13 January 2009

Body Temperature Obsession

In the early years of the 18th century, Daniel Fahrenheit invented the scale for measuring temperature (and ultimately the mercury thermometer). It wasn't until the mid-19th century that the connection between illness and body temperature was confirmed even though physicians for ages knew clinically that there was a connection (both high and low).

Throughout the 1970s I spent a considerable amount of time on the infamous green couch at "six-twenty-eight" with a mercury thermometer in my mouth. My mother had previously implemented the rule: you go to school unless you are puking or have a fever. I invariably had one or the other (which is probably the reason I hardly ever get sick as an adult). At some point, I became obsessed with taking my temperature.

I prefer the mercury thermometer because the "old-school" in me thinks it's the most accurate, even though there is proof to the contrary. Unfortunately, mercury thermometers are hard to come by (a.k.a illegal) in most states which the environmentalist in me can appreciate.

Furthermore, when considering the orifices available for taking body temperature, I prefer the mouth. Even though these days the ear is apparently the most accurate. Like most people in this country, I repudiate the rectal thermometer outright. When I was living in France I became sick with a respiratory ailment. Compelled by the aforementioned obsession, I went to le pharmacie to get a thermometer. They thought I was NUTS to want an oral thermometer as the most accurate temperature is taken through the rectum and they didn't even carry any other type! I ended up buying a BRAND NEW rectal thermometer and used it orally.

I mention this all because in the last hour and a half I have taken my temperature three times. I spent the day sneezing and blowing my nose at work (used more than 90 separate Kleenex, but who is counting) awaiting the moment when I could get home and take my temperature.

As a consequence of taking my temp all the time, I know that my normal temp upon arriving home from work is slightly below 97. So when my temp showed 98.9 on my digital (oral) thermometer, I knew I had an itty-bitty fever. Which at this point only shows that my ailment could be attributed to allergies.

I am looking forward to that moment when the cold medicine kicks in and I can lie down and sleep.

a la prochaine!

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