In a dream a few weeks ago, I was shown through a diagram, how the blood vessels, and optic nerves in our eyes are impacted by our intake of caffeine. There was a large drawing of a human face with arrows and circles pointing out how the caffeine increases the pressure behind the eyes’ optic nerves.
I have glaucoma and so, this dream was a gift to me, but not one I felt elated about receiving. I love caffeine. But given that glaucoma is a condition whereby the eyes are stressed and weakened by increases in pressure in our optic nerves, I couldn’t deny the importance of the dream.
I drank my first cup of coffee at 17, in college. A friend and I walked to school and we passed a hole in the wall coffee shop. He told me he needed a cup. Curious, I had never tasted coffee, let alone, needed it, I ordered one. Unimpressed with the taste, I added sugar and milk as he did, and it was okay. A few days later, I decided to push through and make some coffee of my own. I bought a jar of instant granulated coffee and a can of sweetened evaporated milk. I developed a ritual of boiling the water, putting a small amount in a cup, adding coffee granules, and evaporated milk Slowly stirring the mixture into a paste, I gradually added the rest of the hot water and drank. Thus began my love affair with hot caffeinated beverages.
Ten years ago, in my attempt to become physically healthier, I gave up coffee and, I switched to caffeinated teas. My shelves were gradually crowded with Oolong, Ceylon, Yerba Mate, Macha, Earl Grey Chai and many others.
But, in response to my recent dream two days after the Trump inauguration, I stopped drinking caffeine. I did not plan to quit on that day. I was relieved there were no immediate headaches but was miserable about the election. What a time to give up something I love! Headaches hit me hard the following day and lasted three full days followed by an onset of grouchiness, then emptiness, cravings, and lower energy. …Sound nice?
At the moment, I am now about 30 days caffeine free, well, almost entirely. I discovered Teechino, a tasty herbal coffee substitute that I add warm goat milk and honey to. Although the taste is rich and satisfying, there is no accompanying energy boost, no elation of mood, or sense of empowerment. I have on a few occasions, added a small amount of ground coffee to the Teechino. After not using caffeine for a while, those drinks boosted me awake and left me speeding for about four hours followed by a hard crash. At a lunch a week ago, in a very cold room, I sat at a table, and upon it was one pitcher of ice-cold water and nearby, a hot pitcher of black coffee. I drank the water and noticed the woman opposite me sipping on warm herbal tea she brought in a thermos. I should have done that. Irritated, half awake, and very cold, the black coffee began calling me. I abstained for about 30 minutes but the urge over powered me. I poured myself about an inch of hot black coffee and sipped it. Immediately I was warmed, perky, and happier to be there. Yes, caffeine is a strong drug that elevates my moods.
I am not an advocate for people giving up coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages. My goal is not a life totally abstinent from caffeine but I’d like to experiment with this habit. So far, it has not been easy. I may keep you posted!