My grandfather was a pharmacist, and he brought home thermometers that my mother and aunt would then break to play with the mercury. It rolled and gathered and separated and shined. Even when I was a kid, my mother mused on the magic of liquid metal. We know today that mercury isn’t safe, and most of our thermometers are plastic and make beeping noises when we use them. But when I’m really sick, I still turn to the old fashioned ones. This one may have come from my grandfather’s Connecticut pharmacy. Today it confirmed that my fever was rising — 99.5 to 100.9 to 101.6, before I took some ibuprofen. The idea of play was far in the distance as I ached and slumped and shivered and sweat. Inert, I thought, as I looked at my slippers and thought my feet too far away to bother taking them off. I am inert. I kept the thermometer in easy reach all day.
March 9, 2015