Ch. 7 and 8

Chapter 7 was really just an indictment of both the broken healthcare and child protective service systems.  At first, we got a glimpse into Dr. Ernst’s hindsight where we learn that he definitely wasn’t as unequivocal in taking Lia away from her family than he was when he made that decision.  Additionally, his fellow doctors weren’t even aware that he had made that call. Although they didn’t have alternate solutions, they claimed that they wouldn’t have made that decision. Dr. Ernst could have simply gone with an easier dosage plan.  Additionally, the families that Lia was put with were definitely far from perfect. Instead of nurturing her, one family would simply tie her down. Now, we will never know what would have happened if Dr. Ernst would have stuck to one plan that Lia’s family could have followed.


Chapter 8 certainly took an even more ethnographic approach in that the author peeled yet another layer back into the Hmong culture.  We learned about the do’s and don’ts but really, the golden rule was just to ask if something was okay before doing it. Additionally, we learned that some peoples’ categorizations of the Lees were wrong.  For example, some claimed that they’d be really guarded and wouldn’t open up, however the author was able to build a relationship of trust. It was with this foundational level of trust and mutual desire for understanding, that this budding relationship would occur.  Perhaps if the healthcare system was set up in a way where this possible between all clients. Issues would be less prevalent.


These two chapters were less frustrating the previous two. I suppose that’s because hindsight is always 20/20, however, reading these chapters brought me back to a question posed in class on Monday, about if health disparities will ever dissipate.  The cynic in me wants to say no, however, I think if we are going to get anywhere, we need to lay the foundations of understanding and empathy. Without it, it’s hard to build relationships of mutual care/concern and trust. We as a country haven’t been able to get over this hurdle yet.


Finally, chapter 8 related to our class discussion about what factors lead to these disparities.  These factors include socio-economic status, mental state, race etc. The Hmong don’t see physical health and mental health as separate facets, but rather they see everything as intertwined and spiritual.   I wonder if the way that we categorize health in Western medicine helps or hurts us.

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One thought on “Ch. 7 and 8

  1. I enjoyed your comments about how these two chapters relate to our class discussions-they made me think. I agree with you that laying down foundations of trust and understanding in the medical world will lead to positive progress. Trust and understanding has been a big theme in the novel thus far and I would argue that the moments of distrust and miscommunication create the most tension between the Lee’s, Hmong culture, and Western medicine. If our country is able to get over the hurdle and build strong relationships based on mutual care and trust, our medical system will make huge strides in the right direction.

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