Nancy sat in the waiting room dressed in a warm fuzzy sweater, jeans, and fleecy winter boots. She had recently moved to a new town for her first job out of college, as a QA tester at a large software company. She had graduated in December rather than the previous May, due to having spent a couple of semesters as a not-quite-serious student a couple of years ago. Having moved from her warm southern college town to the snow-covered midwest in January, she dressed as warmly as possible these days.
She had found herself suffering from bad and increasingly worse headaches while trying to work. One day she emailed her boss and explained she was going to be an hour late, and stopped off at the "doc in a box" clinic she passed on the way to work every day. Being new in town, she had no established doctor, and this place seemed as good as any.
After she had filled out a thick stack of forms and turning them into the front desk, a nurse came out of a door and called her back. Nancy followed, carrying her thick down-lined coat with her.
The middle aged female nurse led her to a small exam room, and told her to sit on a table that was covered with crinkly paper. You know the kind.
"Now, dear, take off your clothes and put this on while I'm out of the room", she said as she handed Nancy a pale blue hospital gown.
"I have to take off my clothes for this?", the patient protested, "it's kinda cold in here don't you think?"
"That's our rule. As a new patient you are going to get examined, and we need you undressed for it. Here, put your things in this so you don't lose track of them", as she further handed a large clear plastic bag, the kind that hospitals use to keep a patient's clothes and valuables during surgical procedures.
Nancy shuddered and stripped off first the pink sweater, then the plain white t-shirt underneath, exposing her bra and bare skin. The bra was supposedly "nude" colored - allegedly skin tone - but it was in actuality a shade darker than Nancy's pale skin. She then kicked off her boots, and peeled off the form fitting blue jeans, revealing simple cotton pink panties and thick gray wool socks. She stood there shivering in the cold of the room for a few seconds, looking at her body in the full length mirror that for some reason adorned this room. Dark hair fell against white shoulders. Modest but perky breasts filled the bra, nipples erect from the cold showing through it. Tight young belly and slim hips. Small, dainty butt.
"I see you've kept your slend-ah fig-yah", Nancy whispered to herself in mocking imitation of her long-passed grandmother's southern belle accent. Nancy herself retained only the slightest hint of vocal regionalisms. Most of her new coworkers couldn't guess where she was from.
She picked up the gown off the table, and put it on. At least it was cloth, she thought, not paper. She reached around back looking for how to fasten it up, and found her hands grasping around blindly. So she took it back off and looked at it again. It had, at the top, strips of cloth like two thick shoelaces that could be tied. Further down, in what was probably the middle of the garment, there were counterparts to these. Well, there was one at least. Where the other one was supposed to be, was nothing but a place where you could see something had been sewn there but was no longer present. There was nothing to tie the other lace to, so it was useless and may as well not have been there. Obviously this was a "used" gown.
Nancy put the gown back on and carefully tied the top laces together, and stood in front of the mirror looking over her shoulder at her back. There was enough overlap between the two sides to keep her covered up back there and preserve some modesty, but it would only stay closed if she held it with at least one hand. She sincerely hoped she wouldn't have to get up and walk around in this thing. She placed all of the clothing as well as her purse and phone into the bag.
She sat back down on the table. The paper crinkled.
A knock at the door. Before she had time to say anything, the same nurse as before came back in, this time with an assistant in tow. This one was younger, probably younger than Nancy. Blonde, and slightly chunky. Busty. Cornfed midwestern farmer's daughter, Nancy judged her.
"Didn't I tell you to take everything off?", said the older woman bruskly, "get those socks off!", she said while picking up the bag and holding it out in front of the patient with it's mouth open to receive the contraband articles.
Nancy very slowly, very carefully peeled the sock off of her left foot, taking great care not to accomplish this by even momentarily opening her legs or even uncrossing her ankles from each other, lest she expose herself out of the bottom of the gown. She dropped it into the bag, then repeated the same procedure for the left foot. Nancy's pale bare feet now dangled from the table, bright red polish decorating her toenails.
The old nurse handed the back to to her assistant, "here, Jeanie, put this in the locker, to keep it safe". The assistant left the room with not only all of Nancy's clothing but also her ID, credit cards, and phone. Nancy suddenly felt helpless, like she couldn't just up and leave if she wanted to. How could she, with no clothes and no way money or phone? These people now controlled her ability to go anywhere.
She brushed this thought aside, no, they're medical professionals just doing their jobs.
The assistant returned and took Nancy's pulse, blood pressure, and oral temperature while the nurse asked her to verbally repeat most of the same medical history questions that she had already filled out on all those paper forms.
"Do you know your blood type, dear", asked the nurse?
No, Nancy did not know her blood type.
"Well, we're going to test for it, then", said the nurse. "Give me your left hand"
The nurse grabbed Nancy's left middle finger and held it with one hand, while the other grabbed a small object from the assistant. Before Nancy would object the thing went "click!" against the soft pink tip of her finger, and a tiny trickle of blood emerged. The pain was shocking and overbearing. "Ow!", Nancy yelled sharply and louder than she intended.
Without a response from the nurse the blood was captured on a glass slide and the finger bandaged.
"Sorry about that outburst", Nancy said meekly, "I guess I should tell you now that I don't have much tolerance for pain", betraying a more than normal amount of her native accent.
"It's ok, dear", said the nurse, placing a comforting pat and squeeze not on Nancy's hand but on her bare knee.
The nurse and the assistant left the room, taking the tiny fraction of Nancy's blood with them.
"The doctor will be back here in a few minutes", the assistant said as she shut the door.
.. to be continued ..