Doctor-patient relationship creates beautiful music

11:57 AM, Apr 6, 2011   |    comments
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  • Kristin Kemper
  • Martha Nance

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- The violinist is a professional. A decade spent with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Her accompanying pianist is a professional too. In Medicine.

"I got sick and needed a neurologist," laughs the violinist.

Kristin Kemper was diagnosed eight years ago with Parkinson's disease. "One morning I woke up with a little tremor in my hand and I just knew what it was," she recalls.

During an appointment well into her treatment, Kristin's doctor Martha Nance let slip that in high school, she had played piano.

The violinist didn't miss a beat. "I sort of said, 'Why have you been holding out on me for about three years now?'"

The tables had turned.

"You know I'm always up for a challenge," said Nance, "and this really was a challenge to see if I could get my fingers moving again."

The fruits of the doctor-patient relationship now waft though the Struthers Parkinson's Center, where the violinist knows the pianist by two names: Dr. Nance when she comes to Struthers for treatment and Martha when she arrives to rehearse.

"We work pretty closely with a lot of our patients. I don't play piano with all of them," laughs Nance, the center's medical director.

On Sunday April 10 Kemper and Nance will play together at the sixth annual Awakenings Concert - a fundraiser for the  Parkinson's center, owned by Park Nicollet.

When diagnosed, the violinist worried she would lose her ability to play soon after. That Kemper can still perform at a high level eight years later is credit in part to the right drugs and a good doctor.

Dr. Nance is still not a professional pianist, but she is most assuredly one half of a medical, musical partnership.

"We do not inflict care upon patients with Parkinson's," she says. "We really are a team."

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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