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.
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.
Suzanne 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: