Cooking used to be fun before I had the brain haemorrhage which resulted in my stroke. I lost the ability to read, write, talk, walk, to remember, after the stroke. Because of my (short-term) memory playing up: did I put salt in the dish I was cooking; how much sugar in the recipe; was it 2 or 4 eggs?  Do I remember how to cook?

What were the ingredients - what did the recipe say again?  I could barely read, let alone remember what the recipe said after my stroke; so learning to cook was by trial and error.  Ahhhh, remember how to cook was one thing, but could I count and put it into context what the recipe said?

It was hilarious... I was inept at counting and reading - I simply couldn't remember. It was like being a very young child again; having to learn to read, write, reason, walk, talk, remember – but doing it when I was 30's, 40's, 50's...?

Movie-goers should remember the '50 First Dates' flick with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore – a fictitious comedy, but very true in another sense. It was a revelation from my point of view, as some other people had similar challenges and even though the movie may have made fun of the situation, at least it brought that condition out into the light.

Flashback to 1995: I was in-patient at the hospital, together with others in our wheelchairs: we had gathered in the kitchen and were trying to bake. I was probably one-of-the-least able that day and many days and months later.  Occupational therapists were on the ready. How we made a concoction of edible cakes, was a mystery to me. My husband Murray was the one who bought all the ingredients, I would imagine, and brought it to the hospital. It was a blur...

Doing things, my left hand felt very strange as I had been a right-handed person. I had to have help on all things. What to cook? Do I remember how to cook or bake? How to handle a whisk with my left hand; how to cream butter, etc. I probably did 5 minutes worth, with the whisk, and the wooden spoon before I tired out. Miraculously, the cakes were edible and done to perfection. It was a joint effort, patients and occupational therapists; doing the baking. In my case: 1% to 99%. It could only get better [Travels of a One-Handed Cook].

I can't feel 50% of sensations on my right side. In the UK where Murray and I were living at the time, we had hot water radiators as part of the central heating.

When I first came out of hospital, the over-riding fear was I was going to burn myself and I wouldn't realise it. The same as with toasters and with the gas hob on the top of the stove. A few months ago whilst preparing some food, I somehow dropped a big bowl when taking it out of the microwave. The bowl tumbled and smashed and burned my right hand in the process. But because I was so concerned about the cleanup, I didn't notice my hand until the next morning.  Good grief - that is terrible. Did you push that hand into molten lava?   I went back to basics and applied lavender essential oil on it.  Within four days it had healed up, but it made the point and I've been vigilant ever since.

Have you ever tried to chop up vegetables with one hand?  No, neither had I before my stroke.  Natively a right-hander where the left hand holds the item and the right hand chops - happy days. What if the left hand is there ready to go but the right stares back at you with "you wanted something?".  O-k.  PlanB.  Er, what is PlanB again?

PlanB is a chopping board with 'stakes' in it, and I have one.  Otherwise Murray will be cooking and its beans on toast or roast lamb - again.  Stakes allow wedging/pinning something down to cut, scrape, dice, etc.. I used to use Dycem products to hold things down for stability, but any other non-stick mat would do. An electric can-opener is useful.

Cashew-nut chocolates

Cashew-nut chocolates

When I came out of hospital, beside the above utensils, the chopping board I had was excellent and it also had an edge with an angled corner to butter bread, which is a superb feature.

On the main I use just ordinary household items to cook and do baking. I prefer a gas-hob but an induction hob is very safe, but finicky, I find. The microwave is a godsend, as is a counter-top oven to do pizzas, toasting baguettes and if you do only small quantities of baking. In this era of diet-fads, fast-food, over-weight people, processed foods; the more you can cook yourself using fresh ingredients is the key to healthy living.