE: wayne keyser Jun 24, 2007 02:00 AM

      I was "terminally" right handed, and had my wrist broken in a car crash, cast for 2 months. Well, just eating was an adventure, I was very right handed. I did get better at it, but chopsticks, never (no sushi for me) and I avoided sandwiches. Add to that , I live alone and have cats. No matter what I had to manage to get a can of cat food open twice a day.

      I have always cooked for myself, grew up in the "business" so not being able to do that, at first was difficult. But so was all the rest of the stuff. *Embrassing to have Mom write out the checks to play the bills* Perhaps, you can use this time to reflect on what being "alpha" in your kitchen means to you, what cooking for yourself and others means to you. Then put yourself in the role of those you live with and cook for, maybe this is their chance to experience what you delight in, want control of? Be kind.

    2. susancinsf RE: cayjohan Jun 24, 2007 01:31 PM

      I broke my foot a few years ago and had to be in a wheelchair for almost two months. Hubby was very willing to cook, and at first I let him. I also enjoyed going out to dinner more often,which also helped with the boredom and sense of being 'homebound' that I sometimes felt (for example, my bedroom is upstairs, so I basically lived in only the bottom floor of my house for the duration.)

      After a while though, I got restless,and just had to cook. It was a bigger challenge than I imagined it would be, because my kitchen isn't adapted for a wheelchair.With time and practice, however, I found I could everything but use the back burners on the stove, reach items on higher shelves and carry hot foods. (it just felt too risky to carry a pot basically in my lap).

      Solution: I did everything I could do, and asked hubby to be my 'sous chef' for the rest. Basically, his role was to take direction (ie be bossed around) and to do ONLY what I asked him to do: 'honey, can you drain the pasta now please?' rather than to take over and do stuff for me. At first of course he wanted to just do it for me, but over time he got that I wanted to do as much as I could, and he was happy to be my assistant.

      I think it helped that he could see the challenges that being temporarily disabled posed for me; it helped him understand that I didn't necessarily wanted to be waited on hand and foot (so to speak).

      Sounds like your situation may have been as much or perhaps even more of a challenge than mine when it comes to cooking (because I could use my hands), but it might be worth trying a similar approach: let hubby or family know you'd love the help, but you'd also like to be in charge of a meal,and have them just serve as your extra set of hands...

      1. t
        torty RE: cayjohan Jun 24, 2007 02:01 PM

        I broke my right humerus (big bone between shoulder & elbow) last year and even after the surgery I had nerve damage that left me without the ability to use my wrist or fingers except in very minor ways to steady something. It was incredibly infuriating. I cook pretty much every day, and have a home office that usually leads me to cook my lunch as well. I got pretty good with the left hand. I was really really craving pho and practiced chopsticks left handed for a few weeks- picking up pieces of cereal until I was able to slowly make my way thru a bowl at a restaurant. I sport a lovely burn scar on my tummy resulting from a pot of boiling water falling out of my hands. All in all I cooked less complicated things, improvised alot, and got pretty good with my left hand. I got most of my function back after about 10 months, but I still try to use the left when I remember, just in case little miss accident prone has another mishap.

        1. orangewasabi RE: cayjohan Jun 24, 2007 04:27 PM

          oh man, I haven't had use of my non-dom hand for a month or so; can't imagine losing use of my dominant hand

          for whatever reason, my husband thought that huge burritos, chicken wings and big pieces of pizza were the perfect recovery food for the three post-surgery days?!

          as a total aside cica-care is so awesome for the scars

          1. Kajikit RE: cayjohan Jun 24, 2007 08:39 PM

            I strained my shoulder last week and couldn't cook... Tuesday (the day I hurt it) DH made tunasalad rolls (about the limit of his cooking ability!) and my biggest challenge was getting them to my mouth to eat them!
            Wednesday I went to the doctors and we went out for Chinese afterwards, so nobody needed to cook, and I just had to manage to eat the stuff...
            Thursday we had leftover Chinese for lunch, and I shoved the pork chops that I'd been MEANING to cook on Tuesday into the oven in bbq sauce and slow-cooked them (but I used bought sauce mixed with a can of tomato sauce instead of making my own from scratch like I usually do), and cooked some instant rice and microwaved corn-on-the-cob. (Not exactly gourmet, but only one hand required for any of the preperation.)
            On Friday we had BBQ pork sandwiches for lunch (the pork was so soft it was easy to cut) and I made DH a quick hamburger for dinner, because it didn't involve any real cutting or lifting...
            And Saturday I was well enough to attempt cooking again, and I cooked mashed potatoes (mashing them was a bit of a challenge!), panfried mushrooms and onions, and steak. And today I'm back to full function, thank goodness! I hate to think what would happen if I was unable to cook for more than a few days at a stretch!

            1. winedubar RE: cayjohan Jun 24, 2007 10:56 PM

              actually this is what made me transition from vegetarian back to carnivore :D i had a terrible accident while on vacay to greece and turkey that took 2 years to recover from *i shattered my elbow and broke my arm in 7 places, but im mostly ok now ;)* and people brought me all kinds of food. i wasn't in a position to not eat something with meat in it, and gratefully consumed everything people brought me. now i can't get enough steak but thats besides the point ;)

              i missed cooking, but it paled in comparison to everything else i was dealing with.

              as a side note, mid-way thru surgeries and physical therapy, i was a 'finalist' to be on food 911 with tyler florence - i knew i couldn;t be the only person with disabilities who was trying to cook :)

              1. Richard 16 RE: cayjohan Jun 24, 2007 11:33 PM

                I used to be a chef. A neurological condition has left me both poor sensory input and motor control, especially in my dominant hand. It is indeed frustrating; I used to have pretty good knife skills and hand sharpened all of my knives. I also have difficulty standing, making stove top work harder.

                I do a lot more of my cooking in batches; i.e., clean, cut, and store veggies for cooking later. If I'm baking, I'll throw something in the oven I'll use later, such as roasted garlic or potatos. I buy more produce precut and fish already filleted. One big time saver is buying garlic aleady peeled; I freeze most of it and take out as needed. It actually slices well frozen. I often spoon stir rather than flip; it depends.

                I was used to restaurant cooking, so when appropriate I make big batches, portion, and freeze -- including (gasp) sushi rice. Soups work especially well.

                My wife, G-d bless her, does more cooking these days and my daughter has recently become more interested. All in all, I could be a *lot* worse off. You do what you can and be grateful for all of it!

                1. hotoynoodle RE: cayjohan Jun 25, 2007 09:31 AM

                  i've broken my dominant wrist twice. yikes. i ate lots of eggs and bought lots of pre-cut veggies for salads. also organic soups from whole foods. part of the trick was breaking cooking into smaller one-handed steps.

                  the worst was not being able to open a bottle of wine for dinner!!!!!! (this was before the wide availability of screw-tops!)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                    c
                    cocktailhour RE: hotoynoodle Jun 25, 2007 09:36 AM

                    I have tendonitis in my shoulder of my dominant arm and I am supposed to use it as little as possible--no cooking or typing (I cheat). I too was itchy to get back to my knives and cooking--I missed chopping onions. My husband very ably filled in on the cooking part, with me a controlling exec chef, but I quickly had to step in and "help" stir or do other things. I found it hard even to stir a pot with my non-dominant hand; it felt all backwards.

                  Show Hidden Posts