Since I opted for the Medtronic Activa™RC rechargeable IPG to control my Parkinson's disease symptoms, I have to charge it regularly. I've become just like a cell phone and no, I don't have a plug in my chest. Instead it works using the same type of technology that the wireless cell phone chargers use (something to do with magnets and coils.)
The charging system consists of three pieces:
The power cord
The transformer, which is one of those black boxes that always seem to be attached to anything with a battery, like laptops, karaoke machines, etc.
And the charger with antenna attached
The power cord connects to the transformer, which connects to the charger, which then charges the charger. Got it?
Why do I have that children's song about Bones playing in my head? "The toe bone's connected to the heel bone, the heel bone's connected to the leg bone..." Sorry, it's my warped sense of humor.
When the charger is fully charged, it will stop charging, so it's okay to leave it plugged into the wall outlet when not using it.
Before I left the hospital, Joey, the Medtronic rep, showed me how to place the charger's antenna over the IPG implanted in my chest and which buttons to use. The top green button starts the charging process. The middle black button with an X, stops the charging process. The bottom button with the speaker symbol on it, turns the sound on or off. The two buttons on the side don't get used with DBS.
That's it! Green for GO, X for STOP. Simple!
Joey also gave me some adhesive disks that go on the antenna to help hold it in place on my shirt. If you use the stickies, the antenna should NOT be placed directly on your skin. I'm still using the first sticky!
Placing the antenna properly takes a bit of practice in order to get the maximum number of 'bars'. Eight bars will charge faster than six, four or two. The screen refreshes every 60-seconds.
The antenna also has a dial which you can turn to get more bars.
The charger will beep at you if the antenna moves and drops to zero bars. The charger will also beep when your IPG is fully charged.
Since my settings are very low (1.4/2.0) I could probably only recharge once a month. However, the more discharged the IPG is, the longer it will take to recharge it. I charge mine every Sunday. I figure it's an easy day for me to remember since I've already filled my weekly pill box on that day.
How long does it take? I'm not sure. I charge while I'm watching TV and haven't thought to pay much attention to the clock. If it beeps, I check to see if the antenna has moved, and usually the beep is the 'fully charged' beep.