Chapters 11 & 12

In Chapter 11, we learn about the extent that Lia’s infection and disease is progressing. Lia ends up having a seizure that lasts almost two hours long. Immediate fear of the damage this could do to Lia’s cognition and its potentially fatal outcome causes the doctors at MCMC to insist that Lia be moved to Valley Children’s Hospital to receive more intensive, special treatment. Once at the new hospital we get more diagnoses from the doctors and ultimately learn the terrible news that Lia is brain dead. In Chapter 12 we are given more background information on the Lee’s journey from Laos to Thailand and eventually the United States before Lia was born. The Lee’s had tried to make the trip once before but were captured by Vietnamese soldiers. We learn that while on their journey one of the Lee’s daughters, Ge, dies once getting to the refugee camp and of the many Hmong people that died or were never found. The hardships that the Lee’s faced even before arriving in the United States gives us a better incite to why they are the way they are and why the Hmong people are so dedicated to their faith.

In these chapters we also see the development of the relationship between the Lee’s and the doctors at MCMC. Throughout the text there is a clash of the Western and Hmong cultures that cause a sharp disconnect between the Lee’s and the Doctors and allow for each side to believe in stereotypical characteristics and assume the worst in each other. However, in Chapter 11 when Lia begins having her long seizure Nao Kao calls the ambulance for the first time, showing that at least some part of him believes that the American doctors want what is best for Lia and can help in ways that he cannot. Nao Kao would not have been so willing and trusting with Lia in this situation when he first came to America. For a moment he was able to put aside his skepticism. However, we still do see the lack of communication between the doctors and the Lee’s influence their understanding of the situation when Nao Kao interprets Neil suggesting that Lia be taken to another hospital as him wanting them to leave. I think this is an accurate representation of the breakdown of two cultures. In order for the doctors and the Lees to work cohesively and amicably together both parties must acknowledge the others perspective and try to understand where they are coming from. This is not something that would happen overnight as people inherently fear what they do not know. But there would be steps forward and steps back, only making true progress when the ones forward outnumber the steps back.

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