This post is slightly different but this was one of the things that I didn’t expect to be affected at all my by CP. However, as this has become one of my favourite hobbies I have come to realise that even this is affected by my CP. It still has not stopped me from enjoying it but I have a new realisation for how I manage my condition day to day.
I spent 3 years working in a professional kitchen over my summer holidays during a big event in my local town. This job involved working from between 6am and 10pm. We were on our feet all day and our only breaks to sit down were meal times. Health and safety madness of course meant no chairs in the kitchen. This is hard enough for anyone but I found that my legs were so knackered by the end of the crazy long day that my ankles became swollen and my the end of the week I was struggling to walk. I had to lie down at night with my feet above my head against the wall to help rest my feet and recover! By the end of the week I felt that I had aged by about 60 years as I was hobbling around-not sure the customers would be too pleased to think a crippled pensioner was responsible for their starter! In addition to the exhaustion I felt in my legs from the long hours on my feet, due to the fact my arms and hands have mild CP, my knife skills are slower and poorer resulting in many cuts from the lethally sharp knives in the kitchen. Each year that I returned, I would forget how much sharper professional knives are! So much so that I gained a reputation for using up the blue plasters and gloves in the first aid box and was consistently the first one requiring medical attention on day one. I ended the week morphing into an avatar. One year, on the first day of the event, I was let loose on a mandolin to slice a mountain of cucumbers. This resulted in my gouging my thumb and a heck of a lot of pain. Needless to say I didn’t touch the mandolin again after that drama-the rest of the staff also learnt that I was safer as far away as possible from this beast!
Despite all of my injuries and exhaustion, I loved my time working at these events as it gave me an experience in a professional kitchen which was so unlike anything I had done previously. However, when it came to time for service, I was terrified. It was a very loud and male dominated environment (like any kitchen really) but I always felt I was slowing the team down when I was plating up the dishes I was responsible for. I felt much happier working behind the scenes peeling enough cucumbers to turn my hands green (so now I have morphed into a geriatric avatar suffering from gangrene-not sure what health and safety would have to say about that!) Having said all this, I thoroughly enjoyed the event each time it came around (although I only lasted 3 years-any longer than that and I wouldn’t have any fingers left!)
Another summer job I did which involved cooking on a farm where I was responsible for feeding the 5,000 *slight exaggeration but grant me some artistic license!* single-handedly during their hop picking. During this job I would spend my time collecting hoards of fruit and veg from all over the garden and hauling it back to the kitchen, determined to lug it all back without any help. Even if this did mean I dropped a few onions or apples on my way back when plodding down some pretty wonky steps through the garden! Then came to the best bit-whipping up a storm in the kitchen- my hands are covered in small cut and burn scars from all the times I have fumbled with a knife or caught my hand taking something out the oven over the years. Although I often get frustrated at the scars I have accumulated, I suppose it is all part of the process.
I am very grateful to have the physical ability to do something I love, I realise that this is not possible for everyone with a disability. I hope this shows that with determination you can always find a way to get stuck into things that you enjoy.