Theologian, Professor, and Author Wayne Grudem at Peace Despite Having Parkinson’s Disease

Wayne Grudem
Wayne Grudem

Last Wednesday I saw my family doctor with some puzzling symptoms, and he suspected Parkinson’s disease. He referred me to a neurologist, and on Friday, she confirmed that I definitely have Parkinson’s disease.

This is a progressive neurological disorder for which there is no known cure, but there are medicines that alleviate the symptoms and may slow the progress of the disease. The doctor started me on one medicine that helps some patients, but not others. She did not think my symptoms were severe enough to start me on the most common medicine (dopamine), because its effectiveness diminishes over time and she did not want to start it too early.

We have begun the process of seeking an appointment at Barrow Neurological Institute, which is, according to Wikipedia, “the world’s largest neurological disease treatment and research institution” and is here in Phoenix.

The symptoms that I have now include a diminishing of fine-motor control, so that my handwriting is less legible and more crowded together; and in typing, I sometimes hit a key twice or not at all; and my mouse control is not as precise with the computer. It’s also harder to button my shirts, and I sometimes feel a tiny tremor when I reach for things. I can still do all these things, but they are a bit slower and take more concentration. In addition, I seem to be moving my arms and legs more slowly in ordinary daily activities. And my wife, Margaret, says that sometimes my facial expression seems a bit “fallen,” and I notice that it’s harder to smile. In recent photos, my smile has not seemed as genuine or natural, but more forced.

The symptoms and the rate of progression of the disease vary widely from patient to patient and are apparently impossible to predict. Sometimes the progression is very slow, as with Billy Graham who has had Parkinson’s for 26 years (he is now 96 years old). The actor Michael J. Fox also has Parkinson’s and has continued to function. In other people, however, the disease progresses more quickly.

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SOURCE: Desiring God
Wayne Grudem is research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary and author of Systematic Theology. He co-founded the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and served as the general editor of the ESV Study Bible.