Reflecting on The Spirit Catches You.

30 Nov

By Monday, December 3, you will have read chapters 1-13 (odd required, even optional), plus chapter 17. The question I’d like you to answer in your final reflection will be this:

“It is clear that many of Lia’s doctors, most notably Neil Ernst and Peggy Philp, were heroic in their efforts to help Lia, and that her parents cared for her deeply, yet this arguable preventable tragedy still occurred. Can you think of anything that might have prevented it?”

Please also discuss whether you would assign blame for Lia’s tragedy, and if so, to whom. Discuss specific evidence from the book to support your thoughts.

In the comments, please post evidence from the book that can be used in a response to this question. Include a quote and a page number.


23 Responses to “Reflecting on The Spirit Catches You.”

  1. czechmate23 December 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    I would blame no one for Lia’s death and her medical tragity. “Dan had no way of knowing that Foua and Nao Kao had already diagnosed their daughter’s problem”(28) There could not be any communication between the family and the doctor due to the language barrier that was between them. This i feel was the main part that cuased Lia’s death. could have been prevented had there be a translator or someone spoke the other persons langaue

  2. mrbaskins16 December 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    I wouldn’t blame anyone for Lia’s death. Her epilepsy was rather severe and her parents were caring for her in the best way that they knew how. Sure it could have been prevented to some extent but we can’t point fingers. Motherly instinct and the parents rights sometimes outweigh professional western medical opinions. Forcing the American healthcare system on them just made the transition even hard and they ultimatly lost custody of Lia. Like I said I would BLAME no one for her medical circumstances, some people are dealt a s#!t hand and not everyone copes in the same manner. Sorry I don’t have any textual evidence right now, I forgot my book in class 😦 book #16

    • Adam vajdak December 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      i agree but the fact not just because they where forced into the American health care its mostly because they could not talk to the doctors. if they could have i feel that they would have done find in the American health care system. It just the problem we have when we mix cultures and languages we end up with errors.

  3. musamatiwane December 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    I do not blame anyone for Lia’s death. The conflict between the two cultures (Hmong and Western) was just too complicated, this created a difficult time for everyone involved in Lia’s medical case. “Neil Ernst and Peggy Philip are married to each other. They alternate call nights, and each prayed that when a Lia Lee call came, it would be the other one’s turn to roll out of bed (41).” The clashing of the two cultures on medicine would effect everyone, and make it difficult to really see a difference made by either side.

  4. smw8884 December 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    I do not think you can blame anything or anyone for the way Lia turned out. I think that the clash of cultures made her medical problem even bigger and it just lead to the bad outcome of her brain being dead. They could not understand each other at all which made it very hard to treat her. On page 260 the author makes up what she believes the Lee’s would answer to certain questions about Lia’s health some of these included that the Lee’s believed that it was a spirit that came into her when she was having a seizure. “When I had presented this same material, more or less, to Neil and Peggy, they had said, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Lee thought what?'” (Fadiman 261) That just goes to show they really had no understanding of each other and unless they had had an interpreter every single doctor visit this was bound to happen.

  5. madelinej8 December 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    I dont think that you can blame anyone fot Lia’s predicament. The parents were from a completely different culture and did not know the English language well. Also the doctors could not communicate well with them because they mostly never had a translator. Like in page 255 “If lia had not had seizures, she would have presented in a coma and shock, and the outcome would probably have been the same, except that her problem might have been more easily recognized. It was too late by the time she got to Valley Children’s. It was probably too late by the time she got to MCMC.” Even if her problem was recognized sooner, the outcome would’ve been the same.

  6. sap6100 December 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    I think that something could have helped with the situation on trying to care for Lia would have been to have more interpreters there to help with the language barrier. I don’t think there could have been much that anyone could have done to help with the situation because even with an interpreter the beliefs of the two countries were very different, and the Hmong were not going to alter there beliefs so that was a very big challenge to work around. An example of this is shown in chapter 6 when Bill states that “his fellow doctors suggested the preferred method of treatment for them was high-velocity transcortical lead therapy” which meant that the patient would be hot in the head. This shows how the doctors at the hospital were beginning to become frustrated with the Hmong and there cultural beliefs that prevented them from “doing there job”. I don’t think there was anything they could have done to prevent it, just to help the situation. I don’t blame anyone for Lia’s death because I think that her family did care about her a great deal but because of there beliefs that they feel strongly about there is not much they could have done and I think also because of there beliefs there was not much the doctors could have done without making the family upset. I think the doctors also did most of what they could have done to help the family considering the language barrier and the cultural differences and not being aware of Lia’s condition at first. One thing I think they could have improved on was trying to understand there culture more so they could have came up with different idea’s on how to treat Lia.

    • sap6100 December 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      – Athena Partington

  7. juliettemartinez December 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    There really isn’t anyone to blame for what happened to Lia. Lia’s parents didn’t want to do what the doctors told them to do and the doctors didn’t understand that Lia’s parents thought that she was sick because she had lost her soul. I feel like the doctors did try to do what was best for Lia but the language barrier was definitely a problem. If the hospital would have had an interpreter or if Lia’s parents would have spoken English, they would have noticed that she was epileptic before her illness got out of hand. On page 26 it says, “Foua and Nao Kao had no way of explaining what had happened, since Lia’s seizures had stopped by the time they reached the hospital.” and then radiologist concluded that Lia had bronchiopneumonia just because she was coughing and had a congested chest. They could have avoided diagnosing Lia with the wrong disease if they could have been able to communicate. But I think even if the different languages wouldn’t have been a problem, they wouldn’t have been able to do much for Lia because the two cultures are just so different. They would have just kept arguing and disagreeing on the things that were going to be done to help Lia.

  8. karenmejiaworldlit December 3, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    I do not believe that there is anyone to blame for Lia’s condition. Niel and Peggy did their best to help treat her Lia’s seizures. Due to the lack of communication with Lia’s parents it was difficult for Lia to receive the medicine she needed in order to get better. The Hmong religion was against certain medications and procedures Niel wished to perform on Lia. If the MCMC team were able to understand the Hmong religion a little better it could have helped Lia and her family. Lia’s parents believed that the reason Lia was acting this way was because she had lost her soul. . In page 260 the author creates questions and answered them the way the Lees probably would. He asked, Why do you think it started when it did? “Lia’s sister Yer slammed the door and Lia’s soul was frightened out of her body.” What do you think the sickness does? How does it work? “It makes Lia shake and fall down. It works because a spirit called a dab is catching her.” (Fadiman 260). If the team of doctors and nurses at MCMC were able to recognize the Hmong religion a little better, Lia’s outcome with this condition may have been different.

  9. maxleu December 4, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    I don’t it is right to blame anyone for Lia’s death. Everyone was just doing what they felt was best for Lia. No one knows exactly what caused her brain to be destroyed so no one can really be blamed. “‘Lia’s brain was destroyed by septic shock, which was caused by the pseudomonas aerugnisosa bacillus in her blood. I don’t know how Lia got it and will never know.'” I think that there isn’t anyone to blame because even if the doctors did not treat Lia she still would have had the brain damage so there was really nothing they could do about it.

  10. nicksulis December 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    “I felt like there was this giant snowball that was coming down the mountain…It was just a matter of when.” (118)

  11. Dylan Sweeney December 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    I think there was no way to prevent Lia’s death. If she was sick and everyone did everything in their power to help, there is no one to blame. Lia’s parents lack of communication could’ve potentially helped her keep alive longer, but not alive. Her seizures worsened over the months. Maybe if their was a communicator sooner on, they could’ve prevented the disease from getting worse. But there is no one to blame.

  12. tenzin14 December 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    There is no one to blame for Lia’s death. I think the main reason why this was so complicated is because of the lack of communication between her parents and the doctor. Neil and Peggy both did what they were trained and did as best as they could to help Lia. But at the same time, in the Hmong region, they didn’t allow certain medication. In this case, Lia’s parents didn’t let her take the medication that was prescribed. At the same time, even if the communication was better, I still think it would have been a difficult task due to the drastic differences the two cultures. Her parents thought Lia was sick because she had lost her soul when her sister slammed the door. On page 256, “In fact, Neil and Peggy themselves frequently referred to ‘Lia’s demise’ or ‘what may have killed Lia’ or ‘the reason Lia died’ I think the doctors did their best to help Lia get better and her parents cared for her deeply and therefore no one was responsible for Lia’s death.

  13. adriannaj5 December 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    No one should be blamed for Lia’s death. Lia’s parents didn’t want to do what the doctors told them to. Everyone tried their best to help her out but there was simply nothing left to do for her. IT wasnt like she was getting any better her sicknesses continued to get worse.“If lia had not had seizures, she would have presented in a coma and shock, and the outcome would probably have been the same, except that her problem might have been more easily recognized. It was too late by the time she got to Valley Children’s. It was probably too late by the time she got to MCMC.” was stated on page 255, i can tell that if her sickness was brought to attention the results would of been the same based on the fact that there it became severe.

  14. jasminehiraldo December 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I don’t think that anyone should be blamed for Lia’s death. In Lia’s religion, actions taken would be very different than what the doctors in California did to treat her. Her parents didn’t understand what to do and how the medications would work. The doctors couldn’t do anything to save Lia. Her illness had gotten worse and there wasn’t a known cure for her. “I felt like there was this giant snowball that was coming down the mountain…It was just a matter of when.” (Fadiman 118).

  15. Jonathan Neroulias December 10, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    “When I had presented this same material, more or less, to Neil and Peggy, they had said, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Lee thought what?’” (Fadiman 261)

  16. Jonathan Neroulias December 10, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    I assign blame to everyone, well meaning and liking Lia didn’t get her very far. Cooperation and understanding was key, and that wasn’t figured out for way too long. If Lia’s parents were illiterate and didn’t learn English that may not be all their fault, but efforts for translating came way too late to salvage the parents faith and full cooperation. Reaction times lagged considerably as well, making a huge impact in Lia’s survivability as a functional human being– “It was too late by the time she got to Valley Children’s. It was probably too late by the time she got to MCMC.”( 255)

  17. cooperp1 December 11, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    I would place blame on both the Hmong and the doctors but a little more blame towards the doctors. This is because while the Hmong did not give Lia her medication for a long time the doctors made two mistakes, first they did not allowing the parents to simply try a Trix Nab first and second they gave Lia medication that had harmful effects at several points “The only influence that medications could have had is that the Depakene we prescribed might have compromised her immune system and made her more vulnerable to the Pseudomonas” (Pg 255 paragraph 2) both hurting Lia and weakening the parents trust in the doctors.

  18. mrbaskins16 December 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    “On April 30, 1985, four days after Lia’s eleventh hospitalization at MCMC, a visiting nurse found that the Lees were giving Lia a double dose of Tegretol pills, which they had stored in an old phenobarbital bottle. On May 1, the nurse noted that Lia’s father “now refuses to give any Tegretol whatsoever'” Page #58

  19. Taina Suarez January 16, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    I think that the doctors who cared for Lia tried their best to make her better under the conditions and limitations that they were under with the language barrier and beliefs of the Lees. I also think that the doctors did a good job at trying to understand and come to terms with the Lees on what kind of treatment they could do. I would say that the Lee’s cared for their daughter very much but just as we have our own set of beliefs so do they though theirs were very different they still wanted their daughter to get better at the end of the day. I think the only thing that could have been done to possibly prevent Lia’s tragedy was if they had gotten a translator so that there was a better understanding and communication.

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