Two and a half years ago something happened that I recorded in my qigong journal but did not write about here—probably because I didn’t fully understand it and didn’t want to deal with it.
On a day late in May 2014, I did my qigong practice, with heavy emphasis on an exercise designed to send energy up the chong meridians in the body’s core, then did an hour of taiji practice, then drove to an appointment with my eye doctor. I was talking on the phone to a friend as I got out of the car to go up to the doctor’s office. I will quote now from what I wrote in my journal that evening:
“When I got out of the car, I felt myself enormously pulled to earth, sunk down through the sacrum area. I felt a bit drunken as I walked through the waiting area to check in. Then I stood instead of sitting while waiting for my appointment and felt enormous energy moving up from my earth center (at the bottom of the torso). It was more focused and columnar than when I do the small universe, and I thought it was probably actually my chong meridian or meridians.
“Sitting and waiting in the eye chair, I was still doing it, although less so, but I put my hand on the back of my neck and almost thought I could feel it. I say I was doing it, but I can only “do” that sort of thing when it appears and can be done.
“Sitting here now I am feeling hot and a bit spacey, with a bit of pressure either in my third-eye area or my sinuses. Do I have a heart condition? But the sensation earlier today was so strong up from the earth center to what I guess is the third ventricle (in the brain). I do think it was my chong meridian, which would be really the first time I’ve felt it, at least so clearly that I was pretty sure it was chong and not du. Hmmm….. That was one of the things I told Dr. Sun I couldn’t do—tell the chong from the du—and then he gave me the exercises I am now doing.
“I’m going to get up now and see if I fall over…. I stood up and didn’t fall over, but walking seems challenging, and I feel pressure at the top of my head. Maybe I’ll go sit on the cushion…. Well, instead of sitting on the cushion, I did some chong meridian exercise. I feel a bit better, but still too much energy in my head. But I think it will pass.”
As I recall, after writing the above, I did some other work on the computer, and then I got up to get ready for bed—and could barely walk because my head felt like it was making wide circles.
I felt much better in the morning, although within the next several weeks I saw my doctor and ultimately a physical therapist for the residual vertigo, which I felt whenever I turned my head as I walked. The physical therapist gave me two exercises to do, and eventually the tendency to vertigo passed.
I believe that I asked Dr. Sun about this, and that he was not alarmed.
At about the same time—and I have no notes about this—I developed a ringing in my left ear which only occurred when I lay down to go to bed. That persisted for quite awhile but now is also gone.
When I started having internal swoopiness and “spells” a little over a year ago, it did not occur to me that they might have anything to do with this earlier experience. But a few months ago I decided to try the exercises the physical therapist had given me two years previous. (I did also go to my doctor to make sure I didn’t actually have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, but I did not—which was a shame because BPPS can be treated—and the “maybe this will help” exercises he gave me were basically the same as the ones from the physical therapist.)
I haven’t had any “spells” for many months. However, when I do taiji, with its slow turning movements, my brain goes spacey, I feel a lot of up and down inside, and I become unsteady on my feet and can’t do the kicks.
Sometimes I think I am getting better—and I can tell you that I have done everything I can think of to deal with this problem, ranging from the exercises the physical therapist gave me, through acupuncture and qigong exercises for developing one’s root, to dropping out of taiji classes that, for whatever reason, feel at all stressful, because stress makes everything worse.
But I still have difficult moments. Most recently I just felt very spacey and uncertain about my balance in a class where I generally feel very comfortable, even though we hadn’t begun doing the form or many turns. All I could think was that I was very tired, from having gone to bed too late and waking up too early because of a headache. I guess there are many things that can turn one’s brain to moosh.
I don’t know what the incident of two and a half years ago says about the spells or my present balance issues—except that maybe my qigong practice was the cause of them all.
But now enter another wrinkle. I also haven’t written about having had cataract surgery around the time of my first “spell.” The first surgery, on my left eye, was on July 21, 2015, and had to be repeated a week later because the lens hadn’t seated properly. Two and a half weeks after that I had the first of my spells (written about in previous posts in detail too exhausting for me to want to write about it again). I had surgery on my right eye a week and a half after the first spell, and a week after that surgery I had the second spell.
During the surgeries I had toric lenses implanted in both eyes to correct for major astigmatism and to focus my dominant right eye for distance and my left eye for close-up sight. I went from extreme near-sightedness combined with old-age presbyopia, for which I wore glasses, to monovision: My left eye sees well close-up, my right eye sees well at distance, and my poor, aging brain is left to put it all together.
I thought this would be OK, and my ophthalmologist thought it would be OK, because I had had monovision with contact lens some 25 years previous and it worked just fine. (Not all people can do monovision with contact lenses; their brains refuse to cooperate.) However, I now realize that monovision with contact lenses when you’re in your late 40s is different from monovision with implanted lenses when you’re 74.
While I see fairly well at distance with my right eye, there’s always a vague smudge to the left side of my visual field. Reading is more problematic as my left eye is non-dominant. I have taken to wearing a pair of drug-store readers with the left lens punched out when I read the paper or watch Jimmy Fallon YouTube videos on my phone. However, I haven’t found a way to deal with a disconcerting phenomenon that occurs at mid-range, when I am making eye contact with someone who is moving towards or away from me; three’s an odd disconnect that occurs as one eye turns over the seeing job to the other eye.
I asked my ophthalmologist if I could have another surgery to make the left eye also a distance eye, with the thought that I would then wear glasses for reading, but she said that digging the implant out at this point would be dangerous.
So yesterday I was measured for glasses that will hopefully make both eyes the same and capable of both near and distant vision. The optometrist who examined me said I had indeed been asking my brain to do quite a lot of work making two very different eyes work together.
So maybe some of my woes are the result of my aging brain having to work overtime handling visual input and expressing its distress in ways that I experienced as energy incidents because of my qigong practice. The timing of the surgeries and the spells is certainly suspicious. But then there was that odd incident two and a half years ago….
If I’m not crazy already, this kind of thinking could make me so….