CategoryLiving with Illness

Farewell Vienna


One of the things I’d been looking forward to this year was  taking up invitations to speak at conferences in Vienna and Jakarta.  A couple of weeks back I wrote to the organisers of those conferences to notify them I would need to withdraw,  for over the last couple of months I have experienced a substantial deterioration  in physical health that makes international travel very difficult...

Shake, rattle, roll. A Parkinsons Update.


People often inquire how I’m going with my Parkinsons, so I thought I’d provide an update… Over the last few months I have deteriorated a bit. I take meds every 3.5 hours. When they have fully kicked in I move freely, but as they’re kicking in or wearing off my muscles stiffen and my hands tremor, sometimes wildly, and I shuffle about the house like an old man on speed...

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Saying hello to a slowing phase of life


It has finally arrived, that moment where I reluctantly admit that my body will no longer allow me to operate at the pace I had grown to love nor to do all the things I have loved to do. The last two weeks saw me at three back-to-back conferences: the Beyond Justice Festival in Canberra; Baptistcare Australia national conference in Perth; and Micah Australia’s Voices for Justice. I’m...

How do I live the good life when my physical health is on a slow descent to total disability?


Just about everybody I know wants to lead the good life, but what does that mean when your body is slowly deteriorating and making you increasingly disabled? I have found the writing of Miroslav Volf helpful. In the book A Public Faith, Volf, a Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, describes three phases in Western thinking about what makes for a good or flourishing life. For many...

My deadpan face and God’s body language (or lack thereof)


After a recent meeting someone pulled me aside and asked if I was angry with him. I was surprised because not only was this person someone I liked and respected, but I wasn’t the least bit angry. After reassuring him that everything was good between us, it dawned on me what had occurred. Parkinsons has a fairly dramatic affect on facial expression, so as my meds wear off there can be a...

A taste of resurrection


Parkinsons brings a lot of unwelcome firsts.Recently it was the first time I had to ask someone to cut up my meal. There were three of us out for lunch. A beautiful cut of meat lingered on my plate. The steak knife was sharp. But my tremor meant all I could manage was a constant chinking of the knife against the ceramic of the plate. I concentrated every ounce of energy I could summon on making...

What Parkinsons has taught me about giving and receiving help. It’s harder than you think


I boarded a crowded train a few weeks back. It was a day when my tremor was particularly bad. A thoughtful woman offered to find me a seat, which I declined. Then as I struggled to manoeuvre my phone into an already full bag another passenger tried to help me. Without saying a word he unzipped the bag, took my phone from me and put it inside the bag. Part of me was thankful that a complete...

Easter and the pulling on of socks


Until my Parkinson’s progressed I never realised what a fine art it is pulling on a pair of socks. I always thought the challenge would be things such as tying up my shoelaces, but it appears that pulling on socks requires fine motor skills that are more sophisticated than those of tying shoelaces. The Easter story has always resonated with me, but it has become even more deeply resonant as...

Hugs from strangers


I was on the train from Newcastle to Sydney a few weeks back. It was a Sunday afternoon and the train was packed. I was sitting in one of the designated quiet carriages where conversations must kept to a minimum, phones are to be put away, and if you listen to music you must do so through headphones. At Gosford a woman of similar age to me boarded the train and set beside me. She was rather...

Some suffering may be redemptive, but some is just plain senseless


“Why do you think God allowed you to get Parkinsons?” This question or some derivative of it is commonly put to me, or if not put to me directly, at least thought about. Behind it lies the assumption that there must be some divine purpose to everything that happens, including the bad. People want to make meaning out of suffering, and thinking that it is part of a grand plan of God...


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