My Recent Ride with PD & the DMV License Renewal Process – By Michelle Cheeseman

pdactivephotopddmv11202018.jpgIn Outing Yourself to the DMV — OR NOT, Gary Sue Goodman writes: “To guide my interactions with this bureaucracy, I wanted the benefits of other people’s experience. PD Active, I thought, could provide such valuable information (1).” When my CA State driver license was up for renewal this past summer, little did I know I’d end up having several communications with the DMV. I’m sharing with you the journey or ride I had during the license renewal process. May this information be of some value to you as you prepare for your own ride!

The driver license renewal form I received in June included the question: “Have you had any medical conditions in the past three (3) years affecting your ability to drive? See Medical Information on p.1 before responding to the question.” Had “Parkinson’s disease” not been one of the medical conditions listed in Medical Information, my inclination would have been to identify the possible responses to the question and then to consider the advantages and implications of each one. As it was on the list, my propensity to be risk-averse prevailed: I checked the “yes” box and wrote “Parkinson’s disease.” For me, this was the appropriate decision to make.

Report: 2018 Town Hall

fullsizeoutput_5PD Active’s annual Town Hall has become the main event where community members can get an update on what’s new with PD Active. It’s also an opportunity for the staff and board of PD Active to listen and engage in discussions about what is and isn’t working and aspirations the community has for PD Active.

This year’s Town Hall took place on Saturday, June 9th and there were 65 participants. After a report from Board President Mary Pat Boersma and brief remarks by me and Board Member Judith Lubman, all the attendees, seven tables in total, engaged in discussions on topics ranging from improving outreach to serving those with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) who are still working.

Report: The Michael J. Fox Foundation Parkinson’s Policy Forum

Nancy Husari (third from left) at Dianne Feinstein's office
Nancy Husari (third from left) at Dianne Feinstein’s office

The Forum began with two days of educational panels where attendees learned about recent research advances and current policy issues affecting people with Parkinson’s, as well as their families and care partners. We also received training on how to build relationships with lawmakers through effective advocacy. A highlight was a breakfast appearance by Senator Cory Booker, whose late father lived with Parkinson’s. In his keynote speech, Booker underscored the importance of advocacy when he said, “I tell each and every one of you, what you do matters.”

Excerpt: Anna Rabkin’s Memoir

From Krakow to Berkeley: Coming Out of Hiding – Excerpt from pages 305-306:

Anna Rabkin Memoir Book Cover“Marty was relieved to know why he had not been feeling his usual energetic self, and threw himself into learning everything he could about PD. He started an exercise programme that included water aerobics, yoga, movement classes, and workshops developed by the Mark Morris Dance Company for people with movement disabilities.  I accompanied him to conferences where we tried to keep up on the latest research on neurological diseases and medical advances.  He became a founding member of a model patient-based, all volunteer support organization, PD Active. As he did wherever he went, he made many friends among his fellow “Parkies”.”

~ Until July 21, 2018, you can obtain a 20% discount from the publisher, VM books. Use the code RABKIN18 at checkout.

How Parkinson’s Has Affected My Life

By Lee Shapiro – 2018

I had a thriving law practice in both Denver and Aspen, Colorado.  I was diagnosed with PD about thirty years ago.  I am slower in activities of daily living. I hate being tied to a clock where I have to take pills every three hours; some of these medications are unpredictable and at times have side effects.  Parkinson’s has impaired my ability to think quickly and remember things.  It has also affected my ability to travel independently.  I cannot drive a car and must rely on other people to get around.

Berkeley organization helps those with Parkinson’s use exercise to slow symptoms

This article written by Karen Garrison was originally published in Berkeleyside on December 5, 2017, and has been reposted with permission from the author.

People with PD take a boxing class at Performance Fitness in Albany to keep fit and improve their coordination. Studies show that exercise can relieve symptoms that medicine cannot reach. Photo: PD Active

Meris Emory likes to mix fitness and fun; her weekly routine includes yoga, dance and boxing. Few people would guess from her workout that Emory has Parkinson’s disease (PD), a degenerative condition that once meant surrender to an isolated and sedentary lifestyle.

Karen Garrison’s Plan for Parkinson’s

Karen Garrison

I was diagnosed in early 2011 at age 61, though I had major symptoms at least a year and a half before that. I’d been a runner for decades; my leg started going weak after a few minutes on the trail, my hands shook uncontrollably, and I had trouble making myself heard. It took many months, visits to four different doctors, a futile round of physical therapy and a useless MRI before someone referred me to a movement neurologist who promptly connected the dots. I was stunned to learn I had Parkinson’s. At the same time, I felt relieved to finally have a name for symptoms that were making me crazy. When I asked my doctor how I could learn more, especially about holistic treatment, he sent me to the internet.

Outing Yourself to the DMV — OR NOT

By Gary Sue Goodman

Gary driving

When the form comes for my first driver’s license renewal since my Parkinson’s diagnosis, I immediately sense the dilemma. The form asks if any changes in my health or vision have affected my ability to drive safely. Do I report my PD diagnosis and risk complicating the renewal process? Or do I fail to mention this development and possibly make myself liable for potential accidents that might occur? To guide my interactions with this bureaucracy, I wanted the benefits of other people’s experience. PD Active, I thought, could provide such valuable information.

The renewal form does not list Parkinson’s specifically as a disease to mention to the DMV (although it is listed online). The explanation of the health question emphasizes incidents of lost consciousness or serious confusion. But a progressive neurological condition should clearly be of interest to them.

Why You Should Try PD-Specific Exercise Classes

By Suzanne Drolet

Suzanne DroletSuzanne Drolet teaches Yoga for People with Parkinson’s Disease at Adeline Yoga in Berkeley and is the senior assistant in PD Active Yoga classes led by Vickie Russell Bell. She also teaches private and small group classes at her home studio in Oakland. You can learn more about Suzanne through her Facebook Page (Suzanne Drolet Yoga) and contact her at

Regular exercise can have diffuse, profoundly positive effects for people with Parkinson’s Disease, from helping to make daily tasks easier and improving your mood, to stimulating chemical changes in the brain that affect cognition and the amount of dopamine available to be used. Given the wide variety of exercise classes available to the general public, why should you choose to attend classes specifically geared toward people with Parkinson’s Disease? As someone who has been involved with Yoga for PD classes over the last seven years, I offer a few reasons for your consideration: