Jessica uses Zhineng Qigong as ”medicine” against narcolepsy

Sick listed and diagnosed with narcolepsy

In December 2009, I was vaccinated at work against H1N1-influenza. The staff got Pandemrix and there was a tight schedule for the vaccinations. During that period, I suffered from work-related stress and I also had a hard time in my private life. About one month after the vaccination, I felt very tired as if I was drunk and I started to lose control. I worked with disabled persons, a job that requires balanced and calm staff members. Previously it had worked out fine, but after the vaccination I got more and more confused. I could suddenly burst into laughter, became overwhelmingly sleepy at daytime and wondered what was going on. My legs got weak and also my consciousness. I had to sleep very much during my free time. The children of my sister wondered why I yawned all the time. My family did not get to see me as much as I had wished; I just slept most of the time.

At first I thought that all of this was a reaction to the general chaos in my life. Before the vaccination I had been able to cope with that by focusing on physical exercise and healthy food, but now nothing helped. When I went to bed, I could fall asleep with my clothes still on. One day I became completely apathetic when I was in the garage and could barely take me into the apartment. I lost speech and got severe cognitive problems. My brain did not manage to do such a simple thing as taking a glass out of a cupboard. Eventually I got sick listed and was diagnosed with narcolepsy.

Qigong as complement to medicine

During the spring of 2011 I participated for the first time in a Hold Qi Up course for beginners. Since then, I have practised at home every day and joined the group training whenever I had the possibility. Qigong will be like a complement to the drug that I will get prescribed soon.

Among the symptoms that I experienced from narcolepsy were episodes of sleep paralysis and hallucinations, both when falling asleep and waking up. I also got nightmares when I slept. Even when I was awake I could feel paralysed and was not able to walk. I talked in a forced way and suffered from cataplexy (extreme muscle weakness). After that had happened I fell asleep right away. My social life started to disappear as I was at home and stayed in my ”sleeping bubble” most of the time. If I was to go out, e.g. see a theatre play, I got very happy. But as emotional reactions trigger new attacks, I often had to stay at home anyhow. My friends and family understand me by now, which is why I can say no when I feel that is the best option. I want to thank them even though it has been a struggle.

Less episodes of muscle weakness and sleepiness as well as faster recovery

A clear and lasting effect of practising Qigong is that I recover faster from severe episodes of cataplexy, within a day instead of a within a week. The number of cataplexies has decreased. Previously I could have up to 14 episodes and now at most two. Furthermore, the number of times I fall asleep at daytime has also decreased, from three to one. Another clear effect is that my nightmares are disappearing. Both my general condition and my life quality are improving, but it requires daily qigong-training, otherwise the symptoms get worse again.

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I think that practising qigong every day and attending qigong-courses eventually will push away the narcolepsy, even though the illness is said to be life long. I would like to start job training again in order to be able to return to a job that is suitable for a person with this condition. Before I was vaccinated, I exercised a lot, amongst other things mountainbike, spinning and dance. My dream is to regain my capacity to do endurance training without suffering from episodes of cataplexy. I want to continue living and make my dreams come true. I am very grateful for having Zhineng Qigong in my life. I want to send a warm thank you very much to all who have supported me those five years.

Jessica Olsson