When Life Throws us…Parkinson’s


My younger brother Fred was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It’s devastating news…the kind of news we dread. He had noticed he was having difficulty gripping things, and he occasionally stumbled. Apparently he’s had the disease for a long time; the doctor told him his loss of smell many years ago was probably an early indicater.

I think we all imagine what it would be like to be diagnosed with a debilitating disease. I know I have. When we hear about it happening to someone else, we wonder how we would react under the same circumstances.

Parkinson’s attacks the place in the brain that produces a chemical called dopamine. Our brain relys on chemicals to function the way it is designed to function. Without dopamine, things begin to change, both physically and emotionally. Nerve cells use dopamine to help control muscle movement. Without it, a person experiences tremors and stiffness.

Dopamine also plays an integral part in our emotional state by affecting the reward center in the brain. Most of us do what we do–to some degree–in order to experience some sense of satisfaction…or reward. We enjoy the feeling that follows our accomplishments.

And to some extent, we all rely on our feelings–or emotions–to validate our “okayness.” Without emotional validation, we tend to doubt what we “know” to be true. Spiritually speaking, we have inadvertently tied our faith to our feelings. No one knows this better than a person with Parkinson’s, or with some other condition that affects the production of certain brain chemicals.

How well are we equipped to handle “feelingless faith?” Are we able to press on in our faithfulness, even when it no longer seems to make sense–from our perspective. Can we continue to trust the heart of our Father?

I invite you to share your experience. We help others best when we allow God to use our story to spur one another on in the truth.

My heart is heavy for my brother. We are asking God to lead us in this journey. We need His perspective, because our own perspective doesn’t sustain us through these times. Kinda weird I suppose, but I also believe we will all learn some important lessons as we travel this road together.

When Fred comes to you mind, will you please pray for him–and for others you may know who are also struggling–that the peace of God will saturate his entire being in a way that boggles his dopamine-challenged brain!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: