Nancy sat with her hands on the table and rocking back and forth slightly from a mixture of nervousness and boredom. She kept her knees tight together and her ankles crossed. She wished she'd kept her phone with her so she'd have had something to distract herself with. Again there was a knock at the door. And again, the door opened before she even had time to react.
The two nurses returned, this time followed by two men. The first man was tall, blonde, young, and very handsome, wearing scrubs. The second was older, African American, wearing a lab coat.
The older man spoke first, his voice deep and confident, "Hello miss, I'm Dr. Thomas and this is Dr. Anderson. He's going to be observing as I conduct your exam today. Now, let's get a look at you.."
Dr. Thomas felt all around Nancy's face, head, and neck with this thick fingers, pausing to put pressure on various points, "does this hurt?"
"No", Nancy said, "not particularly"
"Hmm, I don't think it's a sinus problem. Keep your eye on my finger", as he moved his hand back and forth in front of her face.
"Hold your arms straight out in front of you, miss"
He pushed down on her arms, "try to keep them up while I do this"
He grabbed Nancy's hand by the wrist, and held her fingers up for inspection, tapping on the fingernails, and repeated with the other hand.
He sat down on a stool so that he was about at the same level as Nancy's knees.
"Uncross your legs please". Nancy reluctantly obeyed.
He tapped on each of Nancy's knees with a rubber mallet, and observed the twitch in the leg.
Without warning, he picked up Nancy's left foot by the ankle and held it up slightly, the lightly pink sole facing him. He took a ballpoint pen out of his shirt pocket and dragged the capped tip of it across her sensitive skin.
She jumped, startled, and let out an involuntary exclamation. "Woah!"
"Perfectly normal reaction", said the doctor. He then started to repeat with the other foot.
Warned this time, Nancy tried to hold still, but knowing it was coming made it even worse.
"Do you wear glasses or contacts?", the doctor asked.
Nancy shook her head, "No"
"Alright, please stand up here and face that wall there", he said, pointing over to Nancy's left where there was an eye chart on the wall. There was a small length of tape on the floor indicating where she was supposed to stand.
Very carefully, grasping behind her with both hands to hold the gown closed, Nancy got up off the table and positioned her red toenails against the line on the floor. All four of the medical people in the room now stood behind her. She felt their eyes through the back of her head, she though.
"Start reading at the top and keep going until you've read the smallest line you can clearly see"
Nancy read the entire chart.
"Now, place your hand over your right eye, and read it again"
Nancy very carefully made sure that her left hand was holding both sides of her gown closed, then let go with her right hand and brought it up over her eye. She still was able to make it all the way through the chart.
"Now, cover your left eye, and repeat again"
She nervously put her right hand back around behind her, and passed the oh so important task of clasping the gown over to it from her left hand. Then she brought the left hand up to that eye, and read the entire chart.
"Ok, now, hold this in front of you and read it", he said, extending to her a small card onto which tiny letters were printed.
Nancy was right handed, so her natural tendency was told hold the card with her right hand. This required her to switch hands on the gown again, slightly delaying the proceedings. She held the card at arm's length and was able to read most of the way down before the letters got too small to even see.
"Now, cover your right eye, and read the card again"
Nancy stood motionless for a minute, awkwardly aware that she had only two hands, one with which to cover her eye and the other to hold that card.
"Now, miss, we don't have all day for this"
Her tendency to obey overcame her modesty, and Nancy let go of the back of the gown and brought her left hand in front of her to hold the card while she covered her right eye. For what seemed like an eternity she read down the page until the letters got blurry. She could feel all their eyes on her back again. When she finished, she started to put her left hand back around behind her, but the doctor's next words startled her back into motionlessness.
"Stop! Dr. Anderson, do you see something wrong here", Dr. Thomas said, gesturing in the direction of Nancy's back.
"Yes", the younger doctor spoke for the first time, "the patient didn't fully disrobe for the exam"
"That's right", said Dr. Thomas, "these need to come off". He pulled the elastic band of Nancy's panties away from her skin and let it go, snapping back with a sharp crack. "The bra as well"
Nancy was mortified. "I'm sorry Doctor, nobody told me"
"I told you to get undressed", said the older nurse, "that means everything"
"But, why? You're not even doing anything... you know... down _there_", her voice trailed off into a near whisper.
"That's the rule, or the insurance won't cover it", said the nurse.
Nancy turned her bared back away from the people in the room and towards a corner, and obediently reached behind her and unhooked her bra. She then it and handed it to the nurse's assistant. Then she pulled her panties down over her hips, and shimmied to get them to fall to the floor.
She stepped out of the panties and waited a few seconds for someone to pick them up off the floor for her. No one did, or said anything, so she very gingerly knelt down and picked them up, and gave them to the assistant.
"Put those in the locker with her other things", said the nurse, and the younger woman left the room with the final two pieces of Nancy's clothing. Now she was without any of the belongings she had started the exam with. No clothes, no phone, no purse, and finally, no underwear. She started to get back up onto the table.
"Wait!", interjected Dr. Thomas, "we still need to finish the visual tests". Back on the line!
Nancy stood back in the same spot, this time clasping the gown even tighter with both hands.
"Hold this in your right hand, cover your left eye, and read it"
Nancy let out an involuntary sound that is impossible to transcribe, something between a gulp and a whimper. So soft that probably no one heard it.
"But, doctor, aren't we finished with that?"
"No, we have one more eye to go"
"But, I, uh, my...", she stalled, too nervous to name the very obvious reason why she didn't want to do what was being asked.
Nancy let out an audible sigh, and took the card into her right hand. Holding her breath as if underwater, she left go of the back of her gown with her left hand and placed it over her eye. She swore she could feel the cold air on her back as the gown naturally fell open, revealing her undefended bare bottom to silent observers.
At that exact moment, the door opened again, and the nurse's assistant returned to the room. For an interminable instant, the door was open to the hallway and Nancy imagined the whole world could see her in her awkward predicament. Finally she heard the door close.
She was still too nervous to read.
"Relax", said Dr. Thomas, gently patting her on the small of her back, just inches above her helplessly exposed butt.
Nancy read the letters on the card as fast as she could, but it still seemed to take longer than it did the first three times she had done this. Finally, she had read as far as she could and stopped.
"There, there, that wasn't so bad..", said the doctor reassuringly, and briefly patted her again, this time actually on her left butt cheek. He took the card back out of her hand.
Nancy grabbed the back of the gown with both hands and sat back down, crossing both ankles again.
"Hmm", mused the doctor, "so far we've eliminated sinus headaches, obvious neurological issues, and eye strain.. I think we're going to need an X-ray"
"You have an X-ray machine _here_", Nancy said, looking around the room.
"Oh no, not in the exam room. The X-ray lab is down the hall, it's actually technically a different business, but don't worry we send all our patients over there so they take all the same insurance that we do"
"Oh, ok...", Nancy was not enthusiastic about having to go "down the hall" in her current wardrobe. Not at all!
"Take this with you", said the nurse, handing Nancy a clipboard that held all those forms she had filled out as well as notes the doctor had made.
The doctors and nurses left the room, leaving the door open, and Nancy dressed only in the gown and armed only with the clipboard. On the hallway opposite the door was a sign with an arrow pointing to the left that said "Exit", and to the right, "Lab".
She briefly considered just leaving the clinic right then, she was probably already late for work. But how would she go anywhere, with no phone, no car keys, no clothes?
Holding the clipboard with one hand and tightly clasping the back of the gown with the other, she guided her bare feet out the door and into the hall.
.. to be continued..