STOCKTON - As you whisk the homemade gravy or carve the turkey this Thanksgiving, imagine what it would be like to not have the use of one of your hands to steady the pot or bird.
It's the daily challenge of Roseanna Radding who had a stroke 19 years ago that paralyzed her left side.
"One morning I woke up and I felt like my left hand, my leg weighed a thousand pounds. I could not walk. That was it. And that was the TIA,"Roseanna recalled.
She went to the hospital and was sent home that same day.Then that night as she slept, a blood vessel in her brain, weakened by years of high blood pressure, ruptured and Roseanna awakened to permanent paralysis on one side.
One morning she's fine, and the next, she's not.
"Oh my God. Life is never going to be the same," Roseanna said. "I was absolutely devastated. Cuz you know, I went to work on Friday and life was full and life was the way it was and I woke up the next morning, Saturday morning, and everything was changed and I just thought, life was over."
She was depressed and frustrated at suddenly having to rely on others to do even the mundane for her.
"I absolutely hated having people do things for me and I wasn't going to live that way. I was either going to die or do it on my own and I decided I'd do it on my own."
Before the stroke, Roseanna worked in property management and painted and made jewelry. But afterward,her priorities became the basics, such as how to cook again.
"I didn't want to give up cooking because it had become a lot of fun for me and it was a way of me expressing my love for my friends and my family."
But try opening a sealed jar with one hand or buttering a slice oftoast without it sliding around.
She found some kitchen tools that worked for the one-handed cook but not many. What began then was a quest to either modify existing kitchen implements or invent her own so she could cook again. Along the way, she enrolled in the Rehabilitation Injury Technology program at San Francisco State University where she found she didwell at figuring out the daily challenges those with limited mobility face.
Those skills helped in developing her adapted cutting board. The board has rubber legs, pegs on all sides for securing removable "walls" and ties for securing and holding down foods for cutting, slicing, dicing and more. Not until one tries to peel a slippery potato or hold green onions in place to cut with one hand can one appreciate the cutting board modifications Roseanna has made."
"If I can figure out a way to do it, I do it. It's kind of the way I am," she says.
Roseanna now gives live cooking demonstrations for those impaired by stroke, traumatic brain injury or some other neurological condition.
"It turns out what works for me is working for other people too," Roseanna says. " If I can take something I've invented for myself or modified for myself and show somebody else how to use and have them be more successful with what they want to do, that's the best feeling I can get."
What most would term a disability has become a cause for her. That's not to say there aren't frustrations.
Having "patience," is her biggest test, Roseanna says. Before the stroke, something that might have taken her 30 seconds to do now takes five minutes.
"But so what?A disability, disabled is a state of being. Re-abled is the act of doing and I live my life re-abling and that's what I want to show other people they can do."
And the ideas are still coming. She's going to invent a nail clipper to be used with one hand.
"I already have the design yet. I just don't have it built yet. There's always something. Just take the things I do everyday and if I need something, I'll build on that."
Moreinformation about Roseanna's one-handed cooking lessons and demonstrations, and one-handed kitchen tool essentials is available at One Hand Can.