In yet another personal semi-triumph of willpower, I went without coffee today for the first time in many, many years. I love coffee. Let me impress upon you the magnitude of my sacrifice. I love coffee. Why would I torture myself so? A new masochism? No, just the fear of aging.
Yesterday, I completed this questionnaire: http://www.agingresearch.org/calculator/quiz.cfm
Try it. It is quite scientifically-based and it gives a good analysis of your life expectancy. Out of 100 potential years, my lifestyle, genetics, etc. suggest that my life expectancy is 93.8 years. Not bad. I eat reasonably well, I don’t smoke, I live in the ‘burbs, I’m not prone to stress, I have good genes. My “problem areas”, however, are too much coffee, too much chocolate, and probably too much alcohol. The authors preach moderation over abstinence, so I took it somewhat to heart when they suggested I could replace some of my coffee with green tea. No voodoo, no claims of immortality, just the suggestion that I might live better, longer if I cut back. I guess the days of teenaged invincibility are over.
Coffeelessness wasn’t that bad for most of the morning. The tea prevented the headache. But by the afternoon, I started to feel a bit twitchy. I started thinking almost obsessively about coffee. I had a doctor tell me to get a cup if I started to seize. I felt compelled to tell everyone whose path I crossed about my coffeeless day, with poorly-concealed, probably misplaced pride. Somehow, I made it through supper without a seizure, and without a coffee. I don’t even think I was all that bitchy, although you’d have to ask my family.
I have rationalized my decision not to go cold turkey. Besides the fact that I love coffee, I was chatting with a patient today who has been given the choice to have chemo or not. He has a few months to live, at best, and the chemo may give him another couple of months, but the side effects may make those months miserable. It’s all about quality of life. I told him he needed to weigh out the pros and cons and decide if he would rather have more time, or better time. This goes back a bit to my blog of yesterday. The more I think about it, the more I realize that despite the pain, the depths to which we sink when we are mourning, the good times are worth the risks we take when we love enough, when we give enough to hurt that badly.
So, needless to say, I am drinking a coffee (and eating chocolate Easter eggs) as I write this. Today, I glimpsed a tiny corner of insight into addiction. I know the risks, but I have decided that I would prefer to live a shorter, more caffeinated life. I have made my peace with it. I just hope my delicious salvation will let me sleep tonight.