I visited a physician this week as a patient. The details of the meeting are in the TMI category, but the long a short of it was he gave me advice that the altmed folks wouldn’t believe. Surrounded by the most advanced diagnostic technology, armed with a nearly infinite pharmacopoeia, he made a single recommendation: stop caffeine.
Stop caffeine. Ugh. He said, “Stopping caffeine often solves the problem you’re having. You know, it’s a drug. You don’t need it. It’s like speed. Stop it, and I’ll see you in a month.”
Caffeine is my friend. In college I always wrote my papers in one, long sitting, drinking tea the whole time. I started drinking coffee just after college. My life doesn’t always include enough sleep, and my good friend caffeine lets me pretend I living a normal, healthy life.
Except when it doesn’t.
Recent literature suggests that much like other addictive drugs, once one is tolerant of caffeine, the boost one feels is really just the mitigation of the withdrawal syndrome. Caffeine, taken occasionally, increases alertness. Taken chronically, it simply helps prevent withdrawal.
And withdrawal sucks. I had some decaf today—my plan is to have a bit of caffeine for the next few days and then just enjoy decaf coffee, which is not completely devoid of caffeine, but the amount is pretty minimal. I love my coffee rituals—buying beans, grinding them, stirring them to evenly extract them. And I hate the lethargy and headache.
But I do enjoy even decaf, and I know the withdrawal syndrome will be over in a couple of days. Despite the fact that coffee does not appear to have serious risk in most people, it is definitely causing me some trouble, and I look forward to mitigating that.
And while I wait for the positive effects of quitting caffeine, I’m enjoying some of the benefits of being a dad on Fathers’ Day. This morning, in addition to my decaf, we had fresh bagels (because any other kind are useless), hand-sliced Nova lox, and the usual additions such as Muenster cheese, sliced onion, and of course hand-packed cream cheese. And I stayed up late last night making lockshen kugel and despite not having a recipe, it didn’t come out too bad. I’m stuffed. Another advantage to decaf: my dad usually drinks it, and there are few things I enjoy more than coffee with my dad.
And I’m with my kiddo. We’re being decadent. We’re hanging out in the guest room watching Disney while she snacks on edamame and I eat some leftover kugel. She has a room full of toys, and yet has entertained herself for the last hour-and-a-half playing with a pile of balloons and a couple pieces of styrofoam packing.
PalKid finished kindergarten last week, and we had to cut off four inches of her hair (which doesn’t really look any shorter). Tomorrow she starts day camp, which means our morning routine together is over for now. But I have time planned for us this summer, if all works out. I’m taking her up to Canada for my usual gig as a camp doctor, and we’ve talked my folks into going up north with us for a week. By the end, she’ll be good and tired of her daddy. And she’ll be a first-grader. Everyone says kids grow up fast, but you never believe it changing a diaper in the middle of the night.
But one of the advantages of decaf is that tonight, after I tuck her in, I can pour myself a cup of coffee, look at pictures of my family, and think about what is past, or passing, or to come.