How is this possible? This is the question that we would like answered. This is the question that Kraepelin wanted answered by scientists of the future.
Paula, at rest during wakefulness, seems to breathe 5 times in one minute at what I imagine is close to Vital Capacity. And she does this unconsciously with [involuntary] use of more voluntary muscles than is normal. Her broken? breathing is NOT visible to the eye. She feels no distress when healthy. No one seems to know anything about this pattern of breathing in health, through adult life [who knows what Paula’s breathing was like as an infant or child]. And everyone we talk to [doctors, scientists, etc.] say that her breathing is NOT compatible with life or health. Well, that is obviously wrong and this finding is obviously important scientifically!
This is the reason for this blog. To tell you that Paula exists, and that this kind of breathing is possible. We have no idea how it functions to maintain body temperature, locomotor activity, or metabolism. In health, her other vital signs are very normal. She seems to have difficulty raising her breathing rate unless she voluntarily chooses to move or walk or run or dance or climb….well, you get the idea. She seems to be unable to involuntarily raise her breathing rate, even in a state of high arousal, distress, and fear. How is that possible?
There are thousands of patients who have been described by Dr E. Kraepelin as having slow breathing and heightened dysphoric arousal during periods of depression with altered mental status, and diminished motor activity.
We have had over one hundred years to explore Dr Kraepelin’s findings and find better treatments for the depressive and manic [too fast breathing with excited motor activity] in these same previously slow breathers.
It seems that Kraepelin’s patients, like Paula, may not be able to involuntarily raise their breathing rates either and must maintain normal enough acid base balance by making more voluntary actions directed at survival. [voluntary activity, feeding, thirst, weight, etc..].
The inability to easily raise one’s breathing rate in response to a pH challenge changes the body’s frame of reference; keeping pH within narrow limits is handled by orchestrating vital signs and by orchestrating body temperature and behaviour in order to stay alive.
This harkens back to our blog on “sickness behaviour” in humans and other animals. Sickness behaviour such as signs of depression, anorexia, listlessness, fatigue, inactivity, malaise, fever, mild hypo or hyperthermia, sleepiness, loss of interest in social interactions and minor cognitive problems.. These behaviours may be a series of physical responses initiated by the autonomic nervous system in response to a potentially harmful internal physical conditions,] like a virus or bacterial infection, ] in order to handle potentially dangerous pH [chemical] imbalance.
Even mild pH disruption will result in some amount of mental confusion. Both pH disruption and mild mental confusion are easily missed by doctors.
And when these conditions in are looked for in mobile patients, panic and mistakes by doctor’s will often ensue instead of careful investigation of the vital signs to uncover the underlying problem, with the goal of restoring both pH balance and baseline mental status.