Let me hand you my heart

I am a very, very emotional person. From the multiple blog posts I have on depression to mood swings to the private quibs of emotional outbursts, I am a very vocal and emotional person. So while I’m jotting my heart down, let me make it easier and just hand you my heart.

I am a very social and connected person. I love social media and networking. I love keeping up with the friends that I met on a passing train 3 years ago in my travels. I love Skyping and messaging my friends a thousand miles away. I love waiting till the crack of dawn for friends in different time zones. I love it, I just love having so many people in my life.

I love learning people’s life stories and their journeys. I love sharing knowledge and listening. I love sitting down with a stranger and standing up as lost soul mates. I love collecting little pieces for my mosaic.

So when I watch a documentary on someone with a medical malady in a third world country with no means of receiving help, or I see a person camping under a bridge with shaky hands as they bring a water bottle to their lips, or I hear about a dead-end case of loss, I feel. Oh my gosh, I feel so deeply.

Last year, I found out about the “Fish Boy”, a Vietnamese boy near my age with skin so dry that it scabs over, my blood curdled, I was so deeply shaken. Because at the end of the documentary, after years of pestering from a wonderfully loving British woman, doctors finally spent less than ten minutes taking pictures of his skin and sent it over to a dermatologist in England. Though his medical case is undiagnosed and they aren’t sure of the cause, a prescription of retinol cream was made and helped tremendously. !!!!RETINOL CREAM!!!! Tell me that for the sake of the documentary that this was a very strong and unique cream that no one uses because it is dangerous or some absurd excuse because retinol cream is a simple topical agent that you could go to your local drug store and get! It’s vitamin A at its base!!! Something as simple as that!! Now you can’t blame someone for not knowing what they don’t know, but if doctors had collaborated before, they could have saved this boy years of suffering.

I’m so upset!! I remember I was trembling and crying when I heard about this, that my friend actually had to hold me because I was so upset. When I went back to Vietnam, no one was shocked by this and always go to international doctors if they have the means to. How ludicrous is that?!

When my mom told me about how she walked past a building of war cadavers every day on her journey to school as a kid, when she told me about how she and my dad would walk miles to school because that’s just what you did back in the day, I felt so deeply. That can’t happen!!! How can that happen!!! How can my parents have been one of those kids that you see walking across rope bridges and mountains in a National Geographic spread to get an education? How is this possible?? And on top of that, they had to pay for an education with a uniform and books and everything! That BLOWS my mind!

I’m sitting here typing away on my rose-gold colored laptop because I like the color!! I have like three lamps on (which I should really turn off 2-I’ll do that now) and am eating from a bag of 5 lb gummy bears because I can!! Yet around the world, some kid is getting up to prepare for a 12 mile walk to school in shoes with a sole worn so thin that the feel of gravel piercing his foot is a minor annoyance to his numbness. How is there such a vast separation of privilege in this world? I just can’t wrap my mind around it.

Anyways, I heard this, I came to this realization that I am a lucky ass duck. I can spend what is someone’s monthly wage on my prom dress and the thing is, here in America, it’s a normal thing! But in Vietnam, these kids aren’t even lucky enough to choose between school and work. Education will carry you far, but if you don’t have access to it, then what good is the open door? So! I had a plan! I made a fund! I fundraised! I door knocked! I begged! And we did it! We gave the gift of education to over 160 kids! We took away the decision between school and work because we made it clear that there shouldn’t even be a decision! That’s the best! Yay!
But that’s only 160 students. There’s almost 2 BILLION kids in the world! That’s 27% of the population! And we only helped 2.245 MILLIONTHS of the population! THAT’S LIKE IF SOMEONE OFFERED YOU A SLICE OF PEOPLE, INSTEAD OF THE STANDARD 1/8 OF THE PIZZA, YOUR SLICE WOULD BE A THOUSANDTH OF A CRUMB. DO YOU UNDERSTAND MY FRUSTRATION???

I’m over ambitious, I know. I want to achieve universal education and world peace and gender equality and happiness and I know, I am very ambitious. I’m optimistic. And I know that it is crazy to think that I can achieve all of this and maybe I’m just overly confident and arrogant in my abilities but the people that have made the greatest strides are the ones that were crazy enough to dream of it so you damned straight better believe that I am dreaming of it. This is going to work, it’s going to happen. We’re going to get universal education. We’re going to make sure that each and every life born into this world is going to be loved and nurtured with education and opportunity.

Because Steve Jobs, Carl Sagan, Barack Obama, Pablo Picasso, and Emil von Behring are all great people that have transformed the world, but that random guy in Africa leading his family to farm the land for rice could have very well been Carl Sagan given the opportunity. There are so many wonderfully brilliant minds on this Earth but without the right cards, they never reached that level. And that infuriates me. That makes me so angry. That makes me want to go out and build a school but just because there is a structure doesn’t mean there is a teacher or kids. There’s a whole system and it’s at the will of everyone else’s free will and that makes me so frustrated!!

So yes, I feel. I feel very deeply all the time over everything. (No one in the world should like strawberry flavored dairy products like strawberry ice cream, that stuff is vile, what is wrong with you and I’m looking right at you Tim.) Have I also mentioned that I hate disease???

Seeing my dad have Parkinson’s disease is the worrrrrrst. I’m in these wonderful support groups on Facebook with all of these beautiful and brilliant humans across the world and everyone is brought together by Parkinson’s disease and it is the woooooooooooorst. I met this man at the PAN Conference back in February and we went out to dinner with a group of people and I have never admired someone’s strength so much. From a woman with PD who brought her grandson along (he’s going to change the world, I promise you) to a man that reminds me so much of my dad in every way.

These people are two of the thousands, maybe millions even, of people who I have a solid and unwavering admiration for. Because Parkinson’s is the worst. It eats away at your brain and body and makes people think you’re drunk when you just can’t control your shakes. Oh I hate it so much. But again these people rise everyday to go about their day with a positive attitude and they live. You have not lived until you see someone caged in their own body, just work it. They find ways to work around and cope, but they aren’t just dealing with it, they’re actively living their lives! Going on hikes and runs, painting the most beautiful landscapes, aspiring to be photographers, making some really damn good gumbo, and so much more. I swear, you don’t know what life is like until you’re in a room with people fighting a disease and actively working to change legislation for it. You don’t know what life is until you hear someone like that laugh so wholeheartedly – a real soul shattering smile these people have I promise you.

To conclude:

  1. I’m emotional and feeling a lot of things right now.
  2. The world sucks but I think we can make it less sucky.
  3. I’m going to try to make it less sucky even if it’s a really big challenge because someone has to be crazy and delusional enough to try it.
  4. Parkinson’s sucks but the people who have it are so wonderful and I look up to all of them so much.

Yeah this is my night. I’m going to keep blogging but I think I have some really great blog posts coming up. Especially concerning Parkinson’s disease. Stay tuned, stay safe.

Much love,

Phuong Nam








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