Tuesday, November 12, 2013

reluctant citizen of caffeination

Those of you who have been around for awhile will remember that I have migraines and that they seem to be made worse by caffeine. Six years ago I weaned myself off caffeine (see this post, and then this one), which was an entirely miserable experience, but once I was completely off, the migraines got much, much better. At one point I was down to only having 2-3 per month. So for a long time I was pretty careful to keep my caffeine intake down to no more than a couple of times a week.

But then it came time to write my thesis and defend it, and I was more stressed than I can say. And also I love coffee and Diet Dr Pepper with a great and abiding love. I was having a hard time sleeping, so I couldn't manage the drive down to UTown without caffeine. That was still only twice a week, but then I'd need to stay awake on other nights so I could study, etc etc etc. Long story short: I'm re-addicted, and have been for almost a year now. I make sure I have at least some caffeine every day, because I know if I don't, I'll get a migraine.

Damned if I do, damned if I don't. And the number of headaches and migraines I have seems to go up every month. My prescription is for 12 maxalt per month; last month I had to get extra (although that was partly due to a cold that settled in my sinuses).


Six years ago, the first time I quit, I did it cold turkey. I went from having a cup of coffee in the morning and a Diet Dr Pepper in the afternoon to nothing overnight. I didn't think it would make any difference if I weaned myself off. I'm still not sure it will make a difference, but I decided to at least try it this time. Maybe it won't be quite so miserable that way. I've only had about 50mg of caffeine/day for awhile now, and I was planning on cutting down even further when I got back from Texas and then cutting it out entirely next week.

But I had an interesting conversation with my sister in Texas that has me thinking. She also suffers from migraines, but when she stopped caffeine, she was so bleary-headed in the mornings that she couldn't function at work. So now she tries to have exactly the same amount of caffeine at the same time every day. She feels like the migraines that she has now are not related to caffeine (and she doesn't have them nearly as often as I do).

Hmmmmm. We'll see. I think I still need to get entirely off the stuff. My sister's migraines have always been different than mine, so I'm not entirely sure what works for her will work for me. But it's something to keep in mind, and it's tempting-- I am really dreading withdrawal. It's one of those epic family experiences that my kids still talk about in hushed voices.


  1. Oh blech good luck! I have a strange ability to stay up late to do schoolwork, so I was able to get through my life without a caffeine addiction. Sometimes if I'm tired I'll have caffeined tea, but I can't tell if it helps or not.

    I've been eating more dairy lately (I was vegan for a long time) and it definitely makes migraines more likely. So I'm trying to keep that low. But generally since getting on Gabapentin my chronic migraines have been waaaaaay better. O to have ownership of my head back!

    1. I've been trying to avoid going on some kind of migraine drug that I would have to take every day. But if this doesn't work, I'm going to look into it. Thanks for the input!

    2. Yes, didn't mean it as a recommendation... just like talkin' migraine.

  2. Have you looked into adding ginger to your diet to prevent migraines, Barb?

    1. Hi, Eva! I deleted my Fito account today, more on that in another post. So I will only see you on Facebook now! I did try ginger when I actually had a migraine, and it didn't seem to make that much difference. I haven't tried having some every day. Maybe I will try that, I have some good ginger tea.

    2. Deleted fito?!
      Look forward to hearing why, though I could make some guesses :)
      I deleted twitter yesterday, how's that for random chance similar behaviour?