Ever since Jacob was born, I have had a tendency towards second-hand hypochondria. The minute I suspect Jacob feels the least bit out of the ordinary, my imagination begins to run wild. There was the time when he stopped using his left hand for a few minutes and I (along with my mother) decided he had a broken shoulder. Then there was the time he had a peculiar crawl, and I was convinced he had popped his hip out of place.
Considering my propensity towards medical melodrama, I didn’t surprised anyone, including myself, when after our little mister’s temperature registered at a 100+ temperature off and on for the past week and I decided that he had a case of the West Nile Virus that’s currently making headlines around the south.
Despite Jacob’s multiple mosquito bites, Tom wasn’t sold on my hypothesis. So, we agreed to just keep an eye on him. Finally, after a few days, the thermometer registered at a hot 103.5. I scheduled an appointment with his pediatrician for the next day, despite my distaste for doctors.
(As anyone who knows me knows, in my mind, “doctor’s office” is synonymous with “hell,” and I’m not the only one. As legend has it, in the original Italian manuscripts of Dante’s “Inferno,” the fourth region of hell’s ninth circle was actually a doctor’s office. If you’re a skeptic and can’t read Italian to verify this for yourself, mosey down to your local doctor’s office. I can promise that, like Hell, you’ll be trapped inside for a what seems like an eternity.)
Anyway, once we arrived at the ninth circle, we were ushered into the “sick child’s” waiting room. From the hallway, I could feel the germs waiting to attack, so I lingered conspicuously outside the doorway for awhile, telling Tom, “But, he’s not sick like the rest of these children.” Note to other mom’s in this situation, don’t announce your feelings loudly enough for the other parents to hear, unless you enjoy being glared at. And, especially, don’t defend yourself by saying that all other children are carrier monkeys of strange and exotic diseases, especially those in the “sick child” waiting room.
Eventually, we were moved into the second waiting room, aka the exam room. Ten minutes passed, then fifteen, then another thirty. At this time, we did what any normal American family would do: We had a family dance party. I’m pretty sure that the doctors were crowded around the peep hole watching us make fools of ourselves, which is why they waited for an hour to come in. They didn’t want to bust up the party.
Once the nurse arrived, she inquired after the reason for our visit. We told her all about the fever that Jacob had all week. In response, she pulled out her handy dandy thermometer and, within seconds, had a reading: 98.6. Yes, 98.6. A perfect reading.
I hadn’t felt that ridiculous since five minutes earlier during the family dance party. We laughed sheepishly, telling the nurse must have had a “malfunctioning thermometer,” then slinked down the hallway, passed the carrier monkeys, and out to the car.
Once home, we decided to test our theory. I checked first; the thermometer read 102.5. Minutes later, Tom came upstairs and checked it again. This time 99.5. Then moments later, 101.7.
A malfunctioning thermometer had indeed been the cause of our concern all week, rather than a sick baby. I was supremely relieved to know that all was well with our little manchild, and to mark the occasion, I have decided to turn over a new leaf. I will no longer make medical mountains out of molehills or refer to other children as “carrier monkeys.” Oh, and I think I’ll buy a new thermometer, too.