avoidance

“Avoid coffee…” sounds innocuous enough, right?  I was to avoid cigarettes too, which I’ve done successfully at least for a few days in the past without feeling like a strung out junkie.  But apparently, caffeine has become one of my

illustration of woman with cup of coffee. text says "symptoms of caffeine withdrawal may include: headaches, drowsiness, impaired concentration, homicidal rage"

Avoiding coffee didn't go so well for me

neurotransmitters and without it, I’m a mess.

Let me back up a bit here.  I was supposed to do another “pee in this” test because a random urine came back with “elevated” levels of “adrenaline by products”.  To make sure I don’t have some endocrine-tumor thing that’s causing all the trouble, my doctor ordered a nice, well controlled test to look for evidence of it in my urine.  For this controlled test, patients are advised to “avoid caffeine and nicotine” for three days prior to testing (and during the 24 hour collection period).  I thought “ok, that’ll suck but I’ve managed not to smoke for less reason for longer periods of time.  I can do this.”  What I have not done any time in the last 20 years is NOT drink coffee.  Sure, in a pre-procedural NPO or caffeine restriction sense, I’ve not had coffee.  That day.  Or that morning to be precise.  But as soon as possible, I’ve found my way to a dunkin donuts and filled up on what it seems has become a very necessary chemical.

Last week, I tried a caffeine and nicotine reduction in preparation for a Sunday urine collection.  And then it got warm out.  And the migraine came.  And I got my period.  “Fuck this…I’ll try it next week.”   But in the meantime, that is, all this week, I’ve stayed on a reduced caffeine and cigarette regimen.  One small cup of coffee in the AM and a large hot chocolate with about 3 ounces of coffee in it.  This is a reduction from my usual daily two small cups at home in the AM and one medium coffee at dunkin donuts which I nurse until about 11:00 or so at work.  I didn’t think this was a lot of coffee.  In my 20s, that was about 1/8th of my overall coffee intake.  It was the 90s, the age of the coffee house.  I was young and in a swinging college town full of bohemian types and a colorful 24 hour diner within walking distance of my house.  I’d finish off a pot mostly by myself in the morning, go to class, have a double mocha, go to work, have more coffee, go hang out with my friend at the diner and drink god only knows how many of the bottomless cups there until 2 AM.

Oh yeah.  Good times.

As I got older, I discovered caffeine had a stronger effect on me – I’d feel wrung out and shitty if I drank it in the afternoon.  So I instituted a more or less rigid “no coffee after 2:00 PM” policy, and no more than one dunkies run (medium iced or hot) in a day if I’d had coffee at home in the AM.

So the extremity of my reaction took me somewhat by surprise.  With me just coming out of the summer of migraines, I’m more than a little uncomfortable with the notion of inducing those sensations in myself intentionally.  It brings back much too recent memories of grit teeth, white knuckle rides in to work and days and nights full of throbbing, howling, head pain that made any vibration, motion, light source, or sound into a series of unbearable tortures.  And then there was the nausea.  Oh the nausea.

I do want to be a good patient.  I do want to figure this out.  I do want to know if I have this tumor thingy before I have surgery in January.  But good god…I need to be able to get up and go to work and feeling like this is not conducive to things like oh being at all functional.  What to do.  I think I’m going to tell my doctor I’m struggling with my caffeine addiction and see where we go from there.  I have a feeling the response will be to just suck it up.

(update:  my husband just helped me put fangs on the coffee addict.  Much better.)

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2 Comments

  1. I have a blog post about kicking caffeine.

    Basically what I did was use Excedrin in the am to get through the initial withdrawals. It was less caffeine than I had been drinking and it helped numb the headaches.

    Also Jolt mints which contain caffeine in like a taper dose. 5 one day. 4 then 3 etc…

    Using those crutches I was past the worst of the withdrawal in a week.

    I actually feel better off caffeine, but when my adrenals tank I crave the pick-me-up.

    M

    Reply
  2. Great idea! I think excedrin might be rough on the stomach – I haven’t had asprin in ages! I bet it works great though. Maybe I’ll give it a shot. Also, I Love the idea of a jolt mint taper. Wonderful suggestions, thank you so much!

    Reply

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