Three weeks ago, my “spells” and I met with my qigong teacher, Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun. Five days later, me, my spells and two EEGs had a 45-minute appointment with a second-opinion neurologist.
Dr. Sun said my brain was fine, even healthy. (Wahoo!) He thinks my spells are either a benign aspect of my qigong journey or the consequence of my gall bladder meridians being overloaded, perhaps with anger from someone else, which could cause energy to rise up and get stuck. He suggested a couple of exercises for bringing excess energy down from my head. He also noted that all of the spells I’ve described in the past several posts occurred when I was relaxed, so they were not likely to occur when I was driving. (It appears that perpetually running late and driving stressed has an up side….)
The neurologist said my two EEGs were “unusual”—specifically, they showed some “sharp transients and questionable waveforms”–but that neither they nor my descriptions of my spells were consistent with epilepsy. He doesn’t think I have a seizure disorder or, for that matter, Parkinson’s Disease, which a different neurologist suggested I might have 10 years ago because of a jaw tremor. He said I should, of course, come back if my spells get worse, but that for now I shouldn’t worry so much. (Hah! “Tell this patient not to worry so much” must be written either in my chart or on my forehead, because every doctor does it.)
I should be relieved. Dr. Sun said my brain is “fine,” and this second neurologist, who’s had advanced training in reading EEGs, said I don’t have epilepsy or Parkinson’s. He didn’t even suggest medication, like the first neurologist did.
But the fact remains that I’ve had a number of spontaneous departures from my normal state of consciousness plus two “unusual” EEGs.
Clearly, I “have” something.
I just don’t know what it is, or what it portends. And I’m quite certain that had I had an EEG 20 years ago, before I did qigong and before my brain turned 74, I would not have had an “unusual” EEG. Am I headed towards some sort of enlightenment, or has my brain started down a one-way tube towards the worst fate I can imagine, brain rot? (What? You say there might be some other alternative in between?)
I have not handled this situation particularly well. There was a period of some days where all I wanted was my mommy. I wanted to be held in her arms, cradled in her generous lap. That wish was very clear but also generic, since my actual mother is dead and we never did have a snuggly relationship. I almost cried when a song about being “in the arms of an angel” played during my Silver Sneakers fitness class. (I’ve since looked up the rest of the lyrics and learned that “the arms of an angel” refers to heroin. Sigh…. I guess a lot of us really want our mommies….)
I am somewhat beyond the want-my-mommy stage now. It is what it is, and it will be what it will be. I am continuing to do qigong, including the exercises Dr. Sun suggested I do, but I have no idea where I’m headed, and I am continuing to not teach.
The thing is, when you are 74, you know that one day you will go to a doctor, and you will get a piece of Really Bad News From Which There Will Be No Escape. I have never believed that doing qigong would make me exempt from this fate, although I know some people who do, and it would be really nice if they were right.
In the community in which I live, there are quite a few people who are older than I am, even considerably older, and I’m sure quite a few of them have gotten Really Bad News. So I do know there’s really no point in making it the focus of your life, as some of them have, and some of them haven’t. You just have to live each day for the most it can be and find the most meaning and the most joy you can find.
I wish I were better at this. I will be doing pretty well, and then I’m not doing well at all. This morning I went to a taiji practice. I kept feeling internally floaty, as if I were on a boat, and I couldn’t stick any of the kicks.
I’m pretty sure this is related to my spells; a period of a lot of this internal floatiness preceded the first one. And I do not like it, not one little bit. (Did the Cat in the Hat say this, or was it Sam I Am in “Green Eggs and Ham”?).
I hope that I will get better at living in the moment and, except when I’m feeling really down, mostly late at night or early in the morning, I believe that I will, and that qigong will help me do it.
I believe in that and the walk to Weowna Park that I’m about to take.
And the pot of red tulips on my balcony that I can see trembling in the breeze when I look up from my computer screen….