Core body temperature is around thirty seven degrees Celsius. No-one really knows what my body temperature was when I was born, but I’m told it was far, far higher than that. My mothers sweat and pain in childbirth was taken as normal and it was only as the doctor clamped his well trained fingers around my cranium to forcibly yank me into the world that he felt that I was as hot as a fresh baked bun leaving an oven.
I didn’t cry and as the doctor held me up to deliver the blow to my backside his eyes widened and my grandmother testifies that there was a heat haze of steamy placental fluid rising from my skin. When the doctors hands made contact with my arse the cry that burst forth from my lips was tinged with relief.
They washed me but beneath the streaks of blood I was the same dark pinkish colour, bar a deep purple mark around my left ankle. I was too hot to swath in blankets and my grandmother still tells the story of how she watched as I lay bare naked in my sleeping mothers arms slowly fading to the colour of flesh, all bar the marked ankle.
The doctor came to take my temperature as I gurgled and made tiny movements.
‘She is well’ he mused, trying not to sound too alarmed. ‘Nurse please bring me another thermometer’
My grandmother smiled and watched his brows furrow and unfurrow, foot tapping as he took my temperature again.
‘Nurse please bring me a new thermometer, in the packet, from the stores.’ he emphasised after the second reading.
‘What is her temperature doctor?’ My grandmother asked, but the tone of her voice made the question appear more a test than an enquiry.
‘I don’t know ma’am, the equipment here is taking a funny turn.’
The nurse stepped in a ripped open the packet of the thermometer in front of the doctor as if she were afraid he might make her go fetch another. Probing beneath my tongue with the little glass tube he watched as the line rose and rose settling finally on 43 degrees Celsius. First he mouthed the words impossible, then turned to my grandmother who’s grinning face only added to his aggravation and through gritted teeth stated that my temperature appeared to be forty three degrees. That I am about 4 degrees above what is generally accepted to be possible. He turned on his heels to scrub up and return to his office. This was a small provincial hospital and he would need to contact the experts immediately.
‘Doctor’ said Grandma in almost a whisper, he stopped in the doorway and turned.
‘She is as hot as hell.’
‘She was taken by the dark lord for his own, but she has escaped. She will be fine, here you can see the mark around her leg where he has tried to drag her back, she will be fine Doctor.’
The Doctors eyed flicked to the ring around my ankle and without a word started towards his office again. ‘Damn superstitious villagers.’