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Jun 24, 2007 12:13 AM

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

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?


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  1. 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

      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. 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. 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. 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. 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!