Saturday, March 27, 2010

Caffeine Hangover

There was a time in my life when I tipped back a few too many adult beverages (on a regular basis). It wasn't exactly the high point of my life, but I did it. It was always fun to let loose and relax...until the next day. Tired, dehydrated, fuzzy-brained, nauseated - hungover. Today is so much worse - tired, dehydrated, fuzzy-brained yet jittery, headache, weak muscles.

No, I didn't have alcohol. It was much worse - caffeine.

Many, many years ago, while I still lived with my parents, they switched to a caffeine-free home for health reasons. I didn't mind. I had always rationed my caffeine in college - I never drank it until the second half of the semester so it would still keep me up for finals. Then I'd quit when I got home, have a headache for a couple of days, and get back to normal.

Since then, I really only drink caffeine in emergencies - on a Friday night at 10 pm after church when I've averaged 5 hours of sleep a night and still have a 35 minute drive home. I can handle some coffee then and it won't bother me. Generally, however, Matt has a rule about me and caffeine - whoever gives it to me has to keep me over night (that rule is the result of one fateful night when I kept him up until 4am because I was bored being awake alone).

Staying caffeine-free isn't usually a problem. We only have decaf coffee at our house, the majority of our tea is herbal, and I RARELY have a soda, so I've maintained my heart-friendly beverage routine. Every once in a while, however, I venture into public alone. I wander into a coffee shop. The aroma embraces me and invites me to the counter. I pick my flavor and order a latte. Yummy :) After the cup is drained and my belly is full, I relax...usually.

Twice in the last five years, my body betrayed me. Instead of relaxing, my legs got to twitching. My arms spasm. The skin across my chest and back tightens, begging to be ripped off so my heart and muscles can break free to run without restraint. And that's when I know...I forgot to order decaf.

This isn't a minor inconvenience for me - it's a 24 hour sentence.

Yesterday I accidentally drank 8 oz. of regular coffee at 1pm. By 3pm I wanted to do jumping jacks. By 4pm, I needed to jig. By 5pm, a half-marathon, two hours in a weight room, and 500 stomach crunches sounded good.

None of this would have been a problem, except I couldn't do ANY of it. I was at the oncologist with Matt (he's healthy!), then at dinner with friends, then getting ready for church. NOT the places to release the energy of a three year-old (unless, of course, you're three). I had to hold it together and stay in my seat, but the caffeine needed an outlet! It found the only muscle that could work while keeping my butt in the chair - my tongue.

Yep. As if I don't talk fast enough already. Pump a measly 8 oz. of coffee into my system and you might as well have a conversation with an auctioneer. I felt AWFUL for our friends at dinner! We hadn't seen them in so long, and my jaw wouldn't stop yapping.

Fast-forward through the night - I was up until almost 2:30 am, then had restless dreams about people running around like they were on speed. When I finally forced myself out of was 10am. My morning was wasted.

It's now 2:45 pm, and I'm starting to feel a little bit like myself again. My arms stopped shaking. My heart isn't on the verge of exploding. I can sit still for more than five minutes at a time.

Say what you want about the effects of alcohol, but I'll take a bottle of wine over a cup of coffee any day.

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