Tuesday, June 19, 2012

LIFE AFTER CAFFEINE: What the doctor ordered

How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?

Not many, 3 or 4.

That's a lot, the cardiologist pronounces.  As a matter of fact, I just published an article about coffee and the heart.  That's my research area.

Oh shit!  With all the cardiologists in the world I have to fall into the hands of the one who researches coffee's impact on the heart...? 

But that's not that many, I venture timidly.

Try going without coffee for a while and see what happens.

I agree reluctantly and then make the mistake of telling my husband what the doctor said.  Next morning the new cardiologist on the floor - a young woman - repeats the advice.  She only drinks decaf.  This time David is present.

When did you find out coffee gave you palpitations? he asks her.

After my first Starbucks cup.

She suggests I drink decaf.  It has some caffeine too but you can try that.

Yeah, I guess so.  I like the taste actually. So decaf will be ok.

I read that coffee is good for you, I'm trying hard to get permission from her. For Alzheimer's prevention or something.

Well, that's different. 

And so Monday morning comes and all I have is orange juice, even though the coffeemaker is staring at me, half filled with freshly brewed coffee.  I smell it.  What the hell I think and pour a quarter mug, then fill it with hot water and top it off with milk.  David is playing tennis.

A few tentative sips later I feel a fluttering.  I dump the coffee in the sink resignedly.  Tuesday morning I drink orange juice.  No cheating today.  I don't have withdrawal headaches.  I'm not climbing the walls.  I guess I don't really need it.  It was always mostly a habit, something to do when waking up, something to hold when writing, a crutch?  After all, I've been drinking coffee since I was a child.  In Argentina we drink cafe con leche every morning.  Granted, it's mostly leche with a little cafe.  But coffee drinking goes way back in my family.  My ancestors all drank coffee every day.  They come from one of the lands where coffee is produced.  How can I not drink it anymore?  It's in my blood.  Probably makes up part of my blood: dark as coffee.

Everything in moderation, the doctor said Sunday. Like wine.  One glass is good.  More...not so much.

I'll try one cup in a few days or weeks.  Or maybe half a cup with lots of hot water and milk.  Diluted enough so it shouldn't affect me.  Or maybe I'll give it up altogether.  Like smoking.  I don't know...I just don't know. 


  1. I feel your pain!!! You can do it!!

    I didn't know you smoked. mk

  2. I'm doing it Myra. Don't you remember me smoking in the 70s and 80s?

  3. No, I really don't remember you smoking...isn't that odd? Smoking was so common that it went unnoticed.

    Glad you are doing it!! It beats going back to the hospital.