My name is Richard and I started baking a couple months ago as a form of therapy which then turned into something I wanted to do as a craft.
My daily occupation is being a PhD student designing prosthetic limbs for low-income countries. This is something that fulfils me but I felt as though I was missing something, something tangible, something I had made. I have designed prosthetics and seen them be made, but I didn’t make them. I was missing out on the production side of my project.
Why can I not produce my prosthetics?
Because I am an incomplete tetraplegic meaning I have weakness in all four limbs and lacking dexterity in my fingers. I find it very frustrating having to hand over my designs to someone else to make. I want to be the one from start to finish. I know this is me being proud, but its something that has always meant something to me. I have always liked the process of seeing something being produced, whether it was lego models, IKEA furniture or previous university design projects. Seeing that final product has always meant something to me. This is why I decided to bake so that I can see the start, process and final product all to myself.
We all have our rough days and our good days. Ever since I had my stroke which led to my paralysis I have had increased depression and anxiety. The depression was caused by the paralysis being a very sudden thing. I went in for an operation to try and prevent paralysis from occurring, but instead, I woke up completely paralysed from the neck down. After such a dramatic trauma, your mind likes to play games with you. You get frustrated because something that used to be so easy was now impossible. I have regained most function but there are still many a thing I cannot achieve and I have accepted that. Baking has allowed me to feel “normal” as there is nothing in baking I cannot do. I can read the recipe, I can weigh out the ingredients, I can knead. And when doing all these movements I forget everything. I am in the moment. I am seeing something being created before my very hands which 4 years ago could not pick up a fork to feed myself. So if you’re ever feeling that you need to escape something, think about trying to bake a simple loaf. The actions of seeing flour, yeast, salt and water turning into a fluffy white loaf is so simple but so satisfying, it’ll give anyone a smile and a tasty sandwich.