A Connection Through Cooking

After a 2003 car accident left me as a T-12 incomplete paraplegic I had to learn a whole new way of life. Bathing, dressing, cooking, and learning to drive a car would put me to the test. Over the years I fought to find a connection to my life pre-injury. I was led on a path of finding my passions and joy for life again. Using positivity to find myself would be key in my years of recovery. None of this would have been possible without the support of my family.

Clumsy Cooking

Growing up I had a wonderful childhood. Every night I indulged in watching my mom cook meals for my dad, my sisters, and me. Watching Mom is where I found my passion for cooking. This however would prove to be quite the chore from a wheelchair.

My family and I have always laughed about the fact that I am a bit of a clumsy girl. Dropping things all the time, spilling food on my clothes, and finding crumbs in my wheelchair cushion is just who I am. Mom encouraged me to try to cook again and to not let my "Messy Jessie" persona get in the way. All fun aside, I knew the importance of safety and accessibility when it came time to build my own house.

My kitchen is my focal point and where I spend most of my time. Much like your wheelchair is built for you, my kitchen is built for me. I have cutouts under my sink and cooktop, a raised dishwasher and oven, and a refrigerator with pull-out shelving. The cutouts make it so that I am able to rollup under the counter to do the dishes and cook without spilling on myself. The raised dishwasher and oven allow me to get dishes in and out with ease. And although I have very long arms I love that my refrigerator has the pull-out shelves so that I don't worry about falling from my chair while reaching for some juice on the top shelf. Overall I am entirely grateful that I have an accessible kitchen so that I am able to continue to cook with my mother.

Accessible kitchen sink with cutout
Accessible kitchen stove with cutout

Keeping a Connection

Being a native who emigrated from Thailand, my mom never learned to read or write in English. You would never find a cookbook or recipe in front of her. "Taste as you go," Mom would say. Earlier this year she was diagnosed with dementia. Mom can no longer independently cook or recall any of the dishes she used to make us when we were little. Since I watched her so closely and cooked alongside her for many years, I can replicate her Thai dishes now.

Jessica cooking with her mother in her wheelchair-accessible kitchen

I work part-time for Monroe Wheelchair so that I am able to be home with her a few days a week. On those days when she gets down or sad we break out the pots and pans and she can help me whip up those dishes in no time! My accessible kitchen that was built specifically for my needs makes it all that much easier to combine my passion for cooking and spending time with my family. Through searching for a connection to my pre-injury life, I found something far more profound: a deeper connection with my mother.

About the Author

Jessica Patterson

Jessica Patterson lives in the countryside in Central New York with Jason, her husband of 7 years, three dogs, and a cat. She is a very active young lady who enjoys her job at Monroe Wheelchair, volunteering at the local children's hospital, being outdoors, and spending her free time with her family and friends. Jess' proudest endeavor was holding the title of Ms. Wheelchair New York 2013-2014, competing for Ms. Wheelchair America 2015 and peer mentoring throughout her reign and beyond. Since there never seems to be a time she sits still, Jess plans to continue positively influencing all who she comes in contact with throughout her travels in life.

Jessica's ride is a Quickie 7R.

Most of the stories here on LiveQuickie.com were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.

Date: 12/27/2016 12:00:00 AM

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