Wednesday, April 26, 2023

10 years ago today...

 10 years ago today was pretty much the worst day of my life. It's the day I came literally 5 minutes away from dying. I had become diabetic but didn't know it, and it had turned into ketoacidosis, which is when your body shuts down and basically starts burning your insides in a last ditch effort to keep running...if you don't treat it, you don't survive it, and I didn't treat it for a full see, I started feeling terrible a week before, at the NNL East model car show, when I drank a Mountain Dew, something I did only once a year, there. I had assumed that the Dew had been tainted, so I felt like that I just had to wait out the food poisoning I was sure I had...but I was very, very wrong. 

I got worse and worse but steadfastly refused to go to a doctor. I don't really trust doctors, which goes back to when I was in 6th grade and my health problems manifested...I went through so many tests, so much poking and prodding, all of which was inconclusive and told me nothing...the mental trauma it gave me is still affecting me all these years later. 

Finally, on the morning of April 26th, my Mom said (paraphrasing, because I was essentially unconscious- not sleeping, passed out/comatose) "the heck with what you say, I'm calling an ambulance" and I'm very glad she did. The ER doctor told her that five minutes later and I would not have made it. That is not hyperbole, it was really that close. They told her and my brother to say their final goodbye. 

I was actually pretty much unconscious the whole day. I remember seeing, of all things, Buffalo Wild Wings out the window of the ambulance and the next thing I remember is when I came to in the hospital many hours later, after they had gotten me to the point where I was going to survive. 

It's unknown what my blood sugar was so high that the hospital machines couldn't read it - but they estimated around 1200 if I remember correctly. It's supposed to be around 70...yeah, it was that bad. 

But, I survived. You wouldn't be reading this if I hadn't, of course. I spent a week in the hospital and every year since then I celebrate "Glad I'm Not Dead Day" on May 1st, the first day of my second chance at life. 

However, since today is the 10th anniversary of my ordeal, I'm celebrating today...because I'm glad to be alive. Yes, I can be pretty miserable sometimes, a byproduct of my health problems mostly, but deep down, I'm glad to be here. There's so much I want to see, and do, that even though I struggle to do stuff, I am not going to stop trying.

So, I thought I would go through my photo archive, and choose my 10 Favorite photos I've taken over the past 10 years! I tried to limit myself to 1 photo from each basic topic, although it was an extremely hard choice to pick just 10 photos, out of literally nearly 100,000 I've taken since 2013. As it turns out, none from 2013 through 2016 made the cut. 

I am sharing the photos in chronological order of when I took them, which is kind of a neat byproduct of how I label each photo to keep them in order on my website. 
The earliest photo is from September of 2017, which was a prototype adventure of sorts. My brother, realizing I was very depressed, wanted to get me out and doing stuff, and my doctor literally prescribed me to get out of the house and walk, so my brother set out to do that in the most fun way possible. 7 of the 10 photos that cracked the top 10 are from our Adventures. 
This is Lake George, NY, my favorite place in the world, taken from Prospect Mountain. This was the first time we had ever gone up Prospect Mountain despite visiting Lake George almost every year of my life, missing only 2013-15. 

The next photo is from our first "official" adventure, which was the Fordham Museum of Ancient Art & Artifacts in the Bronx, NY. I have been a big fan of ancient history for quite a while now, and I got to see some amazing things there, including the oldest man-made artifact I've ever seen in my life. This is an ancient Greek amphorae. This was taken in October 2018.

I really, really love aquariums, and this was taken at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island. I love the face this fish is making! This was taken in January 2019.

Another photo from 2019, this is an F-22 Raptor (I think) doing a flyby at the New York Airshow, which had been moved to Newburgh for a couple of years. I also saw the Blue Angels practicing for about an hour but this was the best photo I took that day, and I really couldn't resist making this one of the top 10. 

2019 was the most populous year in the top 10 favorite photos, with 3 images making the cut. This one is one of my favorite car photos I've taken, with the pink tree making a nice backdrop to the black car. I wish the hood was down, and I wish the cruise in this was taken at still happened, but this photo just sticks in my memory...I almost used a photo of our Edge in front of Devil's Tower but I had to go with this one. 

I love to take pictures of the road, and I love to take pictures of the landscape, and this one has both. Taken on I-84 in Port Jervis NY, we were actually up higher than the small airplane that I circled in the photo. This was taken on March 1st, 2020, just days before the pandemic shut everything down. This one is the one I was least "sold" on putting into my Top 10 list, but I really like this photo.

Due to my health problems we didn't do much in 2020, but sometimes the photos came to me. I LOVE squirrels, as is well known, and this is such a fun photo I've even used this as my profile picture on some message boards. 

The only image from 2021 to make the list, the New York City skyline is just spectacular! I actually took this from New Jersey, where we had gone to see a NASCAR show car. This was actually taken September 11th, 2021, 20 years to the day after the terrorist attacks that shook the city and country to it's core. 

Taken in May 2022, this is my best photo of Mount Rushmore. I have always wanted to see Mt Rushmore, it was one of the top things on my "bucket list"...and last year we made it happen. I still can't believe we were able to make that happen...that I was able to do it! 

This photo, from September 2022, represents the greatest day of my life, when I visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It's actually hard to get a good photo like this, because the Hall is too large to fit in one photo, but this was the one I liked the best that I took. I also set my record that day- I took over 3000 photos in the Hall of Fame. (And I still missed stuff!)

Just for fun, I also picked out my Top 10 favorite photos of myself taken in the last 10 years. 9 out of 10 I used as my profile photo on Facebook. 
In 2015, I got dressed in a Halloween costume for the first time since 1997ish, maybe earlier, as a Roman Senator. 
This photo was taken at the Rhinebeck Car Show vendor area. all these neon signs were for sale. I love neon and I love car stuff, so this was doubly cool.
This one is from the Fordham Museum as well, and is the only one that didn't make it to be a Facebook profile picture. That little square is a cuneiform tablet from ancient Babylon, the earliest readable language in the world.
From January 2019, this was taken at Madison Square Garden, holding a game used stick of my favorite player in the NHL, Henrik Lundqvist. 
Also taken in 2019, this was taken at the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Manhattan. 
Another image from 2019...I realize making this post that 2019 was my best year, lol, This was taken at the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut. This ray is in the "touch a fish section" and swam right up to me. He wouldn't swim away until I reached down and pet him, and then he was happy. 
Another from 2019, at the Adirondack Nationals. I'm not really a big celebrity person, but Faye and Bogi of All Girls Garage were really cool. They seem fun on TV, and they were even more engaging in person. 
Last one from 2019...but it's a big one! I used to attend the NNL Nationals model car show in Toledo, but it got to be too expensive and too difficult to do with my health problems and my mom's health problems, but when they announced that 2019 was going to be the last show we had to go back. While we were there, we took a day trip to Illinois and ended up on Route 66! Route 66 is an icon of America and car culture, and driving on it (riding, actually, as my health does not allow me to drive) was high on my Bucket List...higher than Mount Rushmore even. The funny thing is that getting on it was completely an accident, as we were looking for a restroom, and it's not labeled as Route 66 anymore. Due to my knowledge of it, I was able to figure it out while we were still on it and I took this photo of myself with Route 66 in the background. This was in Joliet, Illinois, and was only about a month after the photo with Bogi and Faye. This is the only selfie of the top 10.
I just really like this photo. It was taken in Yonkers, NY, at the Untermayer Park & Gardens. 

Me on the big screen at the NASCAR Hall of Fame...nothing more needs to be said there!

On to the next 10 years...


  1. Great post Billy! Thank you for sharing this story. I realize this is the most obvious statement of the year, but I'm sure glad your mom called the paramedics in time. I understand the whole "doctor" thing. I'm not a big fan of going to the doctor unless I'm really, really sick and I think that feeling stems from my childhood and fear of needles.

    As for the photos... my favorites are the F-22 Raptor and Mount Rushmore. I also love the Roman Senator photo. That would make an excellent custom baseball card.

    1. Thank you! I actually had the Roman senator photo as my profile picture on Facebook for quite a while

  2. Great photos, and I am really glad you made it through the medical ordeal. Wish you felt better more often, but we all have to deal with what we're given. Glad to see you celebrating your second chance!

  3. Great post. It's pretty amazing you do all the traveling you do with the health issues you have. Many in good health don't come close to that. The Mount Rushmore pic is great.

    I like aquariums and neon, too ... but I do not like squirrels.

    1. Thank you. I'm amazed I'm able to do these things too. For more than a decade I didn't do any traveling and now, since my brother came up with the adventure idea, it's one of my favorite things to do.

  4. Glad you're around to tell the tale!

  5. Happy 10 year anniversary! Glad you're around!

  6. Happy anniversary! I think we share same level of trauma, and distrust, of doctors; though I think my negative experiences started a little earlier. As far as the pictures go, I still love those Fordham Museum pics. I'm envious of the ray petting too, especially since you didn't have to go into the ocean to do it.

    1. Thank you, it's tough when you have such a deeply ingrained distrust of people that you need like I do with the doctors. It took me almost 20 years to find one I actually like.

  7. Wow, that was a truly scary story...happy 10 year anniversary!

  8. Sorry for the late replies everyone, I have been insanely busy. Most of the time I get to the hotel room and I just need to lay down. I'm writing this from Salt Lake City, Utah, the farthest west I've ever been. Since my last post I've achieved two bucket list items, had my first ever car accident, and visited 6 museums. I'm going to have so much to write about when I get back home.