The Hazards of the Kitchen

As I watch my skillful teenager cook another meal, I contemplate the hazard that the kitchen is complete with fragile glass, chipped ceramic, and the perilous sharp objects in special holders as well as a few poorly placed in a drawer.

I’ll be honest that I have never been well versed in cooking, baking, or the basic household skills that involve food. As a scientist, many would call this strange and though I can definitely follow a recipe in one of the numerous books on my shelves or found on the internet, my meal choices have always been reliant on the basic food that I can comfortably make if not found in a book.

Heat and sharp tools

So what’s the harm of a kitchen to someone with narcolepsy? Well, considering that most things require the use of flames or heat, sharp utensils, and to put it frankly, knives that can cut through bone, it’s precarious to say the least that when your mind is fogged with sleepiness (or add cataplexy triggered by stress/emotion), one might find themselves with operator error resulting in injury.

Weary of knives

As a child, I had the unfortunate finding of a cleaver knife nearly removing my thumb from sticking my hand in the wrong drawer. Though that was before my narcolepsy became a matter of concern, I have found that knives in particular have an affinity for my hands if I am not super careful.

Hence the first hesitation to cooking is the capacity for me to inflict wounds upon my hands very easily due to my state of tiredness and levels of stress given the days.

Grateful for others who cook

Now I can completely honor the fact that for about 10 years I was blessed by my former husband to not have to cook regularly. I am equally grateful for my son who I live with currently that also has a reasonable want to cook good food, thus reducing my kitchen duties

Washing dishes and cataplexy

The most recent stabbing actually wasn’t in the noble task of making a meal, but instead, I was washing the dishes where a steak knife hid so well from me. I found it in the large fleshy part of my hand after one dish dropped into the bottom of the sink, hitting the knife and flipping it up into the base of my thumb.

It seemed like a freak accident, yet my cataplexy got the best of me at that moment as I was so angry at my son for not doing the dishes that night. The searing pain of a knife in one's hand will forever create a cry that could be heard for miles and at least my mind did not cause me to further fall to the floor in that incident.

Taking care of myself and my things

I have had many sad occasions where I lost favorite mugs to the drops and falls of a hard kitchen floor. I even bought special spill-proof travel containers for taking to work when I found I could not keep from spilling coffee on every surface from my home to work.

Special antique dishes tend to hang in my china cabinet as decoration more often than not as I fear damage. Since my diagnosis, I have tried to be more careful. It has been frustrating, to say the least. I can explain to myself why I hold most things with 2 hands, why I now have special places for knives that keep me from randomly shoving my hand into a space, and I no longer do the dishes if any doubt exists what lies in the depths of it.

It's OK to let others help

I bring this up because we approach a time where people will gather for holidays or just the every day need for food. We will be hanging in the kitchen with our friends and family with the self-conscious thought of being the klutz that could ruin the potluck or special meal.

Remember that you can always excuse yourself from such activities that could create stress. Instead just remember, you don’t have to do it alone and let others handle the meals when possible.

Asking for help is good and generally doesn’t require more of an explanation. This isn’t medical advice, just a common-sense reminder, it’s okay to know your limits especially during special occasions and holidays.

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