Eye Surgery Update: So Far So Good

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Ever wake up and find someone drew on your face?

By Louis Cahill

It’s way too early to call my last surgery a win, but for now, all the news is good.

It’s been five weeks since my last surgery and as of my last checkup we are all encouraged. I don’t want to oversell. I could get bad news any time but it will be the end of the year, at the earliest, before we can call it a success. To help readers understand, I’m going to get into some details about my condition. Please pardon me but I do have friends looking for updates. 

I will talk a little about what’s coming up at G&G, so feel free to scroll down to that.

After my first retinal detachment surgery I developed a condition called PVR, short for proliferative vitreoretinopathy. In cases of PVR, excessive scar tissue forms between the retina and the eye. As that scar tissue matures, it pulls the retina like a scab might pull the skin nearby, until it detaches the retina again. In my case, the retina tore in four places and completely detached. 

This second detachment was far worse than the first. The combination of permanent scar tissue, holes in the retina, and a detached macula mean that, even if the surgery is successful, the vision in that eye will never be good. Legally blind is about the best I can hope for. That sounds worse than it is. I have one good eye and enough vision in the other to have some depth perception, and that’s huge.

The problem with PVR is that it’s persistent. Most PVR patients have from three to eight surgeries before things are resolved and with each additional surgery the quality of the outcome gets poorer. The best case is poor vision, the worst is removal of the eye. I understand that second option is extremely painful and I think I’m a long way from that.

So here’s what recovery looks like.

There are two stages to the recovery. The first six weeks we are just looking for the reattachment to hold. That looks really good right now. The second stage is a ninety day timeline where we are waiting to see if the PVR comes back and detaches the retina again. Because the scar tissue from the first round of PVR is permanent, that part of the retina is more prone to detaching again. If it looks like that is going to happen, the option is to go back in and cut away the affected part of the retina. Of course, that leaves black spots in my vision. That’s not great, and let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but the priority is keeping the macula attached. If the macula does not stay attached, the brain sees the eye as dead and will start trying to get rid of it. The only tool it has to do that is pain.

As of now there is some new PVR in my retina, but it’s not bad. My doctor spotted it at my two-week checkup, and at my five-week checkup it does not appear to have spread. That’s great news! The doctor says that if, in another four weeks, it has not gotten worse he thinks my chances are really good. He even says that if things look stable at that point he will clear me to host the January Bonefish Schools on South Andros. I’m especially excited about that but in case I am not cleared to travel, I have some exceptional hosts lined up to cover for me.

The other battle I am fighting is recovering some general physical condition. I was in bed, not even able to roll over, for three months. I was a mess when I finally got up. At first I could only sit up for about thirty minutes at a time and holding my head up gave me vertigo so bad I almost puked. That has all passed now and yesterday I walked outside without a cane for the first time. I can’t tell you how good that felt. I’ve also taken more drugs than Keith Richards and I’m working hard on getting off all of that. It’s going well, although sleeping has been very difficult.

I have turned a corner, two in fact. One physical and the other mental. I will not lie to you, there have been some very dark days. I have been isolated and in a lot of pain. For some time the doctors thought there might be a problem with my left eye as well. I’m beyond happy to report that I’m in good shape with my left eye, but I spent a lot days lying in a dark room thinking about that. 

Those of you who know me, or have been following G&G for some time, know that the last five years have been hard ones for me. Kathy and I lost our Godson, who was like our own child and I have struggled with depression. This ordeal with my eye has forced me look at my life in a different way. For one thing, it has put me in a place where I have no choice but to take care of myself. It has also made me appreciate the things I have in a very new way. I may not see well, but I have not looked at my wife’s face for the last time and there is no way I can express my gratitude for that. I have not caught my last bonefish either, though my guide may have to work a little harder.

The greatest change in my attitude is a little harder to talk about. My Godson took his own life. He had tried twice before he came to live with Kathy and me. We took him in to keep him from being institutionalized. It was a hard road but we got him into counseling and eventually off of the eight medications he was on. He got back into school, he got a job and eventually his own apartment. He was doing great until one Wednesday night, when he made a bad decision. Losing him broke me and I have always blamed myself. Rationally, I know it was not my fault but that has not changed how I felt. This is not easy to say either, but my recent experience has made me think about the decision he made in a different way. I understand it now in a way I could not before and that has freed me.

I may be rebuilding my body for some time to come, and I may be far from done with this eye surgery but I feel stronger in spirit than I have in some time. I feel like, when this is all behind me, I will be stronger and better for it. Everything in my life will be more challenging, but if that is the cost of having the joy back in my life, I’m willing to pay it. You can’t control the obstacles life throws in front of you but you can certainly control how you respond to them. I have no intention of letting this setback keep me from doing the things I want to do in my life.

So what about G&G?

The good news is, you will be seeing some new content soon. I have already started talking with contributors about new articles. Justin Pickett has just returned from IFTD with videos in the can and I have some tip videos that I shot in the Bahamas in June, all waiting to be edited.

When this started, I naively thought that things would simply return to normal once I was up and around. Of course, I had no idea what I was in for. It’s now obvious that I will have to get back to work gradually. I don’t have much stamina and my eyes get painful pretty quickly when I use the computer.

I have discovered something though. I think the recycling of content is pretty cool and it seems readers like it too. There are thousands of articles on G&G and it doesn’t make sense to keep them hidden under pages of content. So here’s what I’m going to do moving forward.

I am going to keep older articles recycling daily and post new content over that. The new stuff will trickle in at first but the goal is to eventually double the number of weekly posts. It may also happen that when I am out of the country for three weeks, there might be fewer new articles, but the recycle will help fill the gaps. My goal, as always, is to make G&G better and more engaging for the readers and I think this will be a good change. One thing you can count on is, when you sit down with your morning coffee or your evening beer, there will be something fresh for you on G&G.

Thank you so much for your support through this miserable affair.  You have all been so cool and positive. This community makes me so proud. I’d also like to thank all of my advertisers who have stood by me and supported me. They are a fine group of human beings. I’d like to thank my friends who have stayed in touch, come to see me, and lately driven my blind ass out to lunch once in a while. It has lifted my spirit and helped me stay a part of the world. Most of all I want to thank my wife, Kathy. You can not imagine e what she has been through and all that she has done for me on top of her already overpacked schedule. She is stronger than I will ever be and has never come to me with anything but a kiss and a smile. God bless that woman.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me.


Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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46 thoughts on “Eye Surgery Update: So Far So Good

  1. Wow!

    Thank you for sharing what you have been, and continue to go through, during this time in your life. My heart goes out to you and Kathy as you both navigate through the pain (physical and emotional).

    While I’m interested in G&G and what’s in store for the future, I really appreciate you helping your readership remember what things are truly important and what people often take for granted.

    It’s also easy in a media-saturated world for people to think everything is perfect in the lives of those publishing content and that, somehow, their life (the reader) is less than ideal when they compare themselves to the publisher and/or published content. Your ongoing story is a reminder to all to be grateful for their blessings and the challenges associated with working through challenges we all face.

    Best wishes to you, your wife, family, and friends. I’m rooting for you and I suspect there are many others out there doing the same.

    All the best.

  2. All the best to you Louis! We’ve never met but huge fan of your blog and have been thinking of you and checking for an update often. Glad to hear all is looking good thus far and your positive attitude is a great reminder for all of us to be thankful for our blessings and to try and push through the curveballs life sends our way. Keep up the battle bud!

  3. Best wishes to you on your continuing recovery and my condolences on your godson’s death. Recycling G&G columns is a great idea!

  4. My friend Dave & I enjoyed our time with you on your hosted trip to Bair’s this past June. We had a great time. I remember you telling us of your eye problems and I recalled that over 20 years ago I experienced retinal tears in both of my eyes that required extensive laser surgery to prevent my retinas from detaching. It was successful, but years later the surgery apparently caused cataracts to form in my eyes which required lens implants. My vision is fine now, but I feel the pain of your worries and wish you all the luck in the world for a successful outcome and many bonefish in your future. Hang in there, Louis!

  5. keep your glass half full. I see ok from the left but not the right. I can tie a leader, tie on a fly, occasionally see the bonefish and make a cast. Life is good

  6. Hang in there, and keep on keepin’ on.

    I’ve enjoyed several of the old articles that I hadn’t read, and even some othe ones I had, as refreshers.

  7. Louis, we have never met but I have enjoyed G&G for some time, so I was very concerned when I read your latest post. Words about the loss of your Godson are inadequate. Losses like that come hard and linger for a long time. My heart goes out to you and Kathy. You are on the right track in that your brain is giving you good info about fault, it just has to convince your heart. Try as hard as you can to listen to your brain. To have your eye issues at the same time would indeed make for some dark days. I believe that cliche about not knowing what someone is going through until you walk in their shoes, which I haven’t. I can only encourage you to keep looking forward and don’t give up or in to the negatives in your life now. I, along with most if not all of your readers are willing you to be able to move forward and get these issues in the rear view mirror. My thoughts, prayers and positive energy are with you. Please take care and best of luck. I am looking forward to the resumption of G&G for many years to come.


  8. Thanks for sharing the details of your ailment and the ongoing recovery. That honesty plus your positive attitude and appreciation of others’ efforts speaks to the heart. You’ve been through hell, and 99% of your readers (and fans) now appreciate a little more just how good we’ve got it.

    Wishing you continued success as you recuperate, and don’t forget to practice your double haul before that January bonefish school!

  9. Louis, I can’t even begin to appreciate all you have gone through. The significant losses, both physically and emotionally are staggering. But God is bigger than whatever we face in this life. Be assured of my thoughts and prayers as you and your Bride go through these very deep waters. May the Lord give you both strength, help, and courage in the coming days.

  10. It’s amazing what can be done nowadays, they should be able to save your sight and you’ll be back angling again. I had glaucoma surgery 15 years ago and I am still fine but now I have to have some cataracts removed so that will be dicey but I am confident about the results given all the medical knowledge that is out there. Hang in there.

  11. I Like the photos–you’re still looking good, Louis, still lookin’ good! I pray you get well as I need to get on board another one of your trips! Been thinking of you and wish you the best.
    Your friend
    Ed Garcia
    Corpus Christi TX

  12. It is more then just tough going through what you are experiencing. How are you adjusting to the two “D” vision. You are right “God bless our wives” they are strong. Hang in there.

  13. Louis,
    Thanks for your candid, heartfelt story…know that old or new, I religiously follow your columns weekly–and have for years… you and your compatriots remain special mentors to me of our wonderful sport…and of “life”!
    Be strong, stay positive, feel the healing, and remain confident and accepting… you are definitely on your own unique “new” fishing adventure of life!

  14. You got a lot of fans pulling for you. Know that you have touched so many of our lives with your generosity of knowledge, humor and your own personal experiences. You make our lives better with your contributions. Keep the faith brotha’.

  15. Louis, thank you for sharing, wish you would have done so earlier! You are like part of the “family”, we want to know how you are doing. Here’s to a healthy recovery. TIGHT LINES.

  16. Thanks for sharing your story Louis. It’s a good reminder to all of us that health, family, and life itself are precious. I’m really sorry to hear about your challenges. It’s hard to do but take it one day at a time. I’m pulling for you and your family big time.

  17. Louis, thank you for sharing so much personal stuff with your readers, many of whom you have never met like me. Your story is powerful and God will use it to bless you and others who think they may be alone in their struggles.

    My prayers are with you for healing and continued opportunities to be a blessing to others (and to chase more bonefish!). May God bless you and Kathy!


  18. Louis,
    Your recovery and health are first priority to each of your family, friends and readers. You and G&G have been an ever flowing and generous river of great articles new and recycled. We can sustain.

    The physical and personal journey you are undertaking will bring a new awareness as you suggest to enrich you in many ways.
    Stay strong!

    Louis and Kathy from Knoxville sending our best wishes as you heal.

  19. Wishing you the very best for a full recovery – thanks for a truly heartfelt and inspiring update – good luck and hope to meet you finally one day in the not too distant future.

  20. Thanks for the update, man. I’ve worried about you, as have many others. I was fishing in salt last week and wearing a G&G Bonefish School tee shirt. One person after another came up to me and asked if I knew how you were doing. I sure hope you’re healthy and strong enough to make Andros in January. You have a lot of people cheering for you!

  21. I’ve consulted with the Fishing Gods about your condition and they assured me that a fully recovery is almost guaranteed, provided — you dream of bonefish while sleeping and quaff good beer while awake. I’m certain you’re up to this challenge!!

  22. G&G is still first on my list to read on Mondays. Had cataracts removed this year following another eye surgery last year preceded by being legally blind in one eye. Miracles still happen. Will keep you in our prayers.

  23. I have thought of you almost every day since an earlier post about your grief with your Godson and now you face this opthalmic problem. I have prayed for you many times and I hope you will be better. Life throws us curve balls, and we have to deal with it. I am glad you are better. You and Kent made me a better fly fisheman. I will always be grateful. Still praying for you daily.

  24. Hi Lewis,
    Keep fighting the good fight and thank you for sharing your journey. Don’t underestimate helpful hearing your story can be for others working through their own situations. I lost the sight in my left eye when I was twelve and it can be frustrating at times, but it doesn’t keep me from doing the things I want and I suspect your condition won’t keep you from doing the same. Good luck in the recovery and tight lines.

  25. Wishing you all the best with the eye and the following procedures. You’re on my prayer list. You are amazing in what you do, and everyone that reads your posts feel the same way. We are all pulling for you. You’ve made my life easier with what I’ve learned from your weekly’s. Thank you and you’re mighty cute in that little blue bonnet.

  26. Pulling for you, Louis. Will be up in Georgia next week for some trout fishing and appreciate all I’m learning through the blog. Update on Sugar: unfortunately she is going to lose her lame leg because of persistent infection in her crippled foot. We’ve tried everything but the vet assures me she will be just fine on 3 legs.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  27. Pingback: New Year’s Resolutions: 2020 | Fly Fishing | Gink and Gasoline | How to Fly Fish | Trout Fishing | Fly Tying | Fly Fishing Blog

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