In this reading, Lia has her biggest seizure to date. Her parents called the ambulance to take her to the hospital because they believed this would help expedite her entry into the emergency room. However, they might have been able to save twenty minutes if they had run with Lia to the hospital instead, and those twenty minutes might have changed the outcome of this seizure (Fadiman 141). One she arrive at the hospital, Lia’s caretakers failed to take her temperature an did not take into consideration her symptoms of diarrhea and a low platelet count, instead focusing on finding out whether the Lee’s had been giving her the prescribed amount of Depakene. The blood tests shown they had, as had been the case since she returned home from foster care (Fadiman 144). As a reader, it was both heartbreaking and frustrating that these mistakes occurred. Logically, I know that things might have gone exactly the same way even if Lia had arrived earlier at the hospital and if her caretakers had wondered about her symptoms, but things have might have also happened completely differently. It is that possibility of a better outcome that makes me frustrated. It is hard not to want to blame the parties involved. It was also heartbreaking that the Lee’s believed Lia was transferred because Neil wanted to go on vacation (Fadiman 145). Once Lia arrived at Valley Children’s Hospital, she underwent many procedures as her parents waited and heard no explanations. After seven days, she was declared brain dead and all life sustaining methods were discontinued without the Lee’s agreement (Fadiman 152). This was an intense chapter which showed the severity of a lack of communication between the care providers and patients.
Chapter 12 described the Lee’s trip to Thailand after they were forced to flee Laos as refugees. Lia’s sister wrote about this for her class and received a really chilling comment from her teacher, “You have had an exciting life! […] Please watch verbs in the past tense” (Fadiman 155). This was really concerning especially as later parts of the chapter described anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment arising in the United States. Although I would not say that May’s teacher was expressing anti-refugee sentiment, I would say that she is part of the apathy that the United States displays toward refugees and immigrants. There is a sense that these people are to blame for their own hardships because they are “backward.” This view was shared by camp officials at Thailand refugee camps for the Hmong. They called them dirty and difficult, instead of realizing these conditions were occuring due to events the Hmong had not been able to control (Fadiman 167). This reminded of rhetoric we saw in the documentaries in class about African Americans, this same idea that this group was responsible for their own sufferings and ignoring the historical and socio-political context.