Back in the office, sitting at my desk, a lady would deliver coffee to the staff. She would only pass my way once, so I was in the habit of taking two plastic cups of coffee from the trolley. Before I went to lunch, usually at the Cosmas in Goodge Street, I would start to feel unwell. It was nothing specific, but I had considerable unease in the stomach. I had palpitations and felt one degree under. Upon arriving at The Cosmas, I would be handed my usual Whisky and Soda. As soon as I drank it, the symptoms disappeared.
After suffering this for a considerable time, I went to my doctor. I suggested to him that it might be a result of drinking too much coffee. He laughed at that. He could find nothing wrong with me and dismissed the symptoms as being the result of “nerves”. It went on for over a year and I visited the doctor on several occasions and always received the same answer.
One week-end, Janet and I went to visit her mother in Bromley, in Kent. I had drunk tea with my breakfast and upon arrival in Bromley, I drank more tea. Almost immediately, I felt unwell and it was suggested that I visit the in-laws doctor. She examined me and then announced that I had an intolerance to coffee in particular and probably tea as well. She said that I had been suffering from “Caffeine dyspepsia”.
Of course coffee contains caffeine, however, tea contains taen, which I was told has the same chemical formula as caffeine, but is organically different. I immediately stopped drinking coffee, but started to buy decaffeinated coffee. After a few weeks, I found that it still made me unwell. I realised that a trace of caffeine was enough to cause the problems and so-called decaffeinated coffee is not entirely free from caffeine.
I soldiered on for a couple of years drinking tea, and then the symptoms returned. I had to give up drinking tea as well.
While going through this period, I received at the office, a document from a medical group. I used to receive such papers from far and wide from organisations who hoped that I might be able to do something to give them some publicity.
This one was very interesting. It told of a group of doctors, who met regularly to discuss the business of medicine. They got on to the subject of patients who came to the surgery with no apparent symptoms, but who said they felt “under the weather”. In some medical circles, these patients are dismissed as people seeking attention or merely wishing to talk to someone.
The paper did not say how they arrived at the treatment they suggested, but they decided to ask each of these patients how many cups of tea of coffee they drank in the day. Depending upon the answers they received, the doctor would advise the patients to either cut down or to stop drinking both.
They were astonished at the results. Patients were returning just to tell the doctor how they had now got a new lease of life and some had not felt so well in years.
It is obvious that my own doctor was not a believer.