I dug out an old (20+ years?) in-the-ear thermometer the other day. It was dead but I happened to have a fresh battery and once I put that in it appeared to be functioning. I was able to find the original instructions online so I have been following them to a “t.” (Includes pulling one’s ear up and back so you can seat it deeper in the canal).
My first test result was about 95. My second was a little less. And so on. Must be broken, right? But when my spouse uses it her result is consistently in the 98-99 range. What gives? Should I trust it? Can a “healthy” person run that “cold?” If so, say my number increases to 98.6. Does that mean I have a fever?!?
Since you get a traditional reading on your wife, the thermometer is working.
You’ve established a baseline for yourself (possibly ear wax affected), so yes, 98.6 would mean you are quite sick (and I imagine you would know that without taking your temperature). If you called a doctor about it, I would report a 101 fever, since you are +/- three degrees over your ‘normal’.