Updated: Aug 29, 2021
One of the things I learnt very quickly in my early days of being an amputee is that you must see the lighter side of life. As much as I try so hard not to fall, I have taken a few tumbles and to be honest, the memory of some of these just allows me to have a good laugh. My first fall or what I should call, “almost fall”, happened about two weeks into my return after my seven week post amputation rehab. An extract from my book, “IMPACT: My Story, My Ebenezer, My Victory” describes this event vividly.
“I have a real craving for beans”, I remember saying to Gbenga, [My husband] on that particular day.
In his usual manner of wanting to do everything for me he said, “I will cook them for you later today.”
On top of all the housework he had done that day, I did not want him to have to do this, because cooking black eye beans the Nigerian way, right from scratch, is quite involved. They need to first be boiled and then crushed and mixed into a stew that is also cooked from scratch.
“I do need to start using some of the kitchen skills I learnt in rehab” I said, trying to convince him. I could see that although he agreed, he was very reluctantly to let me do it.
“Not to worry, I am sure I can manage. If for any reason, I need your help, I will let you know”, I assured him.
I left him in the living room and went to put the beans to boil in the pressure cooker on the gas stove. The purpose of using the pressure cooker was to reduce the amount of cooking time as raw black eye beans take a long time to cook.
About 45 minutes later the beans had cooked enough for me to start the second stage of the cooking process. I therefore turned the gas stove off and waited about thirty minutes for the contents to cool down so I could open the pressure cooker. As with all pressure cookers, ours has a safety catch which means that it will not open if the food has not properly cooled as the pressure used to cook the food will cause the boiling hot contents to come out with an explosive force. With our pressure cooker, the safety catch was faulty, therefore I knew I had to estimate myself when I felt the food had properly cooled down and then force the lock open the with a metal object like one of the prongs of a fork.
Even though I had left the beans to cool down for about thirty minutes, I would normally have run cold water over the pressure cooker to ensure that I was satisfied that it was completely cool, but I did not do this because Gbenga, who was now in the kitchen with me, was washing the dishes at the sink which was located behind me to the right. I therefore sat at the gas stove on my perching stool, leaned over the pressure cooker and forced the lock open. The low hissing noise it made as I attempted to open it should have been the giveaway sign that there was still some pressure. I continued to open it and the next thing I heard was an explosion.
I was, and still am, truly amazed at the reflexes of both me and Gbenga. In my situation where I was still barely managing to move on one stick and getting in and out of seats was a slow laborious process, my movement out of the perching stool was as if someone pressed an eject button as I flew towards the wall behind me putting my hand out to try and balance myself on the wall. Unfortunately, even in our small four square metre kitchen, the wall was too far away. At the same time Gbenga who had heard the explosion, let out a loud bellow and turned just in time to see me flying past him. In the nick of time, he reached out to catch me before I landed in the bin that was resting against the wall I had reached out for.
Needless to say, there were beans and hot water all over the cooker and the floor and I narrowly missed getting badly scalded. Once I realised, I was unscathed, I was in fits of laughter. Gbenga was less amused and gave me a good telling off for putting myself in harm’s way. He sent me packing from the kitchen so he could clean up the mess and finish cooking the beans. From that day on, he strictly banned me from ever going anywhere near the pressure cooker!
To be honest, since that day I have steered clear of a pressure cooker though I have had many a lovely Nigerian beans dish. I've had a few other falls since then but one thing I have now learnt is how to fall in a way that minimises injury. The key is to ensure that once you find yourself going down, avoid putting your hand out to save yourself. This can cause you to break your hand or arm. Instead, turn sideways as if you are going to fall on your shoulder. As soon as your shoulder is about to hit the ground, roll along on the ground for as long as is necessary. I've had reason to do this when I fell playing tennis and in all honesty, I felt like James Bond!