Peeling an Orange with One Hand

Don't pass up on a scrumptious orange, peeling it with one hand can be done.


Survivor Rosanna Radding, Grass Valley California

Recently, I presented a one-handed cooking demonstration that was unlike any I had done before. Instead of presenting to a support group, I was asked to present my “One Hand Can Cook!” demonstration to inpatients at a rehab facility. It was a small group of survivors, some of whom still had that post-stroke, deer-in-the-headlights look. You may recognize the look on your own face in the mirror.

Unexpectedly, meeting this group of freshmen survivors opened up a floodgate of memories and emotions that I had not accessed since my stroke 19 years ago. Talking to one of the gentlemen, I remembered a particular day, actually, a particular meal tray that was set in front of me. At first glance, there was nothing surprising or problematic on the tray, that is, if it had been the week before. Not until I reached for the orange did I think, “What am I supposed to do with this? Don’t they know I only have one hand that works?” I admit, at that point, I wasn’t up to the challenge of peeling an orange with one hand. I rolled myself out of the dining room frustrated and without having enjoyed the luscious-looking orange.

In hindsight, there is one take-away lesson there. First and foremost, ask for help when you need it. Not asking for help was my loss. As a proud and fiercely independent person asking for help was more than difficult. Whenever I did, usually when the frustration was too much to bear any longer, I felt like a part of me was dying. NOT! Most everyone I’ve ever asked for help, friend or stranger, has been gracious and accommodating to a fault. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. We learn through trial and error what we can safely do for or by ourselves. Knowing when it is safer and smarter to ask for help is an invaluable step toward living life re-abled rather than disabled.


Fig.1: Round Citrus Peeler

Regarding peeling an orange — there exists a very inexpensive, small, plastic gadget called a Round Citrus Peeler (Fig. 1) that makes peeling citrus quite possible, even with only one functional hand. Of course, it was made for two-handed peeling, but I use it in a way that suits my needs, as I do with many tools in many situations. I simply slide the ring over the thumb of my less functional hand with the cutting point facing up (Fig.2).

With that hand resting on a table or in my lap, plastic point up, I slowly turn the orange as I drag it along the sharp plastic point (Fig. 3), with enough pressure to pierce its skin. Repeat at numerous locations on the fruit’s surface. I also pierce a circle around the stem end. Then holding the orange in my “good” hand and using my weak hand as a “backstop,” I can loosen and remove the skin of the orange and joyfully devour what I had denied myself that day in rehab, before I had learned to ask for help.


Fig. 2: Slide the peeler over the thumb of the affected hand.


Fig. 3: Turn the orange over the peeler with the unaffected hand.

This information is provided as a resource to our readers. These tips, products or resources have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.

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