Lab Assignment #2

Problem: Fibromyalgia pain and hand tremors

Hypothesis: Eliminating or reducing caffeine from my diet may reduce my hand tremors and/or contribute to a feeling of overall health

Secondary hypothesis: At whatever point that I need to make sharp budget cuts, coffee and soda will be excellent items to eliminate from my diet and budget.

Tertiary hypothesis: The half-and-half that I put in my coffee is high in fat. Eliminating this item from my diet will be good for my overall health.

Quaternary hypothesis: From an ethical perspective, I don’t like supporting fast food franchises like Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds. However, my habitual coffee consumption continually brings me back to these businesses. Eliminating this habit could help me to avoid supporting these businesses.

Procedure:

Beginning tomorrow, drink black tea in the morning. Reduce soda consumption in general. Drink tea later in the day if desired – ideally green or herbal tea. Take notes on how my body responds.

At some time in the future (in 2-3 weeks, depending on how I respond), reduce black tea consumption and replace it with green tea. Continue to note how my body responds.

 Data:

Saturday, 2/3: Drank strong Earl Grey tea in the morning with a little bit of sugar. Wasn’t happy about it and actually felt a little nauseated. But once I got going reading, writing today’s blog post, and talking to a friend on the phone, I forgot all about my deprivation. No headache as of yet. So far, so good.

Saturday, 2/4: Around 3 pm the wooziness began – waves of fatigue that were just intense enough that the caffeine reduction probably had a role in creating them. By 6 pm, a mild headache. Not too terrible, though.

Sunday, 2/5: Followed the procedure as planned – tea in the morning – although I did have a Diet Pepsi in the afternoon. I told myself I could finish the 4 or 5 cans I have in the fridge while I’m tapering off caffeine. I do want to point out that while I’ve had no negative effects yet of cutting back on caffeine, I don’t feel any better physically and my left hand still tremors like a malfunctioning cursor. We’ll see…

Monday, 2/6: Drinking my cup of Earl Grey. Had a super-dee-dooper LOUSY night last night – awake until almost 3 am, mind spinning, pain shooting all over the place in my head, neck, back, and arms. I certainly blame the 3 pm Diet Pepsi at least partially and won’t consume any caffeine any more after mid-day, but I am wondering if other factors are involved as well. Possibilities: 1) I checked my work email yesterday. I opened very few emails, but there is no question that I felt less distanced from reality after I saw my inbox, 2) I “did stuff” yesterday – nothing impressive by normal standards, but I did some cleaning out, organizing, and discarding in my study that involved several trips down to the dumpster and up to the attic with relatively heavy items. Maybe total and complete rest really is the answer, and 3) I keep reminding myself that lying awake until 3 am in spite of feeling sleepy (read: pathetically exhausted) has been my normal mode for the past 4 years. I allowed myself just enough of a glimpse into the real world of obligations and commitments that my sleep cycle slipped back to its old habits as well. And 4) Maybe on some level, even though one day is just like another here in the MLC, my subconscious mind picked up on the fact that it was Sunday night and felt like it wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t torture me. Will keep tweaking, keep adjusting…

Tuesday, 2/7: Today was a better day. Drank one cup of Earl Gray in the morning and another around 1 pm. I was a little sleepy throughout the day and had trouble concentrating on anything I was doing, but I don’t blame the caffeine for that. Now, at 9:20, I feel as if I have about 40 more minutes in me and then I’ll be able to fall asleep. Which is perfect.

Wednesday, 2/8: Tea in the morning and sometimes at mid-day has become the new normal. I didn’t feel anything unusual or different today, although I should comment on what I wrote last night by saying that in spite of feeling sleepy at 10 pm I wasn’t asleep until after 1. I don’t think the caffeine has anything to do with it, though. I just get so uncomfortable when I lie down…

Thursday, 2/9: Tea in the morning. I did cave and have a Coca-Cola at mid-day. Yesterday I craved one so badly that I couldn’t sleep. What is it about that stupid stuff? I didn’t notice any real changes in the way I felt after I drank it, though. I had that feeling that tells me my hand is about to START trembling, but I didn’t actually see any tremors.

Friday, 2/10: I stuck to the tea routine without any variations. I did have some hand tremors today, both during and after acupuncture, but it’s hard to say it caffeine might be causing them or not because acupuncture is a new variable.

Saturday, 2/11: Stuck to the routine of no caffeine beyond one cup of black tea in the morning. I’m really not enjoying this black tea very much, and I’m in a hurry EITHER to be off caffeine altogether or to decide that the whole experiment is a wash and go back to coffee. I think tomorrow will be the day that I switch to green tea in the morning. We’ll see how it goes…

Sunday, 2/12: Switched to green tea this morning and most definitely have a headache. It’s on the left side of my head, which is interesting and unusual. It’s not too terrible as my headaches go. I also have had very little energy today, although I blame the acupuncture for that (damn it, isolating variables is harder than it sounds!). I’ll definitely keep trying the green tea and see how I feel.

Monday, 2/13: Screw it. This experiment is OVER. My sleep cycle is off track in spite of the fact that I’ve cut caffeine almost completely out of my diet. Last night was awful: it was one of those nights when it feels as if the fibromyalgia pain is in my joints (it isn’t, but the pain above and below each joint sometimes radiates out far enough that it seems to take over the joint), and joint pain of that magnitude is SCARY, even when you know it’s an illusion and nothing is really wrong. My arms were ON FIRE. My rib cage was ON FIRE. My whole body throbbed any time I was in a horizontal position. My head and eyes ached. Over the last five years I’ve lost so many things that gave me pleasure: martial arts, running, hiking, any pretense of a social life, and now, my teaching. If I want coffee, I’m going to drink it, dammit. If I want Coca-Cola, I’ll drink that too, although I’ll try to keep it in moderation.

Conclusion

My hypothesis is probably valid, but who cares?

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2 Responses to Lab Assignment #2

  1. Megan Wilberton says:

    I have cut soda and almost coffee out of my diet. I have substituted flavored seltzer water for the soda. I have a new obsession with Honest Tea unsweetened Green tea. It has nothing but tea in it. It is awesome. I highly recommend.

    • lfpbe says:

      That’s great! I honestly don’t crave soda when I’m laying low at home. But as soon as I’m working or otherwise busy, I drool over Coca-Cola all day. I’m really curious to see if cutting caffeine out of my diet helps my hand tremors. If it doesn’t, I’ll probably start drinking a moderate amount of coffee again.

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