reduced caffeine

As y’all know, when I was diagnosed with epilepsy in March 2006, I read up on the condition–because I’m all about the research. As soon as I learned that too much caffeine aggravates the condition and the symptoms, I quit drinking Cokes. It huuuuuurt. I quit cold turkey, too. Sorta. I finished the Cokes we had on-hand, and after that, no more Cokes. Until I had my colonoscopy in March 2007, and I got a little hooked on ginger ale. It is caffeine free, and it was the only thing that settled my stomach after being on that wretched Half-Litely crap and emptying every nook and cranny of my intestines. Eventually, I stopped again, because Dr. Awesome said no high-fructose corn syrup. But then I discovered natural sodas (thanks, essay!) that are made with pure cane sugar and no caffeine, and well… I’m addicted to black cherry natural soda.

I have digressed in lengthy measure. Ok. When I was on caffeine, I needed a good hour to wake up with my first Coke or two. But ever since I gave up caffeine, it takes me approximately thirty seconds to wake up in the morning (unless I take my meds really late–no matter what, I can’t get out of bed if I haven’t taken my epilepsy meds at least eight hours earlier). The difference (after the withdrawal headaches) is enormous. I wake up, I pee, I come out of the bedroom to start my day.

And then there’s my hubby. He drinks at least one mug of coffee before he can even consider waking. It’s just better for me to not speak to him until he’s gotten past the first mug (or two). He goes half a day without caffeine and has enormous headaches and becomes Mr. Crankypants.

Well. I figured that since this is deeply embedded in his brain (as Cokes were in mine) from the time he was living at home and his dad was making his sludge-strong coffee for him, it would take some kind of drug rehab to get him to quit. Coffee’s great, of course, but decaf would be so much better for our marriage (read: he won’t be so grumpy in the mornings), right?

So I started slow. I told him to give caffeine-free Coca-Cola a try. I figured if he was bringing Coca-Cola (the nectar of life) into the house, at least if it was caffeine free, I could have it sparingly (the HFCS is not something I’ll have often as it is). He turned up his nose at first, because he apparently made the egregious mistake of drinking one of his mom’s caffeine-free diet sodas when he was younger (ugh, diet!) and has therefore always associated caffeine-free with nasty aftertasty cola. I finally convinced him that since it’s still horrible for him, due to the HFCS, he could give it a try. He, of course, told me I was right, and caffeine-free Coke tastes just like fully leaded Coke.

And any day after that on which he woke up exhausted and moody, I hinted (ok, strongly hinted) that he should consider moving to decaf coffee, because then it might not be such an ordeal to wake up in the mornings. After a bunch of “eh”s, he finally told me I could try weaning him off the caffeinated coffee.

But the kicker is this: he can’t know it’s happening. I am not to let him know when he’s on decaf coffee. He needs the placebo effect of thinking he’s having caffeine every morning. That will work fine until he goes back to work, at which point I’ll need to tell him so he’ll know that he has to bring his own magic coffee or drink from the decaf pot at work.

I started this week, the weaning. I make him six cups of coffee every day. Six tablespoons of ground coffee. I started with five caf / one decaf for a few days. Then four caf / two decaf… It will go on from there until he’s fully decaf. Every day I quiz him. “So, how do you feel today? Have you been tired today? Do you have a headache? How was your coffee?” He knows why I’m asking, but he doesn’t know where on the caffeinated spectrum his coffee lies, and he won’t, because he rarely reads my blog. ;-)

I’ll update you after he’s been decaf for a while and tell you if there was an effect… I suspect there will be.

6 Responses to reduced caffeine

  1. Well done for coming of the caffine, I tried going cold-turkey a few years ago…it resulted in head-aches and shakes (seriously, it was like a drug addict!) and after going through all that, I went back to it, but then, I didn’t have anyone helping me along :) Started reading your blog cause of IMAO, haven’t commented before, but the post on caffine and noticing a link to Jason Mraz (whoop whoop) demanded that I leave a comment with the wondeful SarahK!

  2. Sam Walsh PHD

    Coffee puts the system under the strain of metabolizing a deadly acid-forming drug, depositing its insoluble cellulose, which cements the wall of the liver, causing this vital organ to swell to twice its proper size. In addition, coffee is heavily sprayed. (Ninety-two pesticides are applied to its leaves.) Diuretic properties of caffeine cause potassium and other minerals to be flushed from the body.

    All this fear went away when I quit, and it was a book that inspired me to do it called The Truth About Caffeine by Marina Kushner. There are five things I liked about this book:

    1) It details–thoroughly–the ways in which caffeine may damage your health.

    2) It reveals the damage that coffee does to the environment. Specifically, coffee was once grown in the shade, so that trees were left in place. Then sun coffee was introduced, allowing greater yields but contributing to the destruction of rain forests. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere else.

    3) It explains how best to go off coffee. This is important. If you try cold turkey, as most people probably do, the withdrawal symptoms will likely drive you right back to coffee.

    4) Helped me find a great resource for the latest studies at

    5) Also, if you drink decaf you won’t want to miss this special free report on the dangers of decaf available at

  3. I am so glad I never got the coffee habit. When I reported aboard my first ship in the Navy, my Chief Petty Officer bet me that by the end of our first deployment I’d be up to a pot a day. I won the bet, but he never had a chance to pay off (that’s a REALLY long story). For me, it’s a big glass of orange juice in the morning. Of course, when I was working in an office I missed out on all the gossip because I wasn’t camped out in the kitchenette every couple hours. I had to take my secretary to lunch every couple weeks to hear the latest scuttlebutt.

  4. By the way: Good Luck kicking the habit, Frank (submitted on the off chance that he stumbles by your blog)!

  5. Why don’t you ask him everyday? It won’t be suspicious and you can compare tabs in the end.

  6. actually, Frank IS reading this and Sarah knows it — which is why she is actually using a totally different plan of attack from the one she spelled out.


    (that will keep him guessing if he does read this)