The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Living daily, with gratitude

Parkinson's disease and me

Almost 10 years ago I received the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. At first I thought some congenial 18th-century research physician had discovered a quirky shaking movement. And there are some benefits, like blue parking spaces, being well-known to pharmacists and serving as the mix-master at parties. But how could this be happening to me?

Parkinson's can be devastating to body, mind and spirit. It can best be described as a disease of movement and mobility. Symptoms are used in diagnosis, treatment and disease progression. I've progressed to the "advanced" stage. I feel like I'm a prisoner in my own body.

Copious amounts of medication — or as my doctor says, enough medicine to "choke a horse" — hold back my symptoms to a degree. And I have help from many sources, including a Parkinson's support group, church, colleagues, family, friends and Scripture. These enhance my well-being and uphold my spirit.

On good days and bad ones, my spirit helps me discern the presence of God with Parkinson's. As the psalmist says, "Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand" (Psalm 37:24). I take comfort in applying this to my situation. Much of spiritual care involves getting up in the morning and getting out of God's way to effect wholeness and healing in my life.

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