Back in July, I gave up coffee. For several weeks, I refrained completely. There was one night near the end of July where I was really craving the taste, so I allowed myself to get an iced coffee from Dunkin. At that point, I decided that if I had a coffee every once in awhile, it would be okay. I’d grab one from the Dunkin across the street from my Airrosti therapist after a session. Or if I was craving the taste, I’d make myself a Japanese-style flash cold brew. It added up to once or twice a week, more once than twice, and I felt pretty balanced. I could keep off the addiction and still maybe have some periodically when I was out with friends or just really wanted some. The main thing I made sure of was to never have it more than once in a day, or two days in a row.
Last Monday (the 16th), Laurence started school. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: August is one of my not-so-mentally-healthy months. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a lot of disconnect-depression, with some severe anxiety spikes and PTSD triggers. The extra stress of him going back to school – in a pandemic, with no mask mandate – inflamed my already high anxiety levels. Even though I’d made myself a cold brew on Sunday, I stopped by Dunkin after my Airrosti appointment that Monday. Iced coffee, two days in a row, despite my former insistence on not doing this.
No, it didn’t immediately lead to a relapse in addiction or anything like that. Instead, I woke up at 1am that night with pain all over my body. At first, I thought it was from the airrosti treatment, because we’d moved on to treating my right hip and a lot of the pain was coming from my hips. Then I realized that ALL my joints were hurting – from ankles to shoulders to wrists. They were all throbbing as if I’d done some heavy workouts with poor form and my whole body was suffering. I finally got back to sleep, restlessly, and woke up a further few times that night. The next morning, I told Jason that it felt like I had a hangover. The truth is, I’ve never actually had a true hangover because I drink so much water, so even when I’ve been at my most drunk, I’ve never had more than a yuck-mouth the next day. Which made that morning’s “hangover” particularly weird.
So that was Tuesday morning, and I hurt all day that day. Wednesday was a tiny bit better (at least I slept!). The pain felt like a combination of severe inflammation and dehydration. As I said in my last coffee post, I think I’m allergic to coffee. I didn’t have any of the pain symptoms after the few times I had a single serving of iced coffee over the last six weeks – they only arrived after I had coffee two days in a row for the first time. Coincidence? I don’t know. I also don’t know if this pain is an allergy symptom, or if my body reacts to coffee by becoming severely inflamed, or if it’s something else. All I know is that it’s definitely related to coffee. Not just because of this incident.
Late last week, after abstaining from coffee since Monday, I had a severe PTSD anxiety attack. I was devolving into full-blown panic attack, and had to make a decision. I still haven’t found a new anxiety coping mechanism, which means I fall back on either iced coffee, or an older coping mechanism of wine. Lesser of two evils, yeah? Maybe wine would have been better, but I instead I got a bottle of Stok from the grocery store. I filled up my giant thermos, and I drank, and slowly my anxiety ebbed away. The amount I drank was probably the equivalent of 2.5 of my normal mugs of iced coffee. And GAH I was in so much pain that night, waking up every half hour, aching all over, my bones and joints on fire. The next day, despite the pain, my anxiety was still BAD, and I had the rest of the bottle.
The pain finally disappeared three days later.
Because I’m me, I felt a third experiment was needed to confirm that this wasn’t all a coincidence. The day that the pain disappeared, I had a cup of iced coffee, with the intention to have it two days in a row again. Except because I had it so close to the last incident, one cup was enough, and again, that night I was in excruciating pain. Reaction = confirmed.
Again, I don’t know if this is an allergic reaction, or an inflammatory response, or something else I’m not educated enough to understand. But clearly, coffee is bad for me even on an occasional basis, if I’m not careful. And that probably means that even if I don’t experience pain, coffee is probably bad for me, even occasionally, period.