By Daniel J. Vance MS, LPCC

Gary Frazier and I met by chance in 2004 at a library in Milledgeville, Georgia, his home. We have emailed back and forth since then. In his last email, he sounded depressed and gave me permission to include the email in a column. He always has been interested in raising awareness of spinal meningitis.

In 1971 at 11, Frazier suddenly became Deaf after a bout with spinal meningitis and would have related brain surgeries that also affected his short-term memory and ability to walk. Even though Deaf, Frazier learned to play the drums in high school and eventually had a successful work career in the commercial printing industry, where, because of noisy work enviroments, Deaf employees often are recruited and can be more productive.

Frazier wrote, “I wonder if I'm about ready to go home (to heaven). What I mean is I've endured about as much as I think I can (in life) and yet the struggles continue. A few months ago, I was diganosed with a pressure sore. It got better. But now they've found another, so I don't know what's going to happen.”

Getting over a pressure sore will require him to sit and sleep a certain way for months. Besides the annoying sore, Frazier recently learned of two more irritation-causing cysts growing on the lumbar area of his spine.

Frazier has had many other physical challenges. In 1988, while he was working as a house mover, a doctor advised him to quit because the hard work was causing severe headaches. He has had memory and stamina issues. Over the years, he has had two shunt replacements to help drain excess brain fluid. In 1997, he survived a seven-week coma and another brain surgery.

He said, “The one thing I hate most is the fact I no longer have much control over my right leg and am unable to drive. I am dependent upon (my wife) to take me places.”

He said his main problem was an associated issue to being unable to drive, that of his mobility in general. “Years ago, Mom (said) that before I had a car I walked everywhere I went,” he said. “Now I can barely make it halfway across the room without falling. I miss the days when I could walk from one end of town to the other.”

A person with a disability sometimes doesn't have life easy.

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