I was born mid August 1994. Mum gave normal birth, and I was a healthy baby. However, at the age of 16 months I experienced an unexpected right side hemiplegia (stroke). Seven top surgeons from the ‘Women and Children’s Hospital’ in Adelaide Australia agreed that I required immediate surgery.
For two weeks after the operation; the doctors kept me at death's door, by placing me on a bed of ice. They coupled me to many instruments; one of which was a brain temperature and pressure monitoring device which had to be flown in from Melbourne.
In a nutshell, the doctors at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Adelaide saved my life.
The stress on my family, over that time, was immeasurable; so on leaving the hospital, dad, mum and my sister took me straight down to the beach for some fresh air.
I was visually impaired on one side, and also paralysed down my left side. As a result I required support to sit or stand. To feed me the hospital supplied my parents with a special purpose high chair. As a portion of my skull (bone flap) had been removed to lower the pressure in my brain, I had to wear a kick-boxing head protection helmet.
The doctor’s all agreed that I would probably be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
My parents; however, did not!
They refused to take the many wheelchairs that were on offer; rather they insisted I will walk again.
Three months after leaving the hospital I had an appointment with the senior surgeon. While playing with the toys in the waiting room, my dad said to me that, when the doctor calls my name, I must get up and walk over to him and … I did!
The shock and disbelief on that surgeons face was very evident, and the pride in my parent’s hearts was explosive.
School came all too quickly. As a student at a Christian College, I was treated with great disrespect. The children constantly laughed and ridiculed me. They said I looked like a freak because my arm was not “like theirs,” and because I walked with a slight limp. They pushed and bullied me at every opportunity. This meant I found main stream school very difficult.
Despite what the outside world thought of me, my family stood rock solid by my side.
I was working in the garden early one Saturday morning when Nadine, (7) called out to me to ask if I was hungry and, if I would like an omelet for breakfast. Not wanting to to hurt her feelings I said, “yes please.”
As I worked I imagined what I might get for breakfast that morning. My thoughts could not have been further from the truth. When I was presented with my breakfast I was shocked to say the least. Nadine’s love and passion for cooking exploded onto the plate. The flavours, textures and aroma’s, as well as the visual presentation of that omelet was beyond belief.
My little one armed child could hardly reach the stove top, let alone crack an egg, and yet she had produced a breakfast (literally single handed) better than most hotels - of which I’ve been to many.
At that point I knew Nadine had a natural skill which needed to be encouraged.
After leaving school I attempted a career in cooking. But no matter which way I turned, I was rejected from chef colleges, chef schools, private and public restaurants, all due to my inability to handle high speed food production. It was then that I decided to go it alone.
For inspiration I turned to the TV cooking shows, as well as old recipe books which belonged to my mum and my two grannies.
As a self taught one arm chef I found that cooking was not that difficult. At the age of 19 I decided to research, test and write my own recipe book. If the world wasn’t going to offer me employment, then I would create a career for myself.
I know that the majority of people who have had a stroke are elderly, or at least well into their 60’s. These dear folk (as well as other young children who have suffered the same fate as I) must never give up on the things they love to do.
Yes, I know from experience that working with one hand is challenging; however, my strongest recommendation to you is to keep going. Reach for the sky. Over time our brain, if we let it, seems to work out the solutions to difficult problems. It finds a way to compensate for our loss, and then we achieve things we could never have imagined.
Everyone enjoys a great tasting meal at the end of the day. Don’t hold back. Although I did not get the opportunity to become a professional chef, I did follow my culinary passion. I trust you will enjoy my many recipe books, and find the hints and suggestions helpful.
Using as many fresh ingredients as possible, I have designed each recipe to be an ‘easy-to-make’ deliciously tasty home cooked meal. I have ensured that most ingredients are readily available from your local grocery store.
Some recipes may look familiar to you; however, the difference lies in the sauce. In the preparation of most meals, I found that the intense flavours come from the sauce, and not necessarily from the main ingredients themselves. Most of my dishes have been prepared, either in the sauce or, offered as a side dish. Try them and taste the difference for yourself.
I trust you will have as much pleasure in cooking and enjoying these meals with your family; as I have had in creating them for you.
All the best for now.
My earlier days with Montrose Access
Disability won't stop chef's dream
10th Nov 2011 2:00 AM
NADINE Lloyd has a dream to be a master chef - and she's not going to let the fact that she can only use one arm and has difficulty with her vision stop her from achieving it.
The 17-year-old, of Caloundra, suffered a stroke as a 16-month-old baby, partially paralysing the left side of her body.
Nadine spent three weeks in intensive care "packed on ice", and then needed months of rehabilitation.
Now she is a normal teenager ... with a passion for cooking.
The problem is that every time she has gone for a job interview, people can only see her disabilities.
"I've been for a few interviews, but no one wants to take me on," Nadine said.
Her mum, Petra, has tried to persuade Nadine to pursue other interests.
"I can understand why employers might be hesitant to give her a chance," Petra said.
"She's got her challenges, not that she sees it that way.
"I've tried to persuade her to do something else, but she really wants to get into the food industry."
Nadine has developed innovative ways of coping in the kitchen with only one arm. She can crack an egg, mix an omelette and chop an onion with the best of them.
And for the past few weeks she has had the opportunity to join in a "mini-chef" style cooking extravaganza where everyone is a winner.
Hosted by disability support services organisation Montrose Access, the annual Mini Chefs program gives young people with physical disabilities the chance to cook up a storm in the kitchen.
While this program, which runs weekly until December 7, might not be as fast-paced as a commercial kitchen, it is set up to be just as intense.
Montrose Access occupational therapist Tegan King said the program gave people the chance to gain experience in basic cooking techniques, develop leadership and teamwork skills and understand how to create and follow a simple budget.
As an ongoing effort to support the two organisations that helped me, I will commit a percentage of all book sales to them. If you would also like to help, I have provided a quick link to their respective sites.
Woman & Children's Hospital Adelaide