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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Book Review/reflection: The Spirit Catches you and You fall Down.

This morning I finished this book. It is a less popular/main stream book than I normally am drawn to. However, the book was very interesting/applicable to me.

The book is a nonfiction investigation into the life for a family of Hmong refugees living in Southern california who have a daughter with Epilepsy and the doctors that are trying to cure this little girl of her disease. The book is about cultural miscommunication/ Eastern medicine vs. Western medicine.

Being in the medical field sometimes I feel pressure to be God. I don't think I am alone in this feeling, as evidence by Lia's Doctors in the book. We feel it is our job to cure, to heal, to know all the answers. But medicine like anything else is often times not black and white. Solutions to problems can be problems themselves. Lives are precious, but sometimes in an effort to save medical intervention can make things worse.

The book is a beautiful complete look into the lives of the doctors, nurses, social workers, and family involved. As a healthcare provider it was wonderful to read. Medical Education in this country teaches us to treat diseases, teaching us pathopysiology to explain to our patients how diseases affect our bodies and how the medicines we will use will restore new order. However, how does this translate to a culture where Epilepsy, a condition that called in Hmong is "The spirit catches you and you fall down,"  is caused by lossing your soul to an evil spirit.

Medicine focuses on life, preservation of life, sometimes at the expense of dignity. Not once was I ever taught about any treatments that heal a soul. Western medicine preserves life, there are many cases where without it people: life, soul and all would expire. However, I think most of us would agree there is more to life than just an EEG or EKG reading. This book is a beautiful, mind bending, heart wrenching look into these struggles. For health care professionals who deal with this everyday. It is an invitation to look over these tough things again. For people like Mr., next in line to read the book, hopefully it is a glimpse into what I struggle with during my 9-5 life.. or more like 5:30-6 life. Things that sometimes you shut out as you come home because the burden is too great.

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