The bitter taste of defeat and failure

Always expect the unexpected. Be prepared like a girl scout without the rules (but with the cookies). That’s always been one of my life’s mottos. After taking my last ever dose of opiate antagonist therapy last Friday, I was relieved when I only had some minor restless limbs when I turned in for bed that evening. I had been on the lowest dose possible, so I couldn’t have predicted what was going to happen next. On Saturday night, I drove up the coast for a prawn fest and I lay awake all night. I only had a couple of ‘punches’, in that my arms went a little haywire and my legs were sore, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

I’ve always adhered to the adage that our hell is here on earth, and on Sunday night, that was very much the case. My legs were kicking uncontrollably, my arms were punching like I was in the ring with Danny Green (I would’ve been half a chance, too). Good old akathisia (restless legs) had consumed my muscles and seemingly, my bones. Even my chest was doing the pop and drop. At first I read about what I could do to alleviate the symptoms, but after a few hours I was in a really bad place. In fact, I was actually quite stricken. So much so that I nearly called paramedics.

I tried laying on the floor. I tried massaging my legs. I tried star jumps and jogging on the spot – which worked – until I stopped moving. I tried stretching. I swore – a lot – and then I cried. I cried with fear and frustration. Basically, if I had ben a crab I would have kicked my flesh out of my shell. Instead, I took a dose of buprenorphine, the very stuff I had just stopped taking, hoping it would calm my body and I’d stop kicking like a cocky prize fighter. Thankfully it did, but these decisions carry a cost. I felt like an abject failure. The last thing I was expecting (or wanting) to do was to ‘dose’ again, but it was all I could do after a few hours of kicking the shit out of the air and blankets and becoming increasingly distressed to the point where I actually thought it was going to kill me. I nearly called paramedics. I guess panic and great suffering will do that. Ah, the bitter taste of defeat.

After discussing some options with one of the pharmacists from the transplant team the next morning, I went to see my GP who was happy to prescribe me with a muscle relaxant, but we were also keen to try a more conservative approach of tonic water (for the quinine), epsom salts baths, magnesium therapy and then the muscle relaxants. A bath, coupled with Nina Simone soothed me greatly, and the quadruple therapy approach worked a treat. I slept. Not a single twitch. In fact, I woke up smiling.

But before I slept, I had to get the fuck over myself and my feelings of worthlessness and failure. My doctor laid my feelings of failure to rest after assuring me that I’d done incredibly well and that these things happen. They may be unexpected, but they happen.

I wish I could be far more noble and say that the suffering was worth it, but I can’t. Last night I managed to drop my dose of muscle relaxant which I see as a win, so I’ll aim to decrease the dose again this evening.

It’s awfully liberating having a full bottle of diazepam in my possession, and not feel at all inclined to abuse it. I actually couldn’t think of anything worse; those feelings of failure simply aren’t worth it. But I’ll tell you what IS.

Today I walked into the chemist I’ve been going to for just over two years where I saw my favourite pharm-boy for the last time at the ‘junkie counter’. Let’s call him D. D was so bloody happy that I’d been able to stop taking the medication and didn’t need any more for the rest of the year. I was officially off the books. Another lovely pharmacist who had dosed me a couple of weeks ago also passed on her congrats. D and I shared a big hug and we had a chat about Christmas. Hugs are better than drugs, people! I thought they’d be glad to see the back of me, but they asked me to pop in and say hello when I’m passing by. Here’s hoping the hugs are requisite with each visit.

I must extend my gratitude for being treated with respect and not as a person of failure and inadequacy who didn’t deserve kindness because of my addiction issues. The pharmacy I go to treats everyone with the respect they deserve, and I’ll never forget that kindness, compassion and how they never brought my dignity into question.

This evening I’m feeling less of a failure and more like a warrior; a survivor. I managed to do 95% of my Christmas shopping in record time yesterday and right now I’m working on a elegiac poem for a fellow poet and friend who died last year. I miss him. I miss his humour, his spirit and his ability to turn a few words into masterpieces. The tug of death was too strong for Matthew, and the world is a poorer place without his presence.

So I guess this is where I wish you all a Merry Christmas even though Christmas can be an incredibly challenging time of year for so many. My hope is that whatever you choose to do – or not do – makes you happy and settles your soul. This cover of The Boss’s ‘I’m on fire’ by Matt Andersen always moves me. Big love to all.


16 thoughts on “The bitter taste of defeat and failure

  1. Sweetie pie, you are a champ. You take the punches, roll with them but get back up, no matter how difficult and get back in the ring! Paix et Joie et l’amour XOXOXO

    “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” – B.F. Skinner

    And my favourite which is more relevant for me: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison


    1. I love you and your quotes – they save my mind, m’love. Failure is not an option and never has been. I’m far too stubborn – sometimes to my own detriment, but I promise I’ll be a little more gentle with myself XOXO

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t know anything about being stubborn… if you believe that, I have a swamp for sale. I’ve got tons of quotes at my fingertips and they are great life preservers at times. Also, they can be great writing prompts. Please be kind to yourself! Sending buckets of love XOXO


      2. I’m calling massive BS on that, my friend. You are stubborn, strong and spirited. And hey – there are swamps everywhere 😉 Sending you Christmas Eve wishes and lots of love XOXO

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope the new year brings a better time for you. The roller coaster of life is seems to place mountains in front of you Carly. Hugs are better than drugs love that and just remember you are now more aware than ever about the choices you make and reward yourself for coming so far. All the best I look forward to more poetry in 2016


    1. This year has been such a gift, Kath. I’m just hoping for some easier nights! Mountains can be moved, and I don’t intend to stop now 🙂 Yes – hugs are so much better than drugs and I feel hyper aware of what I need, and even more importantly – what and who I don’t. That’s powerful stuff. Best wishes for 2016, my love – the poetry’s going to be epic!! XOXO


  3. Thank you for sharing the whole struggle. It helps those of us who each struggle in our own way and fall and have to find the grace and courage to risk trying again. Blessings for the New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I remember feelings like that. Physically and mentally damaged (at the time I thought ‘broken’ rather than ‘damaged’).
    Before this, an active and happy life, good job, great friends, making money, staying fit and even getting lucky occasionally – all ended in the blink of an eye.
    Then lying in hospital unable to move much without triggering insane pain and unable to think much because nothing made sense and little of the world around was even recognizable.
    A victim, damaged goods, a numbered body, everything fun and satisfying lost to an instant of bad luck, really, really bad luck.

    The process of improving self-worth took a long while to get started.
    Time ,,, things took time and it seemed as if forever. But one evening as I readied for bed I realized I hadn’t even thought about the accident at all that whole day.
    What a step I imagined that was and I was right.
    That was part of the process of not constantly seeing myself as a damaged victim of chance to forever be haunted by one tragic incident.
    More and more days like that occurred as I reclaimed a life for myself and that horrible accident became more just a part of my past. A terrible time in my journey which actually still held so much promise and joy and love an success. Some little limps, weaknesses and mental ‘twitches’ remain and always will but now they are just a part of the new me, the older one who has been around the block a few more times.

    And whatever befalls me today, maybe I will need to remind myself how much longer I probably have to go and how damn powerful my ability to heal and recover is.

    As a scientific skeptic I am more often writing about my doubts and the depressing evidence that confirms them, not always the cheeriest stuff.
    I like places like this where I am drawn to describe my positive views and the amazing things that brought me to enjoy my life the way I do.
    I’ve found it good to mix up the type of sites and blogs that I frequent, there are many topics I sometimes want to express things about.
    My 1996 accident, the pain, the dark and spirit-crushing aftermath, it’s there in my past and I don’t feel the need to talk about it much but still it feels great to let some of this out and learn about your own experiences, some familiar, some so different to anything I’ve experienced.

    All the best,


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