Trinity Episcopal Church
WVU College of Medicine Class of 2022
“Praise in Purple” Sunday - June 2, 2019
Hello, everyone. As I am still a new face at Trinity, I thought the proper way to start this discussion was to introduce myself. My name is Ronnie Gwinn, and I am currently finishing my first year of medical school here at WVU.
Aside from being a medical student who has studied neurobiology in some depth, I have personal connections to the topic addressed during the month of June: Brain Health and Disease. First off, I have a family history of late-onset Alzheimer’s, which made some of the information I have learned in recent weeks a little more impactful to say the least. Secondly, in 2006, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. If you are unfamiliar with this disease, it is an autoimmune disease that causes decreased speed of signals sent in the nervous system and can lead to pain and fatigue, loss of sensation, and inability to walk. Much like Alzheimer’s, it takes away a person’s independence, their passions, and makes life difficult to cope with. And also, like Alzheimer’s, there is no known direct cause or cure.
Through my first year of my medical education, especially in the last few months, we have discussed these diseases in some depth. We have learned theories on what may be the cause, symptoms one can expect to see in a patient, and available treatments for those who are affected. However, despite learning all of these topics of science and research, what we have not seen is the loss that it can afflict on a person’s life. We have not seen the falls that my mom regularly takes just trying to make her way through the house or felt the pain she feels across her shoulders due to the neuropathy from her disease. We have not seen a grandparent forget their loved one’s name in front of their own eyes or move inward into themselves due to their embarrassment over their symptoms that are out of their control. Yet, this is what people face on a day-to-day basis who are battling Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and the wide variety of Brain and Nervous System diseases afflicting those in our local and global communities.
Despite the challenging reality of these diseases, there is faith and optimism. There is research occurring every day here at WVU and across the world trying to solve the puzzles of the body that we still do not fully understand. Communities, such as Trinity Episcopal Church, are discussing these difficult topics to raise awareness and bring to light the struggles those around us may be suffering in the shadows.
In closing, I would like to leave us all with a challenge. During this semester, we have had over a dozen patient educators come into our classes to discuss their diagnoses and the challenges that they face. And when asked what their advice would be to all 110 of us budding doctors in the crowd, they unequivocally said: treat your patients and those around you with kindness and interact with purpose. I think this is advice that not only applies to the bedside, but to everyday life. As we move forward into this month of Brain Awareness, I ask you to be cognizant of those around you. They or someone that they know is certainly battling one of the many disorders of the brain and mind, and they deserve our compassion. A person does not need to know the mechanism of any disease to show kindness to those who need it more than ourselves.
Thank you, and peace be with you!
WVU School of Medicine Class of 2022