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Getting Mono Meant No Caffeine Ever!

Caffeine, one word, so many meanings.

Coffee, soda, tea, energy drinks, one shots, chocolate...caffeine is everywhere.  While this is a great blessing for most people, for a few of us out there it's terrible.  Especially when it's suddenly just taken away.  

Welcome to my world when I was just past 18 and getting ready for freshman year of college.

A little back story. 

We moved from Indiana to Kansas the summer before my senior year was to start.  So, as if the life of a teenager isn't already "hard" enough, add in all new everything before what is supposed to be the best year of school ever.  You guessed it, I hated everything and everyone at this point.  Not even a month in and my appendix ruptures. I spent over a week, up to the Fourth of July, in the hospital.  Summer really was awful by that point.  

First day of school, sent to principal’s office for wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and had to wear a very large ugly school mascot shirt over it.  (I had no clue this was a violation in some schools.)  “I am never making friends,” was all I could think.

I finally started to get situated with how this day was going to go and went into my next class.  Yep, there was just no stopping the torment that day had planned for me. A guy decked out in military gear had the only open seat next to him and I did not want to sit there.  (At this point in my life, uniformed people made me nervous. I am now married to a Marine, so I've gotten over it.) There was no other option, so I had to sit down, no matter how terrifying he was.  This moment was the beginning of the light at the end of the tunnel for how the day was going.  Now he's my best guy friend, from high school, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

At almost the very end of the day I met the girls that ended up being my core group of friends.  Especially Sarah, my saving grace of high school girlfriends, she is the one who introduced me to everyone after she and I met.

I promise this is all relevant.

Sarah and I spent a lot of time in and out of school together.  We even dated boys who were best friends, so really we were inseparable, even if we wouldn't have wanted to be.  If I wasn't around her, I was with Mario.


Horrible summer, emergency surgery, already met the principal, not because I wanted to, but I now had two new amazing friends.  Things were looking up.

Then it started.  Sarah was sick. I was sick. She was sick. I was sick.  She went into the hospital. I went into the hospital.

Diagnosis was given that we were giving each other mono back and forth by spending so much time together.  We had to separate for a bit.  Good thing I still had Mario, that boy never gets sick, but I just couldn't shake the vicious cycle of sickness, even though I was being super careful and doing what the doctors said.

Many hospital visits, more doctors appointments than I can recall and finally one life changing ER visit.  Five minutes in and not even a full recap of what I had gone through and no real exam, I was sent home with an appointment with an ENT in another town.  

Finally, a doctor who would hopefully tell me what was wrong.  A very brief exam and a diagnosis of Acute Submandibular Sialadenitis.  Huh?  It means swollen, infected, some kind of stone filled, salivary gland issue that required removal of the gland.  This particular problem mostly occurs in older, farmer type men who spend all their time in the hot sun and do not stay hydrated.  I was convinced I was done for.  Surgery was scheduled for just a few days after, I'd have some home rehab exercises to get the muscles in half my face to work again and they would let me know the results of the biopsy.

About a week passed.

Results were in!  

Diagnosis:  Caffeine Stones
Was that even a thing?  They had to be joking.  Nope.
New Prescription:  No Caffeine EVER!!!  
(The doctors stated my body would continue to reject it and I would just go down a rabbit hole, on repeat, of everything I had been going through.  Most likely worse as they assumed my body would now also start to react in some sort of allergic way, like hives or breathing issues.) 

They should have just put me out of my misery during surgery!  How was I going to make it through life?  I was only 18, not even really in the workforce yet, but I was already drinking a pot of coffee and a two liter of Pepsi daily...before noon, and I could never have coffee or soda again?!?  

These are literally the thoughts that ran through my head as pure panic set in and, all over again, I hated everyone and everything.  

I was so,very, dramatic back then.

So that brings me to present day.  I can and do survive without caffeine and I am healthier without it.  It took sometime and a lot of trial and error of trying new things to give me the "morning umph" but I finally found what works for me.  I now live on Ningxia Red, Zyng and Nitro.  While there is a small amount of "natural caffeine" in the Zyng and Nitro it comes from the white tea leaf, which for whatever reason, my body does not reject. This is common for people who have my same problem, not all caffeine is created equal, white tea is not normally on the list of "no" for caffeine related products.  I do not know why, it's just how it is.  The other ingredients in the 3 products are all mother nature's natural energy boosters, like the Wolfberry and black pepper and lime essential oils.  Thank goodness these are available or I would never be allowed in public, I don't cope well on low energy levels. And, I treat myself to grande decaf lattes, decaf hot/iced tea, and some decaf frappuccino's when I want something other than water. 

I have also discovered I can drink hot cocoa and eat dark chocolate (both high in caffeine), as long as I follow it with massive amounts of water, but it's doable.  

By the way, you must try this hot cocoa

As a bigger kick in the caffeine also means no when it comes to MANY products for facial and skin care, as most masks, cooling eye rollers and fine line reducing creams have some variety of green tea (one of the highest sources for caffeine) as a main ingredient.  Talk about a wake up call when you are trying to look less puffy and end up looking like Mike Tyson after a heated match! 

I want to end by offering the advice of never giving up on your health, even when it seems as if your whole life is crashing in on you.  While things may seem bleak, like there is no answer at the end of any medical tunnel, there is someone out there who can and will help you get the right ball rolling.  Even if it does mean giving up your favorite vice, like I had to with caffeine.  

I'll be back soon!


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