Cooking Through It

As I’ve said a gazillion times already, I’ve been cooking for many years. Much more than a hobby, it’s always been a combination of necessity and passion. It’s also been a major form of therapy for me. If I’m having a bad day, going into the kitchen and cooking or baking results in a big change in attitude, for which Logan is eternally grateful.

But it’s no longer a given that I can cook on a whim. I haven’t been teaching Logan to cook just because it’s fun, although that’s a bonus. My stenosis can put me down for days at a time, and I can’t do anything more strenuous than pet the cats and watch Law & Order reruns (neither of which is a bad thing). That’s when Logan cooks, or brings home soup and dumplings from a Chinese restaurant. When I’m not completely incapacitated, I do what I can according to how I feel. Sometimes, the only thing that matters to me is being able to make dinner. Who cares about dust when there’s chicken piccata to be made?

I still bake bread every 2-3 days, but I seldom start it the night before. Although it feels a little like cheating, I’ve come up with a same-day technique that creates a pretty great loaf of bread. I still cook the things I’ve always cooked (because what’s life without pasta e fagioli or a pork tenderloin), and I haven’t stopped trying new recipes. The difference is now I need help.

Anyone who knows me knows that asking for help in the kitchen is not something I do easily. Not only is it something I don’t expect, it’s something I’ve rarely allowed. But when my vertebrae are scraping against each other because the discs in my back have degenerated into nothing, and I can’t stand for more than 15 minutes at a time, my pride and stubbornness are irrelevant.

Drugs help (oh, stop it. I mean the legal kind), but the lack of pain is in direct correlation to the fogginess of my brain. Who forgets to put garlic in red sauce? A gimp on drugs, that’s who. It’s frustrating and irritating, and sometimes I think I’ll never really win this battle.

To put it simply, this pisses me off. It’s bad enough that I have a hard time sitting in a movie theater or walking around an art gallery; that a family visit to Pennsylvania can set me back weeks; that I shouldn’t go dancing anymore; and that visiting Italy is becoming a more vague possibility even as I write this. Never knowing from one day to the next if I can bake bread and make dinner would crush me if I gave in to it. I can’t imagine how much my life would suck if I had to stop cooking. So, despite, or maybe because of, my occasional fear of defeat, I cannot let that happen. Instead, I just keep cooking through it. I laugh at stenosis (but maybe that’s just the drugs). As Logan knows, a woman holding a knife in her hand is not someone to mess with.