Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Performing with a Low Battery

I'm sick.

Though it doesn't happen often, every so often something grabs me and the last few days I've been afflicted with flu-like symptoms—occasional fever, elevated mucous, lethargy, and coughing. Lots of coughing. The worst bouts are when I get up in the morning, just after eating, and when I'm trying to settle down in bed each night. Poor Ma'ikwe is condemned to having a seat in the orchestra pit for my diurnal expectoral performances. She doesn't miss a single note.

While I don't think she minds a certain amount of playing Florence Nightengale, for the most part I don't think this is what she had in mind in asking me over for the winter.

Because I have a strong constitution (read deep reserves) and don't suffer being sick very well (I have a bad attitude about it), I can still handle most tasks on my To Do List (how much energy does it take to tap a keyboard, anyway?) my qi is definitely diminished, which affects my stamina and eliminates from consideration the more strenuous items on my work menu (such as chopping wood and hauling water). It just means going slower, and making sure I have plenty of fluids and rest.

It occurred to me this morning (metaphors are like that for me—I can't turn them off) that my health has an analog with the bank of deep cell batteries connected to Ma'ikwe's solar panel array. On good days
(read sunny) the system generates more power than is drawn down and the surplus is stored in the batteries (unless they're already topped off, in which case the extra is spilled).

Kind of like Homeland Security (which, I suppose, is one way of looking at what the batteries represent) Ma'ikwe assigns colors to different ranges of battery power, expressed as a percentage of full capacity, with user guidelines associated with each color:
Green 88-100% all ahead full; do whatever
Yellow 76-87% limited use of power tools
Orange 64-75% unplug the refrigerator overnight; laptops used for work only
Red 52-63% use laptops for no more than 90 min/day; conservative light usage
Black under 52% shut 'er down; think cavemen

I figure we all use a system like this when thinking about personal health—though we may not agree on the color assignments (I know some people who are definitely into periwinkle), and it's clear that there's considerable variation in people's battery capacity, as well as in their recharging rates.

Haven't we all had orange days, where we're not officially wearing the label "sick," yet are clearly limping along? Here's the way I'd map the battery codes onto human robustness:

Green everything in play
Yellow minor debilitation; passes up only the most taxing opportunities
Orange significant slow down, yet still completing most tasks; extra rest advisable
Red normal work mostly suspended; lots of time in bed or on the couch
Black that's what hospitals are for

People could wear colored tags around their neck to give passersby a quick visual on how they'd respond the ubiquitous query, "How're ya doing?"

Then, instead of writing this blog, I could just post: "I'm feeling orange today, with decent prospects for a yellow Thursday." But that would take all the green out of the joy I derive from writing about color changes, which evokes dark red feelings.

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