My Adventures Without Coffee

Anyone who reads my books can probably guess that I love my coffee. Daniel the vampire astronomer cannot imagine being undead without coffee to warm the blood he consumes. Where would Ramon be without Fatemeh’s strong coffee to prime him for adventures in the wild west? Even my spacefaring adventurers make sure their ships are stocked with coffee.

As for me, I started drinking coffee during my senior year of college. I had housemates who made coffee, plus that was the year I worked at the Very Large Array radio telescope. Out there, the beverage choice was soda you could pay for or free coffee. As a college student, you can bet I took the free coffee. I hardly lived a caffeine-free existence before that. My mom always kept a pitcher of iced tea available. As a kid, if I wanted something to drink, it would be iced tea. As an almost nightly treat, she would let me have a Pepsi while I watched TV.

A few weeks ago, my doctor noted that I have an oddball heart rhythm. This is nothing new.  It was first diagnosed when I was in my 20s and as far as I knew, that was the way my heart rhythm has always been. Cardiologists have told me there’s little chance of it developing into anything worse. Despite that, my general practitioner was a bit worried. He immediately asked about my coffee consumption, and I told him I was a coffee drinker. He suggested I might want to give it up to see if it affected the heart rhythm. Given that the men in my family have a history of heart disease, I decided I should give it a shot and see what happened.

So, starting just before mid-November, I stopped drinking coffee. I also avoided caffeinated sodas and tea. I know I did consume some caffeine in chocolate and even in the occasional cup of green tea, but by my estimate, my caffeine consumption was the lowest it had been since I was a very small child. The first week without coffee wasn’t easy. The first day, I had a migraine-like headache. After that, I developed muscle aches in various parts of my body—my arms, back, legs, and hips all hurt at one time or another. This isn’t surprising given that caffeine does act as a vasodilator and giving it up would mean at least slight constriction of blood vessels. Despite that, I found I didn’t miss the coffee as much as I thought I would. It didn’t take me that much longer to “wake up” in the morning without it than it did with it. I really missed it on weekend mornings when I was most used to taking some leisurely time to read before starting my day. Also, after that first week, the pain finally vanished.

I didn’t get grumpy during my break from caffeine, but I did find myself feeling a little more prone to giving into my introvert tendencies and withdrawing to myself, especially during the first week when I was dealing with the pain. It’s hard to say whether this was a direct effect of stopping caffeine, or a side effect of the pain.

During this period, I looked into the effects of caffeine and learned that there, in fact, is little correlation between stopping caffeine use and correcting heart rhythm. Despite that, I personally have felt that I probably consumed a bit too much coffee on occasion and it seemed like it would be easier to return to moderate consumption if I started from “ground zero” so to speak. Sure enough, when I returned to my doctor this past week, he noticed essentially no change to my heart rhythm. I celebrated with a cup of coffee. Still, as I say, I hope this will be a first step in using a little more moderation in my coffee consumption.

Periodically a news story will come out about caffeine research. Sometimes the research indicates problems. Other times it indicates benefits. Most of it seems to agree caffeine, like most things in life, is best if done in moderation. Of course, any changes you make should be done in consultation with your doctor. I’m just a guy who tells thrilling tales of the imagination and studies distant galaxies, stars, and planets. Still, I found it empowering to know that I could give up caffeine with no problems if I desired.

If you want to read some of my coffee-inspired fiction, be sure to visit my website: http://www.davidleesummers.com.


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Blogger’s Tag! SMACK! You’re it!

On March 15, I was SMACKED by Emily Guido, The Light-Bearer Novelist. She is a wonderful indie author and I enjoy reading the excerpts she posts from her series. Go visit her blog at emilyguido.com and learn more about her.

Now, I know a lot of people don’t like award posts, but this isn’t an award. No one has won anything. You’re not getting this because you did something excellent. You got it because I feel like giving it to you, so there!!!

Are you gonna be a snob, too good to play with the other kids? Or will you join our silly game. If we do it right, every blogger in the cyber world will get tagged! No one is exempt.

Now, the rules. It’s not so awful. You can cut and paste most of it. Stop whining!

Geez!

The Rules:

  1. Post these rules.
  2. Post a photo of yourself and eleven random facts about you.
  3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.
  4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them.
  5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they have been tagged.

Photo of me and eleven random factoids:

DLS with Pirate Mug

  1. I took accordion lessons as a kid.
  2. My first job was working at an old-fashioned soda fountain called Heywood’s Ice Cream in San Bernardino, California.
  3. I spent the summer of 1987 on Nantucket Island.
  4. I helped to teach a college astronomy lab course while I was still in high school.
  5. I hated coffee until I went to work for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory during my senior year of college. If I wanted caffeine, the choice was free coffee or a fifty-cent can of soda.
  6. I met Jerome Bixby, one of the original writers for Star Trek, while standing in line for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan on its first day of release.
  7. I investigated a ghost sighting with three classmates as a final project for a paranormal psychology class in college.
  8. My wife and I had our honeymoon at Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
  9. I traded a print copy of my novel The Solar Sea for my first ereader—a gently used Kindle.
  10. My first car was a 1976 Buick Skylark.
  11. My current car is a 2011 Smart Passion Coupe.

Emily’s 11 Questions

As it turns out, Emily didn’t create a new set of questions for us, so I’m going to answer the same questions she did!

1. What is your favorite literary genre?

I have a wide range of “favorite” genres. Depending on my mood, I might like a good science fiction novel, a rip-roaring steampunk adventure, or a spine-tingling horror story. I’ll lump it all together and say I like speculative fiction.

2. What is your favorite film genre?

Like literary genres, I like films from a lot of different genres, but if I had to be pinned down, I can almost always be counted on to check out a good science fiction movie.

3. Do you read in bed? How? Book? Kindle? Both?

Yes, I read in bed. Book and Kindle are both fair game!

4. How do you take your coffee in the morning? If you don’t drink coffee, how do you survive your day?

I take my coffee black. I don’t do mornings without it!

5. Do you consider yourself fashionable?

I’m quite fashionable in my steampunk attire. Outside of that, give me jeans and a T-shirt most days and I’m good to go. If you want me to dress up, I’ll toss a sport coat on over it!

6. If you could live anywhere on earth, where would it be?

I actually consider myself quite fortunate to live in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It’s a place where I’m very happy and I have no strong desire to move. If I could have ANOTHER home, I would love to have a mountain retreat. There are many places that would do. I also think it would be fun to have a retreat on Nantucket.

7. Have you retained any evil habits? If not, with what will you bargain when you’re marooned at sea in a lifeboat?

Does sitting alone in a darkened room talking to my computer count? I guess I’d be using my stories as a bargaining chip when I’m marooned at sea in a lifeboat. Hope I’m stranded with bibliophiles!

8. What is the worst TV show that you love anyway?

I would probably have to say Lost in Space. It’s terrible, but I have fun watching it and it brings back good memories from my childhood. “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!”

9. When you vacation, do you want to be in an urban or rural environment?

Rural! I love to get away from the crowds and spend time in nature to recharge my batteries. It doesn’t really matter where. I’m happy in the desert, on mountain trails or on a quiet beach.

10. Where did you go on your all-time favorite vacation?

I think my all-time favorite vacation was a big loop up through Colorado to Dinosaur National Monument and back down through the national parks of Utah. We saw a lot of grand scenery on that trip.

11. Are you a morning person? Has anyone ever punched you for being cheerful before coffee?

I am not a morning person at all. Don’t get between me and the coffee maker in the morning!


Questions for those I’m tagging

OK, here are the questions for those who are tagged below. You’ll find some repeats plus a few that I liked on another blog with this same topic.

  1. What’s the most inspiring book you’ve ever read?
  2. What’s your favorite literary genre?
  3. What’s your favorite Grimm’s Fairy Tale?
  4. Do you read in bed? How? Book? Kindle? Both?
  5. Who is your favorite superhero?
  6. If you could live anywhere on earth, where would it be?
  7. If you could be a movie character, who would you be?
  8. Are you a morning person? Has anyone ever punched you for being cheerful before coffee?
  9. What is your favorite food to make?
  10. Where did you go on your all-time favorite vacation?
  11. What is your most shameful guilty pleasure?

You’ve been SMACKED!

Here are the people I’m tagging. Go visit their blogs and see they’re up to!