The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
In 1998, Anne Fadiman wrote a book that touched everybody. It is a story about the little girl Lia who suffered from seizures. Lia was a representative of Hmong refugees that lived in Merced. The USA is a very big country. Many ethnic groups live there. Every group has its own cultural and social peculiarities, and differences. Sometimes, the diversity of cultural peculiarities has a negative effect, as well as in this story.
Lia was about 4 months old, when the first seizure happened. Her parent did not take her to the hospital. They took her there later, when they realized that it was necessary. The root of their fear of American doctors, as well as hospitals, took its beginning from the Thailand camp. They heard many terrible stories there. They heard that doctors ate people’s kidneys, hearts and lungs. Of course, they were scared and did not want to go to the hospitals. In 1983, the doctors diagnosed epilepsy. Lia was a frequent patient in the hospital. Doctors tried to give the right dosage for Lia. However, the language and cultural barriers had a negative effect on Lia’s health (Fadiman, 1998).
Lia’s parents did not confide the doctor and medicines. They were sure that medicines did not help their daughter. Conversely, they were assured that doctor’s prescriptions made worse. Doctors thought that placing Lia in a foster home would be the best decision. They did it. All medicines were given accurately; however, the seizures did not stop. The most rough glide happened in the age of 4. It was very long and strong. After it, Lia was given to her parents. The Doctors prescribed only one medicine. The doctor was not sure that Lee would live more than a few days. However, she lived during the years (Fadiman, 1998).
Lia’s family did not trust western medicine and doctors. It is not their fault. It was based on their customs and culture. Their view on the medicine is completely differing. American medicine is well organized and developed. Many scientific achievements used or treating people. The Hmong immigrants do not use ordinary ways of treatment. They interpret diseases in their own way. If the patient suffers from the headache, it means that the universe is out of balance. The Hmong is a society that try to find their health in their society. They believe that medicine is a religion. Their religion is a society. If the society is well-organized and happy, everybody will be happy and healthy (Fadiman, 1998).
The Hmong refugees never listen to all doctor’s prescriptions and advice attentively. They can hear and answer. However, it does not guarantee that everything will be done. It is the guarantee that people hear and answer. They respect people and listen to them.
At the young age, the little girl went through hardship. She has set face against disease and won it. The doctor was not confident that she would live a few hours or days. However, she lived during the years. Lia met two different worlds: American and Hmong. Every world had its own customs, ways of life and beliefs. She was young and did not belong to any one of them. Of course, she was from the ethnic group; however, she spent much time in the American world. Each world did not trust another one. Lia set face against the health care system. This system was not ready to work with such patient. They had not English-Hmong translator. There was not even a person who could speak English and Hmong. Such a factor was the cause of untreated seizures. The girl could not say about hurt, and parents could not explain anything.
From my perspective, in this story Lia’s parents were wrong in some situation, as well as doctors. At first, the parents did not want to cure Lia in the hospital. All parents are responsible for the health of their children. They knew it and took her to the hospital. However, they did not obey the doctor’s prescriptions. The dosage was not enough. It was because of the language barrier. Dr. Neil Ernst did not know their language, and the parents could not read and understand everything.
Additionally, according to their religion and customs, disease is not the health problem, it is the problem of society. The parents cannot be blamed completely. They conducted themselves in such way because they were brought up in such a society.
From my point of view, it was not right to take Lia from her parents to a foster home. Dr. Neil Ernst reported to Child Protective Services that the parents abused a child. However, it was a falsehood. Nobody can be better as parents. For every person, home is the best place. At home people recover faster because they are surrounded with love, support and relatives. Lia’s seizures did not stop, and she was given back to her parents. Therefore, there was no necessity to take her from the parents.
The core of all misunderstanding was cultural lack of information and unwillingness to admit another way of life. This story teaches everybody to be open minded and admit everything that can be admitted. Sometimes, it can help to save innocent lives.