Me and Thermometers

I’ve been sick this past week. Terrible cold, flu kind of thing. I haven’t been sick in years, and this has really set me back. Lots of friends and family called, and everyone—I mean everyone—keeps asking me what my temperature is. I have no idea what my temperature is. I do not own a thermometer, and to be honest, I’m not sure I owned one when Sarah was little, either. If I did, I rarely used it.

There is no point to a thermometer. It indicates nothing other than what you already know: you are hotter than normal and feel worse than usual. But when I point this out to people, they defend their stance. A few examples of my conversations this week:

“No, Rachel, I do not know what my temperature is. I can tell you that the first few days, it was high, and I was sweating.” (Rachel is not her real name, but I swear that at the end of our conversation, she specifically said, “If you blog about this, do not use my name.” A little harsh, I thought.)

“How could you not know your temperature? You need to find out what it is. I keep a thermometer right next to my bed.”

“Why? Let’s say it’s 100 degrees. Then what?”

“Then you know you are sick.”

“I already know I’m sick.”

“Yeah, but you don’t know how sick.”

“Okay Rachel, you have a thermometer by the bed. You are sixty-something years old. Has your temperature ever—I mean even once in all these years—caused you to do anything different? If you are hot, take aspirin. And so it goes.”

“Well, no I guess it hasn’t. But when I wake up in the morning and feel like I might be sick, I take my temperature, and if it’s normal, I assume I’m not sick.”

“That’s sick,” I commented. That’s when she said the thing about using her real name in my blog.

I appear to be the only one who feels this way about thermometers. Everyone has one but me. I suppose it is just one of many aspects of the way I run my life that says I do not take care of the details.

To be honest, I am not even sure I know what normal temperature is. I am pretty sure it’s either 98.7° or 97.8°. But seriously, does it matter?

My friend Lisa was the best mother that I ever knew in terms of details. Her ability to research everything always made me feel like my fabulous daughter Sarah should be have been turned over to her as soon as she was born. The following is a true story.

Sarah was sick. She was hot. She wasn’t burning my hand when I touched her or anything, but I was pumping her full of Tylenol, and the poor little thing was not feeling great. Lisa called.

“What’s her temperature?”

“She’s got a little fever,” I replied.

“W-H-A-T is her temperature, I asked you!”

I lied. I made it up. “It’s just around 100°.”

Lisa is one of the friends who called this week and asked about my temperature. I was too sick to get into the debate with her, but I’m sure we will at some point.

I don’t remember growing up with thermometers, and my sisters and I do not appear to have been brain damaged by runaway temperatures. We did okay. Sarah ended up okay. We just didn’t make a big deal about things when it came to health. And let’s face it, the thermometers we had back then were unreadable anyway. You had to measure the lines against each other, and then there was the thing about putting something with so much mercury in your mouth. Seriously? Why risk it?

Anyway, story over. I’m feeling better. Thanks for asking. I’m not getting a thermometer, and I’m hoping that others will take my lead. It’s nice to start new trends.

One reply on “Me and Thermometers”

From my fabulous Cousin Allison, who I might add is a Physician’s Assistant. Just sayin’

I agree with you. I read your freesia lane and laughed out loud b/c I didn’t own a thermometer until I acquired one at the hospital when Wesley was born. I only use it when Darrin questions if my wrist is accurate. (PS. it is 99% of the time) Although we use temps in medicine to delineate certain illnesses, I don’t think it has a whole lot of merit in the home especially for an adult. If you feel like shit and are burning up, you are. Take some advil or tylenol. If it persists more than a few days, see your health care provider. Stay hydrated. That’s it. By the way, there is a study that shows that mothers touch can determine the presence or absence of fever 89% of the time. We, in medicine, consider a fever to be above 100.0 and frankly most people won’t feel feverish until this temp or above. When you’re sweating and burning up, you are probably above 101-102. But really who cares about the number, you feel like shit. The End

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