Hagerstown fire chief returns from battle with nerve disease


(Hagerstown-AP) -- Hagerstown's fire chief says two things
sustained him as he battled a rare nerve disease. One was his
family. The other was getting back to the job he loves.
Fifty-five-year-old Gary Hawbaker is returning to work today
after battling Guillain-Barre Syndrome for more than a year. At one
point, the disorder left him almost completely paralyzed and forced
him to eat and breathe with the help of machines.
Now, Hawbaker still limps as he walks, but he expects that to
subside eventually. He has passed a city-ordered physical
examination.
The disease first struck him on December 29th, 2002, and within
ten days, he could only move his left eyelid. Since then, he's been
working to regain his strength.
Hawbaker was hired as fire chief in 1985. He'll be eligible for
retirement in four or five years, but tells The (Hagerstown)
Herald-Mail that he planned early in his illness to return.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)