Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I've Got a Fever...for a decent thermometer

Lilly's sick again! This is officially ridiculous. It's literally been two weeks healthy, two weeks sick since October. As in FOUR months ago. I am SO over this. The days stuck at home, the middle of the night wake ups. The endless parade of medicine syringes...those things are the soy sauce packets of the medical world. Suddenly there is a Tylenol syringe in every drawer of your kitchen.

Even more frustrating are the thermometers. OMG, we can send people to moon but I can't get an accurate idea of my child's body temperature. WTF America?

First we tried the regular, cheapo digital-read stick kind. They gave us one free at the hospital when we brought her home! Free! But, of course, with babies and toddlers we all know where you're supposed to put that thing. With very small babies, its uncomfortable but a relatively doable procedure. But with a toddler! Ha! Good luck to you my friend. It would probably be easier to administer a colonic to a bucking bronco. I'm afraid I'm going to do serious, irreparable bodily damage.

So then I bought the kind that you rub across the forehead. I thought -- This thing is SO SIMPLE!!!! This thing is so easy! This thing is so much cheaper than the ear kind! SOLD! At first I loved it...just rub it across her forehead...and keep rubbing it and it keeps beeping and dammit! But it still seemed faster and simpler than the stick kind...until I tried to take her temperature more than once in a row. I challenge you to get two readings in a row that are even slightly similar. In one reading, Lillian is burning up and that thing is flashing an ominous red 101.9! 101.9! 101.9!!!!!! Five seconds later, we're in the green with a happy 97.5! 97.5! Um...seriously????

I finally gave up and begged JiT to pick up the ear kind....which everyone says is the absolute gold standard in children's temperature reading. Everyone is doing it. He brought it home last night and it seemed heaven sent. Stick it in her hear for 1 second and get a reading. The same (or a similar) reading every time! Genius! Fabulous! Until 2 am when we stuck it in her ear and it gave us a reading of 105.1. And gave us a similar reading again and again and again. Once I managed to get my hands to stop shaking, I dialed the pediatrician's emergency line and our sleepy doctor calmly explained that once a fever gets to about 102 the ear thermometers tend to read inaccurately high and that we shouldn't panic (really??!).  She suggested that we go back to the stupid, cheap stick thermometer in the mouth or armpit. Glad to get THAT little tidbit at 2am after buying nearly $70 worth of thermometers.

So, after much begging and pleading with Lillian, I've managed to get her to keep the stupid stick in her mouth long enough to get what I'm hoping is a relatively accurate reading (102.2 this morning which seemed about right). I'm not a fan of food bribes but I will admit that I offered her both a cookie and a show (Elmo) to get her to do the thermometer. Why is it that kids will put nearly ANYTHING in their mouth but the very second you suggest that they put something in their mouth (thermometer, that damned medicine syringe), they act like you've lost your mind.

Anyway, for anyone in the market for thermometers, here is my bottom line thermometer recommendation:
- Cheapo stick thermometers: Yes! Buy them! Get several. Keep one for the mouth/armpit and a second for...ahem. You know. And good luck with that.

- Forehead thermometer: Skip it.

- Ear thermometer: If you find one on sale, its worth considering. Its definitely the easiest to use and great if your child is just coming down with something and you're trying to get a baseline. Just know that once they've reached a steady boil you'll probably need to switch back to the stick to get an accurate read or risk giving yourself cardiac arrest.

Along those same lines, a few other tips that we've found helpful when trying to manage a fever (please note that these are simply things that have worked for us and should IN NO WAY REPLACE SOUND MEDICAL ADVICE...I've only had about six hours of sleep so take everything I say with a very large grain of salt).

- Be sure you're dosing Tylenol and Advil accurately based on your child's WEIGHT (not age).
- Our pediatrician noted that in cases of a truly high, persistent fever, you can further manage the temperature by administering both Tylenol and Advil in succession. So you start by giving one, then waiting three hours, then giving the other, then repeat the process.  Of course ASK YOUR OWN DOCTOR before you do this, but something you might want to ask about.
- A lukewarm bath can be a miracle worker. If they're so hot they balk at the water, sometimes just sticking Lilly's feet in seems to help.
- Popsicles are amazing things. I keep some homemade juice pops in the freezer at all times (orange juice and cranberry juice are favorite here). They'll help bring down a temp and soothe a sore throat too.

That's all I can think of at present. I'm sure you're all getting sick of us being sick (wow ME TOO!). If you've got other ideas for managing illness and illness related boredom, I'm all ears. :)

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