The Caffeine Rats

Repost from the old site.
It’s a long story, but the last time I worked consistently, from 1994 to 1996, I was so damn tired all the time that I was drinking lots and lots of caffeine. I figured out all sorts of inventive ways to take it, in pills, in herbal tablets, in drinks, you name it.
Then I added ephedrine. At one point, I was taking one 30mg tablet per hour every waking hour, and my blood pressure was still 103/56. I know it doesn’t make sense.
After a while of this, my blood pressure started going nuts. I eventually stopped getting it checked. I would go into the doctor’s office, and I would openly refuse to have my BP checked. The doctors were getting really mad and telling me I was going to die. I said, “I know,” and shrugged my shoulders. We’re all going to die; this is news?
Every now and then I would get a reading for the Hell of it. One was like 185/107 or something. They gave me a drug called Captopril, and it seemed like it crashed the pressure down, but it also seemed like it made me tired for at least weeks.
I started getting all kinds of weird symptoms from the hypertension (HTN), but people kept telling me I was imagining it because HTN has no symptoms. I had symptoms all right. I had pains in my chest and my throat. I had weird buzzing feelings all over my face and especially in my eyes, where it was sort of a vague pain.
I had pains in my kidneys, and my kidneys tests went off with creatinine too high. That means kidney damage. Worst of all, my feet started swelling, and that was the scariest feeling of them all.
After all, all I was trying to do was work.
America says everyone has to work all the time, or work or die, with the anti-welfare crowd, and my whole life, I’d either been working, in school, or both. If I didn’t take the stimulants, I could not work.
I had chronic fatigue. Eventually, the job ended, in part due to the fact that I would go in and sit there doing nothing much of the day. I actually couldn’t seem to lift a finger. The work was really hard anyway, and it seemed I just couldn’t do it. People kept saying I was depressed, but I insisted I wasn’t.
The job ended, and I lived off my credit card for a while. After a while, that charade could not play out any longer, and I went to a bankruptcy attorney who called me a thief. I got up and walked out of his office and never came back.
The bill collectors started calling, sounding like Cousin Luigi from Detroit. I eventually quit answering the phone. I was still on caffeine, and the BP was still too high.
Eventually, I just declared bankruptcy and blew off $12,000 in debt. Now I was on the credit card black list.
I moved back in with my parents.
I was 41 years old. My life was a wreck.
I was going around to doctors and the diagnosis was “chronic fatigue.” I kept getting treated like shit by doctor after doctor, and I turned into a “doctor shopper.” Not because I was looking for someone to validate my fake symptoms, but because I was getting pissed off at doc after doc treating me like shit. I’d take it for a while, and then say Fuck You and move on, and the new doc would be the same.
I kept noting stuff that made it seem like a sinus infection or allergies, but everyone kept laughing me off. Everyone was saying it was all in my head, and when it came to the illness, everyone was treating me like crap. They kept saying I was depressed. I kept saying No I’m not.
Finally, I went to an allergy doc, and they diagnosed chronic sinusitis.
I’m under treatment, but I haven’t really worked for real for 13 years now.
But during the time I was on tremendous quantities of caffeine, I noticed something.
The caffeine rats.
You see them out of the corners of your eyes. They’re always scurrying, about the size of a rat, and when you turn to look for them, they are gone. I saw them more than once. I scaled down the caffeine, and they went away. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything before or since.
Other drugs have similar syndromes. On ayahuasca you usually see tigers. On high doses of cocaine you start to feel and maybe even see bugs crawling under your skin. They’re called coke bugs.
Then there’s the caffeine rats. I wonder if I’m the only one?

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13 thoughts on “The Caffeine Rats”

  1. Robert,
    Be real careful with ingesting too much caffeine, definately not good for anyone’s long-term health.
    Essentially, caffeine, and sugar, although may provide for a relitively short burst of ‘energy’, causes a longer burst of adrenal fatigue and stress, making one more lethargic, and hence, worsening the problem rather than treating it (supposed lack of energy).
    You are probably familiar with herbal teas. My favorite is Yerba maté, which I think is from Brazil or South America (your area of expertise 🙂 ).
    It is good stuff. Had it quite frequently on my trip to Brazil. Definately recommend it.

    1. I used to drink that stuff all the time – mate. It’s a blast man. Mix it with honey. I’d like to get one of those tin cups and silver straws and drink it the way the Argentines do.
      Damn! Those caffeine rats were a trip, man! I want to see those suckers again! That was fun.
      Holy hallucinations, Batman!

  2. I don’t take very much caffeine, myself. I was never in quite that bad a state, but I had what amounted to migraine-like problems without the migraines (without the pain). I actually ended up being really lucky, as far as the problems that did occur and the problems that could have happened. That virus infects the bile ducts and gallbladder, proximal tubules, probably the epithelial cells of the choroid plexuses, probably astrocytes, monocytes, mast cells, probably microglia. An important method to managing it, for me, was combining the Th2-augmenting interventions with the immunostimulating approaches (TAU, MTHF, etc.). Adenosine and the like were, of course, the centerpiece of those types of strategies, and most people wouldn’t believe how important they can be under certain circumstances. That research in that area, starting most obviously in 2003 or whatever, is probably the most important, in terms of physiological approaches, in the last 40 years.

  3. Yeah, I’ve been reading articles in those areas for 15 years. It’s possible to guess where I started with that, with the most prolific of the authors in that area. And then there were the articles giving credence to “cases” and to the evidence contained in them. Those articles tore down the walls of a false evidentiary and philosophical system and were obviously really important, as far as my philosophical mindset went. A person needs a philosophy or way of looking at and thinking about things. I remember being pleased and thinking that was just the right thing in the transition from the past, as you can imagine. I thought that they actually know what they’re doing and can make a terrific choice. It’s a rare thing, these days. For whatever it’s worth, I don’t develop respect for just anyone. I don’t lose it and would never mean to trample on it. I used to photocopy probably 1-5 articles a day, in the biomedical library, for a number of years, and I’d spend 1-2 hours, many days, browsing random articles, etc. I can do that online now, but I sort of miss the actual library. Many of the important things I’ve come across have been things I’ve seen by chance, during times I was basically “wasting” time. “Wasting time” is probably the most important thing to do, in my view.

  4. Just so you know: Yerba Mate has a ton of caffeine. That may be why you think it is so energizing. Or maybe I’m just lying to you as part of the Jewish conspiracy.

    1. This Jewish conspiracy stuff is bizarre.
      I am the first to admit that I have not devoted hours and hours (or years and years) of my life to studying Jews. But I can’t help thinking of one question: How are Jews supposed to behave?

    2. I think Mort is being tongue-in-cheek, AU.
      “How are Jews supposed to behave?”
      Simple, the way they DEMAND EVERYONE ELSE ‘behave’.

  5. Oh man, this is a great piece. Really good writing. Thanks Robert.
    I am a longtime caffeine addict myself. I had a doctor give me the BREAKTHROUGH DIAGNOSIS a couple years ago to cut out the afternoon cup o’ Joe. So what did I do? Had afternoon Coke instead. Har har.
    True though. I try to switch to half-decaf at some point, and that seems to help.
    Unrelated (for me anyway) is my own struggle w/ sinusitis. Mine have turned chronic and I am facing a post CT Scan decision:
    surgery or balloon sinuplasty?
    No fun either way.
    As much as I enjoy coffee (and I do), I am sometimes jealous of folks who can get at least most of what they need from a tea. Problem is I have NEVER found one w/ any actual, guts. If anyone can recommend something (decaf or least low-caf preferred) I would be most grateful.
    Thanks.

  6. Lately, soda pops have become as addictive as coffee. I wonder if this phenomenon, was created on purpose by scientists.
    Of course, some forms of caffeine (energy drinks) are so potent (as well as incredibly unhealthy and unnatural), they’re dangerous for anyone to drink.

  7. I saw them all the time when I drank coffee all day. I went to the doctor for my gout pain and my blood pressure was 218/190. The nurse started having a stroke. They wouldn’t let me leave until the pills they gave me brought it down to 170 or so. I’m on blood pressure pills now and in taking 2 half and half cups if coffee a day. I went back to work after a 3 year sebaticle and I don’t see caffiene rats any more.

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