Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tales of a Caffeine Junkie

So if you've read this little old blog lately, you know that I've been nursing Beloved Spouse back to health after minor surgery. Except there's no such thing as minor surgery when it comes to BelSpouse.

And that was just an ingrown toenail.
The good news is, his recovery is going well, at least from a physical standpoint. And he even passed a significant post-op milestone this evening. I won't go into details, but the word "passed" in the previous sentence should give you a clue. You take the little victories as you get them, especially since it raised his spirits so much.

On the other hand, it's been a long few days.  I've been worried about him, of course, and not getting much sleep (because he's not getting much sleep, and of course I wake up when he does). In short, I've been tired the last few days. I mean, I've been soooo damn tired.

But not nearly this cute.
I've been napping like crazy for the last several days. I just can't stay awake. I drift off while we're watching TV, and boom, I'm out for a couple of hours.  Then I wake up and almost instantly I'm tired again.  It's less fun than you'd think, and it doesn't exactly make it easier to take care of the patient.

I thought it might be stress causing the tiredness, and I'm sure that contributed. I thought it might be the fact that I haven't been eating well, either. There's not much time to make a good dinner when you've got a bedridden husband and a kiddo to take care of. Again, probably somewhat responsible.

But I finally figured out what's really behind my lassitude, and it's pretty amazing. Here it is:

I ran out of coffee shortly after BelSpouse's surgery.
 I typically get my daily dose of coffee - and by dose I mean pot - at the office. I only make it at home when I'm going to be at home. Well, for the last several days, I've been home either all or part of the day, so I was dependent on home brew. And I ran out. And I had more on my mind than buying coffee. So I didn't.

Now, I love me some coffee. I don't drink mochafufu "coffee drinks" that cost as much as a decent cocktail. I like strong, black coffee. And I don't drink it by the cup, but by the quart. It's probably really bad for me. But there you go. I like big beans and I cannot lie.

What I didn't realize is how dependent on caffeine I am. Or how severe my withdrawal would be if I stopped cold turkey for a few days.

I quickly discovered that I rely on a daily infusion of caffeine to maintain a state of consciousness. I'm not talking optimum performance or peak efficiency; I mean that after decades of coffee consumption, I've forgotten how to stay awake for more than a few hours without it.

There are certain performance-enhancing benefits, to be sure.
After just two days without caffeine, I started nodding off at frequent intervals. Despite the fact that I was on 24-hour call to take care of BelSpouse, and I still had to get Precocious Daughter to school and activities, and I was technically working from home at the same time, my focus kept drifting to the point of unconsciousness. I thought it was because I had so much going on and so much stress to deal with. It took a while to realize that it wasn't just what I was doing, but what I wasn't doing, that was putting me out so often.

Sure enough, when I finally made myself a cup of tea, I felt like a new person. I was alert, awake, and able to function. I'm pretty sure the birds sang louder and the flowers bloomed brighter, too.

How embarrassing.

I am completely and totally addicted to caffeine. I suppose I could wean myself off it for good - after all, I went 18 months without caffeine in any form when I was pregnant and then nursing - but I have a feeling it would be a much more painful process now than it was more than a decade ago. I'm getting old and set in my ways, and that includes the way of having caffeine in my bloodstream at all times, I guess.

At least now I have my priorities straight. Continue to look after BelSpouse until he's back on his feet. Try to keep things as normal as possible for PDaughter (who has been a rock through this whole deal). And make myself a big, strong pot of coffee as soon as I get to the office tomorrow and ingest it as quickly as possible. Maybe via IV tube.

Stock tip: Invest in the company that makes Community Coffee. I think their stock will be shooting up very soon. Just as soon as I can get to the store.

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