When my mobile phone was new, a 100% battery charge would fairly reliably last two, sometimes three days. After a few years of regular use, I’m lucky if a full battery charge keeps my phone functioning reliably until lunchtime. Regularly running on red, I receive frequent messages offering the option of switching to ‘Low Power Mode’ to temporarily reduce background activity until I next get the opportunity to charge my phone. By background activity, it means non essential activities that can usually wait until there is adequate power for them to function without adversely affecting the more essential functions.
My phone advises that ‘phone batteries, like all rechargeable batteries, are consumable components that become less effective as they age’. Helpfully, it tells me the maximum capacity of my phone battery, relative to when it was new and that its peak performance capability may be reduced as the battery chemically ages. Cleverly, my phone has some built in software and hardware systems to help counter performance impacts which may otherwise be noticeable. They work until the battery power drops too much and then they too fail to prevent noticeable deteriorations in performance.
I could be reading a paper in the Journal of Parkinson’s, rather than my mobile phone instructions. I remember the days when after a good night’s sleep, I could work and party hard all weekend and continue to perform well in both. Even into my forties, I could turn out an impressive amount of work, parenting and partying before tiredness got the better of me. Not any more. Over the past six years, my maximum capacity has dropped significantly. I estimate it now runs at about 55% relative to my pre Parkinson’s days.
When my dopamine levels drop even a little bit lower than their now pitiful best, without warning, my body automatically switches to ‘Low Power Mode’. I don’t get the same courteous message offering me a choice. I simply notice that background activity is no longer happening.
Without the luxury of the cleverly built in systems that my phone relies upon to prevent noticeable deteriorations in performance, as my brain reduces its already diminished capacity to communicate with my body, it deems certain processes ‘non essential’ irrespective of what I am doing at the time. I could be cycling when I can suddenly no longer remember my left from my right or whether I need to turn my gears up or down to go uphill. At this time my ability to follow directions or read a map also disappears. I might be mid conversation with friends when my thoughts and words escape me and I’m suddenly unable to continue a coherent conversation. I might have taken the dog to the park and the effort required for the five minute walk home suddenly seems akin to that of running a marathon.
This ‘Low Power Mode’ is accompanied by an overwhelming loss of energy and the need to sleep. The need washes over me until I can grab even five minutes ‘shut eye’ to top up my battery charge by even a few small percent, just enough to function at a near acceptable level for a brief period of time until a longer recharge is possible. Unfortunately, even when a full recharge facility exists in the shape of my bed and an eight hour window of opportunity in which to sleep, I can’t always find my charging cable or it fails to work as it should. One of the reasons instead of sleeping deeply and fully recharging my battery overnight, I find myself writing this at 4.00am! If only like my phone it was as easy as replacing the worn out battery with a shiny new one!
Images Source: Clipart Library