A reminder of how much my life has changed

Oxford Mail: Niall Strawson Niall Strawson

Well, pancake day has just passed. In my family, as in most, it evokes lots of memories of jiff lemon, sugar and on those lucky occasions even Nutella.

It’s also an annual event so oddly it forms a marker of what you were doing this time last year and in years gone by.

I vividly recall one pancake day in particular – five years ago in fact – I was in rehab at Stoke Mandeville.

My family came down and we took over the patient kitchen and, with help from mum and co, we made pancakes.

I was still pretty ill and certainly struggling with coming to terms with my new body limitations. It was an odd moment of silliness in an otherwise tragic and difficult time in my life.

Luckily at Stoke Mandeville the kitchen is adapted with work tops that go and up and down, so that you can fit under them and ovens and fridges all placed in the correct position to compensate for balance, strength and the fact I am permanently seated.

To make pancakes now it’s a different affair. In my flat I don’t have an adapted kitchen. In order to cook I have to get side onto the cooker and twist my body to attend to the pans. One if the oddest thing is that you can’t smell the food cooking, you can’t see the contents either.

I am often found wafting the steam from a pan into my face or with a chopping board on my lap so that I can put the pan down safely and inspect the contents.

Then there is the issue of lifting pots and pans and in the case of pancakes flipping them. It’s a good work out for the abs if nothing else.

Most people go the gym to trim down the spare tyre or to get perfect abs, I do it so I can cook a meal without dropping a pan. Five years into my injury I have learnt to cope with the help of my beloved chopping board and non-stick tray.

Anyway back to the point, this style of cooking is just one of those things that gradually becomes the norm.

My home is a rental property with the restriction of not being able to fit a new kitchen, add to that the prohibitive cost and I certainly won’t be cooking in a kitchen that has all the bells and whistles I got used to at Stoke Mandeville anytime soon.

It’s funny how something is innocent as pancake day can be a reminder of how my life has changed and despite cooking every day, somehow flipping a pancake seems a more poignant trigger for how my life has changed.

Comments (1)

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3:34pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

It's always good to read Niall's perspective on these things.

I must admit, I have cursed the "universal" height ticket vending machines at the railway station, parking meters and ATMs on the odd occasion when I have "twinged" my back at the gym..

But then, holding firmly onto the machine, whilst keeping back straight to kneel to the ground to see the screen is a mere temporary indignity.
It's always good to read Niall's perspective on these things. I must admit, I have cursed the "universal" height ticket vending machines at the railway station, parking meters and ATMs on the odd occasion when I have "twinged" my back at the gym.. But then, holding firmly onto the machine, whilst keeping back straight to kneel to the ground to see the screen is a mere temporary indignity. Andrew:Oxford
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