Head of state of things

I’m going to ignore everything roiling around me and this country and talk about my head. I wish you could see my cuticles—I’ve bitten them to within an inch of their cuticle lives.

Anyway, m’head.

Ten years ago, I went to a headache specialist here in town. He didn’t laugh at any of my hilarious jokes, but he did tell me several crucial things about my migraines. For one, he told me I had to give up caffeine. He said I had a delicate brain, which I loved, and that caffeine was just too much for it, which if you ask me cannot be true because I been lovin’ caffeine since I’m 15 and look how well I turned out.

He also gave me a list of migraine-safe foods I could eat, which consisted of water, lettuce and chicken.

He also put me on Topamax, and the weight fell off of me, and I weighed less than I had since I hit 30. It was magnificent. Oh, and it helped with migraines! The only thing is, it made me stupid. Like, seriously. I couldn’t think of words, and I kind of need to be able to think for my job.

I stayed on Topamax for about six months before I missed thinking and so I went off of it and gained all the weight back and oh! Another thing Topamax did was make carbonated drinks taste flat. It happened on day one. I took my first Topamax and stampeded to McDonald’s, and said, “Oh, their Coke is broken.”

So I was excited to get fat and migrainous and drink a soda again.

Anyway, the final blow for me seeing that doctor 10 years ago was he wanted me to have these nerve shots, like I’m not nervous enough. They were to help my neck, which is always stiff. I like to keep a stiff upper neck.

Ten years ago, and have I established when it was yet? It was 10 years ago. I went in there for m’nerve shots, not worried about it at all, when

WOOMP!

I got this WAVE of nausea, and according to the nurse turned green like the Wicked Witch of the Migraine, and as throwing up is my personal phobia, I ran out of there and never went back.

Until now!

My migraines are horrendous as of late. I get them almost every day. Days I DON’T get them I think, “Oooo! No migraine today!”

That’s no way to live.

So I put on my mask, which makes me panic but I do it anyway, and headed into the office, there, and filled out 47 yards of paperwork (Do you get headaches? Do you get bad headaches? Does your head hurt when you get headaches? Are your headaches located in your head? Hey, by the way, how are your headaches?) and then had an EKG to see if — well, they told me what they were looking for but I forget.

Despite evidence to the contrary, I have a heart, so then they took 14 vials of blood to see — well, they told me what they were looking for but I forget. I just know they said if they don’t call it’s good news. Or they forgot. Whichev.

Then the doctor walked in. He’s one of those people I see all the time. Do you have people like that? I’ve seen him at Target. I saw him at a beer place once, splitting a giant pretzel with a pretty woman.

“That would be my wife,” he said, when I delivered this dialogue. Have I mentioned he doesn’t laugh at any of my spectacular jokes? I know I made some yesterday but I forget.

Look, I slept like one hour last night. I’m tense. I’m trying to ignore. Have I showed you my cuticles, or lack thereof?

I did a series of tests, not like with a scantron sheet or a blue book, but to prove I don’t have anything in my brain except sparkles and kittens. After testing everything, the doctor said

wait for it

I have migraines.

Then he said he’d like to do those nerve block shots again.

Oh my god.

“They’ll really help,” he said, and I relayed the story of last time he did them, and how the paper sheet my I was lying face-down on had a Shroud of Greensboro on it from my sweaty nauseated face, and how I was green—GREEN. And we all know it’s not easy being green.

He said he’d go slowly.

So I can very slowly get nauseated.

“Does anyone actually throw up from the shots?” I asked him tensely.

“Just young thin women,” he said pointedly. Then he sort of looked me up and down. “Women with really low blood pressure.”

I may be old and fat, by my blood pressure is always 14 over 4.

So we made an appointment for me to go get the damn shots, and I do have to say once the nausea passed last time my neck felt marvelous, but mother of god I am scared.

Also, he gave me a diet of water, lettuce and chicken, which sounds familiar. And I have new preventative pills to take, not Topamax but something else, but the side effect is weight loss, which is good because I recently won the woman from This Is Us lookalike contest. Have I mentioned I’ve gained the weight?

Also also, he said I have to give up caffeine. Haven’t they advanced in 10 years? Haven’t they found ways to work around the whole caffeine thing? IT’S ALL I’VE GOT. Well. Apparently I’ve got food. See above. But now I have to give that up too.

“And, stop taking the Imitrex,” he said. “Just stop. It’s causing all these rebound migraines.”

I knew that, of course. I am taking way too much medicine. But to stop will mean I will have a horrid, horrid migraine with no drugs. He did prescribe me some other pills, a muscle relaxer, to sort of get me through the awfulness of that, but mother of god, I am not looking forward to that.

I have two weeks of vacation time I haven’t used, and am thinking of using it to Trainspot self off the Imitrex. Doesn’t that sound like a delight? Doesn’t it sound relaxing?

So that’s where I am with that. Oh, and I have to be very regulated about sleep, which I really do try to do, and then I got my one hour in last night so go me.

Caffeine. CAFFEINNNNNNNEEEE!

I can’t stand it. Ima do it slowly, not cold turkey. Like, in the morning, I have a small pot that makes four cups (pffft. Why are measurement never accurate? It makes two mugs. Who drinks CUPS like some sort of pansy?) and I usually make two pots of that. Today I am trying to live on just the one pot.

Then next week I will try to drink half that pot.

Then the week after that I plan to take my life in a simple ceremony. BECAUSE CAFFEINE.

Ugh.

Does anyone have any good chicken and lettuce and water recipes?

Headily,
June

79 Comments

  1. My doctor said all that rebound stuff also and I went several WEEKS without taking anything and just gutting through every stupid migraine (and yes, there was one where I decided I was dying) and guess what? I realized after a while that I felt exactly like I had before I started taking any meds for migraines – crappy all the time, nonfunctional in the afternoons, and sometimes totally in pain. So, yeah, I don’t buy the rebound theory (in my case, anyway). And caffeine helps with my migraines, so he can pry it out of my cold, dead hands, thank you very much.

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  2. Most doctors won’t discuss the importance of your posture. I know you hate advice, but here goes. You may get some relief by adopting Esther Gokhale’s shoulder roll (and pulling your head into position), especially working from home. If you hate me for unsolicited advice, so be it. But I care, so here it is. If you can’t stand the suspense, start watching at 6:00 minutes in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkWtO6He7VM

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  3. My neurologist hasn’t ever told me I can’t have caffeine thankfully. She does feel I should limit it, which I try to do. But then I get migraines with or without caffeine. Much like you I’m chronic (11 or so per month) but my imitrex works and I go about my day once it kicks in. I don’t think I’d want nerve blockers. I tried Botox once and passed out in the chair from the needles. None of the prevention stuff has worked for me so far. Hope this works for you!

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  4. I am also of the Stiffneck family of the Midwest. I had terrible migraines when I was younger but they went away for years. Then they came back…but it turns out the newest headaches aren’t migraines, they’re tension headaches from the stiff neck. While I’m not suggesting that you don’t have migraines, the stiff neck is obviously not helping. Muscle relaxers barely work on me so I go to the chiropractor and have back and neck massages and the combo really gives me a lot of relief. If my sister-in-law lived closer I’d get free acupuncture but my insurance won’t cover getting poked with a bunch of needles. I was planning on starting a yoga class to help with the stiffness but the pandemic has put that plan on hold. Basically, I’m sympathic. If I had as many headaches as you, I’d probably punch people.

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  5. ** I had the Health test completed with Ancesty DNA and supposedly I have a high resistance to caffeine. As in I gobble down double, triple amounts to satisfy my needs… and then I get headaches after all that gobbling. If I cut out caffeine, I’m thinking that it may help lower my headache attacks. On the subject of lettuce: Does the lettuce requirement allow other greens like spinach? Because if a green can be used in a stir fry, soup, stew, or casserole with chicken…then that takes you beyond chicken/lettuce wraps. Best of luck with your new treatment.

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  6. (Swiss) water-processed decaf. No chemicals. I drink it a lot. (In rotation right now is Pinon brand from New Mexico). Even better if you get whole beans and grind them. Bonus: You get to feel barista-ish. It will say on the packaging if it’s water processed. If it doesn’t say that, don’t trust it. Google just turned up this: “Starbucks, which uses methyl chloride to decaffeinate most of its blends, now offers a “naturally processed” decaf Sumatra brew. Caribou Coffee uses a non-chemical water process in all its decaf blends.” Good luck on this new treatment!

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  7. I make a chicken chili that is incredibly easy. About a pound of chicken breast (cook it and chop/shred it), 2 cans of chili beans (I found the recipe on a can of Kuner’s white chili bean but I use whatever chili beans I have in a can), a can of diced tomatoes, a can of corn, and a small can of diced Hatch’s green chiles). I put this all in my Instant Pot and cook for about 20 minutes, but it would work fine on the stove. I like it because it’s a lot of food for very few WW points. And it probably freezes well (we rarely have a lot of leftovers).
    I hope you get some relief somehow. I can’t imagine living with headaches like that.

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  8. Well this all sounds quite awful. I mean, I like chicken, but sheesh. I hope you lose some weight and the migraines. I too am now a house, and not a brick one. Hate it.

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  9. So I’m on the Topamax drug right now. The weight loss side effect DOES NOT WORK for me. What the fuck. The stupid effect? Does. Yeah. Not fair.

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    1. Just found out one of the serious long term effects of Topamax is macular retinopathy. You might want to change drugs

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  10. June, I just bought some prints from this shop and I thought you might like it, too. It feels like your kind of thing. I once suggested another Etsy shop to you which you liked so I feel confident in my linking here. Look at the cat series in particular. I didn’t even know I liked mid century modern stuff till I saw these. I died and then gave them all my extra monies.

    https://www.etsy.com/search?q=dexmex

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  11. I hope you get some relief. Speaking of last night, I saw there was handsome MOC reporting from Greensboro (Trymaine Lee). I thought of you and smiled.

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  12. Decaf saved me when I had to give up caffeine during pregnancy. It’s not the same but at least you can keep routine comfort of a hot cup (mug) of joe in the morning. I started with a 50/50 blend then tapered down to 100% decaf.

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  13. So weird…My husband gets migraines, and he has to take medicine with caffeine, the regular medicine doesn’t work. I guess he’s lucky, because he’s a caffeine addict too. Hope what the doctor recommended works for you – anything to get relief!

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    1. While it’s true that caffeine can stop a migraine if you are not addicted to it, being a caffeine addict increases migraine. I know that makes little sense but what does anymore.

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  14. Suggestion from someone who gave up caffeine a few years ago… you are most likely addicted to drinking coffee as you are to the caffeine. Instead of trying to have less cups, start mixing decaf in with the regular. Keep drinking your four (two) cups but have less caffeine. Increase the amount of decaf every day until you are only drinking decaf. It really helps. Eventually I stopped drinking decaf in the morning and I really don’t miss it.

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  15. “Just thin young women.” Sorry, but that just cracked me up. Oh my, rebound headaches from the other meds. That’s awful. If the diet of chicken, lettuce and water helps that will be great. This is the pot telling the kettle how to eat. So, why are my joints hurting so much? Is it the wheat, sugar and dairy I’m eating. Yep. Only recipes I have to meeting your request would be grill or baked chicken with a wedge of lettuce, served with water. Seriously, I am so sorry you’re having such terrible headaches. Do you think the wreck added insult to your delicate brain?
    Tee

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    1. Nah. I just think I have migraines and a lotta stress right now, plus he said as we age your migraines change. I don’t get the really really intense ones as often anymore; just like 6s or 7s about 5 days a week. Hooray.

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  16. I thought when you quit caffeine the lack of it gives you headaches? Hope you find some relief, maybe if you quit the caffeine you can have alcohol?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If you drink a lot of caffeine every day, you *will* go through caffeine withdrawal [headaches, body aches, & you feel like crud for a week (or more)] & you will definitely feel worse before you feel better.

      June’s gradual step-down plan is a better solution, as no one wants a headache plus a migraine.

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  17. I’m sorry you’re having so many migraines. Actually, I wish you had none at all. Anyway, I hope all the doctor’s recommendations will fix this problem.

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  18. Can you eat lentils and beans and do you like chili and eating the same thing over and over? If so, I can send you links to lentil chili and bean chili. The recipes make a ton and it freezes great. I am also a protein shake lover. I know some people aren’t and say they want to chew and eat real food. Weirdos.

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    1. I have a chili I make, with turkey and beans and pumpkin, and I feel I will be living on that. I can have beans. Here’s what I CAN have: all fresh fruits and vegetables. All fresh chicken, fish, poultry and eggs. Beans, peas (yuck), lentils. Whole oats. Water.

      FUCK.MY.LIFE. I can have limited quantities of rice and potatoes and pasta.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read that as “whole cats” and thought, well… that’s not gonna go over well at home.

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      2. I’m so sorry. Changing such an important and routine part of your life really sucks. No suggestions from me, just supporting thoughts

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  19. I gave up drinking strong black coffee some years ago by weaning myself off the caffeine by using a small amount of decaf with the the normal coffee in every cup upping the amount of decaf and decreasing the amount of the good addictive stuff over some weeks until I eventually used only decaf. I didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms that way. THEN I came to live in Southern California and went straight onto strong black coffee brewed freshly every morning and here I am still having a large amount of caffeine every day. Good luck but if you are struggling try the above method. Fingers crossed that all of the things the doctor wants you to do/have works a treat!

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  20. Just thinking about giving up caffeine make me want it even more. The same with dieting. I pretty much suck at self control when it comes to Pepsi and Nachos!

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  21. Feeling bad for you, June. I hope everything ends splendidly for you. Maybe modify an Asian lettuce cups recipe (I’m sure there’s a ton of sodium in there) and serve with a glass of water.

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  22. That restricted diet sounds awful, but if it keeps the migraines away, I’m sure it will be totally worth it. I am one of the lucky few who rarely gets a headache, and I’ve only ever had 2 very brief migraines in my life. They were the flashy kind instead of the head hurty kind. Don’t get me wrong, I have many other health problems, including RA, so I know from pain. Just not head pain. I can’t imagine that head pain every day like that. I sure hope these drastic changes will make a big difference for you.

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    1. I have a friend, well, a former coworker, really, one of the Alexes. She went to Vietnam last year and got her first migraine there. While she lay in agony, she said she thought of me and suddenly understood my pain. A migraine in another country panics me, especially if I didn’t have any drugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I’m truly glad, now, that I didn’t come claim Forest. Because if I was on my couch cuddling that magnificent boy and read you can’t have caffeine and your diet is lettuce, chicken and water I’d feel horrible. HORRIBLE.

    OK. less about me, sorry.
    This sucks in all areas – using a vacation to get over the worst of something to make you better – the fact that it’s this intense in the first place. What can I do? Can you still have zucchini bread?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t have sugar. {sob}

      Oh my god, Forest is magnificent. I am sorry to rub that in. But when he walks by and swishes his fluffy tail!! I love him so bad, I do.

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  24. I’m glad you have gotten help, but not happy you have to give up so much. I so wish there was another way through all this. However, if you can get a grip on the migraines then maybe you will find you can add back more foods.

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  25. I gave up caffeine cold turkey about 8 years ago after my second ablation and spending the night in the hospital. I just feel better without it believe it or not. I still have chocolate-it doesn’t seem to be enough to send me into palpitations.

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  26. If life was fair caffeine and sugar would be health foods and possibly a cure for migraines. Just to help us through all the crap.

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  27. Oh, Coot! I am sorry. No caffeine? How awful.
    Imitrex kills me on rebounds. Its like a college basketball game with all the rebounds. My doctor gave me a muscle relaxer and Valium told me to take one of each instead. I am a lightweight with medication and that put me in a three day coma. Then she said to just take half of each which resulted in a 2 day coma. I can only take half of one or the other but not both. It did help with the pain.
    I really hope your nerve shots help. You are braver than I am. I would throw up just thinking about them.
    I woke up to a migraine. I guess I will go lick a muscle relaxer and be all Newly with my dolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I make a yummy chicken and barley soup.
    Take a shit ton of garlic and sauté in alittle olive oil.
    Add chicken. I like to pull a breast apart (sounds like fun, right) and sauté until lightly brown
    Four containers of chicken bone broth and then I fill up 1-1/2 of those containers with water and add
    Add barley and salt and pepper to taste. I also like rosemary which most times I will add with the shit ton of garlic.

    This has helped me when I’m sick too.

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  29. How anyone can meet you in the real world and not be delighted by your humor is beyond me. (I almost said “in the flesh” but don’t we all have just about all the flesh we can handle right now?)

    i am sorry for your headache-y self. I have only regular old headaches now and again and hate my own head when I do – I can’t imagine hating my head on a daily basis. I hope old Dr. Humorless can come through this time.

    Remember my “things that irk me” that I couldn’t remember? It came back to me and I’m here to share! (You’re welcome!)

    I hate hate HATE dumb idioms like “I know it’s a big ask” or “is it worth the spend?” I hate them even more when they’re used in a professional setting. (Are those idioms? They annoy me so badly I can’t even parse it out.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, god I hate those too. This is close but not quite the same. One of my good friends works for a fancy store, in their corporate offices. I won’t say the name but I won’t be igNORDSTROM, Dan. Anyway, I was hanging out with my friend and all her NORDic friends, and instead of saying how much something cost, they kept saying “price point.” “The price point on these fries is ridiculous.”

      After like two days of igNORDSTROMing it, I finally STOP SAYING PRICE POINTed them. And they all laughed, cause they hadn’t even noticed the STROM of price points they’d been spewing.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh my god. I have a relative who works for Whole Paycheck (har!) and has a way overinflated view of her job. She was telling us about an issue with a co-worker and used the term “separation of employment” when she meant they canned a checker. Corporate speak brought us things like “circle back”, “lean in” and “reach out”. Blech.

        Assiums. All of them.

        Liked by 3 people

  30. That sucks. You knew that was coming, but it sucks. I guess the good news is if you can get off caffeine you don’t really miss the caffeine. Then again I’ve quit a couple times and here I am, using caffeine again. Hope you can take your vacation time and detox and all and then finally feel better.

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  31. Seriously, in 10 years they can find a way to bypass caffeine? I’ve stopped drinking alcohol bc of antidepressants but coffee? That would be terrible. Lettuce wraps are fancy looking. I hope you will take that vacation time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also, how would I achieve my morning constitutional without coffee? Such heady thoughts, indeed.

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  32. Ugh. What a drag to go through all this awful on top of all the other awful. I feel for you. I hope the shots help and the no-caffeine gradual plan sounds good. You make me glad I don’t drink coffee…I was addicted to Coca-Cola for a million years, but finally managed to quit it. But it sure wasn’t easy.

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    1. I like how we have to be careful to not say “I was addicted to coke” because we had to have a caffeinated soda several times a day. 🙂

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    2. For years, Diet Coke was my “morning coffee.”. I looked forward to that ice cold Diet Coke every morning the way a junkie anticipates their first fix of the day. But a couple of years ago, my BFF told me her husband had given up soda and lost a bunch of weight without doing anything else so I gave up soda cold turkey. Did I lose any weight from it? Of course not because the universe hates me. But I haven’t had a Diet Coke in a few years now. Every once in a while, maybe 2x a year, I’ll have a Dr. Pepper but that’s it for soda and caffeine for me.

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  33. I read years ago in some article that I could maybe find if I googled, that an apple is more effective for waking you up than coffee. Now, I don’t know anyone who is on board with that, nor anyone who ever tried it. This useless bit of info is only here in case anyone does want to google for themselves. I can’t imagine it is satisfying at all.

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    1. That sounds like the priest telling my aunt and uncle that a nice glass of orange juice is very refreshing in reference to abstinence and birth control. You can imagine how well that went over.

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  34. I use a mixture of decaf and regular coffee-starting out 1/2 and 1/2 of each and then slowly increase the decaf until I’m drinking all decaf. Seems to help avoid the caffeine withdrawals.

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      1. There actually is such a thing of 1/2 and 1/2 coffee grounds already mixed up and canned for your pleasure. You could get that and slowly add even more decaf. I like the taste of coffee so I drink decaf after 10 a.m. just because I also do like to sleep at night.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. That sounds like a wonderful idea! You can wear a beret and pretend you’re in France, migraine-less! Ugh, the whole situation SUCKS. I can’t remember, do you have a gas grill or George Foreman grill? You could grill chicken? Since you have tons of garlic, buy some rosemary and kosher salt, make a mound of all it together (half a golfball size or more), chop/mince together, put on chicken, let marinate 2+ hours and grill. I also like dijon mustard/rosemary on the chicken, then grill, both add at least SOME flavor. You could grill a few at a time so you would have leftovers the next day and could loaf around drinking absinthe.

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  35. No caffeine? My heart aches for you! Years ago I had cystic breasts and the doctor said it would help to to give up caffeine. I must have given him quite the look, because he quickly said, “Okay, maybe not the caffeine.”

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