Do you love me? (I can really move)
Do you love me? (I’m in the groove)
Ah, do you love? (Do you love me)
Now that I can dance (Dance)
Watch me now, oh (Work, work)
Ah, work it all baby (Work, work)
Well, you’re drivin’ me crazy (Work, work)
With a little bit of soul now (Work)
I can mash-potato (I can mash-potato)
And I can do the twist (I can do the twist)
Now tell me baby (Tell me baby)
Mmm, do you like it like this? (Do you like it like this?)
-(from Do You Love Me? by The Contours)
Sorry, sorry, hang on a second, let me take my ear buds out.
You see, I’m cooking, and when I cook, I have a tendency to put music on and dance around the kitchen like a nutter-butter (*Nic translation: Nutter-butter= crazy person).
Somehow, it helps me focus.
Cooking is wonderful because it is a multi-sensory experience.
Cooking is horrible because it is a multi-sensory experience.
I have never been a much of a cook, mostly because my multiple food allergies/sensitivities have had a tendency to keep me pretty food-adverse.
The last year or so, though, I’ve been sharpening my kitchen knowledge (so punny!) and working on my ability to, you know, feed myself.
But this multi-sensory issue! Ugh!
I don’t know about you, Chronic readers, but for me, my brain can only handle so much at one time. Smells, instructions to follow, pots and pans of simmering things to watch, trying not to trip on my very curious puppy dog (who always finds a way to be right under my feet)- it’s a bit much!
So what do I do about it?
Well, I used to just curse and burn stuff.
Clearly, that was not a long-term solution.
I have found that in some brilliant, magical and surely explained by scientific study somewhere way, listening to music, loudly, helps.
Incidentally, a whole lot more than using my sailor-esque vocabulary ever did.
Personally, my non-scientific theory on this is that it drowns out excess stimulation.
My brain is particularly talkative, and even though I may be trying to cook something, I am also usually thinking of future blog topics, wondering how long it will take to make my next round of stuffed elephants, debating whether I can still consider myself an environmentalist even though I just never seem to get around to composting…a whole bunch of stuff that is non-cooking related. Add that to all the stuff that’s going on outside of me, and you’ve got one spastic brain that has no idea what it should be doing next.
Yet, when I blast some classic rock-n-roll into that intracranial situation, it becomes the only thing going on up there. Now it’s just me and the Contours, doing the mash-potato while making mashed potatoes.
For me, it has an Adderall-esque effect. I may be all over the place beforehand, but turn up the Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons Pandora radio station, and suddenly I am laser-focused on completing the task of making dinner.
I have to add this to my list of reasons my neighbors must think I am eccentric. We do have lots of windows, and I do go all out. It must be quite the show. Plus, if I decide it’s Billy Joel night, you better believe that I am singing along at the top of my lungs #IKnowAllTheWords #SpoonsMakeGreatMicrophones #It’sAlwaysBillyJoelNight
Ok, so I’ve figured out how to get my brain in order. That’s super helpful. Now I’m actually adding ingredients to my pot instead of just spilling them all over the counter (#IWasThinkingAboutLastWeek’sScandalEpisode).
But I’m kind of tired now.
Isn’t dancing just a pinch counter-intuitive for a POTSie? Doesn’t all that bouncing about make me tachycardic and weird?
Truthfully, yes, sometimes.
Being upright and remaining still and being upright and moving are two different things with their own set of sensations. If I’m just standing still at a countertop cutting vegetables, you may want to go ahead and take over, and maybe check to make sure my fingertips are still attached. That’s because all my blood is hanging out in my feet, and isn’t necessarily making it’s way back up to my brain, at least not in a particularly speedy fashion, the way it should. This will impair my sharp-pointy-object judgment. #POTSproblems
However, if I’m dancing around, moving my arms and legs (To be clear-not super vigorously or anything. Think audience members at the Ellen show, not Dancing with the Stars. I mean, maybe in my head I think I am Julianne Hough, but in reality, not so much!), then my blood is circulating and making its way to all the important places it needs to be- like my brain!
*Nic note: USE CAUTION when cutting anything, dancing or not. I feel like this whole post needs a giant disclaimer every other sentence. Seriously. Gosh.
But still, I’m tired.
This is where chairs come in.
Chairs are very helpful.
My family happens to have an island in our kitchen that houses our stovetop, and there are barstools on the opposite side. I just drag one of those guys over if I need to sit and stir something for a bit. It’s also helpful (and perhaps safer?) to sit while cutting things, which negates that whole section a few paragraphs back.
I recently found a catalogue that sells these little adjustable-height kitchen stools that are on wheels, so you can wheel yourself around the kitchen while cooking. I might need to invest in one of those. Can you imagine the choreography possibilities?
My brain is on board, my orthostatic issues have been worked out.
What was I doing again?
Oh right, cooking.
What does a POTSie eat for dinner?
Last night I made Stewed Vegetable Gravy, one of my favorite things. Essentially, it’s like a quick cooking stew that you then pour over [red meat] protein. I tend to make the protein separately, as the gravy reheats well, but I have trouble digesting reheated meat (ick!). It’s especially good on hamburgers (toast half a bun, put a hamburger on it, pour gravy all over it…yummm) or mixed with steak cubes. I use stir-fry steak because you can buy it pre-cut at the store and it doesn’t need to cook forever the way stew-meat does.
Here’s the recipe. It was originally from the Rachel Ray magazine, but I have tweaked it since, you know, it’s me.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
6 fingerling potatoes, sliced into small pieces
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 or 2 small ribs celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons butter (or non-dairy substitute)
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
salt and pepper
1) In a large saucepan, heat EVOO over medium heat. Add potatoes, carrot, celery and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for 10 minutes. (Stir occasionally to keep vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan.)
2) When 10 minutes is up, stir in tomato paste. Then, make a well in the center of the vegetables, add the butter and cook till melted. Add the flour. Stir for 1 minute.
3) Add beef stock, bring to a simmer and cook (uncovered) until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
While this is cooking, make your protein. When both are done, combine and enjoy deliciousness!
Have any yummy and simple recipes you’d like to share, Chronic readers? I’d love to hear from you either here in the comments, or over on my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/iamchronicallywell