I Think It’s the Caffeine Pill.

The day Dylan got the flu, he blamed it on the caffeine pill he took that morning.

He took 200 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of two cups of coffee) at 7 a.m. He was fine all day. At 2 p.m., he felt sick.

I went to pick him up at school.

“I think it’s the caffeine pill,” he said. “I’ve been shaky and I have a headache. I didn’t even want to eat my sandwich today.”

“Did you drink the coffee from your lunchbox?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I drank a little bit of it in seventh period. And that’s when I started to feel sick.”

“Maybe the coffee interacted with the pill,” I said, not knowing. Until that day, he’d only had unsweetened iced tea in his lunchbox. Maybe the additional coffee “kicker” was too strong.

I took Dylan home.

Later – much later – we realized that Dylan had the flu, complete with vomiting and fever. The pill had nothing to do with his illness.

Yet three days later, when he was feeling better and we’d cleared the caffeine pill from any wrongdoing, Dylan didn’t want to take his usual dose in the morning.

“You’re going to need it next week,” I told him. “It will help you make up the work you missed while you were sick.”

“Okay,” he said. But next week came and went, and he still refused to take a caffeine pill.

Dylan got further and further behind in his work. He got sick again and missed more school.

“Why don’t you take a caffeine pill today?” I asked him one random morning, weeks after the flu.

“No!” he shrieked. “I don’t like it! It makes me anxious and shaky and it makes everything worse!”

None of those things are true, I thought. In fact, he had no side effects whatsoever, except for being able to actually finish his work in class.

I think he’s confusing the caffeine pill with the ADHD medication he took years ago.

Dylan, however, doesn’t think that. He thinks he gets anxious and nervous and shaky on the caffeine pill. But when he drinks caffeine in coffee or tea, he has no side effects – except that it helps him focus.

So now I give him coffee in the morning. And I give him coffee or unsweetened tea in his lunchbox. It helps him to get through school.

Heaven forbid he gets the flu again. Who knows what he’ll blame then?

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