The Clinic

(Working on the Blindman Book – this is a very rough draft)

I arrived at the clinic a little after 5:00 pm. The instructions said to be there to check in between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. I thought I would probably be the first person to show up, but a man was sitting on a couch in the room playing cards. I didn’t know if he was a doctor, an employee, or what? I nervously asked if I was the first person to arrive and the nurse who checked me in said no and pointed to the card playing gentleman. He beat you here by just a few minutes.

I had packed a suitcase and had to let them go through it. Contraband was any kind of medication. They also went through my purse. I had brought nothing with me but clothes and a little make-up. I had shampoo and soap and other personal items for a three week stay. I’d been told I would not be allowed to leave during the whole drug trial. I would not be allowed to eat anything except what they served. Free food and $100 a day sounded sweet to me. I needed the pay. I would do nothing to jeopardize my participation.

A man who was obviously an employee, because he told me where to put my suitcase, said he was going to search my things. When I protested that I’d prefer a female go through the clothes and items I’d brought, he said he was a nurse and it was part of his job. So I stood back and let him rummage through my things. When he was satisfied, he told me to go pick out a bed. He said I could have any beds in the female “wing” because I was the first female there. I walked into the sleeping area and was dismayed that all the beds were bunk beds. I went back out and asked if they had to all be left as bunk beds? He looked surprised and told me yes. He said to pick a top bunk or a bottom bunk, but put my suitcase on one of the beds so I could claim it.

I went back in the room to look at the beds. I didn’t want a top bunk. I was afraid I’d fall getting off of it. I didn’t want a bottom bunk because sometimes I had trouble breathing. I was standing there trying to decide what to do when the male nurse came in. “Did you choose a bed?” he asked.

“No,” I told him. “I don’t want a bunk bed. He smiled and said that was all they had and to go ahead and choose one.

I asked if he could take one apart? I explained that I definitely could not sleep on a top bunk and the idea of being under someone and looking up at the bottom of their bed with it so close and my breathing issues. I just didn’t know what to do.

He stood there with his hands on his hips staring at me. Then he turned and left the room. I heard him call someone’s name. When he came back in, he had a tool with him. He told me he wasn’t going to do this for everyone, but he would take one of the bunk beds apart for me. He said actually there were 13 women in the study and they didn’t need 14 beds. He got someone to help him move the top bed after he took the beds apart. I put my suitcase on the single bed and thanked him.

Then I went out to the reception area,. Some other people had showed up and I watched him search their things. As he showed them to the sleeping area, he told them they could have any bed, except that one – and pointed to mine. That one was Connie’s, he said. It had my suitcase on it. Some of them asked if they could have beds taken apart. They didn’t like bunk beds. He frowned and said no. No, they only had the one single bed and since I got there first, I got it. He turned his back on their grumbling and walked out. They selected beds and we introduced ourselves to each other.

We had a short meeting with the staff at 6:00 pm. Then they served us dinner and we settled in to watch TV until one by one people went back to the sleeping area. I stayed up late because I was scared. Eventually I went to bed. There was a nurse’s station by the sitting area and it was comforting to see the nurses in there doing paperwork and chatting. But I was still scared.


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