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It’s now been a little over three and a half years since I first noticed the slight tremor in my left hand.  Two and a half years ago I received the official diagnosis.  It was Parkinson’s disease.  At the time I didn’t really know what that meant.  I didn’t know that the tremors would become more and more pronounced and spread to other parts of my body.  I didn’t know that certain muscles would turn rigid.  I didn’t know that my balance would be compromised and fatigue would become my biggest challenge each day.  I didn’t know that depression would become an issue.  I knew God had a plan for my life but I didn’t know that it included Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a long-term disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system.  The symptoms generally come on slowly over time. Early in the disease, the most obvious are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Thinking and behavioral problems may also occur.  Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease.  Depression and anxiety are also common, along with sensory, sleep, and emotional problems.  (Wikipedia)

Almost two years ago I posted on my blog an entry entitled “At Peace with Parkinson’s.”  It was true.  I did have peace…sorta.  A few months later, I had an appointment with my neuro ophthalmologist. Brad is a good friend and a committed Christian.  He walked into the exam room and asked, “So, how is the peace with Parkinson’s going?” At that instant, sitting in the exam room, I fell apart and wept.  My friend crossed the room and gently hugged me and began to pray over me.  The peace was still there but covered up with the stress that Parkinson’s brings.  In my life with Parkinson’s, each day I am confronted with my vulnerability and fragility. I am reminded that life is different. I have a disease that is not going away. Unless God decides differently, it will progress and present even more challenges that I must face and turn over to God.  Yet, perhaps the most important thing that God has led me to do is embrace the disease and use it to make a difference in the lives of other people.

Fear is sometimes a healthy thing.  At other times it is the manifestation of my spiritual enemy who is out to destroy my life. There are moments I am afraid of what Parkinson’s will bring.  My Parkinson’s verse of Scripture is Psalm 139:16, “You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”  I find great comfort and peace knowing that God knew I would face the many challenges of Parkinson’s disease.  He continues to hold my hand and comfort me, giving me daily strength to embrace my disease and make a difference in the lives of others.

He has given me opportunities to speak in front of crowds and share my Parkinson’s story.  I have the privilege of facilitating a Parkinson’s support group.  My sweet wife, kids, granddaughters, and extended family get to watch me model faithfulness and dependence on God’s love, mercy, and provision.  God is also using my Parkinson’s in a positive way in my work as I chaplain hundreds of employees.  I can now truly empathize with people struggling with chronic pain, disease, and physical handicaps. Who am I to say life would be better without Parkinson’s. It would be different and easier, but better?  Not so sure.

(See related post, “At Peace With Parkinson’s Disease” August 23, 2016)

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3 Comments

  1. It’s good to hear your positive belief in God.

    I love you John, and the gift from God is, if you are in Christ, we all “catch up”, with each other.

  2. God bless you Jon. Thank you for sharing. My brother-in-law, Brenda’s husband Jeff, also has Parkinson’s. He is 47, and was diagnosed less than a year ago. He has a meeting with a second neurologist on Friday, to try a different form of treatment. My grandmother passed away with Parkinson’s, and it is a horrible thing but I appreciate the grace you exhibit in your blog about it. I will add you to my prayers as I pray for those I encounter with Parkinson’s. Thank you again for your willingness to share and many blessings on you.

  3. Hi there, I am glad you are at peace with PD. I wish the lady in my latest post felt the same. But she has been neglected by her husband and he tells her she is making her illness up as she goes along. This has made her PD almost unbearable. I am so glad you have supportive people around you – it makes all the difference. I wish you all the best in your journey with this disease and I know you will continue to be at peace.


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