Chapters 17 & 18

Chapter 17 continues to discuss the Lee’s experience with their daughters devastating medical state. Again, it reiterates the extent that the Lee’s are disappointed with the medical system in America. I thought the chapter summarized the novel perfectly on page 253 when it said, “director of MCMC’s Family Practice Residency Program, once told me that when you fail one Hmong patient, you fail the whole community. I could see that this was true.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement. The Hmong culture plays such a large role in the novel and is clearly important to the Lee’s which leads me to believe that letting down one Hmong family would let down the larger community. Hmong loyalty has been a common theme throughout the novel, and this idea supports this cultures commitment to their people. Another interesting thing brought up in this chapter was the conversation with Dr. Hutchinson about whether Lia’s medicine did actually hurt her. This is the first time in the novel where a doctor acknowledges the fact that Lia’s medicine may have actually hurt her. Overall, this chapter continues to address the Hmong culture and its differences with the US.

Chapter 18 talks more broadly about the medical system in the US. More specifically, it gives multiple examples of good and bad medical cases involving Hmong in the US. The chapters main focus is about ways to improve medical experiences for Hmong people and for US citizens. It suggests that to improve Hmong healthcare, the hospitals should ensure that female doctors treat female patients and male doctors serve male patients. The book also suggests that interpreters for families are both bilingual and bicultural. Another suggestion that the chapter makes is that the US medical system learn to incorporate spiritual practices in addition to the typical protocol that is followed in hospitals. By doing this, it would integrate Western medicine and traditional healing arts medicine. I liked the idea of making health care in the United States more human and less unemotional. Personally, the times that I have been treated in the hospital have been cold and unfriendly and has made it difficult to feel comfortable confiding in a doctor. I hope that the United States learns to be more emotional towards the whole medical system without over stepping boundries with patients. In my opinion, accomplishing this would improve our healthcare system immensely.

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