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September 20, 2020

In my 60s, I remain pretty healthy with no major health issues. I’m grateful for this and don’t take it for granted. Not for a minute.

But in 2008 I was diagnosed with early-stage Hepatitis C -- before there was a cure. My doctor said it was no fault of my own as the disease is contracted through contaminated blood. I had no idea how I got it. But I had it. I was put on the only therapy available at the time that almost killed me, so my doctor stopped treatment. A blood transfusion put the skip back in my step and thankfully, I held steady until a cure was discovered several years later. According to my wonderful liver doctor, I will “never get Hep C again.”

Last week, I happened to think about my health’s good fortune.

Then, two nights ago we bought take out. Uh, let’s just say that after the first few bites, I had “an episode.” It was acid reflux, something I’ve never experienced before. I had a hard time swallowing as the muscles in my throat tightened with a burning sensation. It could have been the spices in my chicken curry. My other thought was that the stress of the pandemic, the fast-moving wildfires nearby -- and the 4.5 earthquake that hit the night before – were finally taking a toll on me.

Poor Louie. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but he thought quickly and put a trash can next to me. Well, that ruined his dinner. “I’ll just put my dinner in the fridge and make something else,” he said so kindly.

Was I disappointed. I passed on the wine and ate a banana, steamed rice, and Greek yogurt – not the dinner I was looking forward to.

I knew pretty much what I was experiencing. But Louie Googled my symptoms and proceeded to go down a long discouraging list of what I might have.

Then, together we read about acid reflux. Thankfully, it does not point to an underlying disease.

Stress is one thing that could contribute to acid reflux. But more so, certain foods -- like full-fat dairy products, bacon fat, spices, ice cream, potato chips – and caffeine in coffee and chocolate could cause it. What?? The last two just about threw me into full-blown depression.

But being a reasonable person mindful about my health, I took the high road and decided to stop drinking coffee and eating chocolate. But during the last 48 hours, I’ve had lasting headaches that I learned were withdrawal headaches. When we consume caffeine, our blood vessels narrow. When we stop, blood vessels expand allowing more blood flow to the brain – the cause of the headaches. By nixing my morning joe yesterday, I had little energy and felt terrible. I went to bed with a headache and I woke up with a headache.

Long story short, my morning coffee that I live for everyday is my muse. So, being the pragmatic person that I am, I decided to “sneak” a weaker cup of coffee this morning and used more non-dairy almond milk. The sound of the percolator and the aroma of pumpkin spice had me practically skipping around the kitchen.

The same article that listed symptoms of caffeine withdrawal also listed benefits of caffeine – the clencher that proved the need to continue my beloved habit: Increased energy, concentration, alertness, and feelings of well-being.

My blood vessels are back to “normal” now, my headache has gone away, and I’m feeling oh so good.

Washing Hands + Wearing a Mask + Social Distancing = Saving Lives

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