Is Caffeine killing your career?


Some of my regular follow may be wondering why they haven’t heard from me in over a year. The main reason is that I needed to devote my time to my year 11s and the completion of my masters. It was my first year as head of year 11 and I had to be sure I wad giving them my all. In addition to this , I was diagnosed with GERD -Gastroesophageal Reflex disease. In short, this means that my sphincter is not working properly and is allowing stomach acid to leak into my throat.

The first sign of any problem was in August 2013. I lost my voice for 6 weeks. I was 35 years old and talking was my forte even outside of my career. I had never lost my voice before; it was disconcerting to say the least. I had no reason to suspect anything was wrong and when my voice returned, I wrongly assumed it was the end of the matter. Then in October 2014 my voice disappeared again. This time I knew it was not down to a cold and went to the doctors. I was referred to the ENT at my local hospital and my doctor informed me that excess acid and was likely to be the cause.

I went to see the ENT in February and endured a camera down my nose to diagnose the problem. The specialist said I had acid reflux (GERD) and that my larynx was inflamed. Then came the bombshell. I needed to give up chocolate, alcohol, fatty foods, dairy and caffeine. He prescribed me medication to reduce the amount of hydrogen produced by my stomach and gaviscon for after every meal.

I went home shell shocked. My entire life was built around caffeine and chocolate. How on earth was I meant to cope. At first I went through denial. I ignored the advice of the doctor and looked to alternative treatment. I had my bed propped up on an angle and slept on a wedged pillow. This provided some relief from the loss of voice and things began to return to normal. Eventually, I began to take things more seriously. I adjusted my diet and waited for the improvement. None was obvious. I had not given up my beloved tea. It was my go to drink when I was stressed, sad, emotional or tired. I have been drinking tea ever since I could remember and life without it seemed impossible to comprehend.

Eventually I accepted the inevitable and cut caffeine from my diet. I decided to give up in the summer holidays so I wouldn’t go through withdrawal at work. The first 3 days were awful. I had a permanent migraine and flu-like symptoms. But, after the first 3 days had passed, I was like a new person. I had boundless energy, was able to sleep the entire night without waking up and, when I did wake up in the morning, I was straight out of bed, no more snooze button.

This zest for life transferred into my work at school.  I had more energy to plan and teach lessons, mark books and deal with my year group. The change was so dramatic that I refuse to drink caffeinated drinks. When. Have had a drink by mistake, I have immediately regretted the jittery feeling I get and the caffeine hangover to follow.

I will never go back to drinking caffeine. I always take decaffeinated tea bags with me wherever I go and would rather drink water than have a cup of tea or coffee.

If you are looking for a change in lifestyle, a boost to your energy or to reinvigorate your teaching, then look no further than your regular cup of char. It may just save your career!

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