Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Insidious caffeine

It amazes me how many products contain caffeine. We all know about the cola thing, but apparently people underestimate the calories and caffeine content of their favourite colas... Coffee and tea have really wild variants when it comes to caffeine amounts - there is no such thing as an "average" caffeine content, when some decaf lattes contain more caffeine than your standard home-brewed carafe of coffee. Tea varies wildly - it surprised me that some herbal teas contain caffeine, and old favourites like Chai tea can have quite a lot of the dreaded caff... Finally, over-the-counter medications can contain horrible amounts of caffeine. Acetaminophen #1 is an example of a partially-regulated pain reliever that contains just a little caff which enhances the painkilling properties of that medicine. One tablet isn't a problem, but 3 tablets taken 2 or 3 doses in a day, on top of coffee can be quite nerve-wracking. It all adds up in the course of a day. It is my understanding the caffeine accumulates, and peaks in the bloodstream 6 hours after it is consumed.

A coffee after dinner, can mean floor pacing at midnight.

Mercifully this is a household that doesn't consume colas, but we do have coffee and tea, and I occasionally need acetaminophen #1. Keeping the decaf coffee down to one cup in the morning, and maybe a cup of darjeeling tea in the afternoon still seems to be too much. I've noticed with people who have gone off caffeine, their tolerance level is "zero" - even the slightest amount of caff sends them into a sleepless psychotic rant. For the little bit of caff I consume, I have an inordinate number of sleepless nights. It's come to the point of a showdown, I guess - to sleep, or not to sleep, that is the lifestyle question. If I have an especially pain-heavy night, I'm not going to sleep whether I've consumed caffeine or not.

It becomes a larger picture issue of lifestyle, addiction, pain management and treasured social interaction. To Tim's or not to Tim's, that is the REAL question... T'would be nobler to go to Tims and drink V8 juice, and increase the fruits and veggies in my day, to be sure. Alas poor Starbucks, I kmew him well... (Sorry William Shakespeare.)

I went without caffeine for most of yesterday, until I made a cup of tea... then awake at 3:00 AM, letting dogs out, cats in/out and lamenting my computer network woes, I was very cranky. I realized that I had taken some of the Acet#1's - just 3 - spread through the day. That must have been it... Today I am a lumpy bit of grumpiness, managing the pain of fibromyalgia (which is cyclical) with heat and massage. It will be plain Tylenol only for me...

I don't drink anymore, don't smoke and now have to do without coffee - what will be next? Sex?

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