Sunday, September 19, 2010

Caffeine or Not Caffeine?

Caffeine, that wonderful drug!  It's what wakes you up in the morning, keeps you going throughout the day, and makes life just move at a faster pace!  Yes, it's wonderful! I sing its praises!

Uh, no... wait.  I don't "do" caffeine.  Why not?  Well, it keeps me awake at night so I can't sleep, and well, there was that time when I passed out in the boss's office...

OK, that was 20+ years ago, but it is still important.  To me, anyway.   I had gone in to complain about something (as was pretty usual then), and suddenly I saw these little black dots in front of my eyes and felt myself sit back down somewhat abruptly.  The next thing I knew, I was on the floor and the boss and assistant manager were freaking out and patting my cheeks to wake me up.  JUST a little scary!

Soooo - I went to the doctor, found out I was anemic so he asked me about my eating and drinking habits.  So I went through a typical work day:  I would start off making a big pot of coffee (the 10-cup version) while I took a shower, and then drinking a big Renaissance Faire mug (at least 24 ounces, maybe more) of coffee while getting dressed, eating some toast, putting on make-up and drying my hair.  Not necessarily in that order.

I'd finish off that pot re-filling the mug for my drive to the office.  I was the first one in the office those days, so I'd make a pot of coffee just for me.  By the end of an hour, I'd go back in, finish off that pot and make the three pots of coffee (two regular, one decaf) for the office.  I'd drink coffee non-stop until about 10, 10:30, when I'd switch to Diet Coke.  I'd drink those one after the other until 3:30 when I'd have one last Diet Coke for the drive home.  And then I'd get home and have a beer.

At this point, the doctor exclaimed,  "Of course you had a beer, you had to come down!"  :-)

The doctor was concerned about a few things (caffeine, smoking, drinking, bad eating habits), but he figured the easiest one to quit would be caffeine so he told me I had to quit it cold turkey.  I did, but I had a headcake for about two weeks!  Don't let anyone tell you that caffeine is not a drug!

About a year later we were all laid off, and I decided to go to Computer Learning Center to get a piece of paper that said I was a programmer.  Back in 1990, there weren't a lot of decaffeinated diet drinks (and Pepsi Free SUCKED!), so I generally just drank a lot of water.  But sometimes I really wanted a soda, so I had to make the decision between caffeine or sugar.  One time, I chose the caffeine.  A few minutes later, my desk mate in CLC (who I had only known for about two weeks) asked me if I had gotten a diet Coke during the break.  I said I had and asked him why?  "Because you're bouncing off the walls!"

Well, it had been a year, and apparently my body just didn't quite know what to do with caffeine anymore. ;-)

(That was also the time of my life when I lost about 25lbs on the "No Time, No Money" diet.  I was unemployed for 10 months and worked about a billion part-time jobs, and went to school.  I look back on that time and wonder, "Who WAS that girl?"  And btw, the "No Time, No Money" diet is NOT recommended!)

Fast forward about 15 years.  I'm in a new job, still caffeine-free, and one of my friends decides to go on a Starbucks run so I asked for my usual ("decaf venti vanilla latte, no foam, and please make sure it's decaf!").  I drank about half of it and suddenly realized that it wasn't decaf.  My first clue?  Sweats, pasty skin, shaking... signs of an overdose if I've ever seen them!  I went to the kitchen and drank gallons of water and then went into the Time Out room (one of our conference rooms that had nice couches and lights on a dimmer), and laid down for a while.  When I felt better, I made excuses to my boss and went home.  It was a serious scare to me, so I called my doctor.

My new doctor gave me a good idea.  She told me I was probably right that I had overdosed and she said I could try inoculating myself.  Basically, I could have a small dose of caffeine in the morning, which should help me avoid having another episode like that but it would still be early enough in the day so it wouldn't keep me up at night. 

So now I stop by the Corner Bakery (or Soho or Au Bon Pain) and get a decaf coffee with a shot of hazelnut or whatever flavored "regular" coffee they've got.  I might have another decaf coffee later on, because I love the flavor of coffee, but I don't do anymore caffeine.  On weekends, I sometimes switch and drink about a 1/2 a coke, and then drink 7-Up or Sprite if I drink another soda.  I think the best thing though is that I still tend to drink a lot water.  Because water is actually REALLY good for you!

So, this was really boring, wasn't it?   Well, we can't always be interesting and perky.

Yes, pun intended. :-)

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