My Morning Dyspnea


This morning I went downstairs, very slowly, to close the blinds on one of our windows. One of our dogs was barking at the maintenance men who were outside our condo cutting the grass, and usually he’ll stop barking if he can’t see them. Same principle like if someone came in my room and changed my TV channel to “Toddlers and Tiaras;” I know for sure that I would get an immediate headache, which I’m also sure would go away as soon as I turned it back to a baseball game. Anyway, by the time I got back upstairs, I had a breathing attack (dyspnea). Next time…slower. More breaks. Or maybe more barks. So, after I got myself back in working order, I was reminded of something interesting.

You know how you sometimes hear the phrase “calm down and take a deep breath”? Good advice! First of all, it’s almost always beneficial for us to just try and calm our nerves and slow down our busy thoughts. Reduced to a very basic level, that’s what being mindful is all about. Meditation takes it in another direction, and can even be tailored to meet certain needs or obtain specific results. Still, lots of folks look at meditation like it’s only meant for people like me (read: weird). More on meditation when I’m not so damn busy.

The breathing part is more complicated. Our brain regulates our breathing based on different factors, and one of the primary methods is the amount of carbon dioxide in our bodies, not just oxygen. Actually, it’s a lot more complicated than just too little O2 or too much CO2! End result is Way too much chemistry for me; there are various combinations of blood alkalinity, acidosis, respiratory vs. metabolic, etc. That’s why if you have breathing problems, the next stop is to see my doctor! Well, you can see your doctor if you want. Suffice it to say that it was easier for me to get COPD than it is to explain it!

Looking back over what I blogged, it should be pretty clear that the medical profession has better direct evidence when dealing with COPD (and a host of other disease models) than it does with conditions involving the brain/mind. At the very least, there are more tests available to compare empirical evidence. If you want some interesting reading, google about the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). There is a new battleground of sorts between the Psychiatric and Nueroscience camps, according to what I’ve read in numerous sources. I read that under the new guidelines, lots more folks would meet criteria for having a mental disorder, including kids with disorders we called temper tantrums back in my day. Hopefully, all the new brain-scanning procedures coming out seemingly every week will soon make it possible to make more accurate diagnoses. Antidepressants are given out like candy it seems! And to young kids.

So, calm down and take a deep breath. Just don’t do it wrong!

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