O Is for Off Coffee

I never thought this would happen, but it has been four weeks since I’ve had a cup of coffee.

Is there an aspect of self-care that you know would improve your daily life, but you’ve been avoiding?

First, I love coffee. More to the point, my husband loves making coffee for the two of us. It’s a ritual we’ve shared for as long as we’ve been together. And he makes good coffee. Good strong coffee.

Photo credit: chaiyawat p (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: chaiyawat p (CC BY 2.0)

However, as is true for many women, migraines—which I’ve had since childhood—have become more of a problem in perimenopause. I’ve tried several management strategies in recent months to reduce their frequency, from going gluten-free (didn’t do a thing) and being even more careful than usual to keep a regular schedule (definitely a mainstay strategy and worth the “boring life” tradeoff) to avoiding controllable triggers (e.g., missing meals, strong sunshine, neck and eye strain) and trying a new prophylactic medication (led to an allergic reaction).

The one thing I’ve known in my gut I should try but didn’t for the longest time is going off coffee.

After a month, I can say with assurance but with some sorrow, that it makes a difference, at least for me, at least for now.

It’s not as though coffee or caffeine is the cause of my migraines, as they began long before I ever started drinking coffee. However, if the trigger threshold theory is correct, hormonal imbalances may be lowering my overall threshold enough that removing something like caffeine and its daily vascular fluctuations could make a difference. Whatever the reason, not only am I having fewer migraines, but they go away faster and with lower-dose triptans, a trend that has been getting better with each passing coffee-free week. In addition (and something I didn’t expect), my overall energy is more even, and, between headaches, I no longer have the sensation that another is just around the corner, like the vibrations of a train I can feel but not see.

My husband still enjoys his cuppa but these days makes me a mug of tea (weak black or green tea once a day and the rest herbal). We’re getting used to the new routine, and I’m now wondering why I waited so long to make the change.

Is there a self-care change you’ve been putting off making?

Remember that you can leave a comment on yesterday’s post for a chance to receive a free signed copy of The Adventures of a Sparrow Named Stanley!

O-2This post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series.

6 thoughts on “O Is for Off Coffee

  1. This is very interesting, Lisa, and I’m glad that you have found something that helps. I started drinking coffee in my 20s because I had heard that caffeine can help with headaches, and it did. My mom had migraines, but although I had what I called “sick” headaches, I was never diagnosed with migraines. The caffeine did the trick (or so it seemed). The worst headache I’ve ever had was when I had to have some test or other and had to be caffeine and drug free (no aspirin or ibuprofen, etc.) for a number of days before. Never had the test because after 2 days I was laid out in bed. I seem to have out grown them for the most part, but I know that they can be so debilitating. I’m also glad that you found a substitute ritual for you and your beloved.

    • Thanks very much, Sally. Oddly, caffeine does work (or used to) to help get rid of headaches, but not so much any more. I’ll having eye muscle surgery in May so was also thinking about that dreaded caffeine withdrawal headache you described–another reason to wean myself off coffee now. I’m hoping that once I’m through the hormonal changes mine will disappear, as well (that seems to happen with a lot of women). I’m glad you don’t have them much anymore!

  2. Lisa,
    I have been thinking about quitting coffee, but man…I do love a warm cup in the afternoon. And for me, tea just doesn’t cut it. I think you hit a lot of it on the nail in your post: the ritual, the comfort, the richness of it all…. Glad to hear your lack of coffee has helped with the migraines, though. You inspire me to keep thinking on my own cessation! 🙂

    • Christi, I’m not sure how many people react to caffeine the way I do, but I do wonder if it’s more than we might think. On the other hand, the sensual pleasure of a hot cup of coffee–well, I don’t want to think about it too much at the moment. 🙂

  3. Hi Lisa!
    I like how you recognize that the coffee elimination is working, ‘at least for me, at least for now.’ I think that mindset of the present, resisting the tendency to generalize to others or the future, is important. It allows for flexibility and movement when necessary. And living relatively pain free is huge, too! 🙂

    • This comment means a lot to me because I was trying to think about how not to sound preachy or prescriptive, while at the same time sharing an experience in case it helps anyone else. Maybe when I’m on the other side of menopause, I’ll be able to go back to coffee. For now, though, yes, pain-free is good. 🙂

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