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.
Thanks!Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com firstname.lastname@example.org Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!