Chapter 11 & 12

Chapter eleven focuses on the biggest incidence of epilepsy experienced by Lia Lee. This episode was so severe that she was not treated at her regular hospital; rather, she was transferred to an institution that had an intensive care unit where she was subjected to numerous invasive procedures in order to aid her back to health. Due to yet another miscommunication, the Lees were not fully convinced of the severity of such a seizure; instead, they believed Lia was only transferred to another hospital because Neil was unavailable due to vacation plans. Time and time again, it is the lack of clear communication and the presence of a heavy language barrier than places doctors and patients on different planes of understanding when it comes to conveying the various facets of health, such as a prognosis, a diagnosis, or a treatment. Due to this impediment, the Lees were left in the dark about each of the various procedures and it is often the unknown that scares people the most. Hence, it was not unlikely that in the haze of anger, confusion, and hunger, the Lees may have experience fear for their daughter because they were unable to understand what was happening.

Chapter twelve returns to a historical explanation of Hmong culture. Though I often find that these chapters where they historical context is discussed are drier and more disconnected from the rest of the biography because it tends to pull the reader away from the situation regarding Lia and her parents. However, this particular chapter was comparatively more intriguing because the Hmongian emphasis of the children and elderly of their community was particularly haunting due to the grim nature. During the Hmong’s trek toward the border of Thailand, nearly every family had a story regarding a baby for babies often posed a danger for the entire group because their cries may alert soldiers of their location. As a result, many children prone to causing a ruckus would be drugged with opium, smothered, or threatened with violence in order to ensure the safety of the group. However, this was not always successful, and children had died due to the extreme measures that were taken. The opium deaths were not well known outside of their communities and those in that community have simply accepted it as a part of life. Furthermore, some elders, who were revered members of their society, were left behind without being properly honoured out of necessity. The Hmong lost many loved ones and abandoned some traditions in their escape; this struggle indicates their desperation to abandon the dangers of their previous life and was especially powerful because of the depressing feeling it conveys.

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