In Chapter 11 Lia has the big seizure – lasting longer than two hours and resulting in a brain-dead diagnosis. Lia was transported to the hospital in an ambulance because Nao Kao believed that if you take an ambulance the doctors pay more attention to you. He was not entirely wrong in his statement, but in Lia’s cause the ambulance ride caused her to lose crucial time. The doctors struggle to get a proper IV inserted, as Lia continued to seize and vomited rice began to poor from her mouth and nose. The details of Lia’s grand mal seizure are horrifying and hard to imagine. As Merced was not equipped to handle such a severe case, Lia was transported to Valley Children’s Hospital. As the story continues, so does the miscommunication between the medical providers and the Lee’s. The Lee’s believe that their daughter was transported solely because the Merced doctors were going on vacation.
The doctors were working vigorously to control Lia’s seizure, however, yet only one person cared about more than Lia’s physical health. The doctors did not take the time to translate what was happening to the Lee’s or ask their opinion on any decision making. As a patient advocate for Lia, Jeanne Hilt made the effort to drive over a dozen of Lia’s family members to Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno. This chapter was very intense and emotional at times. I cannot fathom the difficulty of handling Lia’s case as a medical provider, but I also cannot imagine how her parents were feeling throughout the whole process. Despite being distraught about Lia’s condition, the Lee’s didn’t even really understand what was going on. Yet, the Lee’s still slept in chairs in the waiting room of the hospital for nine consecutive nights. Even though the Lee’s might not have always known what was best for Lia in terms of Western medicine, they displayed an immense amount of love for their daughter.
Chapter 12 discusses the events that took place during the Lee’s walk from Laos to Thailand. During this journey, the Hmong had to leave behind every relative that did not belong to their immediate family as well as virtually everything they owned. Passing the river was the toughest part of the journey, in which some tried to float across the river on bamboo. Many lives were lost in this journey, including many children.
The amount of children and babies lost during the walk to Thailand astounded me, mostly because of my love for children. The Lee’s lost one of their daughters who got “so tired of walking” and a son who died of starvation after Foua could not longer produce breast milk. In fact, the Lee’s daughter stated that “some family, however, leave their kids behind, kill, or beat them”. Children who made noise posed a fatal problem. How did the Hmong combat this problem? Crying babies and children were given opium to keep them quiet, resulting in many deaths. Even after the Lee’s daughter reminisced on some of the details of their horrifying journey to Thailand in her 8thgrade paper, her teacher commented “you have had an exciting life!” This was the most astounding part of the chapter to me. I cannot fathom that the teacher described the Lee’s journey as exciting. I would hope that the teacher reached out to May and provided any assistance or emotional support.