I Gave Up Coffee

I Gave Up Coffee

It was good - until it wasn't

A pathway in the Northern Cascade rain-forest. (click on image to enlarge)

About a week before going to the hospital for surgery and an overnight stay, I decided to ween myself from a serious caffeine addiction. I started by cutting back from four or five cups a day (I said it was serious) to two cups, then a single cup, and then to half a cup the two mornings before I went to the hospital. Even though I was going cold turkey on the coffee, I wanted something to symbolically take its place. I choose Rooibos tea, which is caffeine free. There is an article about Rooibos tea here.

Rooibos tea has a flavor akin to English tea, not quite the same, but close enough. The Rooibos tea became my go-to morning beverage for most of the next two weeks.

The primary reason I wanted to go caffeine free was to avoid waking up after surgery with a caffeine withdrawal headache. My wife assured me that I would be so doped up on painkillers that a headache would be the least of my concerns. As it turns out, the only painkiller they gave me was over-the-counter Tylenol, which, surprisingly, was enough. And I didn't have a headache from the lack of coffee. (Sorry, dear, I know this is the first time you have been wrong in a really long time.)

This was going so well that I decided to take a two-week break from caffeine. I bought more Rooibos tea and a few other teas for variety and settled into a new routine. I feel like my recovery went really well, partly because I wasn't jacked up on a stimulant every morning. I could wake up, have breakfast with some tea, and go back to bed and sleep some more. It was remarkable being able to nap on and off throughout the day and feel rested.

I was nearing my two-week goal of being caffeine free when I began to feel restless instead of rested. It was Sunday morning, and I wanted to get back to editing photos and writing these essays. I just didn't have any energy. I tried to nap, but I couldn't sleep. I was all napped out.

Two days before my two-week goal was up, I poured a cup of coffee for myself. Oh, it was soooo good. And it woke me up, full of energy and ready to go. After decades of being caffeine dependent, my system wanted that stimulant to kick the brain into gear and get me back on track.

I have no regrets, not even about not meeting a goal. It was a random target, and that I fell a few days short is not a big deal to me. In fact, I am happy I was able to be caffeine free for as long as I was. It wasn't anything the doctors or hospital suggested, so this was all on me. I guess it's all about breaking a lifelong habit to see the changes and doing it for my own benefit. I can't say it was an easy thing to do or even really necessary. Just happy to have been able to do it.

The photos this week are from a Northern Cascade rainforest. The one at the top is simply a footbridge across a dry stream. And below, foliage creates a canopy over the same trail. I was on this trail because it was a two-mile hike to a waterfall. The waterfall was so large, and there was no room to back away from it, so I made six exposures to get the entire waterfall in one image. I'm still working on getting the waterfall processed, so maybe I can share it in a week or two.

The gravel pathway can be seen at the bottom of the photo. The forest was so dense in this area that the trail was almost overgrown at some points. (click on image to enlarge)