Henry County School Board Chair Francis Zehr said Thursday that some medical problems required him to spend five days in the hospital, several more in rehab — and miss a board meeting.
Zehr said he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, which the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says is “a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.”
He was hospitalized at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, N.C., before being released Wednesday and transferring to a rehabilitation unit there.
Another another rarity: Zehr missed the school board’s meeting on Thursday.
“I think that’s the first school board meeting I’ve missed in eight years [on the board],” he said.
Board Vice Chair Thomas Auker presided in his absence, and school board member Joe DeVault mentioned Zehr as part of the prayer he led at the beginning of the meeting.
“It starts at your feet and works its way up,” Zehr said of Guillain-Barré syndrome. “Your immune system attacks your nerves.”
Zehr, 67, said he had been experiencing numbness in his feet.
“I had trouble walking and nearly fell a couple times,” he said.
Zehr said his son Kyle Zehr, a physician assistant who lives in High Point, knew something wasn’t right.
After being admitted to the hospital, Francis Zehr received one intravenous treatment per day.
“I should fully recover, but it takes some time. I might not be walking 100 percent for a month or two,” Zehr said.
For now he is doing so with the help of a walker.
“I do three and a half to four hours of physical rehabilitation a day,” he said.
“I’ll be here [at the rehabilitation center] at least a week.”
He is in 4 West, Room 2.
“If someone wants to come see me, that’s fine,” he said.
“I was very fortunate. They caught it [well] before it got to my respiratory system,” he said.
He has been receiving and responding to emails and phone calls. He completed his evaluation form of Henry County Public Schools Superintendent Sandy Strayer and had his wife turn it in a couple of days ago, he said.
The evaluation of the superintendent was one of the items scheduled to be discussed during a closed part of the school board meeting on Thursday.
Zehr, a retired teacher, represents the Ridgeway District on the board. His son Ryan Zehr is the Ridgeway District representative on the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
After Auker announced at the school board meeting Zehr was in the hospital, the Bulletin sent an email to Ryan Zehr inquiring about his father’s condition.
Francis Zehr called the Bulletin later and said he personally wanted to give a report.
“I believe in transparency,” he said.
Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.