Are you thermometer impaired?

The other day I was reading a post on a blog called French Word-a-Day. Kristin Espinasse, who writes it, was talking about an incident where her child was sick. Her French friend was present and there was a certain uncertainty about the “correct” way to take her child’s temperature. Kristin was using one of the new mercury-free stick thermometers, after a digital ear thermometer had already failed her.

I am totally bewildered by thermometers! Even after trying umpteen varieties and brands over the soon to be 12 years I’ve been parenting.

First I tried a digital thermometer “stick” that could be used rectally, orally or under the arm. Now, to me, using a thermometer rectally sounds like a torture device. I’ve only been able to get myself to do that when my child was much younger and feeling very hot. I took a rectal temperature one time. My son was feeling so lousy. I have to say that it wasn’t making him feel any better taking his temperature that way. He got hysterical crying, so I decided that was a bad idea. Wouldn’t that make his temperature rise more? So I got rid of that one.

Next I tried the digital ones that go in the ear. That doesn’t seem too unpleasant.

They seem to work in the beginning. Though you’re supposed to insert them at some weird angle pointing to the front of the opposite ear. The mind takes some time wrapping around those instructions. Once I figured out how to use it, it actually seemed to work for a while. Eventually though, it starting reading temperatures that were always off the charts.

The next one I tried to use under the arm. It kept beeping at me at odd times, which made me think it wasn’t working. What’s more, you’re supposed to add a certain number of degrees to the result, and I could never remember what that number was.

Of course in the middle of all this, whenever I’d take my kids to the doctor, the nurse would ask for a temperature. Sorry, I don’t have one, my thermometer broke! Sorry, I don’t have one, it kept beeping at me weirdly. Sorry, the dog ate my thermometer!

Of course, the nurse always looks at me like I’m nuts!

Finally, I decided to buy an expensive ear thermometer again. It worked beautifully for about a month. What a blissful month that was! Until it broke.

Next I decided I should try the old fashioned way – mercury. Just like Mom used to do! But it turns out that they no longer sell mercury. It’s a hazard to the environment.

So I decided to try the non-mercury variety stick thermometer. It worked once and after that it consistently read 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Even after I ran it under cold water for 5 minutes!

I’m starting to give up on taking temperatures again. As Kristin said, as a mother you can pretty much tell when your kid is sick by feeling his or her forehead with the back of your hand.

Of course, my kid’s doctor doesn’t agree with this and he wants the hard scientific facts. What’s your kid’s temperature?

I sort of slink down, and come up with another lame excuse as to why I don’t have an actual number – my kid’s been warmish for a couple of days…

So if there’s anyone out there who has good thermometer advice, please feel free to comment below. Then maybe I (and who knows how many countless other parents) won’t have to suffer the nurse and doctor’s disapproving glances anymore!

This article was posted on Tuesday, July 25th, 2006 at 10:26 pm and is filed under Language Sites, Mama Lisa, Parenting, Recommendations, Sites about Childhood, Thermometers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

5 Responses to “Are you thermometer impaired?”

  1. Ray Says:

    Sorry this is a question rather than advice. How come you use the back of your hand to feel the forehead? I’ve always used my palm, instead of the back of my hand.

    Personally, I like the ear thermometer.

  2. Lisa Says:

    I think you feel a sick person’s forehead with the back of the hand, because the palm of your hand emanates heat, while the back of your hand is a more neutral temperature.

    You can test it yourself. If you touch your arm with the palm of your hand it’s hotter than if you touch it with the back of your hand.

    But of course you’ve got to remember that I’m temperature taking impaired!


  3. Cindy Says:

    The First years makes a wonderful thermometer that adds the .99 degrees for you. It also has a shorter stick and is round at the base so you don’t have to worry about sticking it to far through the childs pit. I work at a childcare center and we have found that this one works the best on all ages. I liked it so well that I bought 2 of them for myself at home. We have had the whole ear thermometer ordeal as well and have found that they are not worth it. A childs ear canal is smaller than an adult, so how can it really work well for both? I have been told that some of the top hospitals don’t use them because they are inaccurate. I even had nurse at my local hospital tell me that they have been encouraged not to use them because they aren’t as reliable as oral or underarm.

  4. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll try to find it.


  5. Lisa Says:

    I was talking with my daughter’s school nurse today. She has a forehead thermometer. She sort of gently swiped it across my daughter’s forehead and got a temperature. It looked extremely easy to use.

    I believe she said it was made by Thermoscan. She got it from a medical catalog. She said she asked a doctor about it, who highly recommended it.

    I looked on the internet and couldn’t find any forehead thermometers by Thermoscan. 2 others were available. It was hard to find reviews. So I think these are new thermometers. If anyone has any experience with them. Please let us know how you like them and if there’s any brand you’d recommend.

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