Rectal. Yes, we have a thermometer in our linen closet that is clearly labeled with an "R". As soon as we used the thermometer, Jeff ran to get a Sharpie. "What do you need that for," I wondered to myself. Then I saw Jeff draw a big fat "R" on it. "Oh...I see." Jeff wanted to ensure that we never made the mistake of using a rectal thermometer as an oral thermometer. Pretty smart I thought. There are some people who have not been as fortunate. Ashley, my friend Lauren's sister, told me this lovely story earlier today.
One day Lauren was watching her younger brother Adam, and it appeared that he was not feeling well. Lauren decided to take his temperature, but he did not have a fever. She then called her mom and said, "I don't know what's wrong with him. He doesn't have a fever." To which Lauren's mom replied, "Ugh...which thermometer did you use?" "Oh you know, that one on Ashely's changing table." Lauren is quite brilliant and doesn't make many errors, for she is well on her way to obtaining her Ph.D at Notre Dame. But this one afternoon, she made a brutal mistake. Needless to say, it left a bad taste in Adam's mouth. Hopefully he has recuperated by now, and hopefully none of you make the same mistake. They do look different. The rectal thermometer is short and stubby, and well, you know what an oral thermometer looks like. So if you are ever sick, and you're at my house, please watch out for the thermometer with an "R" on it. "R" is for rectal. I just thought you should know.