Chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3 begins to tell the story of Lia’s sickness. What is described as “the spirit catches you and you fall down” to the Hmong but is referred to in western medicine as epilepsy has taken over Lia. While most Hmong people are hesitant to use the hospitals, the Lees take her to the hospital. The seizures end before they get to the hospital and due to the language barrier, Lia is misdiagnosed multiple times. Chapter 4 begins to go into depth about why the Hmong are hesitant towards western medicine and the problems it may have.

While I had presumed that there would be a language barrier among the Hmong and the hospital workers, I cannot believe that due to their lack of money there was no way for them to communicate. I worked in a hospital this summer in which we had many foreign patients and families that relied on our translators. How else are you able to get consent if they do not understand your language? How is the patient supposed to get better if they do not even understand what is going with them? Having witnessed a hospital that relies on translators, I cannot imagine being the Lee family and being in a hospital in which no one speaks your language. Having to rely on a janitor to understand what is happening is unimaginable to me.

I thought one of the reasons behind the Hmong not seeking medical help was very interesting. In the camp hospitals so many of the helpers were there to convert people and therefore the Hmong associate these helpers with being coerced and converted instead of as people that are there to simply give them medical aid. No matter what these medical professionals did from them on seemed like a type of coercion. I think it is very sad that coercion was associated with being medically treated. I cannot imagine not seeking help for this reason.

Similarly, I thought it was fascinating to read about which medical treatments the Hmong thought were okay and which they did not allow. This concept certainly stems from their extreme spiritual beliefs. I admire that they are able to continue to have such strong beliefs and hold true to them when being treated with western medicine. I am intrigued to keep reading about what other dilemmas they face in their experience with western medicine.

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