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When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast: Shake With Me

Still image from the film Shake With Me.
Still image from the film Shake With Me. Zack Grant

On this episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, I talk with filmmaker Zack Grant, the driving force behind the Parkinson’s documentary, Shake With Me.

The 30-minute film was originally intended to document how Parkinson’s impacted and inspired Zack’s mom, Debra Magid, to return to her fine art roots and begin to paint bold, colorful, big-eyed, portraits. It became an intimate, authentic time capsule, capturing moments and conversations as a family wrestles with a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

After Debra was diagnosed in 2012, she decided to keep the Parkinson’s a secret from her kids. Debra explains her decision in the film, noting Zack was already out of the house, but his sister, Elizabeth, was still living at home.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast: How does misdiagnosis affect patients?

About a year later, Elizabeth found her Mom’s medication hidden in a drawer and the secret was out.

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The other secret Debra was keeping was that the Parkinson’s was motivating her to paint again. As a college student, she was an aspiring product designer and had a passion for fine air.

Her diagnosis re-awakened that passion.

“What I’ve been doing is drawing faces, interpreting what the face is, and what I see in it — kind of telling a bit of a story.” Debra continues,

“I do feel lucky to have found such a strong voice this late in life. I think Parkinson’s is like a little bird sitting on your shoulder, going, ‘tick-tock, tick-tock.’ Time is going and don’t waste what you have.”

Larry Gifford speaks openly about his neuro-degenerative disorder
Larry Gifford speaks openly about his neuro-degenerative disorder

After explaining the diagnosis to her family, it would be several more years before Debra was comfortable sharing the Parkinson’s diagnosis with everyone in her life, and eventually, everyone in the world through Zack’s film.

“The film was supposed to be this very small piece about the juxtaposition of her art, her diagnosis and her changing health,” said Zack. But at some point, he says, the family realized it was much more than that.

“There was this desire to have these conversations about how Parkinson’s has affected our family,” he explained.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast: The Legacy of Muhammad Ali

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The film touches on advancing symptoms, decisions to take more and different drugs, the struggle of who to tell, when to tell them and how Parkinson’s impacts everyone in the family — not just the individual diagnosed.

Today, Zack, Debra and the family are more open and honest with each other, because of the experiences they shared in making film.

For Zack, the film has refocused his career.

“I think this film was a really ambitious way of trying to get in touch with my feelings around Parkinson’s,” he said. “Now I am in this place artistically where I want to do more personal stories.

“And in fact, I don’t want to touch anything that I can’t find a personal way into.”

Shake With Me is available for small group screenings, film festivals and for free download on Vimeo.

If you have a comment or question about the podcast, you can email us: parkinsonspod@curiouscast.ca

We invite you to add your voice to the show and leave a message for us here.

Follow me, Larry Gifford

Twitter: @ParkinsonsPod

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Facebook: Facebook.com/ParkinsonsPod

Instagram: @parkinsonspod

Follow co-host and producer Niki Reitmayer

Twitter: @Niki_Reitmayer

Special thanks to…

Zack Grant, Debra’s son and filmmaker. This is the official website for shakewithmefilm.com

View his film Shake with Me for free on vimeo. Check out his other work at zackgrant dot com.

Debra Magid, for sharing her Parkinson’s story and her art. Check out her website http://www.DebraMagid.com .

Jim Grant, Debra’s husband

Elizabeth Grant, Debra’s Daughter

Our presenting partner is Parkinson Canada

The toll-free hotline 1-800-565-3000

Or follow them on Twitter @ParkinsonCanada

Thanks also to our content and promotional partners

Parkinson’s IQ + You– A free, series of Parkinson’s events from the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Spotlight YOPD – The only Parkinson’s organization dedicated to raising awareness for Young Onset Parkinson’s disease and funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

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