Superman Ain't Got Nothin' On Me
I am outdoor writer and photographer Bill Vaznis. I grew up in western Massachusetts and like my father have been an avid outdoorsman all my life. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst cum laude and then attended Tulane University in New Orleans where I earned my Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW). I was later employed by the U.S. Veterans Administration working in the Intake Psychiatric Units, the Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program and Foster Home Care where my duties included supportive individual psychotherapy and liaison with various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies including the Secret Service. I also participated in a VA program that sought out and provided follow-up assessments for Medal of Honor recipients in western New York.
You may have encountered my articles, columns and photographs over the last 30 years in Deer & Deer Hunting, Bowhunting World, American Hunter, Whitetail Strategies and other fine magazines, or my deer and bear hunting how-to books, or my two western novels . . . THE RETURN OF THE LARAMIE KID and THE DIRTY WHITE STETSON . . . that depict several realistic NDES’s (Near Death Experiences). These westerns both have whitetail bowhunting scenes while one features Goliath, a 92-pound giant rattlesnake, and the other Engendro, an 880-pound giant mutant blue catfish.
Ya know I appreciate the outdoors, probably better than most. You see I have been pronounced dead several times and have even travelled down through the valley of the shadow of death and visited the land of visible darkness. I learned that God does indeed exist and that there are no coincidences in life.
I had most of my right pelvis and a portion of my spine surgically removed due to a soft-balled size cancerous tumor. That hurt like hell. Years later I had to have my wind pipe and stomach removed also due to cancer with a length of my small intestine then stitched to the back of my mouth. That part of my gut now functions as my new esophagus and stomach. I lost 100 pounds after that fun trip to the O.R. and the chemo and radiation I had to endure cost me several teeth and left me with severe digestive issues . . . and a two-time cancer survivor.
I have survived five heart attacks, two pulmonary embolisms and three near drownings including a terrifying episode on a fishing boat in the dead of night deep in the Arctic Ocean. I have also been placed on a respirator twice where I had to give in and let a machine breath for me. I have survived a boyhood encounter with a pedophile, a huge bull elk that tried to skewer me against a tree in British Columbia and an aggressive black bear in Alberta that I had to eventually kill with my bow and arrow.
I even smashed Thunderchicken, my customized yellow XLCH Harley-Davidson Sportster into a tree head on, splitting my helmet, breaking several bones and giving me one heckuva head ache. That collision knocked me out colder than a maceral on ice and if another biker had not doubled back to check on my whereabouts and loosened my chin strap I would have chocked to death right then and there.
I do not regularly attend church and I am not a Bible thumper. My latest novel, an autobiography, “THE MAN WITH 17 LIVES”, sub title, “SUPERMAN AIN’T GOT NOTHING ON ME”, has a forward penned by the Reverend Kenneth T. Marshall. It details seventeen close calls I have had with death. All in all they proved to me that God does indeed exist in the outdoors (not so much in the city) and at age 71 I am just now realizing that He has been with me all along.
I am not afraid to die; I have already done that several times. Indeed, if you read my Pulitzer nominated autobiography you will see that death is life’s greatest adventure!
However with my medical history I am probably going to die a long and painful death, but you know what? It ain’t going to be today . . . ‘cause I am having too much fun outdoors!
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