Tuesday April 28, 2015

Breathe In, Breathe Out

 We all breathe from the moment we're born until the day we die. Yet we don't often think about the breaths we take.

We all breathe from the moment we're born until the day we die. Yet we don't often think about the breaths we take. (Photo Credit: Flickr/chintermeyer)

Listen to Full Episode 1:08:52

Breathing keeps us alive. It can calm us down when we're stressed or it can speed up when we're anxious. The average person takes 672,768,000 breaths in their lifetime. Yet we don't often think about the breaths we take. 

On this week's show:

At fifteen, James Chambers was on a school exchange in the south of France. He and his host brother got along famously. They started what seemed like an innocent competition -- to see who could hold their breath the longest at the bottom of a pool. Little did they know the life-changing consequences that competition would have. 

Dr. Norman Bethune High School

( Harry, Hannah, Belle and Matthew, students from Dr. Norman Bethune High school )

Dr. Norman Bethune C.I. is a high school in Scarborough, Ontario with a lot of students who are new to Canada. Not only do students have to adapt to a new culture and language, they're under all kinds of pressure in addition to the drama of high school. So the school decided to implement "mindfulness" practice in the classroom, where teachers lead the students through a breathing exercise designed to help them calm down and focus. Often they will do this just before a test. Students Matthew, Hannah, Harry and Belle share how they find relief from their stress by remembering to take a breath. 

Christine MacLeod

(Christine MacLeod is waiting for a double lung transplant.)

She was an athlete, a career woman, an extrovert and a dedicated mom, but as her lungs now deteriorate, each breath is a struggle. Waiting for a double lung transplant that will save her life, Christine Macleod meets Sook-Yin Lee at St. Michael's hospital in Toronto to share how her condition has transformed the way she lives and breathes. 

Julie Dyck

(Julie Dyck and her sons)

How many of your shopping trips turn into a medical emergency? Julie Dyck went to the mall to buy her two sons some Valentine's Day cards, but when she got there, she suddenly found she couldn't breathe. 

Teens do a lot of stupid things.They're young, they're bored, they feel invulnerable. All that came to a head for Mariko Tamaki one summer near Penetanguishene, Ontario. Out late, idly smoking Players with the 'gang', some teenage dares took Mariko from hyper-ventilating to a near glimpse of death.

William Winram can hold his breath for over eight minutes. It's a skill that comes in handy in his work as a freediver - a form of underwater diving that doesn't use an external breathing apparatus like scuba gear. Watch this video of William setting a world record in freediving by descending 145 meters in one breath! 

What does the breath of life conjur up for you? Host Sook-Yin Lee recounts her first "kiss" at the side of the pool learning mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Mike Thompson

(Courtesy Mike Thompson)

Mike Thompson admits to having plenty of wind.  He was a competitive swimmer, he played the trumpet and he sings. So when a friend bought him a didgeridoo, he took a big breath and started to make some sounds. Now he's one of the few orchestral didgeridoo players in Canada.

Jazz singer. It's a challenging career choice for someone living with Cystic Fibrosis... but for Alex Pangman it was the only choice. Now after her second double lung transplant, Alex shares her experience of going from being a singer who can barely breathe, to one who finally can.  

Ophelia Reid

(Ophelia Reid)

Growing up in Australia, Ophelia Reid was a competitve runner, but she always struggled with her breathing. It wasn't until a coach pointed out she needed to breathe through her nose, that her running improved. As a speech therapist, Ophelia has seen many children whose learning disabilities actually stem from breathing issues, and teaches them how to breathe through their nose.

Take a Breath Singers

("Take a Breath Singers" - North Hamilton Community Health Centre)

COPD (aka Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) makes people struggle for their breath and can severely limit daily activities. So the North Hamilton Community Health Centre came up with a novel way to help people coping with COPD learn to manage their breathing. They started a choir and named themselves the "Take a Breath Singers" 

This week's playlist:

Valery Gore: Lungs

The Police: Every Breath You Take

K.D. Lang: Air That I Breathe

Abdominal and the Obliques: Breathe Deep

The Hidden Cameras: Breathe On It

Metric: Breathing Underwater

The Zolas: Molotov Girls

Nick Ferrio: Come Hell or High Water

Alex Pangman: Breathe In 

Joel Plaskett: Credits Roll

stories from this episode