Two caveats: First, this post is NOT about what you think it is. Second, I have a laughably low tolerance for most medications/drugs.
A Story of Diminishing Performance and Overall Sluggishness
For the past few weeks I've just felt run down—tired, poorly-motivated, and out of steam. More than that though, I've just felt a serious lack of energy and motivation.
Part of me thought it might've been a question of burnout. But I'm not under terrible amounts of stress at work, and I absolutely LOVE what I do for a living.
More than anything though, I've just noticed a serious lack of energy and a stubborn, persisting, grogginess and lack of mental clarity.
Only, I've been working out five or six days a week regularly for a few months now, eat pretty well (I'm currently on a kick where I've been eating tofu and other high-protein foods along with daily doses of 'mean green' and other borderline insane health foods that I never would have even mentioned 10 years ago—let alone tried), and have been doing a decent job of getting regular sleep.
In short, things had actually gotten bad enough that I had done the unthinkable: scheduled an appointment with my doctor to see if maybe I’m not potentially having malabsorption problems due to the removal of my gallbladder a few years ago. And the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the fact that, one day, after exercising for 30 minutes—following a good night’s sleep—and after eating a very healthy breakfast, it was literally all I could do to stay awake at 10 a.m. while working on some fairly fun problems for a client.
Diphenhydramine – Drug of Many Uses
Late last week, I went to breakfast with a (non-geek) friend. During the course of our discussion—in talking about some of the ugly stress that he DOES have going on in his life, he mentioned that he's started taking Benadryl to help him sleep. Part of me instantly thought: "That doesn't make any sense. Benadryl is an anti-histamine, does he really know what he's doing?" But part of me also briefly thought/wondered, "But isn’t Benadryl what people sometimes joke about giving their kids before taking them on airplanes?"
Either way, conversation was moving too quickly and I 'shelved' this thought.
Until today, when I remembered the Benadryl reference during our conversation and wondered if I'd been missing something. More specifically, since I've been TAKING Benadryl for a few weeks at night to help with what appear to be some seasonal allergies, I started wondering if there might not be a relationship between Benadryl and just how, well, drowsy I've been feeling of late.
Imagine my surprise upon reading the words "May cause MARKED drowsiness" as one of the side effects of taking Benadryl. Further, imagine my surprise when I noted that Benadryl's active ingredient is 25mg of Diphenhydramine—and then compared the ingredient to some sleeping pills that I had tried earlier in the year (but which I gave up after they worked 'too well' because I just felt… groggy all day long after taking them at night) only to see that the solitary, active ingredient in the sleeping pills was 25mg of Diphenhydramine.
I then shared my discovery with my wife (who has been worried about me of late) only to have her shake her head and jokingly ask: "How can you be so intelligent, and yet so stupid?"
At this point, it’s still too early to tell, but I’m almost certain that my issue with drowsiness is being caused by Diphenhydramine. I’ll likely know better within just a few days.
First, physical health is important for database professionals. Mentally, we do lots of heavy lifting. In that sense, our wits and intellect have to be sharp—such that regular exercise and eating healthy are important. And, since I don't want to sound like some sort of weird 'health nut' or sound like I'm being preachy, let me just state things this way: If you show me a GOOD or even GREAT DBA/database developer that doesn't eat well or exercise regularly, if you could get that person to change their habits anyone would agree that they'd be that much BETTER than they were previously.
Second, never assume the person you're talking to is an idiot—especially if or because they say something that contradicts what you 'know' to be right. It would have been very easy to totally discount what my friend had said and just assume that HE was the 'moron' that was using Diphenhydramine incorrectly. In the end, while I tend to think of myself as knowing all sorts of stuff about antihistamine, it was ME who was the moron. In fact, as I type this I’m STILL groggy—likely from last night's dose (and several weeks' worth of nightly ingestion coursing through my laughably intolerant system).
And, somewhere, in there, is not just a life lesson, but something to remember the next time you're discussing something about SQL Server and talking to an 'idiot' developer or an 'idiot' DBA.