Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The World is Run By Stupid People

Why can't I get a decent thermometer?  Why, when my five year old wakes up just after midnight, making a whine like an air raid siren, and stands in my kitchen, shivering, naked, and hot to the touch, can I not find a thermometer? 

Wait.  Let me correct that.  I can find about five thermometers.  About $527 worth of thermometers.  All worthless thermometers.

The top-of-the-line, laser, ear thermometer (which cost me more than my first car) reads 86 degrees.  Apparently my son, whose skin is on fire, actually passed away about twenty minutes ago and is rapidly cooling off.  No, that can't be it.  He is wiggling and shrieking in my kitchen.  I try again.  This time, 107.  What!  I try it on myself.  104.  Oh, for the love of Farenheit!  Piece of garbage.

I have several others.  All digital.  All with dead batteries.  No problem.  I am the mother of toddlers with obnoxious toys, all requiring batteries.  I have batteries.  Double A, Triple A, C, D, nine volt.  You name it.  But first I must find my isty bitsy teeny weeny screw driver, the kind you use to repair glasses.  (Which I have always found ironic, because if your glasses are broken how are you ever going to find the screwdriver, let alone use it, but I digress.)  Find screw driver, un-drive screws, find dead battery.  Flat, round, watch battery.  Are you freaking kidding me?

Meanwhile, I gave Jonah a cup of water.  It couldn't hurt.  It would probably help.  And he couldn't let out the house-wakening whine while drinking.  Unfortunately, he was shaking so badly that he slopped some of the cold water on his hot chest.  (I swear I heard sizzling and saw steam rise.)  He dropped the cup with a loud clatter and a splash, jumped backward, pointed a long bony five-year-old index finger at me and yelled, "That's your fault."

I had one thermometer left.  It is our go to thermometer.  Batteries worked.  It is known to give an accurate reading.  It was designed to be (and has been) used rectally.  Jonah was already hysterical.  And shaking uncontrollably.  There was no way.

So, I had to assume that my son's fever was only high.  Not dangerously high.  Plenty of room temperature fluids, rest, watch closely, pray he makes it until morning, etc.  I know the drill.

But why, oh why, oh why can I not get a decent thermometer?

Remember when you could get a mercury thermometer for 59 cents and you could use it anytime, year after year?  I know, mercury is bad.  You don't want it in your ground water or your oceans or your children.  But do you know how much mercury is in a thermometer?  No, of course you don't, because you have never broken one.  And if you have, it was only once, in your whole life.  And you were careful cleaning it up.

I had the same mercury thermometer my WHOLE life, until someone, somehow convinced me it was evil (when I was about thirty) so I chucked it.  Right into the trash can, on it's way to the land fill.

Don't get me wrong, I am not "up with mercury."  I just think it is exceedingly stupid that we refuse to use it responsibly for thermometers, and have replaced mercury thermometers with battery operated ones which don't actually work, so they get chucked and more hunks of battery operated plastic ones are manufactured to replace them.

Meanwhile, a bloated former Vice-President is heralded as some kind of patron saint of the planet, and wins a Nobel Prize, for telling people that the way to save the world from certain doom is to switch to compact florescent light bulbs.  You know about compact florescent light bulbs don't you?  They are glass tubes full of mercury.  That sounds sort of like a mercury thermometer, except more often replaced and more likely broken.  Oh, and you can't take your temperature with it even it you are willing to stick it up your bum.


  1. Aw the poor little soul. Is he right at the moment.
    There is a trick you can do with the back of your wrist, much the same as testing a bottle for the baby.
    If you put your wrist to your lips you will notice a difference in temp' but if you put it to your forehead you won't. It's remarkably accurate and you will notice a degree or two difference when you put it to the forehead of an ill child. For in reality what info are you going to receive from the thermometer anyway. If the kids forehead is very much warmer that your wrist then it's a job for the emergency room.

  2. I am laughing with you. I do the same thing! I always take the childs temp at least three times and then average it to the aprox. temp. RIDICULOUS. We actually have a mercury glass thermometer with the protective case. I love it. I will never get rid of it. shhh don't tell anyone.

  3. I fall back on the old "touch the forehead" with the palm of my hand, then move on to the stomach and back.

    I've gotten good at it over the years - can detect the number within a couple tenths...that is, if the thermometer is available to double check.

    The high fevers are gone, now that my youngest is 10.

    Hope your young ones will avoid anything beyond the mild stuff.

  4. Yes, no one wants to be replacing batteries with a tiny screwdriver in the middle of the night. When my kids were little I would put the thermometer under their armpit and close the arm to the body - then add one degree. They could handle that much more than a rectal or oral reading. I've never had a fancy thermometer, just the little ones you get at the pharmacy. I've had two for 17 years and only one ran out of battery last year. If I still had my mercury one I would send it to you!

  5. I found this post via Betsy's blogroll. Outstanding! Sounds like one of the "David'Z RantZ" pieces I do on my own blog.

    I'll be back, as your governor once said.

  6. First of all, hope your little one is feeling better. I too know the frustrations of those digital false friends and I have four of them! But...I also keep the trustworthy mercury thermometer around still for emergencies.

    I loved the AG rant. I loathe that guy.

    Great post.

  7. I hate those 'green' bulbs and refuse to put them in my house..especially when so many people say mercury could have contributed to some kids becoming autistic. No thank you. Not to mention I can't afford them and they make your skin look yellow. haha.

    I never bother with thermometers! It's usually obvious when a kid has a fever...childrends motrin and back to bed. Fever is down in 20 minutes.

    Hope he's feeling better now!

  8. You could have stuck it in your ear twice, and, if both readings were 104, use that as calibration for 98.6.

    That way, 107 would mean he was only at 99 or 100.