VIDEO: Cleaning with cerebral palsy

Here’s a video about how I do some cleaning with my CP. FYI You get to see me walking around in this video too:

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Using the mircowave

When it comes to cooking and making food I am a big microwave user. I’ve talked many times before along with how I struggle to use the hob, and take things in and out of the oven. I try and use the microwave as much as I can because it’s so much easier and I worry less about falling over or dropping or burning myself than I do when I’m trying to  use the oven or a pan. I even cook pasta in it.

However, while I can use one without too much difficulty, cleaning one isn’t so easy. I can do this for myself, and I can take the plate out, wash it and put it back in okay, but cleaning the back of ours that we have at home is something I find a bit tricky.

There have been a couple of times that the door has almost hit me in the face while I’ve reaching in to clean the back of it. Trying to hold on to the counter so I feel more balanced and making sure the door doesn’t spring back on me with one hand while trying to wipe the inside of the microwave with the other isn’t always easy. Sometimes I struggle to reach all the way to the back too so the whole process can take a while, but I usually get there eventually and I just have to hope that my food is still warm by the time I’m done.

If there’s someone else around, they’ll often lend a hand to sort it all out, for which I’m always grateful, but I still always like to try and do as much as I can for myself.

Cooking with pans

Many of you probably know that I struggle with cooking. I talk about it often and I’m hoping it’s something I can gain more confidence with, or at least be able to find more meals that I can easily make for myself. I’m also hoping to come up with some ways around doing things that I find hard.

There are lots of reasons why I find it hard to make my food because of my Cerebral Palsy. I’ve mentioned some of these quite a lot and you can read more about some of them here.

One of the things that is tough for me is cooking in saucepans on the hob. I find it hard to balance, hold the pans in place and stir whatever is in them. If it’s a large amount of food, that makes it harder for me to mix it around the pan too. More often than not, bits of it end up falling out so I make a huge mess, and half of it ends up stuck to the pan because I hardly ever seem to be able to do it properly.

The other day my heart sank when I was asked to keep an eye on something that was cooking and give it the odd stir. I placed one hand on the worktop to balance myself and stirred the food constantly with the other, even though I probably only needed to do it once every so often. Thankfully, the pan was sturdy so I didn’t worry too much about it slipping.

My mother came back and I asked her to check if any of it had stuck. I was so relieved when she told me it was all fine. It felt like a small achievement, because I’d been a bit worried that things would end up going wrong.

I’m glad they didn’t. I hope that one day I’ll feel more confident when it comes to cooking. For now, I guess I’ll just have to keep trying.





Trying a different chopping board

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be able to tell you that I admit to not being much good in the kitchen. My Cerebral Palsy means that I struggle to do a lot of cooking for myself, although I will have you all know that I’m a complete whizz with the microwave (as long as the things that I put in aren’t too heavy).

One of the things that I find hardest, next to lifting heavy pans and carrying them around, is chopping things up for myself.  I know that there’s the option to buy pre-cut things. I often do this when it comes to veggies because I’m always adding these to something else, but when it comes to fruit I really wish that I could just buy a bag of apples and cut them up when I felt like it, rather than having to buy six individual packets of one prepared one. I know that I could just simply bite into it instead, but I had braces when I was a teenager and now I hate doing that.  Plus, I think it would be good if I could master things cutting them up business for myself.

A while ago, I met an Occupational Therapist who said that she could get hold of some chopping boards with spikes on for me to have a go at using to see if they helped. She did this a couple of weeks back actually, but I’ve been so busy posting about my on-going serial casting treatment that I haven’t had a chance to post it yet. If you want to find out how that’s going, then you can find all my posts about it so far here.

One of them that she was able to loan me was this one here, which has a small circle of spikes to put things on while I tried to hack into them. I decided to use a small, soft and probably slightly passed its best, peach and a small apple. I wasn’t planning on eating these after because I knew that there would probably be nothing left by the time I was done with them.

Chopping board with spikes

I would like to point out at this point that this post is written entirely from my own experience and what works/doesn’t work well for me won’t be the same for everybody, this is just what it was like for me personally. I decided to try using this after talking to an occupation therapist.  I’m not a medical professional so I cannot say if these would work well/be suitable for anyone but myself, so therefore this post should not be used as a replacement for medical advice.

The peach didn’t work as well as I was hoping that it would. I thought that I would find that the easier of the two to cut, but I think that the stone may have made it more difficult for me. I found it hard to press in down on to the spikes and it kept wobbling around. I still managed to cut it a bit, but I gave up in the end because I was afraid that I might cut myself. I doubt that I would  have done, I think it was just a confidence thing, but I felt I had done the best I could anyway.

peach on chopping boardPeach after

The apple went better than expected thought. I still found it hard to push it down onto the prongs very far, and it took me a couple of tries but I did it. It was a good job that it wasn’t a larger one though because I’m not sure that t would have balanced as well. I think it would have needed a few more spikes.

apple on chopping board

However, I did managed to slice the thing clean in two which I have never been able to do before so I was pretty pleased with that one, so it made me think that it might be worth getting myself one after all.

apple after

I think that I should also say that I found it much, much easier to clean than any of the other cutting boards that we have at home, because it was much smaller and lighter. I found it much easier to get in and out of the sink and I wasn’t as worried about dropping it.

I’m glad that I was given the chance to experiment with some before I buy some because it’s made me realise that some things will still be a challenge, and that I would like a bigger spiky section that the one on these boards.

A catalouge of excitment

My appointment with the occupational therapist (OT) yesterday went well. We’ve recently had a new kitchen fitted in at home, so some of the tips and tricks I learned for managing to do a few bits and bats in the old one won’t really work anymore, which is frustrating and hard, given that it took so long to get used to them. Still, maybe the change will do me good and I’ll learn lots of new stuff that will be useful in the future.

The OT came out to the house and brought with her a couple of things that she thought might help me. These were a bread chopping board with raised edges so that things don’ t fly off and end up here, there and everywhere, like they usually do when I’m trying to butter bread. If you’re ever anywhere near me when I’m making a sandwich I suggest you stand well back because there’s a good chance you might end up covered in something, getting accidently elbowed in the ribs, or both.

The other one is a similar chopping board, with spikes on and a mini grater attached so that I could put something like a jacket potato on it while I get the cheese ready.   Usually when I do this, I have to hold the grater in my weak hand while it’s balanced on a plate, and the cheese in the other. Usually this means that the plate or bowl flies off it one direction, and the grater in the opposite. This makes a mess, and me even more frustrated when I have to try and clean it up.

These items have only been given to me on a short-term loan to see if I find them useful before I spend loads of money on things that don’t really work for me, which I think is a really good idea. The lady left me some catalogues to browse through too, which I’m really excited about, probably because it will remind me of going through the Argos at Christmas when I was a kid. I’ve had a quick flick through them and I didn’t realise just how much was out there! I’m going to sit and give them my full attention later with a cup of tea and see if anything catches my eye, or gives me an ideas of things we already have in the house that I can adapt.

We came up with a list of a few other things to try too over the next couple of weeks so we’ll see how things go. I haven’t played with these ones that she brought yesterday yet, but it’s on the to-do list for this weekend when I’ve bought some food to experiment with. I don’t watch to use the family shopping in case I butcher it beyond all recognition and it’s not edible afterwards. I know this might sound a bit dramatic but believe me when I say it’s entirely possible.

I really hope they help because it gets me down that I can’t help out with the cooking more. I’m willing to spend the cash if I think the difference will be worth it. This could be the start of something really good for me.

Cooking with CP: Things that make it easier for me

Regular readers of this blog will know that my Cerebral Palsy means that I struggle with cooking. They’ll probably also be able to tell you that this frustrates me, both for myself and because I can’t make meals for my family. But, if my three years living away at university thought me anything (my actual multimedia journalism degree aside of course) I learned a couple of handy hints about making my life in the kitchen a little bit easier. Here are a few of my personal things that I couldn’t cope without.

This is a post about how the items listed below work for me personally. I cannot offer advice on or say how well they would work or how suitable they would be for others as I’m not a medical professional.

A plastic measuring jug: I know this one sounds obvious but I use it for a whole lot more than just measuring stuff out. It was a couple of weeks into my first year that one of my housemates at the time made the shocking revelation that you could cook pasta in a microwave! This was a totally alien concept to me but it made my life so much easier over the years when I realised that I could make it in this instead of in a heavy pan that I can’t lift. After that I started making soup in one too because I found it far easier to carry than a steaming hot bowl of the stuff (and I’ve had less spillages that way too).

Colanders with long handles: It wasn’t long into my pasta-making days that I realised colanders that just had handles on the side were a big no-go because I either ended up almost burning myself or spilling half of my just cooked food down the sink. For a while I got a bit creative and used a sieve as a replacement, but then my mother bought me a huge orange one for Christmas that year and I got far more excited that one person should ever do over a kitchen utensil.

An electric tin opener: I had one of these at home anyway before I left, but silly old me forgot to pack it on the day I made the trek to start my new life 60 miles up north. I’d been far too busy trying to remember other things like my textbooks, clothes, and duvets to worry about that. It’ll be okay, I thought, I’ll just buy ring-pull tins. That was about the time that I realised I didn’t have the hand strength for those and spent the first couple of weeks asking everyone to help me open my peas. Now it’s the first thing I pack. Oh, and coat hangers, I forgot those that day too.

An apple corer: I love apples but ever since I had braces as a teenager I’ve always hated having to bite into them. And of course the time I pulled a loose tooth out on one as a kid probably doesn’t help either. I couldn’t chop them until I realised that taking out the core first meant that I could just about manage to do it as long as I wasn’t fussy about the size and shape of the pieces I cut.