Second Opinion

To: Dr. Hao Yubin
Re: Mrs. U. States
         I am referring to you one of my patients, who is adamant about wanting to change her medical care and seeks to borrow it from China.
         The patient, a 233-year-old female, presented with a variety of ailments and complained of general “malaise,” which she last suffered from in the late 1970’s, and depression the likes of which she hasn’t felt in seven decades.
         She was sedated and anesthetized using a combination of suburban reality and infotainment television programming.  During physical examination, she was somewhat unresponsive to stimulus. A benign, sluggish growth was found.  Angiography reveals severe, diffuse clogging of several vital arteries, with heaviest congestion in the losangelus freevia.  This is likely due to a diet of fast food, high-fructose corn syrup, and vitamin-enriched water from BPA-laced plastic bottles.  Internal scar tissue remains sensitive from a long-term stay in Southeast Asia more than three decades ago.  Against my and many other professionals’ advice, the patient made a recent trip to the Middle East that may have aggravated her condition.  Nevertheless, she repeatedly, and loudly, assures me that she has been vigilant in safeguarding herself from harmful foreign bodies.
         Longstanding issues include lesions in the vestibulocerebellar system affecting balance: beginning in 1960 the patient tended to list leftward, but in 1980 she suddenly began tilting to the right, displaying pronounced symptoms in 1994.  Lately her gait has stabilized, though this may simply be a temporary reprieve resulting from extreme movements with equal force in precisely opposed directions.
         She often shows serious allergic reaction to the outdoors and sometimes seems to want to eliminate it.       
        The patient was brought to my office by her uncle, Samuel, who also wants you to schedule an appointment for him for a chronically extended right index finger.  When asked for payment, the patient claimed she was in major debt, as you no doubt realize, and her uncle stated his budget was similarly overstretched.  After my receptionist Agnes demanded restitution, the uncle threatened to strike her from afar with a surgical instrument.  Once the police arrived, he insisted he was “only preemptively defending” himself.  Agnes herself is 83 years old and wheelchair-bound but cannot afford to retire.
         The patient is uninsured and, despite her ardent desire for coverage, is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
The Surgeon General

Teddy Wayne’s debut novel, “Kapitoil,” will be published by Harper Perennial this April.