Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Parkinson's Disease and Christmas

A few months ago yet another family member was diagnosed with a neurological disorder.  My cousin Joe has joined the 1 percent of folks over 60 years old who have Parkinson's Disease.  His sister already had been dealing with Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years.

The latest issue of Neurology Now features an article on Parkinson's Disease (PD): Not Just Tremor: Recognizing depression and other non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.  And as I read it during the Christmas season, I was especially drawn to this single paragraph:
People with PD even have a tendency to lose their interest in religion—a change more readily considered philosophical than pathological. According to research by Patrick McNamara, Ph.D., of Boston University School of Medicine, people with PD report significantly lower levels of interest in religion. Brain scans show that this lack of interest coincides with changes in the prefrontal cortex but does not correlate with depression, age, education, intelligence, or medication.
 I pondered this all throughout the Christmas religious service.  And I also thought about why I quit the church choir -- mainly it was the hypocrisy of singing about that which I no longer really believed in, particularly at Christmas time when the verse proclaimed the miracle of virgin birth.  (And it should be noted that hypochondria is one of my "pastimes.")  So (feeling empty myself) I wondered if this is how someone who has lost religion feels at Christmas?  Are ministers aware of this aspect of Parkinson's?  What if this happens to a minister with Parkinson's Disease?

Merry Christmas

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