Monday, March 2, 2009

Drinking from the Cylindrical Trough! (No Kool-Aid Here!)

Buddy de Cat drinking from the cylindrical trough!

Tomorrow is the big day, although it is still only a 24 hour day, but a big day nonetheless. I am flying down to Florida for a month of R and R from the bitterly cold, and windy winters that blanket Wyoming for a majority of the year. To be honest though, since I have moved here 18 years ago, things have gotten considerably milder over the last 6-8 years.

Although I lived in Florida for almost 11 months from August 2002 through July 2003, it wasn't for R and R. It was more like a geographic cure, at least sub-consciously, if not consciously. What I said was I was selling my house here in Wyoming to be near my folks, who were getting up there in years, and being the prodigal son, and it was my duty. What I was really doing was escaping my addictions, or so I thought, and leaving my wild and sorted past here in the Equality State. I'm an alcoholic, and have bi-polar disorder, neither of which I was addressing back in 2002, or 2001 or for many years for that matter. In 2001 I did something foolish, and illegal, and ended up on probation for 5 years. Yes, it was a biggie, because I could have ended up at the state prison in Rawlins for 3-5 years. That would have sucked.

So, off to Florida I went, and I remember clearly saying to myself that I would not drink when I got there, and screw things up like I did here in Wyoming, or any other place I've lived in the past 30 odd years. But there was one minor thing I forgot to do. I forgot to go to AA, or any type of aftercare group, or see a mental health specialist, and didn't do anything for the depression, which I had been diagnosed with for the last 27 years, (No doctor bothered to do a complete inventory of my entire life's history up until I came back to Sheridan, and entered the VA Hospital in July 2003. Doctors Anup Sidhu, and Victor Ashear were the first to actually figure out I was bi-polar, and since then my life has done a 180, but there is a lot of work I have to do to help maintain that fact. Thank you doctors!) so I was a ticking time bomb. Everything started to really unwind in March 2003, with me just walking out of my job, and drinking to oblivion everyday. It was to ease the mental and physical pain. The physical pain, as I found out later had to do with severe spinal cord compression at C-5 and C-6, and other neurological issues, including a brain tumor.

My attempt to establish myself as a sane and productive member of the community, and a loving and caring prodigal son was a failure. An utter disaster to say the least. But the worm was beginning to turn.

I came back to Wyoming in July of 2003 via a Greyhound bus. I came back because I could get help here, and I felt save here. I was a complete embarrassment to my family, but what else was new? Nothing changes if nothing changes. I left my dog Bear with a neighbor who said he would watch him while I was in the hospital. That also turned out to be a disaster. I miss Bear a lot, and I hope he can forgive me someday.

Bear at his 3rd Birthday Party!

So that brings me to tomorrow, and my flight to Florida to see my folks, and watch some spring baseball. This is the 4th year I have done this. The first time in March of 2006 was 10 months after I moved out of an assisted living facility in Buffalo, Wyoming. Some know it as the Old Soldiers and Sailors Home, but now a days it is called the Veterans' Home of Wyoming. It is a state run facility, but it gets a majority of it's funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA. I spent almost a year and a half there, after an almost 6 month stay at the VA Hospitals in Sheridan, WY and Denver.

The first time I went down to Florida, post Florida fiasco, was in 2006, I had saved up some money from my birthday in October, and Christmas of the previous year. The following years I was given the plane ticket as a Christmas present from my folks. I think they realized how poor, in money that is, not spirit, I was. I am extremely grateful for their kind and generous gift. And each year, my stays get longer and longer. The first year I was down there 2 1/2 weeks, and this year it's 4 weeks. This year we have new kink, as my dad just had back surgery about 2 weeks ago, as he had to wait till their trip to NY for Christmas, and cruise to Hawaii at the end of January, and beginning of February was over. He is walking with a walker most of the time, and I think he thinks his recovery would have progressed quicker then it has so far. This is because every morning he would do his 2-4 mile walk, and then maybe a couple of miles on the treadmill. He is not a patient man. So this should be interesting.

But I am looking forward to this visit. I am also looking forward to visiting the different AA groups I have attended during these visits. I was known as Buffalo Bill to some of them, but seeing as I now live in Sheridan, who knows what nickname they will come up with.

That brings me to Buddy de Cat, or Nature Cat, whichever you prefer. Just a month after getting out of the Veterans Home, in June of 2005, my good friend Stan moved up to Buffalo from Laramie WY. He had been downsized from WYO Tech in 2003, around the same time I went into the hospital. He had lived off unemployment for awhile, then off savings, but couldn't find a job. So, before they foreclosed on his house, he was able to sell it, and thought of moving to Sheridan, where we both had lived in the 1990's. But, while on a road trip to Sheridan, he stopped by to visit me, and saw they had applications for apartments in the lobby, so he got one, and applied for an apartment, which he got with no problem.

Stan is a good hearted man, but like me, he may have an issue with John Barleycorn, but that is something he has to decide. Anyhow, when he moved to Buffalo, into the same apartment building as me, they only allowed residents to have one pet, either cat or dog. He had 2 cats. Lucky, a completely black semi-long haired cat is about 11 and a 1/2 years old now. I gave him to Stan as a birthday gift back in 1997 as a kitten, when we were housemates. And then there is Buddy de Cat. He is a domestic short-haired, and he is about 10 years old now. So, he asked me if I could watch Buddy until he got a place where he could have 2 cats. His timeline was about 6 months until he would get another place, maybe up in Sheridan, (More job opportunities.) or in Buffalo. Well, one thing led to another, and Stan is still in the same apartment, and working in Buffalo, running the city's recycling center. And I'm still cat-sitting Buddy de Cat. So, now, every time I have to go somewhere, whether an extended trip to the Denver VA Hospital, or trips to NY for Christmas, or Florida in March to see my folks. That means he is cat-sitting his cat which I've been cat-sitting for the last 3 and 1/2 years. Thank God for good friends, even if they are just cat-sitting their cat.

Bon voyage, and chat when I return from Florida, or maybe sooner if my dad lets me use his computer, (That is if he gets better, and goes back to his old routine of being on the computer a lot, mainly playing video games like solitaire, or Monopoly, or whatever!) so I can make some entries. We'll see, but it doesn't matter either way for me, as I'm going down there to spend time with my folks. But I do have some Fantasy Baseball live drafts I have to participate in, as does my dad, but he only has one team to pick.

Buddy has taken his last drink from the cylindrical trough today, at least for the next month. Ciao!

Buddy de Cat giving us a BIG Yawn!!!