Chapters 11 & 12

At this point in the novel, I just feel sad and frustrated for both the doctors and the Lees. It seems clear that both sides are doing what they personally think is best for Lia, while also misunderstanding the other side’s intentions.

While I understand that because of the severity of Lia’s condition the doctors had to take extreme measures, they also made a lot of assumptions about Lia’s parents understanding of such a serious situation. First, they assumed that Lia was there for the same reason she always was and didn’t consider that she could have an infection. In the chaos of MCMC, no one explained to the parents what was going on. Steve Segerstrom implied consent for a saphenous cutdown. It was assumed that the parents understood why Lia was being transferred, but they didn’t. The doctors explained the invasive procedures they planned to try for Lia, but the parents did not understand. Finally, the most horrifying assumption was when Terry Hutchinson ordered all life-sustaining measures to be discontinued because he believed the family had agreed to it. These are decisions that are very difficult for families to make and should not be taken lightly. I was shocked that these life or death decisions were “assumed”, “implied” and “believed” to have been made.

That being said, it is also beyond frustrating that Lia’s parents did not understand the severity of Lia’s condition. They saw the severity of Lia’s convulsions, the way her body was physically reacting to the suffering she was going through, and all the technology she was hooked up to in order to keep her alive. The Hmong have their own cultural beliefs about medicine, but it’s hard to believe that they couldn’t sense how serious this situation was. I think certain situations and the emotions that go with them cross cultural barriers, but that did not seem to be the case here.

In Chapter 12, we again get a glimpse of the history of the Lee family and Hmong people. We see once again the horrible treatment and conditions they endured. In the camps, the Hmong were viewed as “dirty”, “difficult” and were generally very disliked. Conguergood says this is the typical Western uneasiness with difference, or “the other”. This is a common mindset in our country. Viewing “others” negatively because they are different than us is particularly common in our current political climate. Conquergood advocates for viewing the Hmong in the context of the historical, political and economic forces with which they have been faced. By not doing this, we are perpetuating racist, stereotypical thoughts and ideas that disenfranchise other humans and ascribe negative characteristics to an entire race.

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