Fadiman Case Study: the Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

1588 words 7 pages
Summary of The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down
In ‘The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down’, Lia, a Hmong baby girl, is born to a Hmong family living in California as refugees away from their war torn land in Laos. In Laos the Lee’s where farmers and lived in the country according to their Hmong traditions and beliefs. In California they barely understood the language, much less Western culture or medicinal practices. In Hmong tradition, illness was seen as a spiritual problem rather than a physical problem and a Shaman that practiced spiritual ceremonies and used natural remedies was sought to prevent or cure certain illnesses and/or diseases; so when Lia suffered her first seizure at the age of 3 months and was taken to Mercer
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Lia’s was getting a lot better and started attending school. She fell off of a swing one day and started to seize, it was a very serious seizure and three weeks after she was discharged she was admitted again. The doctors are faced with a problem because they don’t know what else to do to prevent the seizures and they fear that one day Lia may have a seizure they can’t stop, and she might die.
Unfortunately in Chapter 11 titled “The Big One” one day before Thanksgiving, Lia had a seizure and her dad called his nephew to get an ambulance. Once she arrived at MCMC, Doctor Neil was unable to stop her seizures. She went into status epilepticus which means that, no matter how many drugs they gave her, she kept on seizing. She was then transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Fresno after she finally stopped seizing. Everyone thought that Lia was going to die and they were just waiting for it to happen. The Lee’s took her back home to be with the family.
In Chapter 13 - Code X – In this chapter Lia is left with severe brain damage. There is a misunderstanding in the hospital between the parents and doctors and she is ripped from her tubes by her father in an attempt to take her home, at which time the hospital calls a Code X, and she is recovered and re-intubated, only to go home four hours later. At home her mother provides all her care and Lia’s is described as looking beautiful all the


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