98.6 F

I’ve never been more aware of my temperature than during this past year.

It seems that everywhere I go, somebody asks to scan my forehead to confirm that I’m fever-free. I understand; it’s a necessary step in these pandemic times. Like giving up handshakes, it’s just part of how things work now. But it means that 98.6 F is never far from my mind.

On top of that, I’ve taken my own temperature many times since the start of 2020, more than I ever recall doing in all the years before. Every time I felt a little achy, I’d whip out the thermometer. Most of the time, I’d breathe a sigh of relief at the “normal” results. At one point, however, the numbers were elevated, and they stayed that way for a while, signaling that my days of avoiding COVID-19 were over.

Then, after my vaccine, the fever returned for a short time. It was both discouraging and satisfying to see the numbers rising; a strange mix of relief that the medicine was doing its job and frustration at feeling rotten while the antibody army marshaled its forces.

I’ve learned something interesting through these measurements. 98.6 F is not my “normal.” My normal is lower than that; quite a bit lower, actually. Reading up on it, I’ve discovered that many people are like me. The 98.6 F mark represents some, but not all, of the fever-free folks among us.

This is not information I would have paid much attention to pre-pandemic. Even now, it’s not that big of a deal, but it is nice to know. Like masks and social distancing and vaccines, it’s become a familiar tool, influencing my decisions and minimizing the worry that can come from being unaware.

Here’s to the ability to adapt to new circumstances, to accept new information, learn from it, and apply it to the situation at hand.

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