Backing down

I’ve been a caffeine junkie for a long time. I started drinking coffee in 1986, when I was in technical training and had to form up at 6:00 a.m. to march to class. My addiction really took hold after Vicky was born. I had two babies, a full time job, and all the little details that come with them. Sometimes just getting everyone out of the house in clean clothes was a challenge. When I worked in the investment industry, I was drinking a pot of coffee a day.

Don’t think that I only drink coffee for the caffeine. I like coffee, the stronger, the better. I’ve been known to challenge baristas to make a cappuccino too strong for me. Only one has come close.

I’ve known for a long time that caffeine isn’t doing me many favors. Every book I’ve read for school has said that caffeine is fine to a point, but that too much can overtax the adrenal glands and raise blood pressure and heart rate. That should be reason enough for me to want to back down on the amount of caffeine I drink, but there’s more to it than that. I’m a hardcore addict. Coffee is my crack. The irony comes from the part of my nature that rebels when I *have* to do something. Even if it’s right, even if it’s good, it chaps my hide to do something because I *have* to. Addiction is a *have* to, but it’s not usually a big deal–coffee and sodas are so readily available that at most it takes a quick stop at a gas station. It’s an inconvenience when I’m camping. I’m not too much fun to be around when we’re waiting for coffee to boil, but I always make sure to make a pot after breakfast which doesn’t get emptied until dark. I’m not above drinking cold coffee over ice.

A few years ago, someone classified me as a catastrophist. I think of worst case scenarios, make contingency plans, compulsively plan for the worst. I stay well-stocked on paper towels, toilet paper, and first aid supplies. If the bird flu comes to the Midwest, I’m just about ready for several weeks of quarantine. That’s the biggest reason I’m breaking my addiction. I don’t want to be doing withdrawl during a national emergency or natural disaster. I’m lucky that caffeine is one of those substances that is best not done cold turkey. I’m blending my coffee with decaf, chicory, and dandelion, and I can feel caffeine losing its grip. I’ve learned that it’s easier to get through the day if I keep my blood sugar level, so I’m eating more fruit and snacking through the day. I’ve discovered that hummus is good on lots of different things.

Of course, my friends think the world is coming to an end! I just smile and order decaf.

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