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One Small Change

Life Without Caffeine: Day 1

It’s Sunday. A day that I usually wake up early, get the New York Times from the mailbox, and sit in the sunroom reading and sipping. I’m a double cappuccino guy. This wondrous machine I have turns itself on automatically at 6 a.m., froths the milk professionally, grinds and brews the beans, then shoots a double shot of espresso into it all. Depending on my mood, I might add a dollop of vanilla, hazelnut or caramel syrup. And yes, I’m in my slippers.

But this morning I have to turn the machine off when it turns itself on, and it makes this unusual grumbling noise as if it’s miffed at me because I’m interfering with its job. My Jack Russell terriers, who normally nuzzle nearby, are equally annoyed as I shuffle quickly through a paper I normally spend hours with. Thinking I’ll get a little work done instead, I head for my home office, but I can’t seem to focus. In fact, I can’t even make my normal morning constitution. (Among other things, caffeine relaxes the sphincter muscles.)

Hoping to work out my angst with some exercise, I go for a run – my usual 5-mile loop at an easy pace, only this morning it doesn’t feel so easy. My left knee hurts for the first time in a long while, and my legs feel dead. After a shower and a snack, I’m so tired I have to take a nap.

It’s 11:15 a.m.

My wife shakes her head at me lying on the couch. She’s sipping a steaming cup of premium Italian roast.

Jose Antonio, Ph.D., warned me things might be difficult. For someone like myself who has been accustomed to drinking a half-dozen measures of espresso daily, it would have been smarter to taper away rather than quit cold turkey. With long-term use, the brain actually adapts to caffeine in such a way that it becomes a necessity, a fuel for optimal performance. So when the tank suddenly runs dry, the engine sputters. There could be grogginess, headaches, lethargy, irritability and even aches and pain (because caffeine is also a mild analgesic), Antonio said. But the good news is it should all subside within 48 hours, although my wife openly wonders how I’ll be able to tell the difference. She’s now sipping Sumatra.

Napping, which is something I never do, helps restore my energy levels, and I feel semi-normal until late afternoon when I get this intermittent sharp pain in my skull. I never get headaches, and I wonder if I’m thinking myself into this one, but it seems real. So I have a few beers and tune into the Super Bowl. Somehow, watching all that hard hitting with a headache makes the game more realistic, like a movie in Dolby Surround Sound.

Sorry, but I just can’t write anymore today. I don’t have the energy for this. Just let me be….

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Caffeine