Today’s dish, Salsa Chicken with a side of back problems; Cooking with Cerebral Palsy: Independence in the kitchen doesn’t come without spills, falls and adaptations

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Cooking. Love it or hated it has to be done. I, actually, have grown to like cooking, baking and being in the kitchen. My culinary skills, or lack there of LOL, haven’t come without some challenges. But, I have been able to adapt my cooking style to my taste (Of course) but, more importantly for me, my physical ability level. 

I now use the countertop convection oven, because it takes the bending and lifting out putting things in the oven. I also use a stove that has the element controls on the side. I was lucky enough to have that included with my appartment. Also, a lot of my utensils are smaller than normal – I find it easier to use smaller utensils, that I can manipulate, rather than larger utensils that I find unwieldy; which is weird because having had trouble with fine motor skills it would make sense that bigger utensils would be easier for me to handle. I also find smaller oven gloves (The ones that look more like lobster claws, or pincencs) to be a must.  

 
The biggest hurdle I have had to face was building up my confidence being able to do things in the kitchen. My family is great, but one thing they sheltered me from was cooking. I was always able to be around when my mom or dad were making things in the kitchen, but I was always taught it was a dangerous place for me to be, they were always worried that I may lose my balance or get hurt– even using a spatula was something they would cringe at. Since I have found some of these new techniques my confidence in the kitchen has gotten much better. I am able to do most things now, even the things that seem hard I can find workarounds for. Like draining pasta, For instance, normally when someone drains pasta they have a large bowl or strainer, and they pour the entire bowl of pasta into that strainer. Instead, I take a bowl and use it to scoop the plasta out we bowl of hot water, carefully of course, then pour that bowl into the strainer. Doing it this way, I have more control over the amount and the weight of the bowl. It takes longer yes, but I’m able to do it without injuring myself or Jackson (my cat) for my birthday I’m asking for a standing strainer, basically a large bolts it sits over the sink. I currently have a handheld one you can imagine how long it takes me to strain the plasta and how much coordination it would take if I had to do it the “normal” way

 My journey to being independent in the kitchen has not gone without its share of adventures. Today I was making salsa chicken with cheese and spasmed while putting the salsa on my chicken. It was the kind of spasm that came with involuntary movement to, I ended up walking backwards while losing my balance, and fell back first in a sitting position into one of my kitchen walls. I’M FINE! I wasn’t holding anything sharp. I did get salsa all over the place, but thankfully the jar was empty by that point, so it was more of a splattered mess then a spill. My point is, I’m always learning and changing up my techniques to make things easier. I may try cooking from my chair to avoid spasms and possible falls, but I’m going to explore all my other options first. I’m not against using my chair when I need to, but I don’t want to use it unless I really really need it.

I love the independence that I get out of cooking and the ability to create. By no means what I call myself a chef, but I will say my skills have come a very long way. Most importantly I am no longer afraid.

 

 

There’s No Stupid Questions, just Questions that Go Unanswered: A Q&A for Living My CP Life

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Ask, just ask! One of the most annoying things about having a physical disability is the questions – or should I say lack thereof. Instead of staring ask, I’m an open book and will talk about almost anything. It’s not intrusive or rude to ask questions assuming you do so in a respectful manner, in fact, it makes me feel good; to debunk myths, provide knowledge, and show people that there is more to me than a limp or a sway.

I have been known to say “hi” to random people especially kids when they walk by and see me. This is my way of opening the door to a possible conversation. Ninety percent of the time I only get a shy “hi” back but at least I’ve broken the ice. I don’t consider staring rude unless rude comments follow; on the contrary, I consider staring a form of curiosity. I would rather questions be asked so I can explain my experience instead of people walking by thinking “Why is that girl so weird?”  “What happened to her?” There are some questions that I am commonly asked and others that are brought up once in a while, in this vain I have decided to do a Q&A / life update.  I posted a Q&A a while ago.

This video scratched the surface and I think it’s time I delve deeper into things. So send me all your questions in the way you find most comfortable and I will try and answer as many as possible. Feel free to mix it up – ask anything you would like to know. I’m hoping to post the Updated Q&A video at some point by the end of July.

Also, if there is a topic you would like to see me blog about, feel free to leave those suggestions in the comments as well.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Disability & Doctors Appointments

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Lately I have had so many doctors’ appointments. Some of them were surgery related – I can forgive that and a few of them were made a year in advance. I guess I can let that go too. It just seems like I can’t catch a break. I wonder if my boss even believes me anymore. I want to work, I really do, I want to get back into the swing of things more than anything. But that’s hard to do when it seems like I’m constantly getting reminder calls. I move as many as I can to be on my days off, but that’s not always possible. I wonder how all this really reflects on me.

I can’t skip them because I don’t want to fall out of touch with my doctors. Yet, I feel like all these appointments are giving off the wrong impression and I can’t have that either. How do you deal with your doctor’s appointments while working? Do you make them in the same week and take that week as vacation, do you just go when you need to, do you make up excuses. I’d like to know what your experiences were/are like and how you balance the two, while staying in your bosses good books. I hate doing things differently, I hate asking for accommodations but I might have to get used to it.

By no means am I saying I dislike doctors or doctor’s appointments – what I don’t like is when they seem to steadily role into each other one after another and it’s really hard you me to get one solid week of work in. If I didn’t have to work that would be one thing, but because I do have to work things get made that much harder.

Job searching becomes an issue of it’d own – how can you go on interviews if you have so many other appointments to work around and beyond that what if you get the job and then the employer sees that your always gone because of appointments. I’m sorry for the rant like post – this is just something that has been on my mind lately. Rant Over. To any and all employers, please understand – I’m not a slacker, I do want to work for you – sometimes though my disability get in the way and eventually it will pass.

A Delicate Balance: Buffets & Cerebral Palsy Don’t Mix

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For many be ability to carry a plate comes naturally. Being able to serve your self isn’t even though about, and walking with a plate is often done while talking to their friends. This is not my life, carrying a plate or tray, never mind serving myself is something that requires complete concentration and if the line is long or in a tight space – forget about it. I’ve gotten used to the over time but still haven’t found a solution that makes me feel independent. I’ve tried being the last in line but I find that really awkward, I’ve tried using my walker as a table, but that’s not always reliable, I‘ve even tried asking friends / co workers for help; and though that seems like the easiest most practical solution, I feel like a child every time it happens.  

You might be asking, where this is coming from – most people who know me, know me as a happy go lucky, don’t let anything stop me, confidant , kind of person. But this one aspect of social gatherings is my kryptonite. I was at a family gathering the other day and put in this exact situation, and even with my family, the people who know me the best, I still feel awkward, embarrassed and like a child. I really need to fix this problem. I like to think people don’t view me that way, I know some people don’t. Yet I can’t seem to get the thoughts out of my head.
It’s to the point now, I won’t go places if I know it’s a buffet, I dread staff lunches and potlucks, I will look for any excuse to get out of them. If I do go I will eat either before or after so I don’t have to eat there. Let me make this clear, I love food, I like to bake for myself and for others, I love to be social and for the most part I feel accepted in this world. I’m comfortable with myself and my disability. My balance issues in this particular situation though are holding me back.

So you have any suggestions or creative solutions for me, tell me about your experiences, I’ll take all the help I can get at this point.

Too Hot to Handle! Hot weather in CP 

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Lately it’s been REALLY, REALLY HOT HERE. I shouldn’t complain because we hardly ever get hot leather, but, for me at least the really hot weather makes my CP worse. What’s weird is I love the hot weather and to a certain point the hot weather helps me and my legs. But once the hot muggy weather hits I’m useless, my legs to the Jell-O my balance is off and I don’t want to do anything. I worked through it and get on with my day when I have to but sometimes it’s just annoying. Since where I live we don’t have months of hot weather, it’s more like 2 and a half to 3 months.  

I try to use my fan and A lot of ice cream. Sometimes heat or ice packs help as well. Temperature in CP who would have thought. I noticed it too if I ever get into a really cold shower or have to deal with Cold water my limbs automatically sease up – so uncomfortable. Do you have this problem, and if so how do you get around it?

Also as promised here are some photos I took today of Jackson (my cat) who seems to deal with the heat by getting himself into some crazy situations.

(Feel free to check my Instagram for more photos of my cat and random shots of my awesome life.)

When One Door Closes Another Opens: Adapting to Disability

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I am a big believer in doing rather than talking about doing. When opportunities come up take them because you don’t know where they may lead, Do everything and anything you want to do because you only get one life. These things may seem cliché to some, and indeed they are but in many ways, I find, they ring true. School, work, sports just to name a few, I think it was once thought by someone that I would never get past high school – I’ll have you know I have a BA, people also saw I would never get a “worthwhile” job, I have and job and, so you know, I like my job, and sports well when I was younger I played street hockey with the best of them.  Now when someone says you can’t I say just watch me.

Not to say that I haven’t had my share of difficulties, and or, had to adapt my activities to my comfort and skill level, but there was and is always away. I was once told I shouldn’t be an acting class because it was too physical, I did it anyway. Or even simpler things, like climbing down a rock, I can do it, and I know I can do it it really miss conceptions of everyone and I deal with. My friends and family members are often more scared than I am. There are things that I haven’t been able to do because of my limitations, but that should not be the end-all and be-all – making limitations work for us what ever they may be is the skill we all need to master. If we could all do that think of how much easier life would become.

I’m about to turn 25. Yes 25! And I have decided that I am going to go parachuting, I know there are some that think that it’s a bad idea including my mum. I know I may have to change a few things, but , I find, sometimes, taking the path less traveled is more fun anyway

When Breakfast becomes a challenge you know it’s Monday  #LivingMyCPLife

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I went to an appointment today and I got up with plenty of time to get ready to leave and yet I always find myself rushing out the door. I got to my appointment almost an hour early – as per usual – thankfully there was a coffee shop nearby. Easy right? Go get coffee maybe a muffin and I’m on my way. Well, today, apparently not so easy. I got in got my coffee and muffin but then I realized I was carrying not only my bag but another folder. OMG that coffee was hot. I could barely get out The door, but I got back to the building, somehow I don’t know how. I was able to  miraculously find a seat so I could have my breakfast. Ordeal over right, not quite, I know you had to get my coffee and myself up to my appointment. Thankfully there wasn’t an elevator. But I was in flip-flops. Long story short, I was able to get into the elevator and slowly shuffle my way to my appointment, without feeling any coffee! i’m almost home free, I got in the door and went to throw something in the garbage when I knocked my hand against my coffee and… Spill! Thankfully I was able to catch my balance so I didn’t fall too, and it wasn’t a bad spill. By the time I actually got into my appointment my Monday was shaping up like a sitcom. Between the people, the coffee, my balance, and the weather I could have my own reality series. And on top of it all this was posted to Twitter:

Mindy Tucker @MindyTucker

“When you’re sitting waiting for an appointment and you realize you left your ear buds and battery pack in your other bag! #Monday”

– Got a love MyCPLife

Changes to this blog

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Hi, everyone, I been away for what seems like forever– I miss you guys. the recovery from my hip/leg surgery was a little more involved than I thought and didn’t believe me with much energy for any of my social media platforms. But, I’m back now and I think I have come up with a way I can be more present on this blog. from this point forward all blog posts that have a corresponding video on YouTube will be located in the YouTube Channel tab, in the upper menu bar, in a drop down menu titled video blog posts. This will allow me to try and post daily on the main page. Little things that happened to me (Funny, scary, interesting etc.) relating to #MyCPLife.

I feel like this will give you a better insight into my daily struggles, achievements, life in general and will allow me to post more often, I will also try and post any photos I take that day. Photo’s can also be found on my Instagram, located on the right side of the page

I hope you like this new format, I think it will work much better for me and I’m excited to get started.

Spoon Theory and Me

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As a person with a disability sometimes I need help to do things. This is a fact I fully admit to. Getting people to understand this without them going overboard, and either talking to my like a child, or ignoring my disability all together, is a constant dance, I find myself doing – and this jig is getting old. How is it to hard for people to understand, I can walk, bend, and lift. I can be helpful. Then there are times when I need a hand up a step, or WILL NOT go down escalators. The people I’m with, if anybody, are usually understanding, but sometimes are less than helpful. Telling me “you can go it” or “you were okay yesterday”.

Enter the spoon theory, this basically states, every person has an energy level made of a certain amount of spoons (this amount is different for everyone.)  In this example let’ say “able-bodied” people have 24 spoons to get through an average day. But, for those of us with disabilities or chronic illnesses that number may be 20. Maybe the average person uses up 12 of their 24 spoons at work, while I may use up 13 of my 20 spoons at work. Maybe I use 4 spoons to get up, make my bed, get dressed and get breakfast. Where an able –bodied person uses 2 of their 24 spoons to do the exact same routine. teaspoon-554065_1280By the time I get home I may have 3 spoons left, just enough for me to have dinner and get some other things done. If a friend asks me to go out I may be able to but I may have to borrow spoons from the next day to do so. This may mean I may need to spend part of another day recovering from my night out. If you are confused by my explanation of the “Spoon Theory” here is a better one.

The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino

I have people in my life who understand Mindy with spoons. I have people in my life who understand Mindy without spoons. Very few people understand both. This gets frustrating because many times I can have days where I’m “basically normal” for part of the day and “showing my CP” the rest of that day. I can see how that might be different to people who are used to seeing me a certain way but I don’t understand why they feel they need to treat me differently. I’m the one, if anyone, who could or should get frustrated. Why should a person’s attitudes change if they know me? I then I have to go into education mode, and prove to people, show people that I can do things, and the dance continues at least until I get a few more peaces cutlery.

Hiring a person with a Disability: My expearence Then & Now

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About a year ago I posted a video about summer jobs with a disability. If you would like to watch it see the link below.

Although, all of those points still stand true and I stand by what I said in that video completely, over the past year I have gained so additional knowledge and experience I feel I need to share. I may have made it seem simple in my video, there is only so much you can say in 5-7 minutes, and of course something like employment would vary from state to state, province to province. What may be more common though is the position a person is put in after education weather they have a disability or not.

I personally have a student job. How do I have a student job now, I took a few classes through the term, so I could keep my job. I have tried looking for other job, and even got a few interviews but nothing yet. So, send out more resumes, look for more job postings and pray that a hiring manager can see past the walker, wheelchair, and or my accommodation needs. In a way I can compare it to when you’re born with, or acquire a disability as a child there are services out there for you and when you turn 18 suddenly you’re on your own. This is the same type of situation, I and I’m sure many others, currently find themselves in. job searching was something I never liked but we all have to do it. Now I just hope I can find one before my current job ends. I really don’t want to be depending on the government. I know I have the skills and experience and education to work.  You would think after completing a Collage or University degree employment opportunities would increase; in my case, I think my biggest challenge will be trying to breakdown the attitudes and misconceptions people have about disability and work, and showing employers that, yes in fact I can do things.

That said I can see why employers might be apprehensive at first about hiring me but all I want is a chance to show them what I can do, how I can adapt things, and most importantly how I can be an asset to their company. I think it’s strange, in 2015 when the world has come such a long way in so many other things, hiring a person with a disability still seems like an uphill battle. By no means am I being critical of the job market, I realize it’s tough for everyone out there, and the market is oversaturated with many very qualified candidates. I see why employers would want / need to hire able –bodied people. I most definitely am not saying Persons with disabilities should now be working, on the contrary, I want to work, I have always wanted to be the same as everyone else and I still want to be treated that way. I would just like to see some more understanding and education from and for employers and a chance for those of us with disabilities to be considered in the mainstream job market