Humor keeps Garry Krueger above Water

Garry Kruger didn’t understand what was happening, but he does remember that his symptoms started in 1999.  He was experiencing leg and foot pain, lower back pain and he noticed that his eyelids appeared to be drooping. Things got worse for Garry after a routine gallbladder surgery in 2005 at a hospital in Pennsylvania, where he and his wife, Chris, were living. That’s when the rest of the symptoms started.  He was experiencing exercise intolerance and energy depletion issues. Physicians were considering Myasthenia Gravis as a possible cause.

In 2007, Garry and Chris relocated to Ocala, Florida.  Now retired, Garry’s symptoms continued to progress.   After chasing a diagnosis for more than seven years, his first appointment in Florida was with a neuro-ophthalmologist who determined that it was not Myasthenia Gravis. Garry was referred to Dr. William Triggs, a neurologist at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville. After meeting with Garry and having an EMG test performed, Dr. Triggs suspected a Mitochondrial Myopathy.  His diagnosis was confirmed with a muscle biopsy which showed red ragged fibers. Based on his symptoms and the muscle biopsy Dr. Triggs identified it as Chronic Progressive External Ophthalmoplegia Syndrome (CPEO)/Kearns-Sayre Syndrome (KSS).  Garry continues to see Dr. Triggs on a bi-annual basis.

Garry, 73, worked for more than 30 years in the field of information technology.  Until 2013, he and his wife Chris were avid scuba divers, taking beautiful videos underwater. Garry retired from scuba diving due to the energy depletions issues from mitochondrial disease.  While he and Chris no longer dive, Garry does manage to stay active with golf.  After a round of golf he will experience muscle ache for eight to ten hours.  “You pay a price for it but you get your steps in,” he says.

Garry says he is looking forward to June and the UMDF Patient and Family Meeting symposium.  It will be his sixth symposium.   He says there is always something to learn for patients and families in attending.  “In 2007 and 2008, I didn’t know what I knew about the disease, how to spell it or even how I got it,” Garry remembered.  Garry also gives great credit to his wife Chris for keeping him pointed in the right direction on their mito journey.