Chapters 11 and 12

In Chapter 11, what the doctors and Lia’s family had been worried about happening, happened.  She had the biggest seizure that she’d ever had along with a litany of other symptoms. The Lee’s had their nephew come over to call an ambulance when it would have actually been faster to just take her to the doctor.  However, the Lees felt that they pay more attention to you when you are brought to the emergency room. The doctors had a really hard time getting a handle of her symptoms but Dr. Neil and his team were finally able to get the seizing to stop after a couple of hours. The Lees thought that Lia was being transferred because Dr. Neil was going on vacation, rather than her advanced symptoms. Lia’s experience at the new hospital showed “the best and worst of American medicine” because they were more technologically advanced at the new hospital, but they didn’t notice Lia’s sex for 12 hours. While there, Lia crashed and the Lees thought it was because of all of the medicine or the spinal tap which could have taken her soul away.  The Lees received sub-par care in that they weren’t really communicated with and the doctors definitely preferred her white foster parents than her biological ones. Finally, we learned that the Lees chose to have her transferred back to MCMC.


In Chapter 12, we learn about the Lee’s two attempts to escape persecution and their lives as refugees.  We got a glimpse into jsut how impossible their situation was to the point that they had to leave valuables behind to be able to carry their children and flee.  The Lees lost children. They had no other choice but to flee though, in that they faced possible death in both situations. Some of those who either remained or were forced to come back were forced into egregious internment “seminar” camps. The journey to escape took anywhere from months to years.  People had to either eat their animals or even their clothes. To make sure they didn’t get caught, people rarely spoke and even had to resort to giving their babies opium so they wouldn’t make noise, however with too much, the babies often died. Those who couldn’t walk were left behind to die. Some say that half that attempted the journey died.


These chapters were incredibly difficult to get through.  Relating it back to the reading, it reminded me of both Chapter 11 on the effects of acculturation/assimilation.  Additionally, it reminded me of how Chapter 17 discussed how life stressors accumulate over the courses of our lives and affect our health.  These chapters talked about forced assimilation through the camps that they put the Hmong in to try and strip them of their culture. Also, these Chapters really show just how much the Lee’s have been through in their lives. The physical, emotional, and mental tramau that they’ve had to face indelibly shaped their lives.


Pages 157-158 definitley stood out to me because although the situations are obviously very different, it reminded me of how powerful institutions in this country treat immigrant and those who don’t fit into the norm.  “They tell you to stop speaking Hmong. You are not supposed to practice Hmong rituals.” To me, this sounds eerily similar to Americans being disgusted by immigrants speaking their native langugage and pracitining their own cultural traditions as if that makes them have less of a claim to this nation as everyone else.

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