Medicine From The Trenches

Experiences from undergradute, graduate school, medical school, residency and beyond.

Caffeine, useful or not??

One of my simple pleasures is a fresh-brewed cup of coffee. I love the fragrance and I love the taste of this wonderful beverage. The smell of coffee brewing wafts into my bedroom as I am getting out of the shower each morning (I have an automatic pot). I love to clutch my first cup of the day in the darkness of early morning. That first cup is as consistant to my morning ritual as my toothbrush.

When I reach the hospital, I usually grab another cup (not mug) that follows me through morning rounds. You can see our small styrofoam cups lined up on the railings outside the room of the patient where we are making morning rounds. While the medical student (or intern) is presenting the patient, I am calmly sipping my “Rounding Joe”. When we enter the room to examine the patient, the cups sit on the rails outside for easy access as we move to the next room. There are unit secretaries who will time their fresh pot of coffee when we come on AM rounds. I love those people to death. This is my second cup of the morning.

After AM rounds and delivery of the days plans to the interns and medical students, I head off to the OR for my daily cases. In between cases, I usually sip water because dehydration is more of a problem in the operating room than the need for caffeine. I will usually consume a 20-oz bottle of water between each 3-hour case. The interns will update me on their morning work or any new admissions to the service between (and sometimes during) cases.

In the late afternoon, we will generally round with our attending on service. This is another opportunity for a small cup of coffee. Sometimes a small piece of chocolate will be a welcome addition to this afternoon ritual especially if we are having an afternoon conference. As you can see, I am up to three cups of coffee at this point in my day.

After 4pm, I do not consume any beverages that contain caffeine. I will dring water during my workout and will drink Crystal Light if I feel the need for a bit more than water. I keep a Brita pitcher on my counter and a Brita cooler in my refrigerator. Most of the water that I consume is room temperature but my fiance loves ice-cold beverages. Growing up with an English mother who never “iced” anything for us, has resulted in my lack of need for ice that has followed me into adulthood. If I am drinking coffee with dessert, it is decaffeinated.

When I was a medical student, I often drove into work with a travel mug of freshly brewed coffee. During class, I would continue to sip from this mug until it was empty. I might refill it during a later class or switch to Diet Coke, my other caffeinated beverage of choice. My classmates loved Mountain Dew but too much sugar for me. I never needed the sugar “buzz” to go with my caffeine “buzz”.

We had a Starbucks located across the street from our medical school. This was a great source of fresh coffee for those late evening group study sessions or for taking a beverage break. Again, I would not drink caffeinated beverages after 4pm. My Starbuck’s coffee treat had to be without caffeine. Starbucks was our gathering place for discussions because it was a change of scenery.

At our Mortality and Morbidity conferences, we have a fairly full breakfast available as this conference begins at 7:30AM. For me, this means a half cup of coffee and a bit of fruit or a small piece of quiche. There are also great breakfast breads and bagels too. If I was going to be “grilled” in M & M, at least the grilling would not be on an empty stomach. There are loads of breads, quiche, bagels, fresh fruit and eggs in addition to the Krispy Kremes too (leave those alone).

Caffeine and specifically coffee has been an intergral part of my career. I enjoy tea (Earl Grey) in the early afternoon sometimes or iced tea for lunch but that steaming cup of coffee in the darkness of early morning is my favorite. On a cold winter morning, at 4am when I have been operating all night, I sip my cup of “Joe” on the rooftop patio while I breath some fresh air to clear my head. It’s all good.

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6 May, 2007 - Posted by | caffeine, general surgery residency, medical school

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