I don’t know if it’s possible to overdose on caffeine, but I think I almost did, and I’m going to describe the entire experience to you. The moment I began to notice that maybe I had consumed too much caffeine hit me like a train around 7:15 p.m. one Wednesday night. What started with shaky hands quickly spread to my entire body. I could feel places quiver that I had never felt quiver before. My foot tapping would have made the most raucous drummer jealous, and I had to physically hold my shoulders in place as to keep people from thinking I was having a seizure.
But, aside from what it was doing to my body, what was happening inside my head was even worse! All my senses were affected in the strangest manner. My vision was blurry as my eyes kept darting from one thing to the next, waiting for the world to catch up with what I wanted to see. And having a conversation was the most frustrating thing. No one seemed to be talking fast enough, and I kept interrupting people because I felt like I already knew what they were going to say. Not only that, I kept blurting out incredibly random things that my mind had obscurely connected to the topic with the bravado of a drunk guy who knows what he’s talking about.
Not long after the shaking and hyperactivity, the nausea set in. My mind was so unfocused and moving so fast, I think it was literally making me dizzy and messing with my equilibrium. As I was driving home, around 8:15 the same night, the nausea was the worst. My mind was so pissed at my body for having to sit still that it started bouncing off the wall. I had to rush home not to be sick.
Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep. I drove to the grocery store, bought some pasta and wine, and came back home to cook and eat. I drank the bottle of wine in hopes that it would relax my body, but it literally didn’t do a thing. The caffeine was both annoyed and amused at the alcohol entering my body, kind of how the big guy at the gym feels about the kid hogging the bench but only pressing 135. Eventually, it asked the alcohol to move along without getting a chance to really work out.
I decided to watch some movies, which is my go to on any weeknight not plagued with homework. Midnight rolled around, then 1:00 a.m., and I knew I had to get up at 5:30 a.m., so I paused my second James Bond film of the night and forced myself into bed. That night was a wild ride, man. I don’t know if I was ever really asleep, but if I was, I was dreaming of doing all the things that needed be done the next day. On top of that, the caffeine sent jolts through my body, causing me to literally jump out of bed every 30 minutes as my mind was screaming, “Why the hell are you sleeping?!”
Now, in no shape or form do the effects of the over-consumption end with that night, but I’m going to pause here and answer some questions you might be having. Mainly, “What in the world did you take with so much caffeine in it??” But in order to answer that question, I have to go back to a story.
One of my best friends is a really cool, Latin American dude. To protect his identity, I’m going to call him Rico Suave.
Please don’t watch that entire video. Well, as a matter of fact, please do. It’s incredible. But back to Rico! Well, he came to Charleston to visit me, and we had the kind of night out only possible when we are teamed up. But the next morning was the worst. So I told him about Kudu, a coffee shop that I always wanted to try that might be a good place to recover. We decided to go. Now, I’m not a seasoned coffee drinking veteran by the slightest. In fact, at that point, I might have drank coffee once or twice before in my life. So, I told him I was just going to get whatever he asked for and let him order. He hesitated for a few moments, and finally ordered a double shot espresso. And it was amazing. That was the day I decided to educate myself about coffee.
This brings us a little closer to how I ended up sick from caffeine, and you may think you know where it goes from here, but stick with me, you will probably be surprised.
Flash forward to that fateful Wednesday. It’s 6:30 p.m. I had been in class and doing assignments all day, and still had a meeting at 7:00 p.m. that I was far too tired to attend. So, I decided to get a Starbucks coffee for a little boost. Now, Starbucks is much more daunting than the friendly Kudu. Every time I go into Kudu I am greeted with warm smiles and inquiries into how I’m doing, and they don’t even know me! But I’ve heard the horror stories about Starbucks, I’ve seen the listicles on the internet about “what not to do when you’re ordering Starbucks for the first time” and I’ve even experienced some of that myself.
The first time I ever went into Starbucks by myself was way before all of this. I don’t even know why I went. Just to see what the hype was all about, I guess. I was lucky; there was no one in there but me and the barista, so I asked her what kind of teas they have. Instead of telling me, she handed me a menu and literally said, “You should probably memorize this.” I’m not even kidding. That is 100 percent true. When I ordered, she asked what size. I sort of stuttered, “Medium?” She went, “It’s ok, I won’t make you say grande.” Thus, I didn’t go back to a Starbucks for a long, long time.
Ok, back to that infamous Wednesday again. After having such a wonderful experience at Kudu, coffee earned a positive connotation in my mind, so I decided I would have one that day. But, instead of going back to Kudu for that desired little boost (which is what I should have done), I went to Starbucks because it was right beside the building of my meeting. This time, however, I came prepared. I googled the Starbucks menu beforehand, picked out exactly what I wanted and memorized my order. As you can imagine, things didn’t go as planned.
The moment came. I walked into a fairly empty Starbucks, right up to the counter and ordered my Grande Dark Roast with no room for cream. She gives her coworker a doubtful glance, looks back at me, and says, “We are all out.” My mind went into a nervous frenzy. I hadn’t prepared for this. I had no idea what to do. Just as her proclamation was hitting me, she suggests another drink. I was so relieved by the time she said, “Instead, would you like to try…” that I didn’t even listen to what she offered. I just exhaled a nervous, “Yes.” Then she asked me what size I would like. Grande, being the only size I memorized, was the timid answer I gave her. She seemed surprised and asked me to repeat myself. I did, and she gave me a weird look and went on to make the drink.
When I got the drink, I waited for it to cool a little, then took a sip. “Wow!” I thought, “This tastes a lot like the espresso Rico and I had the other week!” Boy, oh boy, I should have known then what wild of a ride I was in for. I finished the whole thing, and by the time its electricity hit me, I had only barely realized that I drank an entire cup of espresso.
Hence, my caffeine overdose, and the ensuing night. But what about the next morning? After I jumped out of bed all night, my alarm rang at an ungodly 5:30 a.m. and I woke up with one of the worst migraines I had in years. I was overcome with migraine and nausea all morning. In the middle of my back-to-back 8:00 a.m./9:25 a.m. combo classes that Thursday, I had convinced myself to skip my 12:15 p.m. class and go home and sleep off the illness. It was literally the worst hangover I had ever had in my life. No alcohol hangover could ever live up to the debilitation of a caffeine hangover.
But, as my 9:25 a.m. class was drawing to a close, something incredible happened. I think the normal caffeine buzz started to kick in. I started to feel great! My body was finally going out of shock, and I was focusing and functioning better than ever. It was at that glorious moment that everything came together for me.
I texted Rico my wild account of the night before and concluded by saying, “I’m never going to Starbucks again.” He responded with something that surprised me, “Yeah dude! Starbucks is scary! I don’t like it, every time I leave there I walk out with some fluffy, sugary drink that tastes disgusting.”
Then I thought about it and remembered something: the espresso is the very first thing on the chalk board menu above the counter at Kudu. Maybe Rico just ordered the first thing he saw because he was as uncertain and nervous as me. I began to realize that even someone as cool as Rico Suave hesitates and loses social grace sometimes. What I learned is that, in those situations, it’s best to just ask about the things with which you are unsure. If you don’t, you might end up like me that dreadful Wednesday – having one horrible night.