A Day in the Life — The Dangerously Under-Caffeinated

By Amy Tatnall

With 2 exams already down this week, this seemed like the least painful (and potentially damaging) time to bring my world to a crumbling halt and see what life would be like for a few days without caffeine. In the hard and fast world of caffeine, coffee is my drug of choice and I depend on it. A lot. The thought of life without coffee even for a short period of time is painful, yet so many people never touch it and hardly rely on caffeine at all. So I had to know – how do they do it?

Day 1

I usually go to the gym in the morning before breakfast and have trained myself to be lucid for a couple of hours before I ever get my hands on that glorious first cup of coffee. It’s a reward system I’ve set up for myself, and is a good incentive to get me through my workout. But not today. When I get back from the gym I resist the urge to fire up my coffee pot before jumping in the shower (which I usually do so that my room will be filled with the sweet smell of freshly brewed coffee when I get back). I head to the dining hall and painfully walk by the beckoning coffee urns. As I sit and eat I can’t help but feel as though my breakfast is missing an essential component.

Walking to my first class my body seems to notice the absence of its favorite fuel and makes sure that I know this is not a welcome change. My headache sets in as every person I pass greedily clutches a cup of coffee in their gloved hands.

I make it through my first class, but walking to my second I feel slightly unsteady. I literally feel shaky and my head is pounding. What the hell kind of stuff do they put in coffee?! My goal for the day quickly becomes to make it through my classes – talk to as few people as possible – and get to my bed right away. Homework is not even a thought of as I climb into my comfortable bed in hopes of sleeping off this agony with a nap. The rest of my day passes in a haze and I accomplish very little before I finally give in to the pleas of my exhausted body and head to bed.

Day 2

I wake up remembering that Wednesdays are the days I typically take off from the gym. Thank Jesus. I’m questioning my ability to get out of bed at all knowing that my body will soon realize it’s awake and wants coffee. Yeah, screw the Stairmaster. After 10 minutes of internal pep talk, I’m out of bed and on the move. I eventually make it to the dining hall and decide the fill the void in my breakfast with hot tea, which holds a fairly close second to coffee in terms of my affection. I grab whatever decaf tea I see first and quickly make myself a cup.

The headache showed up earlier today, but I’m ready for it. I realized what my problem was yesterday: I wasn’t hydrating. Rookie mistake, so today I’m all over it. I’ve downed 2 Nalgenes by noon and everyone around me must think I have some severe bladder infection. If only they knew how much worse my true affliction is. The water helps, and although my head is seemingly twice the size of my body, my shakes seem to have lessened and I am coherent. And alive.

Mission accomplished. My body seems to hate me slightly less today as it starts to adjust to its new lifestyle. Too bad I’ll be going back to my old habits the second this little experiment is over…

Day 3

I can proudly say that on the last day in my decaffeinated prison I successfully made it to the gym without causing any bodily harm to myself or those around me. And, as an added bonus, I discovered a new reward to get myself through my workout: dark chocolate. Is it true that chocolate has caffeine in it? Yes. But honestly, if going three days without coffee doesn’t warrant a tiny piece of chocolate than I have no idea what else ever would.

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