A Smart Doctor


After yesterday’s gloomy post, I decided to share some good news, that is still kind of in the works. However, it’s been 14 days, so I figure it’s shareable. The gastroenterologist that I didn’t like, recommended I try drinking a cup of coffee a day for my health. When I met with my pain management doctor on the 7th, he reiterated the sentiment, for slightly different reasons.

I came home on September 30th, determined to try to force down a cup of coffee a day. I bought some dairy creamer (hazelnut) to help. Then I talked to a reader that has a job working with coffee beans and she told me she thought it sounded like I was using too much sugar for my tastes. It took a couple of tries, but by the 7th, I had found a way to drink coffee that I enjoyed.

I brought up my stomach issues to my pain management doctor, because I have thought for 9 years now that Complex Regional Pain Syndrome had spread to my digestive tract. Especially, after they went away from the entire time I was on Lyrica. However, I am not going back on Lyrica just so I can eat jalapenos again.

He told me what all previous doctors have told me; it is rare for CRPS to spread to the digestive system. Then he added; rare doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. The symptoms you’ve described are inline with opiate use, but they pre-date your opiate prescription and they match with one other patient I’ve had with CRPS. Especially, the debilitating stomach and abdominal cramps made worse by a high fiber diet, which you seem to enjoy.

In her case, it wasn’t the meds that solved her stomach issues, it was coffee. And you’ve mentioned more than once, you aren’t a coffee drinker. But somehow, we have to get you to become one. Because I think a cup in the morning and a cup in the evening would do wonders for you. I told him, I was learning to like coffee, but it basically has to be white. And he responded with “as long as there is 6-8 ounces of coffee with the cream and sugar, you’re fine. And don’t drink decaf, the caffeine in the coffee is part of what helps. She had less success with decaf, but once we switched her back to regular caffeinated coffee, she improved again.”

Well, that’s counter-intuitive… Every doctor and patient, I’ve talked to since being diagnosed has told me to cut out all caffeine. I haven’t, but I’ve been told to. So, I asked him about it.

“Most people consider stimulants bad for the nervous system when you experience nerve pain. But sometimes, the body needs stimulants. I don’t know if it’s the antioxidants or if the caffeine in coffee is different than in other things, but for whatever reason, in my twenty years of dealing with CRPS patients, I have never found caffeinated coffee harmful. Quite the opposite, I’ve found it helpful. Try drinking 12-16 ounces of coffee a day, some in the morning and some in the evening and let me know how your digestive system is acting.”

And so, I have been. A cup in the early afternoon (around lunch), half coffee, half creamer, and a sprinkle of sugar. Now, if it gets cold, I can’t finish it, but that’s why the microwave was invented. And when I remember, I’ve been repeating the regimen in the evening. After 10 consistent days of drinking coffee… I was able to eat and enjoy jalapenos, something I hadn’t done since July. Yet, more importantly, after running out of Lactaid milk, I managed to drink a glass of regular milk the other night without it bothering me.

Which means, after a year, I finally found the nickname for my pain management doctor Dr. Smart. I haven’t been brave enough to try an NSAID pain reliever yet, but with my current incurable migraine, it’s getting closer. And WTF?! Why isn’t this on the freakin’ coffee can labels?! I’m drinking Breakfast Blend coffee by Maxwell House, because it’s my mom’s favorite. But I am considering branching out. Perhaps one of the stronger coffees might work better?

For the record, I teared up as I wrote this. It seems stupid, but yesterday, I mentioned “hopelessness” in association with CRPS. Don’t get me wrong, coffee isn’t going to cure my daily pain, but if it can alleviate even a few of my symptoms and allow me to enjoy a few things, I’ve been crossing off the list of things I can eat and drink. It’s worth a few tears of joy and hopefulness. At the weekend barbecue, I made stuffed jalapenos that J grilled. I ate one, expecting to get sick after the first bite. I managed to eat the entire thing with no ill effects. Even better, I try to eat vegetarian when I have a migraine. I had J stop and pick me up a veggie pizza from Casey’s on Wednesday, after I just couldn’t convince myself to eat more onion soup or a grilled cheese sandwich. I ordered it with jalapenos. Pizza in general has been dodgy the last ten years or so, god forbid, I put jalapenos on it. However, on Lyrica, I found my love of pizza and jalapenos again. I had some reservations after I ordered my pizza. Would it make me sick? I hoped not. And much to my surprise, it didn’t… not even with the hot peppers and green peppers on it. I pulled some of them off as a precaution. But I ate them when I reheated a slice for lunch on Thursday. And guess what? It didn’t make me sick that second time either.

Life is about the little things and apparently, coffee is one of my little things. Now, if only someone had told me this 12 years ago, I wouldn’t have had to miss a Nine Inch Nails concert (as well as forcing my best friend and nephews to miss it) after eating a slice of pepperoni pizza.

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