If you want to skip my fascinating story about how all this came about and get right to the remedy, scroll down to the bottom of this post. I promise I won’t judge you. But only because I’ll never know.
I started drinking coffee when I was about 15 years old. Several nights a week friends and I would go to a local coffee shop and sip white mochas and talk about the deeper meaning of life.
Just kidding, we flirted shamelessly with boys and talked about makeup.
20 years later, I had given up flirting, but coffee and I were going steady. I was up to a nearly full, very large, pot of black coffee a day. I had abstained both times I was pregnant and nursing, but other than that, I had been drinking coffee in increasingly copious amounts for two decades.
I had tried half-heartedly before, mostly because I was afraid God would call me to a mission trip and I would be miserable without my black gold. (Just one of the nicknames I had for my special friend.) I didn’t want to have to be reliant on anything. I would always start by slowly reducing the amount in my cups, but a week in, the amount would start increasing all over again.
Then, my pastor told me they have caffeine pills that they took on mission trips if I was really that worried… gulp. I may not have let him finish that sentence before downing a cup. My addiction was back on track! And God approved! Well, my pastor approved. And that was close enough.
Unfortunately, about a year later, a nurse informed me that the hypoglycemic crashes that had plagued me for years were made worse by caffeine. Nooooo!
Sorry, I was just reliving that moment all over again.
Anyway, after reading extensively about hypoglycemia, I decided to finally give up coffee.
And I did.
And it sucked.
The first two days, I couldn’t believe my luck. No headaches! No withdrawals! I guess I had enough caffeine in my system to trick me. Because around 8pm on the second evening, the headache started. It would end up lasting 3 months. No joke.
The first few days, I could barely function. I was taking Advil several times a day and walking around with my eyes half closed. I remember going to a meeting at church (surrounded by giddy coffee drinkers) and a doctor came up and asked my husband if I was okay. I looked like I was terribly ill. And I was.
9 days in, I decided to take Excedrin with caffeine and wean myself off. I started with 2 pills and shaved a little off every day until I was left with none. It worked pretty well, but I still had headaches for 3 months.
Not unbearable headaches, but lingering caffeine headaches. Anyone whose had them knows exactly what I mean. They feel unlike any other headache and you instantly start craving coffee, or tea, or coke. Or whatever your poison.
Once the headaches subsided, I was left with an unexpected side effect of giving up on coffee. Emotional distress. I used to go to bed each night, excited about waking up and having coffee in the morning. Now, I went to bed sad. I was so stinkin’ emotionally connected to the ritual of pouring my hot drink and cradling my warm mug in my hands.
I bored my husband, and kids, and mom, and anyone who listened, with stories about how much I missed my coffee. We tried decaf, but it just wasn’t the same. Nothing tasted good enough. And nothing, absolutely nothing, gave me that old peppy feeling.
After a year of mourning the loss of my friend, my husband had the audacity to bring home Starbucks Christmas blend. My favorite! I sniffed the bag and held it close and wiped a tear away. Would life never get better than this? Was it really worth it?
Apparently I was thinking out loud, because my husband said, “Well, I’ll look for some decaf tomorrow, then.” And he may have rolled his eyes. I can’t blame him. It isn’t easy to live with an addict.
(I have another story about being addicted to massive amounts of diet coke, and I had a HUGE refillable cup that we just called “cup,” like it was our third child. Or my lover, depending on the moment. And my husband would pretend to be jealous of it. But that’s a story for another day.)
But guess what? The Starbucks Christmas Blend in Decaf. Came through for me. Heaven in a cup. My husband bought several pounds and froze them so I could have it for months. He even set this station up for me, with two tiny pots. One for regular, one for decaf.
He might have been really glad I could finally shut up about coffee. But mostly, he likes to make me happy. Win-win.
I was back with coffee again and it felt so good. Emotionally, anyway. I still didn’t have that pep. Darn it.
Now here’s where my story gets very, very sad.
Right around the time I started drinking my beloved Christmas Blend decaf, my endo pain came back with a vengeance. It took me a couple weeks to figure out it might be related to the coffee. So I stopped drinking it, and after one day… headache.
Seriously? Is there even enough caffeine in it to give me withdrawals? It’s decaf! However, every time I went a day without it, I’d get a headache. Maybe my body is just really weird. A couple times, I wouldn’t even remember I hadn’t had any that morning, and I’d get a headache around noon and realize I needed my cup of decaf.
Except it really wasn’t a cup anymore.
It was my entire little pot, the one shown above. And sometimes a second pot. Because, it was decaf! And so yummy.
It was then that I had to admit that I had a problem. I went back and forth, trying a variety of ways of quitting. Eventually, though, I rationalized that no matter what I did, my pain was still there.
So I started drinking regular coffee again.
I know. I’m an idiot. After going through three months of headaches, irritability, and hating life, I went right back to the drug I had given up!
The very first morning, my teenager came downstairs and said, “You’re drinking coffee again, aren’t you?” She could tell by my face. This was evidence that coffee and I were meant to be together. Forever.
During that terrible time apart, something had changed between coffee and me. It no longer tasted as good. It gave me a weird, heartburn-y feeling. The I need to eat now or I am going to bite someone shakes came back. I often forgot to have it. It became something I had to get down my throat every morning, not something I enjoyed.
And, worst of all, I had this deep, nagging feeling that coffee, regular or decaf, wasn’t good for my endo. I truly feel God was giving me wisdom about my body. So I decided, again, to give it up for good. No flirting with Decaf. No “I’ll only have half a cup a day.”
Buh bye, you’re out of my life. See ya.
However, this time around, it was much, much easier on me.
How I Weaned Myself off of Caffeine:
1. I unfollowed Coffee Boards on Pinterest. Every time I see a cute print or a reminder of a deliciously crafted cappuccino, I feel a longing in my soul. I still miss coffee. So I changed my environment as much as I could. Sound crazy? Maybe, but it helped.
2. Excedrin with caffeine. Where would I be without it? If you don’t believe me, read the reviews here. I am currently down to about ½ a pill every third day. And yes, every time I take it I remind myself of how stupid it was to do this to myself again! The good news is, I have no other lingering headaches like last time. I think it is due to the following changes I made.
3. Dandy Blend. My good friend gave me some of this on one of my attempts to quit coffee. I have been drinking it to help with withdrawals (something about the dandelion helps!) and to meet my I need a warm cup of something need. It is super yummy with a little half and half and cinnamon. I add a heaping tablespoon to one mug and pour boiling water in. So good. They say you can enjoy it cold as well, but I haven’t tried it yet.
4. Lemon Oil. A drop of lemon oil, in my water 2-3 times a day, helps detox. I’m sure this helping me get rid of the lingering caffeine faster, because I have not had as hard a time, physically, as I usually do.
5. Lavender Oil. I rub this on the back of my neck or put a drop in my hand and inhale it, as it is supposed to help with withdrawals. This time around has been much easier on me, not just physically, but emotionally. I believe the Lavender is helping my emotional withdrawals.
Though I sometimes still feel like I can’t possibly be a writer and not drink coffee. What an imposter! My writing friends will understand.
Here is my new coffee station. My husband bought me this electric kettle, because he is adorable. And I laughed at him. It’s so quick on the stove! But then my stovetop kettle started peeling inside and now I use this electric one every day. My water is ready in one minute! It’s great during cold season, too, for all those cups of tea we guzzle!
There you have my coffee saga, hopefully there is never a sequel. At this point, I am committed to going 6 months without coffee of any kind, to let it totally get out of my system. At that point, I’ll be able to tell if it affects my pain or not.
One thing I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to get through Christmas shopping without my ritual Peppermint Mocha, so if you have any ideas for me, I’m all ears.
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