I am about to tell you why I never thought in my wildest imaginings that I would be alive now to write this blog. I had been pretty fit for most of my life apart from a couple of childhood accidents - one where I nearly lost an eye and a snapped Achilles tendon from riding a bike with poor brakes. In my teens I fractured a couple of ribs on a funfair ride - big misnomer there! They were painful but relatively soon overcome.
About 15 years ago I was in the depth of despair; I was severely disabled. In fact I was only walking a few steps with a stick. Most of my time I was in agony. I described the pain as it felt like someone was scraping the inside of my kneecaps out with a rusty bread knife. I did a lot of screaming.
As the months went by I underwent so many tests I felt like a pin cushion. Injected with a radio active substance, x-rayed till I thought I would glow, I was given support bandages and exercises, which I tried once and screamed louder than seemed humanly possible. I tried so many different prescribed drugs none of which seemed to have any effect. I even tried a private consultant. All that achieved was a massive weight loss to my bank account.
All the things I was passionate about were impossible to do: scrambling about on hills going in search of wildlife, dancing to James Brown records, taking long walks on the beach, driving any distances, scuba diving, even going on holiday. Also the intimate side of my life was nonexistent. Maybe I should have started the list with that one first!!
To be absolutely honest I was seriously contemplating suicide. The life I had now was a miserable existence not worth living as far as I was concerned. The pain was unbearable. My GP was a lovely lady who did everything she could to get me the treatment I needed but we had run out of options.
I went back to see her on my regular appointment, which I was sure would be my last. She said there was one thing more she wanted me to try, for pain relief. There was a young Australian acupuncturist in town; she was here for the summer and my GP gave me a prescription to see her. The thought of yet more needles did not fill me with deep joy.
As it turned out the acupuncture was not what saved my life, it was the conversation we had. While she was inserting needles into various bits of my anatomy she asked if I had tried giving up caffeine. I said I didn’t have much as I didn’t drink tea or fizzy drinks with it in. I explained I only drank 3 or 4 cups of instant coffee a day and had the odd bar of chocolate now and then. She said that there had been research in Australia and lots of people who had given it up discovered that what they thought was severe arthritis was no such thing.
I was willing to try anything. From that moment I did not touch caffeine. I knew it was working because I had horrendous withdrawal symptoms. If you have seen a documentary or a movie about heroin addicts going cold turkey, then you get the picture. My head throbbed, I couldn’t sleep. I sweated and shook - it was terrifying! It was because I was suffering so much I felt sure it must be having some effect. For ten days and nights I battled with my body. Mind over matter, I kept telling myself it would be worth it.
On the morning of the eleventh day I awoke from the first full night’s sleep I had had in a very long time. I was pain free!! It was hard to comprehend at first. I tentatively put my feet on the floor and dared myself to stand up. That was the moment that I decided to live. I built up strength quite quickly and the next few weeks were a blur.
I didn’t dare try decaf coffee just in case. Every label was scrutinised and if there was the slightest doubt I did not eat or drink it. I took my dog for a walk, I did a little gardening, I popped down the lane to see my neighbour, I was living again.
All that time I had suffered; all the treatment and tests I had undergone when all I had to do was stop consuming caffeine. Try it if you have terrible joint pain, it won’t do any harm and if you are like me it will bring you back to life. I do drink decaf now.
BIGGEST REGRET: I DID NOT KEEP A NOTE OF HER NAME.
Whoever you are, thank you for giving me my life back.
Wincey Willis 2013