By the time Mrs. Zhang came to see me, her headache, left-sided weakness and facial numbness were two weeks old. Like many Chinese immigrants in this country, she’d hesitated to seek medical care because of language and cultural barriers and her apprehensiveness about Western medicine. In fact, she hadn’t seen a physician in the ten years since she and her husband had come to America. Only after a friend told her about me, the sole Chinese primary-care physician in a small Pennsylvania town, did she and her husband come to see me.
Mr. and Mrs. Zhang struck me as a typical older Chinese couple. With smiles on their faces, they bowed repeatedly to everyone in my office. Mr. Zhang spoke English reasonably well, but Mrs. Zhang spoke only Chinese. She grasped my hands and kept telling me how grateful she was to be seen; after several moments, her husband had to gently remind her to let go of me.