She touches him softly on his forehead, where his hair is thinning. "The human electromagnetic field exhibits a sinusoid behavior as the field oscillates between its crest and trough signals. The amplitude of an HEF is always subjective, although with continued study we've developed a healthy range. You've fallen below that range. As you can see from the screen, you're now .01 milliT below the healthy range, over .03 milliT lower than your last visit six months ago."
He moves to run his fingers through his hair, then stops himself, for fear of bumping her gloved finger still poised above his eyes. "Is that serious?" "It can be. Are you exposed to static fields in your work or home?" "No. I have a powerline along the route I jog to work, but-" She shook her head. "Some days we work outside, and I get burned from the sun."
She shook her head again. "Most people are aware of the ionizing end of the electromagnetic spectrum, including x-rays and hard ultraviolet radiation. The frequency of this energy is sufficient to break chemical bonds, hence its danger to biologic tissue. However, non-ionizing electromagnetic energy has been recently proven to impact your HEF. HEF has yet to be definitively linked with any physical conditions. However, long-term studies indicate a significant drop in the quality of life for those with HEF outside the healthy range."
"What do you mean by a 'drop in quality of life?'" "It varies. Some people complain of depressive episodes, anxiety, nauseau. The likelihood and severity of any medical condition exasperated by stress, including weight gain, hair loss- or sexual dysfunction, can be increased. Rare cases have included suicidal ideation, and some researchers believe that actual deaths should be attributed to HEF amplitude deficiencies, although no documented cases exist, due to the fact that changes in HEF are impossible to monitor post mortem."
"Most of these quality of life issues are down to psychological factors. One of the reasons a drop in HEF amplitude is considered serious, aside from the more negligible psychosomatic symptoms, is that ionized airborne pathogens and pollutants may be more electrically attracted to you. This increases the likelihood of exposure to nearly every harmful substance imaginable." "I'm not a hypochondriac." "No. But right now there's nothing physically wrong with you. Your symptoms are all based in your psyche, and if it helps you feel better, illnesses like asthma and migraines were once considered psychosomatic. The term really means that if it isn't in your head we can't explain it yet."
His head itched, like he could feel portions of his scalp flaking off; he felt a chill at the exact point of his hairline. "What can we do?" "First, there is a process called 'wiping.' It goes all the way back to the second world war, when ships were degaussed to keep them from attracting magnetic mines. We drag low amplitude electrified wires down the sagittal plane from the rostrum," she pulled her fingers down from the base of his nose, ending at his pelvis, digging her finger in with a half turn, "to the anus. The current is low, and you should only feel a light tickling sensation. However, any induced random change in charge is only temporary, as interaction with electromagnetic fields, most importantly those of the Earth, will normalize the charge."
"What can we do long term?" "Longer term solutions require considerably more effort. According to the answers you gave the nurse, you would call yourself agnostic-" "I don't like labels." "Hmm. Are you familiar with the word atrophy?" "Vaguely." "When used to describe a muscle, it means that an unused or in some way neglected section of tissue shrivels and dies. As doctors, we are still years from discovering why an HEF withers, or even the point at which its origin arises. What we do know, largely through cultural means, are longstanding traditions for exercising one's HEF. These include yoga, which is what I prefer, because it has physical health benefits, as well. There is also acupuncture, and-"
The patient shook his head. "What's the worst-case scenario?" "If the problem persists, and your HEF numbers continue to decline, we can surgically implant a series of electromagnets underneath your dermis. Through a process called coiling, we can induce an HEF in three dimensional space anywhere within the healthy range. Needless to say, such an operation is invasive, and drastic. We prefer to withold the procedure for those who may become a danger to themselves or others or for whom other corrective measures have been unsuccessful." "How likely is that?" "Highly unlikely; 1 in 10,000 find the procedure medically necessary. Another 3 in 10,000 lie on the cusp of the guidelines and request the procedure for peace of mind."
"I'll need you to remove the paper gown, and step onto the rubber mat in the corner, and we'll begin your wiping." He shuffled his feet, and fumbled with the string tied loosely around his back. He stammered as the gown fell to the floor. Every minute he delayed, it became more difficult to ask her for a hair loss prevention cream.