This winter I was very proud of myself for discovering that I could duplicate Starbucks Chai Tea Latte at a deep discount, simply by buying the Tazo premixed liquid, and frothing up my own soy milk and adding 3 baby scoops of turbinado. Was I hot or what? I even found a recipe online for pumpkin bread, and baked 2 loaves, and wowed myself that it was about 1/25th of Starbuck’s single piece price. Okay, so it wasn’t as sweet, but I had successfully replicated my favorite little “luxury” combo – chai latte and pumpkin bread – and I could have it practically every day!!! Last month I reached the zenith of Chai tea latte perfection, having ordered online, fair trade loose green chai tea.
Enter, a new massage therapist, who casually questioned how much coffee I drink, with no thought of what chaos he was about to cause. “Why? Is there a connection between caffeine and water hydration?” I asked. He said something about circulation, muscle tissue, and other forgotten vague concepts that you can find easily by googling caffeine effects. There is written evidence of whatever you might believe about caffeine as there is widespread disagreement.
I decided to ditch the caffeine. My legs, which seemed to swell more this winter than in past years, plus all the other side effects of caffeine I’d noted for years – racing heart, interrupted sleep cycles, tender breast tissue, possibly increased mood swings and who knows what else – easily persuaded me. It was time to come clean. I’d done it before. No big deal.
You may wonder what segue is coming to tie this in to single parenting: Carving out time for individual growth. Being sick when you’re the only adult. Role modeling addiction identification and management for your kids. Being at peace with being imperfect. Any of these would suffice. For now, it’s the story I want to document. Then, maybe the next time I go to Starbucks, I’ll think long and hard before I act.
Tuesday morning I initiated what I thought would be a relatively short and simple process. No cup of tea. Tuesday at 4 p.m. I started feeling a migraine style headache. Pressurized pain in the head, primarily in the neck and even down into my scapula – fractured years before, made me crawl into bed and wish I had died in that bike accident. The nausea was even worse, inciting unanswered prayers for emesis.
I dropped off teen daughter at drama and when I returned to fetch her, I waited at the wheel of the van, with the sun setting, holding my forehead in my palms. She approached the van questioningly. I explained that I was experiencing caffeine withdrawal. “Oh, I thought you were really mad about something.” I smiled, “No.”
I went to bed early and woke up at 2:55 a.m. with intensified complaints. I wrote a crazy email to a friend complete with unanswerable questions, hallucinations, a litany of fears, and apologies. Somehow, I crashed again at 4 a.m. and sweet sleep returned.
I awoke with the alarm at 6:15 a.m.and managed to drive the kids to school, something I’d fretted about in the night. Teen daughter, ever the mother hen, told me as she exited the car, “You need to go back home and sleep some more.” I let her know I approved wholeheartedly and did exactly that, for a few hours, and then a few more hours.
Seventy two hours after eliminating caffeine, I was back to “normal,” and I lived to tell about it. With only 50 – 100 mg of caffeine consumed per day, I didn’t qualify for addict status, though I have a history of hypersensitivity to almost everything that enters my body.
My kids got increased practice cleaning up the kitchen and dishes – they still need more. I got reminded of the power of things unseen, things that I do or consume on a regular basis, that have daily and long term consequences.
I have the power to initiate, to follow through, to experience my world differently. What a lesson to pass on to my children. I know this is not in the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills… The TEKS identify what students should know and be able to do at every grade and in every subject area). This is my job.