I shouldn’t be writing this post right now.
I have lessons to plan, papers to write, and pages to read.
It’s 10 of midnight and I’ve been running like a machine since about 6 in the morning.
I should be asleep.
Yet, despite not sleeping well throughout the week, I’m pretty awake right now.
But it’s not as good as it may sound, there’s a reason for my sudden state of alertness. There’s a reason why I seem to have gotten good at running on no sleep.
It’s not good. I’m not handling things well. I’m not well at all.
I’m still recovering from a legitimate caffeine over dose.
I think this is something no one takes too seriously.We all joke so openly about being addicted to caffeine and having too much or not enough of it. We need it to keep us going so we can continue to do the things we do in life, even if it means working like a machine, which is precisely what i was doing. I had assignment upon assignment, task after task, work after work, and only 24 hours a day. Failure has never been an option for me.
When faced with many tasks and difficult obstacles along your path, I have learned the best strategy is to prioritize. No one would disagree with that.
However, some of us are better at prioritizing than others. This has definitely never been my strength, and this is something I learned the hard way on Wednesday morning.
I saw all of my work in front of me as being my priorities in life. I couldn’t miss an appointment. I couldn’t miss an appointment. There was no way I was about to turn anything in late. Lateness was unexcusable. There was no way I was going anywhere without being fully prepared. By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail and failure is never an option.
Everything seemed important on my ever-growing To-Do list. Were some things optional? What about sleep? No one ever made a serious advancement in life by sleeping (or as far as I know, anyway. If they did, please send them my way – I must know their secrets…). So I decided it wasn’t important…it was optional.
1 day with little to no sleep is bad enough. 3 in a row – that’s unhealthy, unsafe, and just stupid.
What makes it all worst? A combination of no sleep and multiple energy drinks..which is precisely what I was doing the day of Wednesday, September 14th.
The night before, I had bought 3 cans of a new energy drink called Wired X344. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but a lot of them were sold out and they were on sale for 88 cents so I figured it was worth the try.
I always bragged about being immune to caffeine. When I was younger, I used to get terrible migraines that later led to me getting a spinal tap. However, I still got them on occasion. Caffeine and ibuprofen was always the cure. But on Wednesday, the caffeine was too much for even me to handle.
The label on the can said it had 172 miligrams if caffeine. It was high, but didn’t seem too ridiculous compared to Red Bull, Monster, or Amp, so I didn’t pay much mind to that.
On Wednesday morning I was SO TIRED.I really haven’t slept at all. My day started at 5:30 AM and between teaching, work, and school it wouldn’t be over until 10 at the earliest.
I was behind on all of my work.It wasnt because I procrastinated or anything like that. I’ve been working around the clock for weeks. But there’s not enough hours in a day. There would be no time for naps on this day. No time for breaks.
I needed caffeine more than ever. I started my day off with my usual 16 oz black coffee. Google tells me that’s probably about 182 milligrams of caffeine.
It had no effect on me. I immediately followed up with the Wired X344 drink.
I knew as soon as I opened it it would be different from any energy drink I ever had before. It had the same color as Red Bull…a weird orangey yellow. But the similarities ended there.
When I tried to pour it in my cup it bubbled up and exploded on the counter. I actually only wasted about 2 milligrams though. The rest I somehow managed to drink. It was probably the most disgusting drink I’ve ever had.
The drink was fast acting, but still didn’t make up for the fact that I haven’t slept. I had a class to teach. My students needed me to be on their A Game. So I brought another can with me and drank it at the start of class.
At this point I thought I was up to about 500 milligrams of caffeine. Sure, not a healthy or safe amount, but for me it’s not that bad. I have been in the habit of drinking 3 energy drinks at once which was about 480 milligrams of caffeine, so it was just a little higher.
The energy drinks helped me to hold the best class ever. It couldn’t have been better.
However, after class I didn’t feel right. I blamed it on my tiredness at first. But by the time I got home I felt sick to my stomach. My stomach burned. It felt like my insides were being ripped apart or scraped with a razor and than life on fire. It was a sickness like I never felt before.
At times it felt like the drinks were bubbling up inside of me the way they did when I tried to pour them. It felt like they were exploding in my stomach. I came close to throwing them up several times.
I thought it was just a bad reaction. The thought it was just how tired I was. I didn’t necessarily think it was the caffeine.
Working was hard, because I literally felt like death. I was glad to be working from home. I could get up and move or work while laying down. But those 8 hours were still a challenge.
Eating made it better.Thank god. I was beginning to fear I wouldn’t make it to my grad class. Oddly, by the time class rolled around I was feeling strangely awake and alert. I felt more awake than I ever have in all my life.
I expected it to wear off since class was an hour and 45 minutes long, so I brought an energy drink with me just in case.
I never needed it. I easily made it through class. I hardly even felt tired anymore.
Something was wrong.
When I got home I checked the label on the can of Wired X344 and compares it to Amp. 172 for Wired, 142 for Amp. But it still didn’t seem right.
I kept reading the label on Wired X344. Finally it made sense. There was 2 servings. It really wasn’t 172 milligrams of caffeine; it was 344 and I had two…plus 4-6 cups of coffee.
At this point there was at least 1,056 milligrams of caffeine in my body.
A safe amount of caffeine is considered to be no more than 300 milligrams. This was 3 or 4 times that limit.
I told my parents whom I live with about what happened. I told them about my mistake. Fortunately, I showed no signs of having a heart attack or anything like that.
I tried to just sleep it off, but sleep was hard. I tossed and turned throughout the night. My parents checked on me to make sure I was breathing. It was scary.
I was better in the morning, but still under the effects of caffeine. I couldn’t completely give it up or my body would go through withdrawal and I’d get sick, but I did cut back a lot and stopped with the energy drinks.
For the past 3 days the caffeine has slowly been diffusing. My sleep schedule is still a mess and I’ve been overly paranoid and anxious, but I’m slowly getting back to my old self.
I share this story because caffeine overdoses are something people joke about, but it really can happen to you very easily. Labels are often misleading and can cause you to drink much more caffeine than you think you’re drinking.
Next time you grab an energy drink, read the label and read it twice. Also remember, it’s better to miss a deadline than to lose your life.
Posted by kimerskine in life, personal, teaching Tags: blogging, caffeine, caffeine overdose, coffee, College, college professor, energy drink, energy drinks, food label, food labels, grad school, heart attack, insomnia, Kimberly Erskine, Life, misleading, misleading labels, Rowan, Rowan University, sleep, studying, teaching, wiered x344, Writing