Monday, 1 June 2015

Caffeine withdrawal

Caffeine withdrawal and how it started…..
Eager beaver readers will know I like to have a check-up at the Doctors once a year.  This appears to be one of the benefits of being in my age group as potentially serious health conditions can be picked up early and dealt with while there is time to benefit from early treatment. I dutifully took in my ‘specimen’ when I arrived for my 12 hour fasting blood test which includes:
  • Blood count (which I imagine to be haemoglobin / anaemia)
  • Glucose levels
  • Cholesterol
  • Liver function
  • Kidney function
  • PSA (checking for prostate cancer)
  • and three others which I can’t quite remember
When I went to see the Doctor for the results she said “well done, they’re all fine” followed by “is there anything else?”.  I then explained I had occasionally found bladder control more difficult these days.
“Well” she explained “you can expect this kind of thing, it is a common middle age problem for men and women.  At least we can rule out prostate cancer or anything like that”.
Naturally that was good to hear, so the next part of the conversation was being asked a few more details and then being offered a prescription.
“But I like to avoid medication” and I pointed out I’ve really only had the occasional antibiotic every few years for some kind of infection I might have picked up.  I went onto explain that I’d prefer to avoid medication if I possibly can for as long as possible as I think of it as being a slippery slope.  This was dismissed as being silly.  “Take it or leave it” the Doctor said in a slightly stern way.
“Is there any other solution?”
“No not really, besides the side effects aren’t bad with this and we can always switch you to something else”
“How long will I have to take them for?”
“For the rest of your life but don’t worry, once we know they suit you I’ll prescribe a larger supply for you, so they won’t be too expensive”.
This was all sounding awful and the conversation was not going the way I wanted it to go! “Is there really no other solution?” I asked again.
She went onto say there wasn’t, although she did say “lifestyle” to which I stopped her and asked what she meant.  I was concerned as she had just congratulated me on my excellent blood test results.  The word caffeine got mentioned and explored no further, not wanting to ask me how many cups of tea or coffee I get through in a day.
I had the prescription made up and started taking my two tablets a day.  The first night I had a terrible dream and in the morning I was wracking my brains trying to remember if the Doctor had said anything about dreams being in the side effects.  I couldn’t remember anything but when I read the Patient Information leaflet it mentioned nightmares, along with a whole load of other possible side effects.
Over the next few days I grew increasingly uncomfortable with taking these tablets, even with them being low dose.  I decided to quit tea and coffee to see if that made a difference.  Well I can tell you I certainly missed a regular cuppa at various times of the day and for the first 24 hours I was feeling slightly light-headed and yearning for a nice coffee.  I knew I was withdrawing.
Now a week later I’m not taking the tablets, avoiding all caffeine and doing fine. I have solved the problem.  Yippee, so to speak.
Follow up appointment with the Doctor 
Now at this point I am due to make a follow up appointment with my Doctor.  She will be expecting me to say that I have been fine with the tablets and take up the offer of a longer term prescription which will be repeated of the rest of my days.  After all, I haven’t been back sooner to complain of horrible side effects.
Instead I’m going to report that I have solved the problem through avoiding caffeine but this now gives me a dilemma.  I really do like a nice cup of tea, or a cup of ground filter coffee of some description.  Should I abstain completely from tea or coffee?  Switch to de-caff?  Isn’t tea and coffee de-caffed through some horrible chemical process?  Have the occasional coffee, to be polite etc?
Decisions, decisions……

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