My name is Chris Meyer and I am 35 years old. I was born and raised in Chino Hills, California by my loving parents Jerry & Melissa. I have an older sister Amanda and a younger brother Jon. Growing up I was a very active kid, excelling in sports, school, and many hobbies.
At age 15, family and friends began to notice small abnormalities to my gait which was attributed to my legs and feet growing. Through my high school years I attended Ruben s. Ayala where my athleticism declined as did my motor skills.
Senior year in high school with a awkward gait I went to a family physician at kaiser with vague symptoms. The doctor referred me to a nuerologist and upon my first visit referred me for a genetic test. The results came back positive for Freidreich's Ataxia.
Friedreich's ataxia is caused by a defect in a gene called Frataxin . This gene is located on chromosome 9. Changes in this gene cause the body to make too much of a part of DNA called trinucleotide repeat (GAA). Normally, the body contains about 8 to 30 copies of GAA. I have over 800 copies.
Friedreich's ataxia is an autosogenetic disorder. This means you must get a copy of the defective gene from both your mother and father.
At diagnosis, I was told this would be what I had in my future:
- Abnormal speech
- Changes in vision
- Decrease in ability to feel vibrations in limbs
- Foot problems, such as hammer toe and high arches
- Hearing loss -- occurs in about 10% of patients
- Jerky eye movements
- Loss of coordination and balance, which leads to a wheelchair
- Muscle Weakness
- No reflexes in the legs
- Unsteady gait and uncoordinated movements (ataxia) -- gets worse with time
- There is no treatment or cure.
At time of diagnosis I showed symptoms of a unsteady gait and thats about it. I was still pretty athletic and was in denial at the time.
Now about 15 years later I am wheelchair bound, have abnormal speech, foot problems, Diabetes, High blood pressure, and a loss of coordination but I have my service dog "Geri" by my side.
These symptoms slow me down and make everyday life difficult but my boundless curiosity and love the outdoors makes me figure things out.