Things I Miss: Caffeine

I had to give up caffeine after my epilepsy diagnosis. A few months after that, my neurologist asked how much caffeine I consumed.

Sheepishly, I admitted, “I have an entire pot of coffee before nine am.”

She gently asked, “I think you should cut back.”

So I did. I eased back my consumption from entire pot before my first morning meeting to before lunch. I also stopped drinking caffeinated tea in the evenings. Oh, and if restaurants offered coffee after a meal, I politely declined. When I happily reported my progress a month later, my neurologist blinked at me.

“No,” she said. “You need to cut back. As in, maybe a cup a day.”

Chastened, I sunk in my chair. “Oh. Ok.”

This time, I showed a bit more dedication. I switched to half-caff, of which I drank maybe two or three cups in the morning. I gradually decreased the amount of caffeine and increased the amount of decaf coffee until I was drinking nothing but decaf. When I returned to my neurologist, I announced I was happily caffeine-free.

It took two, miserable months.

I’ve never detoxed from hard drugs before, so I won’t compare the misery of caffeine dependency of say, heroin addiction. But Jesus H. Christ not having caffeine is a level of hell I didn’t know existed. Sure, there are days I went without coffee before. And it sucked in the Oh my gawwwd I gotta have my caaaawfeee don’t talk to me in the mornings! sense. After about four or five days without caffeine, there’s a plateau period, where you feel pretty good and like you have all the toxins out of your body. But almost immediately afterward, you take a nosedive. Your mood capsizes. You can’t stay awake. Your hands shake and your stomach screams at you for a real cup of coffee — all those cups of decaf that you’re pouring down your throat aren’t satisfying it. You’re confrontational, but also whiny — why can’t they just leave you alone but also why can’t they check in with you?

For two goddamn months.

It’s not over night, but one day you realize you’re fine. You get up — albeit slowly — and you speak — albeit carefully — but you can do it without the addition of caffeine. You’ve got to field all the assholes who make fun of you for decaf, but at least you’ve passed the test.

Lately, I’ve been looking at Nespresso machines with envy. Look at those flavors: washed arabica, caramel and roasted, cocoa kiss. All of that sounds delicious, but none of them have decaffinated options. That sounds like an accessibility issue to me — not everyone switches to decaf to own the caffs or get better sleep. I mean, I’m not going to rush out and buy Nespresso products due to their whole human rights issues, but why aren’t there more quick decaf products for us decaf drinkers? It sure would be nice to have a quick cup of coffee in a morning from a recyclable pod so I didn’t have to make an entire pot.

As luck would have it, I did find the Decaffinato pods, but they’re for their more expensive machines (and not the Vertuo). So I guess it’s a good thing I’m not a single-use coffee person anyway.

Author & Bi-Feminist-Killjoy. Occasionally has something interesting to say. The importance is debatable. Your mileage may vary. Books: "Icarus" and "A Bitter Spring"