For those who aren't aware, which is probably most of you, part of why I hadn't been posting for the last two months was illness. I was spending too much of my time sitting back feeling distressingly queasy, too queasy to concentrate or do anything of particular interest. (Arguably, in the circumstances, not puking was in and of itself interesting. I wasn't always that interesting.) At the beginning, I'd written this up as food poisioning (two months ago from a Mongolian Barbeque), which aggravated my usual digestive problems for an extended period. That explnation worked for a month, but it didn't work thereafter as a pattern began to establish itself: my first meal of the day was making me sick, no matter when it was.
I initially became suspicious that I'd somehow acquired lactose intolerance- a known possible effect of some variations of food poisoning. My first meal almost always included a unit of milk, either on breakfast cereal or on its own, because it's never too early to start fighting against a family history of osteoporosis. So I carefully took milk out of my diet, which after two days had no effect whatsoever. I still found myself at a loss for patterns.
Something else, instead, had been helping; I hadn't assembled any satisfying sort of pattern yet, but some dietary change (I assumed) had been making me feel overall better. I got suspicious of coffee two months ago, and had replaced that for tea; now I was suspicious of the insane strength I make tea at, and started not letting the teabag steep for 35 minutes. It helped, but not much- so I took the tea out, and replaced it with soda. It gave me the same cramping, nauesated reaction- which is not my usual reaction to the toxic levels of high-fructose corn syrup involved, for the record.
So I've finally taken caffeine completely out of my diet, and the problem is gone. I can be reasonably confident that removing caffeine was the cause, given how badly I abused my digestive system Saturday; I woke up late (past breakfast), and- as was Rakeela's and my original Thanksgiving plan- ordered a pizza. A three-topping extra-large pizza that fed us both all day, to be specific. So if my digestive system can handle bacon & ham & jalepeno pizza w/ extra sauce as its first food upon waking up, when my first meal had been coming back up many previous days when it was nothing less innocuous than cornflakes, it's probably safe to say I'm doing significantly better. The omission of caffeine was the only improvement I made to my eating that day.
I'm off it now, and experiencing that wonderful groggy headachiness that everybody who's ever gone through caffeine withdrawl has experienced, which is probably most of you, at least a little. (For those who haven't: I temporarily slightly hate you.) I've done this before; I successfully quit caffeine twice during the course of college. And I didn't stay off it, for health reasons; that's what worries me now.
Caffeine, judiciously applied, is an extremely effective antidote to asthma. My minimum of one cup of tea per day has kept me off daily asthma medication for years. That's how my habit started, back in middle school- instant tea, a 3:1 mix of decaf-to-caffeinated, when I had asthma symptoms, eventually leading to addiction- and a rapid improvement in my chronic asthma. Both times I went off it in college, I discovered just how much effect it was having against my allergies.
Well, now I don't have that option, because the side effects are more severe than the syndrome the cure is intended for. But y'know, I'm not so worried this time- there's a big difference between now and then, and that big difference is my lifestyle. Now, I'm cooking many of my own meals, making healthy food decisions, walking at least two miles per day (to work and back), and am less stressed than I was at college.
Maybe I'll just find out how much I really "needed" that caffeine after all. Maybe my asthma symptoms were just more withdrawal symptoms that would have passed, given another week- I do know that the other withdrawal symptoms are weaker this time, and I can't help but wonder if the knowledge that I don't have a choice anymore has lent me some extra strength on the matter.