Monday, November 19, 2007

The Decaff is coming

I'm moody. This is a statement of being, not a description of my current state of mind. My moods are influenced by many things, but when I go to see my doctor about the rather more extreme mood swings that occur during my menstrual cycle, the consultation surprises me.

"How long do the mood swings last?" he asks, after I pre-empt his suggestion that I go on the pill with a firm negative.

"I don't feel like myself for about three days. Sometimes it's like thinking through fog, and my emotional state becomes all-powerful, it can be hard to maintain a firm sense of rationality," I answer, thinking that by 'firm' I mean 'any'.

He looks at me like a plumber might look at a challenging job, drawing in a long, whistling breath.

"The thing is," he says, "PMT is incredibly difficult to treat. Almost impossible really."

Great, I think, nodding politely but trying to convey anticipation of something more useful to follow this helpful observation.

"The first thing I need to tell you is that it could be worse. I see women who lose two weeks a month to PMT."

He gives me a long look and I wonder if this is the end of the consultation.

This is a model of medicine that is new to me. The 'It could be worse' diagnosis. As he stares at me meaningfully, my mind wanders. I imagine stumbling into A&E with my foot hanging off.

"It could be worse. It could be the whole leg, you see. That's much worse. In fact, someone came in this morning with a gunshot wound to the head. He died. Your injury is nowhere near as bad as that."

I snap back to the moment. My doctor is still staring at me.

"Right," I manage. Am I supposed to leave now with this slice of sagacity under my belt? I imagine comforting those worst affected by my moods with the 'It could be worse' diagnosis: my partner, my boss, my friends. I smile.

The doctor sighs, as if guessing correctly that this is not quite enough.

"Do you drink a lot of caffeine?" he asks, finally.

I'm surprised by the question, and images of the dozens of cups of coffee, tea and green tea that I drink in an average day fly through my mind.

"Er, quite a lot, yes," I admit, not meeting his eye. Doctors bring out the innate sense of shame in me.

"Right, well try removing that from your diet."

I splutter the word, "Completely?" in the same tone I would use for the question, Are you high on crack right now?

"Yes. Completely. You'd be surprised how much it affects your moods."

I stare at the carpet, slowly taking in the full horror of his advice. On an average day there is more coffee in my veins than blood.

"Right," I murmur, glumly. There are stains on the carpet at my feet. I shuffle my shoe backwards and wonder what they are.

"Drink grapefruit juice when you have cramps and take these tablets if it's particularly painful. Come back and see me if giving up caffeine doesn't seem to have any effect. Oh, and don't drink alcohol during your period."

He hands me a prescription as I stare at him with violence in my eyes.

So, I'm drinking decaff coffee. This pains me. My friend Kyo called me a fake when I brought a cup to the table. James and I have taken to calling my decaff coffee 'pointless coffee,' which just about sums up how I feel about it. I'm also drinking decaff tea and the green tea has been eradicated from my diet completely.

The effects, or rather the lack of the effect of caffeine was notieable to me almost immediately, especially at work. My swings of mood are legendary at the Ministry, with sudden bursts of energy leading me to sing, to laugh maniacally at random thoughts and it's been known for me to occasionally impersonate larger marsupials around my colleagues' desks.

Without my caffeine highs, I work steadily and fairly quietly. My productivity has increased but my happiness is somewhat dented. I feel as though I've lost a section of my personality.

Thank God he didn't mention anything about giving up the crystal meth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You'll have to supplement your diet, whether that be physically or mentally with something else, something really wicked that makes you giggle everytime you think about it,no not that!! dirty bird!!

The same as giving up most things you as well as the physical side are also needing the actual act of making and having social coffee, so try some thing new instead, make a smoothie, with a ton of ice cream to help it be more fun.


glad you back