“The Long Journey Back”

“The Long Journey Back”

“The Long Journey Back”


“Demons in Disguise”

This is a true story based on the life of David Harold Salzler. It chronicles his addiction to legal hard drugs that are readily available anywhere in the United States. These dangerous and highly addictive drugs are nicotine and alcohol. This story was written not to produce revenue, but rather to save lives. If only one life is saved by his admission to his demons, it will be well worth his efforts.

It all began during the eighth year of my life. I was walking around the neighborhood, when I noticed a package of cigarettes in a barn. I vividly remember this incident, because it lead to my addition to nicotine. The nicotine delivery system was a very popular cigarette in the 1950’s, PALL MALL’S. Unlike most children who would light up, hack, cough uncontrollably, and say “I will never touch another one of these”. I liked the taste, the feeling I felt while smoking.

My first encounter with alcohol occurred a few years later. I was again wandering town, and came to a farmers home. This time I was with boyhood friends. We were unaware at the time that the farmer had a “parchment” for young boys. He let us look around his farm, and play with his livestock. We thought that was great. He asked us if we wanted some “refreshment”, all agree! The “refreshment” turned out to be fermented apple juice, or known as “hard cider”. Of course, we all drank too much. I somehow found my way home. When I arrived to the front door I vomited over the area. My oldest sister saw me and called my mother. My mother came, smelled the vomit, and told my family that I was “drunk”! You would think that experience would have made me stop further consumption of alcohol, but it was only the beginning of a long history of alcohol abuse.

Our lives are dictated by the choices we make!

Good and wise choices are based on experience, research and our ethical and moral character. Poor and stupid choices are based on lack of understanding the consequences of our actions. Need for immediate gratification and pleasure, are the strongest driving factors.

For the sake of brevity instead of calling them “Good or Poor” choices, lets call them roads. Good road is a wise choice. Bad road is unwise choice.

The “good road” is always the most difficult to travel; therefore, I personally traveled the “bad road”.

Both roads are littered with twists and turns. If you take the good road you also maneuver effortlessly. The bad road is more difficult to “drive” in the long haul.

When given the choice I almost always took the “bad road”.

Fast Forward: My youth was a happy one. Full of fun and excitement! I discovered the joys of smoking, drinking, also what girls were really put on earth for. Of course, for my pleasure! I was under the impression that God created “Eve” for man’s pleasures! Lord, please forgive me for being so stupid not to recognize your plan. The most IMPORTANT woman in my life is now and always will be my MOTHER!

Impulsively I joined the Navy at age 17. At the time the Navy represented to me all that I ever wanted out of life. Travel, “drinking buddies”, lot of cigarettes, fast women and pretty horses. I could be grown up, swear like a “sailor” and generally live the life I thought was so great. On and on!

Suddenly it happened! Four decades after I traveled one road towards death and self-destruction the road ended. I then started my journey back to reality. The road I chose was the most difficult. My constant companion and confidant, Mr. Al Cohol, went in the opposite direction. My”demon” was finally gone. At first it was like waking up from a “hellish nightmare”, cold sweats, screaming and then realization. Looking back from present day, it was one of the best days of my life on earth! Yes, I had been spared to continue my journey back towards the road to happiness!

It was not as easy to rid myself from the love of my life. Never is! My story continues! As previously noted I met and was almost a lifelong friend of Mr. Nicotine. Little did I know at the time, Nico had long-term plans to completely control my life. His objective, total destruction and my premature demise.

I want to be very honest and upfront telling my story. My goal is a matter of credibility. My self-worth, self-esteem are at stake. Put my ego on hold for the “rest of my story”!

Now we go back in time a bit and examine through the “rear view mirror”, my travels with Nico.

It was a very long journey, lot of twists and turns. As a creature of habit, predictably I followed the bad road.

Through the years as family and real friends do they tried to help me with advice. Instead of considering it good advice, I always thought they were trying to “throw a wet blanket” over my fun!

I should have picked up on the clue early on, because the advice was always the same. Immediately remove Nico from my best buddy list, and place him on my worst enemy list.

How stupid can people be! Can’t they see how wonderful Nico is, and what he means to me? Why would they want me to turn on “my best friend”? Yes, Why?

Suspections began during the fifth decade of my life.

My friend Nico was causing discomfort in my life. Should have been my personal “wake-up-call”. But as usual I continued to sleep.

Over the years the discomfort progressed through stages. Progressed very slowly, but would have a deadly result.

Dry hacking cough, shortness of breath, ?cardio problems, high blood pressure, frequent colds, chronic bronchitis, frequent bouts of pneumonia, moderate to severe emphysema.

The time had arrived to at least consider the advice I received about Nico.

I took action, not one but several. Looking back they would not even qualify as “half-hearted” attempts to rid myself of Nico.

Started with good intentions. I soon learned that all the good intentions in the world would will not work without sacrifice and honest effort. At the time I was not strong enough to make that sacrifice. I should have realized that I did not have to do it alone, because “Foot Prints in the Sand” was a favorite quote of mine.

First I tried “cold turkey” failed. Nicotine patches, but after all

is that not changing delivery systems for Nico-failed again.

Hypnosis‘-failed. Chinese miracle cure “acupuncture”-failed

Fast Forward to the year 2009, it is the 6th decade of my life.

My life is fading quickly now, soon I will be just a memory. A short memory at that!

Thank God I have NO memory of the following events:

During the evening in late fall of the year. My youngest son found me in a comatose state, labored rapid breathing! No longer able to control my bodily functions! It did not look good for me.

911 call, emergency transport to ER, prognosis-poor. Admitted to ICU, but it was just a formality, prognosis-vegetative state for life at best, most likely-TERMINAL. My living will was activated: “NO HEROIC EFFORT”

Diagnosis: Congestive heart failure, respiratory failure, kidney failure.

My body was kept going by artificial means: IV’s, Tubes and respirators, kidney stimulants. My natural life and decision’s on how to live the rest of it was now in the hands of my soul-mate of 34 years. I thankfully lost control over my life as I knew it. My condition bounced back and forth between terminal to critical for almost a week. That was time enough to summon our children to my deathbed. My soul mate consulted with our family about my “Living Will”. Should she revoke it or leave it as I desired? She was torn in a million pieces. Remember road one and two? She choose road one for my future. She would not attempt to go against my wishes. She let the “Will” be carried out.

If I had died then I would not be able to tell the world how it feels to live a hellish existence with my two ” best friends”, Mr. Al Cohol and Mr. Nicotine. Even with them I always had the support of My Maker, family and friends, regardless of what decision I made.

Mr. Nicotine had a death-grip on me. He held on so tight that even when I was semi comatose with tubes down my throat. I begged the world to summon him to me. That request was REFUSED!

“The Long Journey Back” begins:

Two weeks with Intensive care, followed by four weeks in a dialysis center, three weeks in physical/occupational prison. I currently am undergoing outpatient physical therapy to regain lost strength, and I plan to continue for the rest of my life. Yes, I finally am able to take the first road!

Mr. Al Cohol and Mr. Nicotine a just fading memories now almost as if they were figments of my imagination.

Oh! I almost forgot. About ten years ago I was diagnosed with a Bi-Polar disorder, do you know what that is? Bi(means two), Polar(means pole). It is a personality disorder, not a disease!

You cannot contract it by any association with people, places or things. It is a gene thing, willed to you by your ancestors.

Bi-polar is the new generation name for what we used to call either “crazy acting”, or in more refined language Manic-depressive.

I like the manic stage because the world belongs to you, hate the depressive stage because the whole world hates you.

The moral of the story is:

ONLY YOU CONTROL YOUR DESTINY! Take it from someone who personally knows it is always better and in your best interests to take road ONE!

God Bless us all, and have a wonderful life!

p.s. thank you for allowing me to tell my story.

My “Lifelong Gratitude” extended to Kathy and Brian, I will love you always!





David is a sixty five year old white male who lives with his wife Kathy and son Brian.  David was born:  Springville, NY, Attended schools at NY, FL, IL,NC,CA.  David is a US Navy veteran of 24 years, Retired from the USPS and is a Disabled American Veteran. A published Poet.  David has always considered himself as a “blue collar” type of guy.



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