I freaking love coffee. Like, a lot. So much so that I was once cracked out. (No joke) We're talking Triple Venti Latte and then some, daily. Fueled by caffeine until 1-2pm before I decided I ought to put some food in my body. The signal for this was usually the hardcore jitters (which I happened to enjoy at the time) and the faint feeling I might collapse if I didn't eat in the next 30 minutes.
This was seven years ago. Looking back, it's hard to imagine I ever let myself feel that way. Even though I was pretty in tune with my body back then, no comparison can be made to the intricacies of my body's every need that I now have keen awareness of.
However, this was a time in my life when I was in outside sales and traveled every day of the week. The caffeine high was a necessity for me in that it enabled my perfectly unequipped, introverted self to have excited conversations with complete strangers, every. day. Sure these strangers grew in to regular clients, STILL. Conversations, sales, relationships needed to be built and I needed a tool to help me get there.
Coffee and I grew in love, gradually, as I imagine most people do. Slow at first, here and there. A few times a week. Daily. Don't talk to me if I haven't had coffee. Two cups a day. Multiple cups a day or I'll die.
That's how it works, right?!
I had NO IDEA I was wrecking my body. I truly thought, “Man, I handle this well. Gimme more!”
I cut back to one cup a day with my first pregnancy and through nursing. Once that was over, back on the wagon. I mean, did I ever get off?
Just before, and the years following London's arrival I'd ebb and flow between WAY TOO MUCH and the “normal” amount. It wasn't until 4 years later when the toll of over caffeinating myself took hold.
I was becoming easily out of breath, light headed and just not feeling “right”. I dealt with this for a while, blaming it on the fact that I had stopped teaching dance and wasn't moving as much as I once had. But it was clear. And I was in denial. Caffeine was the culprit, 100%.
When I became pregnant with my second son those off feelings intensified and I knew I needed to see someone. Still deep in the middle of grieving my father's sudden death (cardiac arrest), I was sure my heart was failing. Just like the hearts of all the men in my family.
Off to the cardiologist I went. Ultrasound, stress test, monitoring, you name it. Everything looked 'fine' so they wanted to send me home with a monitor to wear 24/7, for 6 weeks.
I will never forget standing in front of the mirror that day hooking myself up to the monitor. I had a panic attack. There's no way something could be seriously wrong with my heart?! I'm 30! Somehow, I managed to make it through the painful six weeks of non-stop monitoring, having to push a button every time I became light headed, dizzy or felt my heart skip a beat.
The end result? Cardioinhibitory Syncope.
In a nutshell, restricted blood vessels that are unable to get blood to the heart quick enough. Causing lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting.
My orders: eat more salt, wear compression socks.
You're kidding me, right?
I was floored. This is bullshit!
And being the medical rebel that I am I said, “F*ck this!” I'm not ordering any damn compression socks. And salt?! Grrrrrrrr. (I mean, it was not a bad idea for me to up my salt intake at this point BUT) After all the testing and 5 minute conversations there was no investigating on my LIFESTYLE and/or the habits/foods/drinks that could be impacting my body in this way.
Had I not been smack in the middle of serious grief I would have not gone to the doctor in the first place (did I mention I'm pro natural health? haha) but there I sat. Tortured and frustrated.
Instead of “taking orders” I decided to do what I do best, pause, and listen to my body.
The NEW orders (from myself): no caffeine, up water intake, move your freaking body.
(Sidenote: At this point in my life I had yet to complete the certifications I have now but I have ALWAYS been a huge fan of natural solutions.)
Within DAYS I felt tremendously better. After a while, the symptoms subsided. Wonder why? I had rehydrated my system AND removed threat.
I felt amazing through the entirety of my pregnancy and after Lakeland arrived I remained caffeine free. Once nursing was over I was eager to get my coffee back but was weary of caffeine. I opted for decaf and did that for a while until I realized it didn't make me feel great. I also discovered the horrid way coffee is decaffeinated. (More on that another time)
Gradually, I fell back into coffee love. Only this time more carefully. One small cup will do. And even then, sometimes it's too much. I must be very conscious of how my body responds.
Even now, I'm on a short coffee sabbatical because addiction is real folks and those familiar feelings of “not right” were creeping back in.
And and as much as I LOVE and crave my café, it's just not worth it.
Tea for now.