Chapters 17 and 18

Chapter 17 continues to explore the Lee’s life. Lia is stuck in this vegetative-like state in where she is not dead, but also not entirely alive. While visiting Dr. Hutchinson, Anne has a discussion with him about the events that led to Lia’s current state. Dr. Hutchinson says that it essentially would not have mattered if the parents would have given Lia her medicine when her seizures started, Lia would still have been compromised. I thought it particularly interesting that instead of consistently doing a full workup when Lia would come in to MCMC, the doctors chose to always focus on her seizures. It makes sense that if she was having a serious seizure, then they should deal with that before anything else. However, it seems like if Neil and the other medical staff would have checked Lia as a whole instead of just focusing on her seizures, they may have been able to save her. It is sad to see that the quality of life Lia has now is so limited. She is stuck in her current state for the rest of her life with no hope of recovering. It makes no sense to play the blame game of whose fault it was that Lia is now like she is. Asking what could have been done will not change the fact that she is stuck in this vegetative, brain-dead existence. I think what can be taken away from this experience is that there has to be a common ground between treating with biomedicine and treating with cultural practices.

The next chapter hits on this notion of wholistic medicine in a sense of considering every aspect of the patient -from how they got sick to their belief system- in order to truly be able to cure said patient. The chapter hits on a particular success story of treating a Hmong woman, who was refusing to take her tablets because her husband said that by doing so the baby would be born without arms or legs. Francesca (the social worker) willingly worked through the situation with the husband by throwing her own beliefs aside for a moment and trying to actively work with the cultural broker to come to an agreement with the husband. Francesca’s situation with the husband was successful, because she chose to not let her own beliefs distract her from seeing the current situation through another’s eyes. I think her willingness to go through the steps of gaining trust with the husband was well done and shows how unwilling the medical staff at MCMC was to do this for the Lees. Instead of asking them from the beginning what they thought should happen or why they believed Lia was sick, they chose to ignore the Lees beliefs and stick to what they know which is Western medicine. I think if more doctors were willing to take those little steps toward understanding and build trust with others from different cultures, they would be more successful in treating patients. When you are in a field where you are providing a service for other people, you have to be willing to meet others where they are and come to an agreement one step at a time. But I think it is very difficult for this to happen in certain circumstances.

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