An educational post


So, it’s official. My doctor told me this morning that I am a caffeine addict.

It’s not the first time she’s told me this, actually. Every time I go in she encourages me to stop drinking coffee, or to at least cut down on it. I’ve always looked on this advice as something doctors are Supposed To Say to each of their patients, in the same way I tell my kids each day to clean their rooms, and therefore I have always ignored it.

Apparently she really did mean that I should cut down on my caffeine intake. Apparently, my recent problems with headaches, tremors, high blood pressure, mood swings, and dizziness are actually the side effects of drinking anywhere from 8-14 cups of coffee each day. When I’m at work, I frequently add caffeine shots to my already-caffeinated coffee. Probably my candy coated espresso bean snacks haven’t helped any. So today, she gave me a little pamphlet with the following information:

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system. It increases the stress hormones in your blood stream, causing you to temporarily feel more alert. While there’s no real harm in having a single cup of coffee, many people become trapped in a vicious cycle of caffeine addiction. They become dependant on caffeine to stay alert during the day and find it hard to relax at night because of their excessive caffeine consumption. Then, they must consume even more caffeine the following day to compensate for their lack of rest.

Caffeine reaches your bloodstream within about 30-45 minutes. It increases your body’s dopamine levels in the same way that heroine, cocaine, and amphetamines do. Caffeine also binds to adenosine receptors and leads to increased neuron firing in the brain

While caffeine does result in increased alertness, it has been linked to high blood pressure, insomnia, tremors, rapid breathing, headaches, dizziness, a loss of fine motor control, and erectile dysfunction.

 I’ll bet you’re wondering what “adenosine receptors” are. I wondered, too, so I Googled it. According to Wikipedia:

“The adenosine receptors (or P1 receptors) are a class of purinergic receptors, G-protein coupled receptors with adenosine as endogenous ligand.”

It went on to add:

“The activity of A2A adenosine receptor, a G-protein coupled receptor family member, is mediated by G proteins which activate adenylyl cyclase. It is abundant in basal ganglia, vasculature and platelets and it is a major target of caffeine.

 I don’t know what any of that means, but words like purinergic, adenylyl cyclase, and basal ganglia scare the shit out of me. So, I’m gonna do the only thing I can do. I’m gonna give up da coffee. My basal ganglia, apparently, are depending on me.

At least, I’m going to quit after I’m done with Script Frenzy. And after I’ve finished writing that new book I’ve been working on. Well, let’s say after I’m done editing it as well. Even though, really, I can quit any time I want.

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About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

11 responses to “An educational post

  • Lori

    Oh, I’m sorry you got in trouble with your doctor, Kel. But yeah, it sounds like good advice to stop the excess, I guess. I get very jittery from coffee, so I don’t drink much. Considering now the g-protein ligand adenosinic … stuff, I’m suddenly very glad that I don’t.

  • Robert

    I loved the twist in your last paragraph. You had me totally sucked in until then!

  • R.J. Keller

    Lori, I’m very glad that you don’t, too.

    Robert…I really want to want to quit. And I have decided to forgo the candy coated espresso beans. That has to count for something. 😉

  • bunnygirl

    If it makes you jittery, you definitely need to at least cut back a bit. Me, I can jones on caffeine all day long and still drop right off to sleep. Make of that what you will.

  • Joe Glasgow

    That sucks. The symptoms of too much caffine are a bit worrisome. I’ve drank about the same amount coffee you do for many years and I never had any trouble. Of couse I never had a doctor’s advice, either. On the idea I was addicted to caffine, I once gave up all forms of it for two weeks with no problems. I decided I wasn’t addicted and had myself a cup of coffee. I heard it reported it’s harder to get off caffine than it is to stop smoking. I’m not sure on that. But caffine is a drug, and the most widely used drug at that. As the old adage says: “All things in moderation.”

  • robinaltman

    Wow. Glad Wikipedia gave such a nice, easy explanation for adenosine receptors. Hahahaha! That gave me a good laugh.

    Don’t worry, Dudette. Coffee isn’t that awful. You’re just drinking a bit too much. If you cut down after your screenwriting thing is over, you’ll be fine. Unless you die of a basal ganglia explosion. Or get a stroke from high blood pressure. Or get an arrhythmia. Other than brain damage, you’ll be totally fine. Trust me on this one.

  • R.J. Keller

    Joe…what is this “moderation” of which you speak? 😉

  • R.J. Keller

    Robin, I’m kind of excited about this arrhythmia thing. Miama Sound Machine, back in the 80’s, claimed many a time and oft that “Arrhythmia’s Gonna Get You,” and I was always bummed out that it never did. 😀

  • Joe Glasgow

    Supposedly, moderaton is a set limit. So, in the case of moderation with coffee…up to 15 cups per day. 😉

  • Kit Courteney

    Ooooh, what Robert said! I was in full ‘Yey, she’s being sensible’ mode until then!

    I got told to give up caffeine just before Christmas. It nearly killed me… the giving up, not the poxy caffeine.

    Now, though, I only drink decaff tea and coffee unless out/at a friend’s and the smell of ‘proper’ coffee makes me dribble.

    It would be rude to sit and dribble, after all.

  • robinaltman

    Kit – I dribble all the time, and nobody ever says anything. They do scooch over on the couch, though.

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