Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Caffeinated Story

Starbucks was running this special over this past summer where one can sign up for a special Starbucks card and can get free extras. Being the loyal "Bucks" drinker that I am, of course, the staff at the local Starbucks here in the village enticed me to get this card.

It was great! Each time I went into a Starbucks anywhere I was offered espresso shots free with my regular grande or tall size coffee. I was enjoying being able to experience having more energy and loved the taste of the added coffee. I was doing well for quite some time. No problems. Very productive, too. I became quite familiar with the Starbucks lingo. An additional espresso shot in the coffee was called a "red eye", two shots was called a "black eye". I was walking in and asking for my coffee with this new lingo! It was fun!

Michael and I were visiting up in Toronto and he noticed my heart rate was elevated. He said he can feel it when we were sleeping. I was also experiencing some difficulty falling asleep and sometimes with waking up during the night as well. This had been a recurring problem for me ever since my diagnosis of Sarcoidosis five years ago so I attributed this insomnia to my disease acting up. Anyway, we were on vacation and I didn't care all that much about some minor sleeping issues. You think I would have even had the thought cross my mind that I was drinking so much more caffeine that I had previously? Nope. Now, those of you that know me well have sometimes witnessed this phenomenon occurring with me. I am bright and articulate, however, sometimes a bit late in catching up with myself. So, I just continued to drink my 2 or 3 cups a day of Starbucks now with the added espresso shots. Oh yes, even while up in Toronto. What was worse is that because I am known at my local Starbucks here in the village I was offered an additional shot of espresso since "I 'm making two anyway, Doc. So, I'll give you the second shot on me".

So, I went to see my regular M.D. Dr. Kolupoti for a regular physical and such and to monitor any symptoms of my Sarcoidosis. He tells me "Crew, you have Tachycardia". He tells me my resting heart rate was over 100 bpm! He asks me what I'm doing. I tell him nothing. He asks about my caffeine use and I tell him nothing different than I usually do. Then, it hit me! (I told you sometimes I am a bit late with things). OH, could it be the espresso shots?? He started to giggle. My doctor told me that each espresso shot carried with it the equivalent of 2 and a half cups of regular coffee! So, when I did my math.... I was drinking the actual caffeine equivalent of between 12 and 15 cups of coffee per day!

So, suffice it to say that I am no longer enjoying espresso shots with my morning Joe or afternoon cup. I clearly miss the energy and the wonderful taste of that espresso, but I am now back to normal heart rate and seem more like my usual energetic self, no longer frenetic!

Coffee, to me, is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Starbucks, to me, is the best cup of coffee I have ever enjoyed. This situation was a huge reminder to me of how powerful a drug caffeine is. I must be diligent and mindful in its use.

I was telling this story to a patient of mine after a therapy session. He looked at me in a very strange way after i finished my story. I was thinking that he thought of me in a weird way after I told him of my experience. But, he stated to me, "Oh, I am so glad you told me about this. I have been experiencing the same thing you had experienced." Apparently, he had gotten the card from the Starbucks promotion as well! We had a good laugh and he too made the same adjustments to his daily caffeination.

So, I sit here blogging on this New Year's Eve morning drinking my morning cup o' Bucks remembering this crazy story from this past July. No, I'm NOT drinking espresso shots now, but I miss it... hm mm... tasted so good.

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