Saturday, May 25, 2013


 The call display had my heart beating faster instantly.  The voice on the other end of the phone announced the beginning of an adventure the likes of which I had never known.  One could argue, and some did (and still do), that to accept the assignment was foolhardy.  Were there not enough challenges in my life; grappling with the degenerative effects of Parkinson’s disease, maintaining a thriving practice of law as part of a dynamic team of professionals, and contributing “spare time” to charitable causes (including serving as an ambassador for World Parkinson Congress 2013 in Montréal in October)?  Certainly, I had not been looking to take on any additional responsibilities.  In fact, the opposite might have been true.  But I knew this was a call I needed to answer.  Despite any superficial lack of logic, the clarity of the “call” struck an unmistakably responsive chord in me.  Not only was the risk worth taking, any resulting fear was worth fighting.  I was compelled to “answer the call” in the affirmative.  I felt a deep sense of peace in agreeing to the proposition made over the phone that day.
My time at Trinity Western University has, for more than 40 years, represented a major turning point, a metamorphosis, in my life.  It provided an incomparable environment for me to grow and flourish.  In the space of 2 years (that was all that was offered at the time, being a junior college), I learned invaluable and lifelong lessons in virtually every area of my life.  Spiritually, intellectually, athletically, relationally, and in matters of leadership, through its professors, staff and my fellow students, Trinity gave me transformative encouragement which endures to this day.  When its Chairman of the Board of Governors asked me to serve as the part-time, interim President of TWU during the search process for a long-term replacement, I was surprised, not being an academic or experienced in institutional leadership.  But, despite that it seemed, strangely, like a challenge that I had been prepared for.  Despite some questions and concerns, I felt confident that with the right support from people I could serve my alma mater, giving back out of my deep sense of gratitude.

Perhaps the biggest questions (asked by me and by others) in responding to the call were, “Will Parkinson’s impede performance?  Will the role exacerbate the Parkinson’s?”.  The response to both was a lawyer’s favorite answer to almost any question: “Maybe, it depends”.  Can anyone truly predict how he or she will respond to the uncertainties of any challenge?  So, starting July 1, 2013, with the support of my wife and the dedicated students, staff, faculty, administration and other stakeholders, I will take up the challenge with all its uncertainty. 
Years ago, shortly after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I made a commitment to myself regarding how I would respond to the fact that I had a degenerative, debilitating and currently incurable neurological disease.  I vowed to confront the challenges that it represented head-on, refusing to concede its dominion over me as a person while not denying its seemingly unstoppable march into new territories of my body.  Perhaps, most importantly, I made a pledge to myself that I would not easily surrender when faced with opportunities to serve simply because of the disease.  In fact, PD has provided an abundance of opportunities, and a depth and quality of life that I never imagined would be available.

I am often left asking myself this question: “Will you limit your challenges, or challenge your limits?” 
[My desire to continue “Positively Parkinson’s” on a weekly basis remains undimmed.  However, my learning curve with respect to my anticipated duties at Trinity has been steep.  Further, pressing my full-time law practice into halftime for up to one year is requiring additional effort.  All that to say the frequency of posts on this blog may be somewhat less predictable for the next number of months.]


  1. Congratulations Bob! I am convinced you will be as excellent at this as you are in everything else you take on! You are one of my role models and you just gave me a new favorite quote!!! "Will you limit your challenges or challenge your limits?"
    See you in Montreal!

  2. Cheering for you Bob! You inspire many. -IF

  3. Glad to see you back Bob. Looking forward to reading more musings from your world. It is amazing how your world so very different from many of us still feels familiar due to our common challenge - PD. Your example gives us hope that we too may be able to "challenge our limits".
    Thanks Bob

  4. Your blog is inspirational and a worthy top 10 blog on PD. I have passed your blog address to many of our site members as it is so positive in its approach. Well done.

  5. Bob, I have a quick question for you related to a blog post from 2010 regarding frozen shoulder. If you remember, was it possible or easier to raise the frozen shouldered arm if you lifted the other side simultaneously? My left arm will not lift above shoulder level and I'm to go for an MRI next week, but I realized if I tried while also lifting the right that the left would then work. It is still a struggle to get it up, but it will go. I do not have a diagnosis of PD, my doc thinks I'm too young, but it is in my family and I have other possible signs, just trying to put some pieces together. Thank you.

  6. I don't honestly remember, but it does not surprise me and does indicate a potential for Parkinson's disease. I would urge you to get a second opinion, preferably by a neurologist trained in PD diagnosis. "Too young" does not cut it. There is no such thing these days.