2017-03-09 / Viewpoint

This is your brain on caffeine…any questions?


Lania Rocha — Staff Writer Lania Rocha — Staff Writer I can’t help but worry. I don’t have to have anything to worry about. In fact, if I have nothing to worry about, I worry that I’m overlooking something I ought to worry about. It’s how I was raised.

My grandmother was known for warning us kids about jumping on beds, sitting too close to the TV and opening umbrellas in the house, even when no one was doing those things. She often told us about diseases that sounded disgusting and embarrassing and, apparently, resulted from whatever she wanted us to stop doing at the time. As a nurse, she had science on her side. You can’t argue with a superstitious scientist.

My mother believes that virtually everything I do—to this day—could break my neck, poke my eye out or crack my head open. And she has stories, all of which start with, “I once knew a lady.“ I’d like to ask how she knows so many people who’ve had so many weird things happen, but I don’t want to make her mad.

So, clearly, my little “shopping trip” is totally understandable.

In 2007, my daughter, Jaime,and I went to the Mall of America. After two days of shopping, we got a late start heading home.We no sooner crossed the Mississippi River when I detected the hint of fatigue. With 10 hours of driving ahead of me, I decided to take caffeine pills for the first time ever.

I started with half a dose. It helped me not. Just outside Madison, Wisconsin, I took another half dose. Again, nothing. Somewhere east of Chicago, I took a full dose, and I washed it down with 24 ounces of coffee.

Near Kalamazoo, my eyeballs started to wobble. Then, I felt the road pitch and yaw. I swear the road was flopping around under the car. And none of the other drivers were alarmed by this! That’s when I decided I must be having a stroke. I pulled over and woke Jaime. “Oh, my god!” I screeched. “I took a double dose of caffeine pills and now I’ve got the googly eyes and the road is all dipsy-doodle!” “What?” Jaime asked. “My EYEballs are moving indePENDENTly of one ... a ... NOTHER!” I yelled. “It’s okay, mama,” Jaime whispered.

“Maybe you didn’t understand,” I growled. “At any moment, one of my eyes is going to spin around and look at my BRAIN!I know what goes on inside my head; nobody needs to see that!”

“Calm down,” Jaime said.

“I can’t! What if it gets stuck?”

“You’re trippin’,” Jaime said before drifting back to sleep.

Indeed. I became paranoid and highly conscious about every sensation. At one point, I got too warm and feared I would burst into flames like some lady my mom once knew.

It took a while, and a lot of bathroom breaks, but I made it home safely. As I hauled in shopping bags, I spotted the umbrella I accidentally opened IN THE HOUSE the morning we left. So I ask you, did I really overdose on caffeine, or was it bad luck from the umbrella? I guess we’ll never know. lrocha@mihomepaper.com

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