Old Man Grieving – Vincent van Gogh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As yet another part of a well-meaning attempt to preserve what vision I have for as long as possible, my doctor has finally gone too far: he has ordered me to give up caffeine.
Now, there are a few issues this raises. One of the first that may strike you is–how can my doctor order me to do anything? The answer is that he was in the army before he went into private practice and, although he doesn’t say anything, I’m pretty sure he knows at least ten different ways to kill me with his bare hands. I know he has a very pointed look when he asks if I’ve been eating enough green, leafy vegetables. There are very few people who scare me, but he’s one of them.
The second, and ultimately more important issue is, is it actually possible for me to survive without caffeine? I know there are people who can, but I think at this point I may be physically composed of caffeine in significant amounts. I’m not saying giving up caffeine would actually cause my body to shut down, but I’m not eager to find out. I don’t have the courage to say this to my doctor, however, so the caffeine (I can’t believe I’m saying this) has got to go.
Today is my first day without caffeine. I found myself, once I was able to reassemble and reattach my skull, experiencing some unfamiliar emotions. Thoughts popped unbidden into my head. I started thinking, “I don’t really need to give up caffeine. I’m fine! Why is this happening to me?” I progressed from these thoughts to ones such as “Stupid doctor! It’s not fair! This is his fault!” From there, I went to “Maybe if I just offered to eat more fruit,” and “I’ll donate my life savings to charity if I don’t have to give up caffeine.”
I finally realized what was going on: I’m going through the five stages of grief.
- Denial. “I don’t really need to give up caffeine”
- Anger. “This is my doctor’s fault!”
- Bargaining. “Maybe if I just ate more fruit”
This leaves me with two more stages: depression and acceptance. I’ve already progressed to the depression stage. “It doesn’t matter, nothing matters anymore. Life is meaningless without caffeine.” Wikipedia has this to say about the depression stage of the Kubler-Ross model of grieving:
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage…. It’s natural to feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty when going through this stage.
Sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty. This is what I feel when I contemplate a Monday morning without caffeine. A tad dramatic, you say? Just imagine Monday morning at the office, in heels and hose, checking the seventeen messages that have accumulated over the weekend and remembering all those things that got put off from last week because it would all somehow be easier this week. Now, add caffeine withdrawal. Doesn’t that make you feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty?
I look forward to the acceptance stage. I’m told that’s when I come to terms with the tragic event. Caffeine, you’ve left me too soon. When I think of all the manic unfocused energy you gave me and the sudden complete physical collapse that came as you wore off, it’s hard to imagine my life without you. But our time has passed. And, to be honest, I doubt I’ll lose any sleep over you. That was kind of the problem in the first place.