Cold water, Dr Popsicle, and people who are proud of their ability to suffer


I listened to a great episode of DNTO (Definitely Not the Opera) Saturday while driving to Stratford to meet a friend and fellow founding editor of a new journal Feminist Philosophy Quarterly.

The show’s theme was Learning to Embrace the Cold. There were lots of great interviews and you should go listen to the whole thing. But the bit that stuck with me was the interview with “Dr Popsicle.”

Winnipeg’s Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht (a.k.a. Dr. Popsicle) isn’t afraid of a little cold. Actually, he’s not afraid of a lot of cold. His experiments push the boundaries of the human body and Dr. Giesbrecht has become an internationally looked-to expert on hypothermia. His most common guinea pig? Himself.

A few things stood out from the interview.

First, his lifesaving memory aid about what happens when you fall into extremely cold water. He dubs it the “1-10-1” rule. You have 1 minute to get your breathing under control, after that you have 10 minutes of meaningful movement, and then1 hour of life.

Second, it reminded me of all the fuss about rowing in spring and fall. There’s a reason to wear a safety whistle and to keep the coach boat nearby.

Third, I enjoyed listening to him chat about who volunteers for his cold water studies. No one likes it. It’s incredibly painful. But some kinds of people enjoy the challenge. They are proud of their ability to endure tough things. While he denied that they’re masochists, he said they think differently than lots of us about suffering. He gets lots of cyclists.

You can also watch Dr Popsicle on the Rick Mercer Report:


One thought on “Cold water, Dr Popsicle, and people who are proud of their ability to suffer

  1. My ability to suffer is improving. I suffered with popsicle toes for about half of my 23K run this morning, and wet feet pretty much from the first 0.5K to the end. And yet I still had a great time!

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