Norm Gagatek is eager to get crackin’ eggs in the kitchen for breakfast with his family.
He recently accepted a modified egg cracker, known as the EZ Cracker, for the Gagatek kitchen from the staff at CanAssist at the University of Victoria (UVIC).
The personalized accessible tool not only improves the quality of life for the Gagatek family by helping the 46-year-old Invermerian cope with a brain injury that changed his life forever on July 5th, 2008, it helps Norm gain independence.
“Norm loves eggs for breakfast, but I usually have to cook them,” said his wife, Kim Gagatek. “It seems simple and kind of silly, but that’s just his gig and that’s what he likes, but in the morning, during school time, I need to get the boys up and get them organized for school. Then, get Norm’s breakfast made before I leave the house so he’s up in time to enjoy most of the day.”
Brain injuries are a traumatic and disabling head injury that can change somebody’s life emotionally, socially and financially. The Gagatek couple said there has been no end to learning how to move forward with Norm’s brain injury.
“It helps with rehabilitation (in terms of) cooking his own meals,” explained Debbie Gudjonson, West Kootenay Brain Injury outreach worker. “It’s important for him to be able to help in the kitchen and if he can cook his kids breakfast, it gives him back his independence.”
The Echo was unable to contact CanAssist staff at UVIC for comment before going to press on Monday, September 14th.
Kim added that her husband used to enjoy cooking and is excited to see him back in the kitchen despite the limited use of his hands.
“Personally, I think the more things he can do independently, the more confidence he will develop,” she explained about his ability to help out with meals again. “A lot of times, with brain injuries, people lose their confidence. They’re always second-guessing themselves, so there’s a big emphasis on getting them out to socialize, but also doing normal, everyday things in the house.”
Norm smirked and used a comprehensive text-based app on an iPad to type out a cheeky response to his wife: “You just want to sleep,” the message read as he lovingly smiled at his wife.
Kim rolled her eyes and laughed at his joke.
“The egg station is really good,” she replied while shooting a glance back to Norm, “and yeah, for me, so I can sleep.”