Thursday, April 17, 2014

"6 Shots of Espresso is NOT a lot of coffee!" or "How I Gave Up Caffeine - Part 2"

Around 2008, life changed again as work took on a life of its own. I was so busy. So busy that I wasn't getting sleep and I needed to stay awake. I had been doing rather well with my 2pm cut-off for caffeine, but that can only last so long before an artificial lack of sleep causes one to look for methods to fill the gap. It was at this point that I learned that I could add shots of espresso to my coffee. I also learned that I could order shots of espresso alone as a drink. So I did what any good consumer, workaholic would do and started to add shots to my coffee in the morning. I also started drinking cortaditos throughout the day. A cortadito is an espresso shot in Miami for those that have not visited this little country at the tip of Florida.

Like most drugs, my body would start to tolerate the current level of caffeine and I would up the dosage. This continued for a little more than a year. At my height, I would drink 12oz of coffee with 3 shots of espresso in the morning. Another of the same in the afternoon. And then 1-3 random shots of espresso through the day. People in Miami have little diners everywhere selling cortaditos and so they are VERY easy to come by. One morning I looked in the mirror and saw a sullen face. I was so tired. I had hit a plateau and I could no longer substitute caffeine for sleep. I was taking in so much caffeine, and it had never occurred to me that there would be a point where it would no longer work. The decision to remove a big chunk of caffeine from my diet came at this point; the decision was helped along by my stomach and frayed nerves.

I gave up all caffeine cold-turkey. Bad, big mistake that no one should EVER make. The next day I was hit with an exhaustion I have never known in addition to a splitting migraine. It didn't matter how much will power I had, I was not going to make it through this going cold-turkey. I decided to be a tad more realistic and decided to wean myself from caffeine in a slow manner. I decided on a plan of action:
1. No more lone shots of espresso.
2. Reduce my afternoon shots to zero
3. Remove all caffeine after 2pm (again).
4. Reduce my morning shots to zero
5. After allowing my body to equalize, remove the morning coffee and any remaining caffeine.

I just went slowly removing the caffeine, bit by bit. Always making certain that the transition was minimal. I knew that it wasn't going to be easy to break the habit, but I had no idea that it would take me three years to get to step 5. Let me repeat that: Three years to get to the point where I was only drinking a small cup of coffee in the morning and nothing else. The amount of pull caffeine has on the body is amazing. And then to feel the yearning for caffeine for three months after removing it entirely from my diet; it makes me wonder how such an addictive substance can be legal.

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