Shower for the Soul — A podcst hosted by Shane fame Alexander

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Unusual heart palpitations made me quit caffeine for 10 days

The reason why I had to quit caffeine. 

On Tuesday December 17th, I spent the day with unfamiliar heart palpitations and at the emergency room. The doc said I needed to quit caffeine – for now.

The heart palpitations started a few days before. I had never experienced anything to do with my heart being wacky so this caused me to worry. The beatings were off, my shoulder was getting tight. Of course I was thinking the worst.  Before, the palpitations began in the morning. The first couple days I shrugged them off as being something to do with how I slept on my arm. On the fourth day, I started to get them in the afternoon, which never happened before. This is when I decided to go visit the walk-in doctor.

While there, the doctor asked me a bunch of questions. As soon as I told him that my family has a history of heart problems and my shoulder issue, he told me to go straight to the emergency room to get an Electrocardiography (or an EKG.) My worries were legitimized. I scooted over to the hospital.

Within an hour of getting to the hospital I had been seen by the registration nurse and got my EKG done. Only if the rest of the day went by that fast. 7 hours later I was told to cut out everything  that’s good in life – chocolate and caffeine

 

Listen to your body      

I was finally seen by someone at 11.30. Several hours after the initial check-in. I promptly disrobed from the waist up and was seen by a nurse. Then, there was another wait until I got to see a male nurse that took blood and hooked me up to another EKG machine. Finally, the doctor came in. I told him the story and that I think it’s due to stress and anxiety. He told me to cut out everything that’s good in life – chocolate and caffeine. While it might do with my mental, the things I’m putting into my body will help the palpitations to calm down. He also noted that my age plays a huge part in this. At 41, my heart has begun to be kinda wacky. The beats aren’t the same from a decade ago. This’ll happen more often as I get older, he noted.

I’m happy that I listened to my body and knew when things were getting weird.

That’s the lesson I learned here – to listen to my body and get it checked out no matter how idiotic it might be to a trained professional. Be it as it may, it wasn’t going to be a fun few days off chocolate and caffeine.  Was I ready?

Day #1: No caffeine

Daily protocol dictates that I have one cup of coffee every morning by the latest 9am. This has been my routine for as long as I can remember. Like a drug, I never thought I was addicted to coffee as there are days where I go without just fine. Granted those days, It takes longer for me to wake up and I’m a tad moodier. I’m usually cherry in the morning, after coffee. The first day was hard.

The hardest part  was me knowing that I won’t have my morning brew for a while and the anxiety I had in trying to find a replacement. A few weeks ago, I sent away for a new mood milk. It’s a new band based in Toronto. It’s a powder made up of superfoods that create adaptogenic lattes. One of the flavours are intended to be taken in the morning, it’s called Boost. Perfect. I gave the Boost Mood Milk a whirl and it worked or I wasn’t as tired as I thought I’d be. The morning went well. I knew if I got pass the morning hump, the rest of the day sans Joe would be doable.

What I think that helped a lot was that my body isn’t unaccustomed to not having a smoothie in the morning. I have smoothies most mornings so my body wasn’t turned off or grossed out by this odd taste invading my body. It wasn’t missing the familiar coffee. Yet.

Day #2: Looking for something to replace caffeine

The second day had me feeling caffeine withdrawals.  The toughest part came in the morning where I searched for a replacement that’ll give me that comfy feeling that coffee tends to give us.   I was drowsy for most of the day.. While drowsy, I was surprisingly very productive. I got a lot of work done, without my main crutch. I was proud of myself.

Day #3: Decaf is my new caffeine

I gave decaf coffee a whirl. I didn’t even know that we had decaf coffee in the house. This helped a bit as I was craving just the taste of coffee. While I do have decaf as backup, I’ll try my hardest not to have any coffee at all for the remaining days.

On a health tip – got a call from The London Cardiac Institute. They’ll be hooking me up with a holter monitor to kick off 2020. I’ll need to wear it for a whole day to keep a diary of my heart rhythm and to make sure my heart isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. I can’t shower for a whole day – that could be a whole other article. Anyway, day 3 was compromise and progression.

Day #4: Black (decaf) coffee, please

Why not? It’s Saturday and it’s time to bring out the hard stuff. To be honest, I forgot to take creamer. By the second sip I realized there wasn’t any and I was okay with that. It actually worked much better than the decaf coffee I had yesterday. No palpitations either. The hardest part of today, Saturday, is going to the mall sans my regular Starbucks tag-along. The regular caffeine boost whilst shopping is always a great bonus. Especially on a crazy shopping day like today.

Day 5: Half way mark update

We’re here at the halfway mark. Health wise, feeling a bit better. The weird heart palpitations have been steady and nothing out of the ordinary. Life without caffeine has been tough getting used to, but I think I’ll survive. I just need to find a suitable (and healthier) alternative. A whole lot of things happened on day 5. I slept for most of the day. I just felt like being alone, curled up in my bed. No lights, no action. Just me and my drowsy thoughts. The only liquid I actually had on day 5 was cranberry juice and water. 

 

Day 6, 7, 8 – Off to Detroit 

Took off to Detroit for the holidays. Quick trip, only lasted a few days. My good friend that I was bunking with doesn’t drink coffee, so it made the on-vacation-rules-don’t-apply-here craving for coffee so much easier. Christmas morning had a cup of decaf. I had zero weird things happening with my heart either. 

 

Day 9 – Back home with a cup of Joe

Back home in London. The morning started with a huge cup of decaf. One more day to go in this challenge and it was much easier than I thought it would be. Truth be told, I thought it’d be a process much like quitting smoking. The cravings, the anxiety,  the loss of weight. But it’s been a reasonably smooth transition period. 

Day 10: End is here 

These 10 days have been a trip, including an actual trip to the States. I was scared at first. Just like how I was scared when I ever thought of quitting smoking. How will I survive without it? What will I replace it with? Nothing can replace it, I need it.  My body doesn’t need caffeine. I don’t need caffeine. I just like it as it’s a good way to boost myself in the morning. Health wise, to be honest, I never saw why I needed to give it up as I never thought that coffee was attributed to my heart palpitations.

But I was down for the challenge and I was interested to see how my addiction to coffee is. Of course, coffee is still the best to me for a first thing in the morning booster. Will I be giving it up for good? No. I’m sure I’ll go back to it sooner rather than later.  Did I find alternatives to morning brew? No, I haven’t. Even though, smoothies with the right greens comes very close. Hint: Add a boost, like the one I mentioned above.

The final diagnoses

On the health tip, I haven’t had any heart palpitations for four days so  that’s the good news. As I mentioned last week, I will be getting a heart monitor put on me for a whole day. That’ll be happening on January 6. Will keep you updated. I’m happy I did this challenge. It was very eye-opening and I recommend everyone try it. Not because you have to, just because it’s a cool self-check-up on your habits. If you do choose to try the no caffeine challenge, keep me in the loop with your progress.