Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cold Turkey

Well folks, it's been an interesting past week or so.

First of all, it's been crazy weather. Thursday was gorgeous with temperatures in the mid-60s (around 18C). So CatMan and I went for a nice long bike ride.

Usually, in these parts, warm days in the winter are caused by a down-slope wind off of the mountains, which generally means a big storm is a brewin'. Here's a photo from that ride showing the cool "mountain wave clouds" that typically form under such circumstances.


I did my best to soak up the warmth and enjoy every minute on the bike because I knew that this was coming...


And don't let that blue sky and sunshine fool you, it's only about 7 degrees (-14C) out there!

Anyhow, at least I got some exercise shoveling, because since we got more like 8 inches, rather than the 1-2 that were predicted, I'm thinkin' it might be a while before I'm back on the bike again.

But... when I do, I hope to be prepared. I finally bit the bullet and bought something called Bar Mitts. They're basically these neoprene sleeves that go over your handlebars creating a "pocket" for your hands where you can work the breaks and shifters without having to expose your hands to the cold temps.


CatMan has been teasing me incessantly about my "Bar Mitts Fa" and I have to admit that they do sorta look ridiculous, but it's made a world of difference for my freezing fingers. The best part is that you can toss one of those little hand warmers into each one and the whole thing warms up nicely. You still have to wear gloves under them because air comes in from the top, but they do keep your hands out of the wind and infinitely warmer than they would be otherwise.



But aside from the weather, there's been another little challenge in my life lately.

I think my tendency to take things to heart a tad bit too much has gotten to me since the election. Seriously, I can't escape the feeling that doom is upon us and life as we know it is about to cease.


Anyhow, on election night I got a terrible headache, and while it waxed and waned a bit, I just couldn't shake the thing.


Normally, a bit of caffeine and some ibuprofen will take care of it in a few days, but it seems I got myself into a cycle of rebound headaches and my misery factor was getting quite high. To top it off, I was suffering from horrible heartburn pretty much every day which made it almost impossible to sleep at night, and the cycle was sorta spinning out of control.


Anyhow, a bit of web research indicated that both ibuprofen and caffeine are bad for heartburn, and while both can ease a headache in the short term, they also leave one vulnerable to the dreaded rebound headache. So about a week ago I decided to go cold turkey on both.
Let me tell you, the first few days were complete misery. I seriously worried that my head might explode or something.


But it's been steadily getting better, and while neither the headaches nor the heartburn are completely gone, I am feeling much better. Hopefully I can keep this up without succumbing to the siren song of morning coffee. I do miss it, but I'm thinking that au naturale is probably better in the long run.



Anyhow, that's the news from chez kitty. Anybody out there ever gone cold turkey on caffeine? I'd love to hear how you did it. Hope you're all stayin' warm out there!



28 comments :

  1. I've never had caffeine regularly enough that's it's been a problem. However, my husband had several cups of coffee for many years, but decaffeinated himself a couple of years ago because of a doctor's suggestion for a health problem. However, he did it gradually, so it wasn't horrible. I work with a neurologist for my migraines and he says the combo of caffeine and an analgesic is the hardest to go off of because they give the worst rebound headaches. So you are doing something very difficult. Hope you are over the hump and everyday will be better and better.

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    1. Interesting... I usually don't have a problem with rebound headaches unless I take something in the triptan class of meds (Imatrix, Zomeg, etc.) Zomeg once gave me a rebound headache so bad that I was inches away from calling an ambulance. Ironically, what cured the rebound headache was plain old Tylenol!

      Anyhow, I'm definitely having to resist the temptation to go have a cup of tea since I'm feeling drowsy and it's only 7:30 in the evening... but I'm staying strong!

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  2. Oh, sorry you have been hurting! At one point in my life, I was close to caffeine free (I still had "decaf" tea which has trace amounts of caffeine, as well as an occasional chocolate fix) but that's no longer true. I suspect it may be harder for me to go completely cold turkey on caffeine because sometimes, especially for work, I need to be at my most alert and that happens most quickly with caffeine. I am in peri-menopause and find that I don't always sleep well ... which leads to daytime lethargy ... and I need to function so I drink a cup of coffee ... and so it goes. So I have no brilliant advice for you on that front, just sympathy!

    I have esophageal problems (Barrett's esophagus--in a nutshell, the lining of my stomach has traveled up into my esophagus and gives me a 'golfball in my throat' sensation) and can attest that ibuprofen is very hard on your esophagus, as is caffeine and acidic foods (tomatoes, raw onions/raw garlic, and oranges can make me miserable for days). I have been able to play around with my diet and determine what my triggers are (which, as you know, isn't an easy process). I can occasionally do tomato-based meals but I'm not sure I will ever eat an orange again. Stress is linked both with headaches as well as heartburn, so for me, flareups are not uncommon if I'm going through a lot of stress. I sleep on a wedge pillow (this is controversial as some specialists think it makes the acids pool in your esophagus) which has been helpful. There are recommendations by experts to raise the head of your bed, but I feel like I'm sleeping on a slide so that doesn't work for me. I don't know if you wear compression garments when you bike, but I have found I need to lay off from those--again, they push acid up where you least want it. Trying to not get too worked up about anything except what is essential to my life is also helpful, but being in the "sandwich generation" has been challenging. I read my news instead of watching it on tv, including political stuff, because I like to be informed but the constant repetition on tv is overwhelming for me and stresses me out.

    I don't know if any of my ramblings have been helpful, but know that I have sympathy for your headache/heartburn issues! I've been there and it isn't fun.

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    1. Hi Kris - thanks so much for all of your helpful comments! Barrett's esophagus sounds horrible... I'm so sorry you have to deal with that!

      I have read the thing about elevating the head of the bed, but since I sleep on a waterbed, that's not really a possibility without getting an entirely different kind of bed - which might be a challenge because I suffered with horrible shoulder pain (side sleeper) back when I used a conventional mattress.

      Anyhow, that's interesting about the wedge pillow controversy. For the past 2 nights I've been using a different pillow combination - a very thin flat pillow under my chest area, and a slightly thicker flat pillow under my regular pillow, and I seem to be sleeping much better. I'm having trouble picturing how this position could cause esophageal pooling, but I suppose it's worth considering that it might be a bad idea.

      Have you ever tried slippery elm, or marshmallow root? I've read that both are supposed to be good for heartburn. I had some slippery elm capsules lying around so I've been experimenting with them yesterday and today, but I'm not really sure how much of a difference they're making.

      Anyhow, I think that stress is probably the key. I'm trying to get back on the yoga bandwagon, but it's sooo hard to make myself do anything in bare feet when it's SO COLD! Seriously, even with the furnace cranked up, the floor is just unbearably chilly even through the yoga mat. But I have to come up with something - my regular relaxation methods generally involve sipping hot tea or lying on the couch to watch a movie - and both the tea and the lying on the couch are forbidden at the moment! I do think that cutting back on the news might be a good idea though!

      Thanks again for all of your thoughts.

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    2. You can get special yoga socks grip so you don't have to go barefoot: http://www.bestproducts.com/fitness/clothing/g933/non-slip-yoga-socks/

      Or perhaps you could apply one of these ideas to existing socks to make them non slip:
      http://www.mooglyblog.com/make-slippers-non-slip/

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    3. I *think* that the esophageal pooling may occur if you slide down the wedge while you sleep so that your head is on the wedge but from the shoulders on down, you are flat on the bed. I try to put sheets on the bed and wear jammies with some friction to avoid that problem (not that we used satin sheets beforehand ...).

      Nope, never tried either the slippery elm or marshmallow root. I'm currently on a med called Dexilant (a proton pump inhibitor, with a dual release mechanism--works better for me than, say, Omeprazole, as my schedule can change drastically from day to day so it is difficult for me to take my meds at the right time with a constantly shifting schedule) and that seems to mostly do the trick. That, and watching my diet. I had my esophagus scoped last year and I'm doing well enough that I can skip it for 3 years--woo hoo!

      I've never been a yoga devotee before, but I may try it this winter. I like to do cardio and strengthening but I am finding that I am not stretching out the way I should. I didn't realize I needed to go barefoot for yoga. I'll have to check out Nicola's suggestions. :)

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    4. Thanks Nicola for the suggestion on the socks. I'm not sure that would help though since my problem isn't the socks slipping on the mat, it's my feet slipping inside the socks if that makes any sense. Anyhow, probably I just need to stop whining!

      And Kris, that makes some sense about the wedge pillow. I don't think I'm raising my head enough for that to be an issue - the "thick" pillow is only about 3 inches thick, and the "thin" pillow comes down to about the bottom of my ribcage. BUT - I do have a habit of lying on the couch with my head propped up to watch movies, and that probably puts me in exactly the position that you described as bad. I've actually switched to a chair with a footstool, and I'm thinking that's probably better.

      Anyhow, thanks all for your support.

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    5. I don't like those socks. They do keep my socks from slipping on the floor, but my feet still slip on the socks. So I wear shoes to do yoga. The horror!

      I don't put shoes on the mat, so I just wear socks on the mat for some things or just keep my feet off the mat for other things. And I don't actually do much yoga, but a combination of things.

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    6. Ha! Now there's an idea... shoes for yoga! Actually, for some poses I could see it working, hard to imagine a sun salute with shoes on, but that's probably because the only way I can get the updog position correct is to roll over the tops of my toes which would be difficult in shoes... but maybe not impossible. It's worth a shot anyhow!

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    7. Heh, good luck!

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  3. I love love love my bar mits, and so do my teenage sons, although your husband is right that it's just too tempting to call them bar mitzvahs.

    Last February, I had bouts of heartburn that sent me to the emergency room because we thought it was a heart attack. My sister sent me some books -- "Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies" was one of them. She included a note that said that having these books on her shelf helped her avoid anxiety attacks, mostly because she really didn't want to read the books, so she was extra motivated to stay anxiety free. I skimmed through the books, found the stuff on mindfulness and breathing to be quite helpful. I also, like you, gave up caffeine. Both of those have made a big difference.

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    1. "Mitzvah" means good deed, which seems appropriate, because the mitts are definitely doing a good deed. So I doubly like that term!

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    2. Miser Mom, it sounds like your sister and I have a lot in commom - using laziness as a motivation. Anyhow, heartburn so bad that you thought it was a heart attack sounds horrible! I'm really glad it was just heartburn though.

      And thanks for the language lesson, Debbie - is "Mitzvah" a Hebrew word, or is it Yiddish? Not that it matters, or that I even would know the difference, just curious.

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    3. I didn't know, so I looked it up. It's Hebrew, and the plural is mitzvot (long o like in vote). And it doesn't actually mean good deed, like people think, but commandment. I guess there is no commandment that a bicycle keep your hands warm; yours is totally going above and beyond the call of duty!

      More here: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mitzvot-a-mitzvah-is-a-commandment/

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  4. I cut out the coffee a few months ago and went to tea. I've been feeling really anxious this year, and sometimes I get the feeling that I'm addicted to coffee. Even though I only drink one thermos a day, I feel like I need it, so it was time to cut it out. I know, tea still has caffeine, but it's never enough that I can feel it.

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    1. I think this is the year of anxiety. Let's hope it's not followed by the "year of anxiety realized!" Anyhow, I'm glad tea is working for you, I thought about going that route, but decided that if I was gonna do it I might as well do it for reals! :-)

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  5. So sorry to hear you haven't been well. I drink coffee but thankfully it doesn't seem to affect me, although these days I don't drink nearly as much as I did when I was working in an office - there I seemed to be imbibing caffeine all day long!

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    1. You're so lucky that it doesn't affect you. I've had problems with caffeine in the past - both tummy troubles and the jitters, so it's probably best that I just refrain from the stuff - honestly, I think it's the ritual that I miss as much as anything. If I wasn't allergic to chamomile I'd just switch to herbal tea. I did read that marshmallow root tea is good for heartburn though, so I ordered some. We'll see...

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    2. Have you tried rooibos tea? I dislike most herbals, as they taste sour to me, but this one tastes like "real" tea. Here's a link for info: /www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/health-benefits-of-red-rooibos-tea.html

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    3. Thanks Kris! I've never even heard of rooibos tea - I'll have to go check it out!

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  6. First off, the snow looks beautiful but I'm glad I live far enough south that we only have some occasionally - as in once every few years.
    I am a black tea drinker and have done the cold-turkey caffeine thing a few times and it's always a miserable experience with about 3 days worth of stabbing headaches that nothing relieves.
    About the yoga socks - a good pair should fit your foot snugly so that your foot doesn't slip around inside the sock - at least that's been my experience.
    Good luck with your headaches and heartburn.

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    1. Yup, three days of stabbing headaches was about it. Perhaps the memory of that experience will be enough to keep me from returning to my caffeinated ways in the future!

      And I'm struggling to imagine socks that are tight enough so they can't slip on your foot. Seems like they would cut off your circulation! I mainly notice the slipping with warrior 2 pose - it's like the socks just rotate around my sideways foot and within a few breaths I feel like my warrior is doing the splits! I'm thinking perhaps I should just take the socks off for the standing poses and then put them back on for the seated stuff.

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  7. Oh my goodness, Ecocat! All that snow! Will it melt or you'll get other storms later, or is that going to be a permanent layer for the winter? I'm absolutely intrigued here in France how people can go about their daily lives in conditions that to me scream, "Batten down the hatches! This is survival conditions!" The bar mittens look like a great adaptation!

    I hope your sense of impending doom over the elections is (for all our sakes) not spot on the money. When is the changeover date? Jan 20 or so? Admittedly it will be a long-term thing to see how the effects pan out.

    I'm a shocking coffee drinker - about 6 a day normally - but I had to go cold-turkey when I was pregnant. I get headaches and general craziness for about 3 days. Not sure why I do this to myself but I do go through regular de-tox of going off coffee temporarily to fix sleep problems. But I love it too much to ever really want to give it up!

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    1. Ha! Your reaction to French weather makes me giggle. I'm sorta guessing you might have a challenge living here. Snow is a regular experience - this one was just surprising because it was sooo cold, and because they'd only predicted an inch or two, so it sorta caught everyone off guard. It's actually a really good thing though, because we were way behind this year. We're still behind, but only by about 6 inches now.

      But we're lucky because we do get so much sunshine. So usually it will all melt off in a day or two. This time of year though, with the short days it can stick around for longer. We tend to get this crazy phenomenon where everything will be totally melted and dry except for the spots that are in the shade, where you'll get 6-8 inches of ice buildup. It's not uncommon to see people outside with a pickax breaking up the ice along the north side of the buildings, and tossing the chunks into the street for it to melt.

      Anyhow... 6 cups of coffee a day?!?! I think I'd have a hole in my stomach if I drank that much! I do understand the draw though... it's yummy stuff!

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  8. Sorry to hear about your headache. I have had some problems with caffeine in the past and the withdrawal headache was a bitch. I try to stick to decaffeinated tea but that isn't always an option when I travel. It seems in modest amounts I don't have any problems.

    Your weather is the same as ours. One day we were feeling all cocky that November was still in the 70s and now there is snow on the ground and it was -1 yesterday morning.

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    1. I may try having smaller amounts at some point in the future, though I've gotta admit, moderation is not my strong suit! And I knew we'd have to pay for the super warm November at some point. I really hope we're done with the bone chilling cold though. :-)

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  9. Are you ok? Or just suffering blogger burnout?

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    1. Thanks so much for your concern. I'm fine, just can't seem to muster the energy to post. I've started about half a dozen posts, but somehow I just can't seem to bring myself to finish one. Perhaps I should write a post about not being able to write a post! :-)

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