One Little Word

heart_leaf.JPGJust like that. In the blink of an eye. One word can literally change your whole life.

This morning I got a phone call from a friend, telling me that her husband’s doctor told her husband at his follow-up appointment that he has cancer.

Cancer.
AIDS.
Parkinson’s.
MS.
Millions of often, dreaded little words with life-changing impacts.

You’ve been there. You’ve sat on that cold, vinyl seat or bed, depending on your bodily position. It’s always wrapped in noisy, white, sterile paper. You sit there, butt-naked except for a thin cotton wrap that never really does wrap you. It’s always too short. It’s always too cold. It’s always too airy. Just about the time you wonder if you should have taken off your socks, the door opens and the doctor walks in wearing a terile white coat. I know that doctors worked extremely hard for those coats. I know they aren’t cheap by any means. But white? Who decided on white? Such a stand off-ish color in the medical community. Cold and uninviting.

The doctor gently closes the door and positions himself onto his rolling stool. At this point he puts down any papers or files he was holding, glanced them once more for good measure and then looks you straight in the eye as he scoots just a little bit closer. He’s about to tell you something that will change your life forever.

You have cancer. Or, maybe he tells you that you have MS. Or maybe you heard the words “Parkinson’s disease.”

It’s just one little word, but it changes your life forever. I know. I’ve sat on that sterile white paper and so did my friend’s husband, just the day before. I suppose it’s comes from experiencing life in other seasons or perhaps thoughts of the unknown that can change the way we now view life, approach life, live life.

But, there is another little ‘word’ I know that has changed lives: Jesus. Many react to that word with much the same fear as when they hear the words cancer or Alzheimer’s. And, for much the same reasons.

When you sit on that vinyl seat and the doctor has just given you news you’d rather have not heard, eventually you begin to wonder how it’s going to affect your life. How will people treat you now? What will I have to change? How is my life, as I’ve know it, going to change? When some of us were approached with the idea of Jesus, similar questions piled up. How will my life change? What do I have to give up? Will my life forever be different?

Jesus doesn’t wait for us to change before he calls us to trust Him. He changes us usually slowly, methodically, with great purpose, after  our realization of our need for a Savior. And our lives become different at the sound of His name, but not despairing. Instead of days filled with fear, they are filled with hope. Joy replaces sadness and sorrow. Trials become triumphs.

All because of one little word: Jesus.

A friend once said someone told her that when she was having difficulty knowing this man called Jesus as anything other than a strict, authoritative judge, condemning and to be feared, to think of who she’d like Him to be.

So, she did. And she thought she’d like Him to be kind and forgiving. Compassionate and protective. A Father for her children and a constant companion for her. Strong and secure. Loving and gentle.

And that’s who He became to her, because that is who He is. Not someone to be feared but Someone to be adored. And it was just one little word that changed her life forever, for good.

The word – the Man . . .

Jesus.

Sometimes Only God’s Word

Roses like Peonies
Roses like Peonies

Sometimes, we despair. Sometimes we lose hope and feel we are withering away.  Sometimes we feel like grieving over things we have lost to a disease that can ravage our body until it seems nothing that is ‘us’ remains any longer.

Sometimes, all we need is a little encouragement. Sometimes hope will and does remedy what is ailing us at the moment. Sometimes hope and encouragement can only come through the truth of God’s word.

And. So, may His truth encourage you this day as you remember that it is He, and only He, that can fill us with joy as we face trials in life that attempt to bring us down and strip us from the heavenly joy which is promised to those who believe.

Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kids, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. …Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
James 1

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests before God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Apathy in Parkinson’s Disease

imageJust what does apathy mean? Some say that the opposite of hate isn’t love, but apathy – an attitude of not caring. Miriam Webster defines it as showing little or no feeling or emotion. Spiritless. There’s little or no interest or concern. You feel:

  • indifferent
  • complacent
  • disinterested
  • unconcerned
You are
  • lukewarm
  • aloof
  • cold
  • numb
  • unemootional
  • detached
  • unfeeling
  • insensitive
  • unattentive

Ever feel that way? I highlighted the word spiritless above, because I think that sums up the whole mess.

Apathy can be pretty pathetic and discouraging when you come across it in someone. Most people who are apathetic cause you to feel frustrated by their seemingly sense of detachment and unfeeling attitude toward life. However, in a person with Parkinson’s disease, often beknownest to them what is truly happening, they don’t want to feel this way. They don’t want to feel numb, lifeless, or spiritless.

Some tend to believe that apathy and depression are one of the same. According to the Journal of Neuropsychiatry, “Apathy is defined as diminished motivation not attributable to a decreased level of consciousness, cognitive impairment, or emotional distress. Depression involves considerable emotional distress, evidenced by tearfulness, sadness, anxiety, agitation, insomnia, anorexia, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and recurrent thoughts of death.” In a study conducted several years ago, doctors concluded that in Parkinson’s disease, apathy is present, but depression is more consistent with the disease. So do we ignore the sometimes and shoot for the consistent? No. It all needs to be addressed. So where do you start?

I have struggled with both aspects of these two specific non-motor symptoms. Apathy has robbed me of time. Opportunities. So has depression. Whereas apathy has left me feeling unemotional and numb, depression has left me in darkness, despair and desperation. When they have coincided with one another, it has felt like a ticking time bomb in my head and spirit. It is a scarey place to be and it is real.

For me, part of the apathetic feeling I had came from feeling like I didn’t know what to do next. Feeling stuck in those ‘off’ moments. Keeping a list of things I want to accomplish or need to accomplish, no matter how simple or mundane it may seem, helps to bring things back into focus. Here are some practical suggestions for those moments when you feel bound in the land of apathy (and they help for depression mode, too):

  • Get up, take a shower, get dressed. Don’t think about how you ‘feel’. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted just be like a Nike commercial and Just Do It. Get going. And laying out your clothes the night before may sound childish, but who cares if it makes your life easier.
  • Get some exercise. Stretch. Walk. Go for a swim. If you can’t motivate yourself, ask someone to help you/keep you accountable. To pull you out of the house if they must, and drag you along until you’re going along because you now see just how much better you can feel.
  • Take your medications on time. This involves sorting them beforehand and having them ready to pop in your mouth. When you’re feeling apathetic or depressed, it is easy to just forget it becasuse unscrewing five child-proof prescription bottle caps four times a day isn’t something you’re going to feel like doing. You’ll pay for that apathetic thinking within the hour. 
  • When you have things you really shouldn’t put off, do the things you hate first. That will make accomplishing your goals easier.
  • Talk to a friend. Have someone pray with you and/or for you. Having another person to share life’s struggles makes the struggle bearable.
  • Talk to your doctor. There are treatments for apathy and depression for people with Parkinson’s disease who find themselves fighting to stay sane. This disease already takes enough from us. Don’t let it take your joy and happiness, too.
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