Hi guys! I’m on a cruise! So this post has been written beforehand and queue’d till, well, now! Haha Happy Parkinson’s Awareness Month! If y’all know, I’m a Parkinson’s Action Network MA Assistant State Director. If you’ve ever wondered how that came to be, it’s because my dad had PD. Being a daddy’s girl, of course I had to contribute my 2 cents to the ever-growing world of PD. I meant to write this sometime ago, but I’ve just been, well, busy. Lots has happened and shifted so I am escaping away to the Bahamas for a week! Happy reading, have a lovely day, and enjoy my exposè!
When I was little, I took swim classes at the Boys & Girls Club in my city. During the summer, my parents would sit in the bleachers and watch me or wait out in the car, parked in the shade. One day while I was learning (or more of awkwardly attempting) a butterfly stroke inside, my mom and dad were stopped by a little girl with a peculiar question. Sorry Mister, but why are you wearing pink flip flops? Her parent obviously embarrassed apologized, but my dad laughed it off.
A few years ago, after a doctor’s appointment, my parents and I went to lunch at Pho Le, a local and delicious Pho place in Dorchester, MA. It was a quiet afternoon, I don’t think anyone was in the restaurant save another party of 4. I ordered the Bún bò Huế, a spicy and heavily seasoned beef noodle soup, aka my favorite food ever. My parents had their own bowls of pho. If you’re familiar with Parkinson’s, you know going out in public doesn’t exactly mean blending in. Dad had the shakes and accidentally knocked over a cup of ice or lost a chopstick. It was fine, we all do that stuff. But when a waiter (of higher position than our current) came over to help and politely asked why my dad looked like he was fighting a possession by demons, our current waiter interrupted and said, and I quote, “He had a stroke”. I was appalled. I’m pretty sure I set down my chopsticks at that point. How could you associate a stroke victim with my Dad. My mom quickly and skillfully explained, the waiter awkwardly dismissed himself, and we continued own with our meal. I will never go to Pho Le again.
Through the years, the questions, glances, and whispers my dad became the subject of ate at me. Here was a man, that I saw so tall, strong, intelligent, courageous, prideful, and everything I wanted to be. But here was a man that was once 5’10 and now 5’7, once bouting a hefty 150 lbs and now only 110lbs, once able to compete in cycling races the length of Vietnam (#TourdeVietnam anyone?) and now struggled to bike up the hill I lived on. Here was a man that I saw for soul and person, but the world saw as crippled and weak. I was horrified.
I’m a total daddy’s girl. Growing up, I tried to spend as much time as possible with my dad, but to say that I actually did would be a complete utter lie. I wanted to be American, I wanted to go and hang out with my friends, I wanted to spend time alone in my room doing teenager stuff (binging on social networks and reading Eragon). I’ll admit it, as I grew older, I grew away from my dad. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t spend time with him.
So when I was 14, a few weeks before high school started, dad was growing increasingly off. I don’t know how to explain it but when someone physically sick gets even more physically sick, it’s so obvious. Then before we knew it, a week in an intensive care unit/hospital suite, 2 days home, and he’s gone. Poof. No more living dad. I cried. I reminisced on all the lost moments. I was angry. I was upset. I was possibly every emotion on the spectrum. So from that moment, I was determined to become a neurosurgeon/neurologist. I wanted to fix this and make sure no one ever ever ever had to experience what I went through.
2 years later, I’m skeptical. I’ve been molded and formed to fall into the world of politics, policy, and advocacy. I want to be able to speak for someone who isn’t familiar with the adrenaline rush of standing up for yourself. After Youth in Government, I fell in love with the world of politics and government. So I became an Assistant State Director with PAN. I help encourage political leaders (Warren, Markey, Kaufman, Dwyer, etc) to join in on helping the PD world in advancing research, creating a database, all sorts of cool things. (I’d love if you helped out too because you can!) I still want to be a doctor, but I also want to be working on Capitol Hill advocating. I want to be heard, but I also want to take action and contribute myself. If only I could go through law and medical school at once, that’d be something wouldn’t it?
I just want to help people. That’s really all there is to it. Parkinson’s disease, though absolutely awful, has shed light into my world. I’ve learned so much from my worst enemy, and I’m thankful.
Thanks for reading. I hope y’all have a nice Spring Break/week.