Fadiman focuses on the Lees’ experience with the hospital and life with Lia in a permanent vegetative state. Once Lia is no longer able to walk, talk, or think, the nurses at the hospital praise her parents which is a complete turnaround from the way hospital staff felt toward the Lees in the beginning chapters of the book. Fadiman attributes this to Lia now being an “uncomplaining body who would probably never need another IV” (Fadiman 214). This was disheartening to read because one would hope patients were valued and cared for more when they are in need but it would seem the staff preferred a patient who could not complain. I was also frustrated by Medi-Cal’s refusal to pay for Lia’s formula because the Lees stopped using the prescribed tube since it kept clogging. If the baby bottle method worked, I do not understand why Medi-Cal would object (Fadiman 212). I was moved by the passage where Fadiman described Foua’s forgiving Neil despite her continued belief that he had left Lia’s care to go on vacation (Fadiman 213). I think it allowed the Lees to separate from the stereotype that Hmongs are stubborn to a fault. I think the Lees reaction to Martin in this chapter, showed that even with well meaning individuals, a cultural disconnect can occur leaving patients and care providers at odds.
CHapter 16 focused on the reason why so many Hmongs chose to settle in Merced. The reason stated was Dang Moua, a Hmong man who is portrayed as someone who followed the trope of the American Dream (Fadiman 229). This reminds me our discussion in class about the bootstraps myth that perpetuates the false narrative that everyone has the same advantages and opportunities. It also reminded me of Latino immigrant communities, who often focus on an individual immigrant who has succeeded in their pursuit of the American Dream and then pressure their own children, by saying if someone was able to achieve that, then anyone can. I have seen this create a dangerous false narrative that places more stress on the children of immigrant families, which can lead to future health problems.