Louis Goes Fishing

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A not so recent photo by Johnny Spillane

By Louis Cahill

It’s been a while since I posted an update on my condition.

Most of you know that the last year has been a rough one for me as I am in an ongoing struggle with PVR, which has impacted my vision and much more. Things change all the time but I’m hesitant to post updates. Folks would get tired of hearing about it and, frankly, I get tired of talking about it. I’m writing this because I actually do have some news and I honestly don’t have much else to write about, since this has been my life lately.

I expected to be in bed recovering from my seventh eye surgery this week, but I’m not. I saw the doctor a little over a week ago and he says I’m stable (that’s kind of a big deal) and there is no rush, so we rescheduled the surgery for October. That’s a huge relief! Being on my feet for a while is really going to help me recover from some of the unexpected side effects of my condition.

I knew going in that my vision was not going to be great. There was a good stretch there where they thought I might lose both eyes but, knock wood, that concern seems to have passed. My left eye seems to be in ok shape. There are no guarantees but with PVR but my doctor seems pretty confident about it. It’s been a while sine there was any talk of physically losing the right eye, which is awesome, but I am legally blind in that eye. Visually, for now at least, that’s very challenging. If the right eye were gone my vision would be better. The bad signal from the right eye makes a mess of everything. If, however, things were to go badly in the left eye I’d be damned glad to have it. 

I didn’t know going in that this thing would wreck me in so many other ways. Recovering from multiple surgeries, I was in bed for a solid six months. Three months of that I couldn’t even roll over. That caused all sorts of other problems. Muscle atrophy, balance issues and nerve damage being the worst. Long story short, I had to learn to do simple things like walk, sit up and feed myself without a bib all over again.

I’m doing great now. I’m still very weak with some ironic pain but I am driving (which is huge) and doing pretty much whatever I want. I have fished twice in the last month. Ok, I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is. I used to put in over 250 days a year but four hours on Sunday morning wiped me out. This week I’m fishing two days and for the first time I’ll be wading. Again, doesn’t sound like a dig deal, but just a few weeks ago the idea of standing in a stream seemed impossible. I’m incredibly excited. Hopefully next week I won’t be telling you about new cast on my leg!

For the casting geeks.

I was very afraid that I would be learning to cast a fly rod from scratch. Fortunately, some part of me remembers, at least, which end of the rod to hold. Thats not to say I’m casting well. I’m casting as poorly as I have in quite a while but the problems are muscular not mental. Light trout rods are fairly easy for me to handle but when I pick up a nine weight, things aren’t so pretty.

Distance is ok, not great bot ok. Loop control is where things get sticky. The small stabilizing muscles and all of my core muscles have deteriorated so controlling the rod is challenging. I went out on Sunday and threw streamers for striped bass and my loops were pretty lumpy and open. After a few hours things cleaned up a good bit but I wore out quickly. Still, that’s the best way I know to get it back. Refining movements when the muscles are exhausted is the best way to improve muscle memory. My doctor has referred me to physical therapy and, if my insurance will cover it, I’m hopeful that will help.

Lastly, I apologize for being so absent lately. As I start getting out more I will have more to write about. I’m hopeful that relearning to cast will give me some perspective that will help me write more effectively for folks who are just learning. I will also apologize in advance for all of the typos you’ll be seeing. Of all of my visual challenges, the computer is the very worst. for all I know the last half dozen paragraphs have all ben gibberish. Let me know in the comments!

Thank you all for your support! From the bottom of my heart. I’ll let you know how the fishing goes this week.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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40 thoughts on “Louis Goes Fishing

  1. Very good to hear you are on the mend. I am having eye issues
    Myself and just not being able to drive, fish, swim, kayak has
    Driven me crazy. Cannot imagine what u have been through.
    Hang in the and here’s wishing more tight lines for you in the
    Very near future.

  2. Fabulous news. Your many fans are pulling for your recovery. Fishing has got to be the best medicine in the world.

  3. Louis, Wishing you a speedy recovery to get back at the life you love!! Hopefully, rehab will work out for you to get back where you once were.

  4. Pushing 70 next month, extreme bad back and other old age problems has curtailed me fishing, and have nearly stopped guiding all together. What I found is what you already know, most of this is mind over the body, if the mind is strong, you’d be surprised what you can accomplish, stay positive and keep fishing, God Bless.

  5. Very glad to hear some good news Louis, looking forward to catching up. Doors always open up here in BC, (border isn’t yet but that will change). Keep working on getting your strength back, all the best!

  6. Glad you’re improving and back in the water, we’re all thinking about you and hope you have a fast recovery. Thanks for all the great articles, I enjoy reading them every day. Hang in there.

  7. Many positive vibes here sir. Many things to be grateful for as well.

    Best wishes for a continued recovery.

  8. Louis, your contribution to all our lives has been years in the making. Making us better anglers. Making us more considerate of others on the water. Making us more tolerant of people different than us. Making us look beyond our own little worlds into a bigger one, with people who don’t look like us, know different limitations, have families and also to get us all to stay a little further from the bars when we visit the Chimps at the zoo with the kids…Seriously, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your sharing the intimate details of the struggles you are dealing with in a way that reminds us all of how lucky we all are. Our bodies break down and struggles redefine what our “normal” is. Your honesty keeps flowing and we love you the more for it.

    • I’m just blown away by the generosity of support all of you have shown here. If I’m perfectly honest, I was not having a great day when I wrote this post. You good people sure turned that around. Thank you so much. With all the craziness going on, the G&G family makes me proud.

  9. Lumpy and open tends to describe my loops on most days when stripers and heavy flies are involved. But clearly that’s the wind’s fault up here in New England, as my casting stroke is flawless…

    On a slightly more serious note, your articles, be them new or reposts, have gotten me through a lot of rough patches in the last few years. I hope that casting and writing can give you the same catharsis I’ve found in your words. Cheers to a speedy recovery and tighter loops!

  10. I have been reading gindandgasoline emails for several weeks. I am 72 and retired RN. I had to look up what “PVR” is after reading your post about surgery and side effects.

    I never dreamed anyone could be suffering your ordeal and writing about fly fishing.

    Hope your fishing trip is nothing but joy and your recovery continues.

    God Bless You brother, heal up, and thrive.

  11. Thank you for the update Louis! It’s very encouraging to hear you’ve been on the water. Keep working at the recovery and keep the updates coming, and stay safe!

  12. Glad to hear from you and that you are able to get out to fish! Think of you often,
    Daily in fact, since you enabled my adoption of the sweetest Potcake ever! Hope you continue to improve and have some great time on the water! Continued prayers and best regards to Mrs. C!

  13. I recently endured a bout with the corona virus. Put me out of commission for a couple of weeks. After reading your update, I can only say how much I hurt for you with the struggles you’ve endured and the frustration you no doubt have felt. It made me realize how much I take my health for granted! Godspeed for your recovery and keep fighting to get those tight loops!

  14. Good to hear a positive report. A lot of people are pulling for you. It’s so easy to take vision for granted, and so life changing when it’s threatened. Glad you’ve been able to get out and here’s hoping for a lot more outings.

  15. Dude!
    I’m glad to hear that things are improving for you and that you are on the mend. Hang in there, keep your head up!
    Prayers headed your way!

  16. Just want you to know that I have appreciated your writing for years and that the positive energy that shines through has been wonderful. I hope your recovery continues, your vision improves and you get back to fishing a healthy amount soon.

  17. So sorry to hear about the continuing eye issues … but really happy to hear you are getting to do some fishing. I went through dark days in 2011/12 with significant health issues, and then losing my wife to cancer. I had a small network of 5-6 fishing friends that offered encouragement and kept me sane. I know your extensive network of fishing friends will bring you some comfort and encouragement. Best wishes Louis…. hope to fish with you again on Andros some day.

  18. You’re a constant reminder that fly fishing is about more than just fishing, and I thank you for that. Wishing you courage in the steep climb ahead. One step at a time, one cast at a time.

  19. God Bless you, Louis! I’ll never bitch about any illness again – what you’ve gone through and are working your way out of is unbelievable. Happy to hear you’re getting back on the stream, but make sure you have a wading staff. Keep the updates coming and I’m glad to read that some of the fun is coming back for you.

  20. Hi Louis,. I wish you a complete and quick recovery so you can get back to doing what you love! I look forward to seeing pictures and clips of you throwing tight loops and reeling in those bonefish! Please know you are in all of our thoughts and prayers. Tight lines and all the best, Bob Cirulnick

  21. It seems somewhat rare anymore that someone can share something uplifting and encouraging when circumstances are not at their best.Thanks for continuing to give all of us fly fishing brothers renewed hope in that there are better days ahead even when health issues cause us to slow down and have to take a little time off for healing and recovery. I’m happy that you have gotten an opportunity to again get out and do something that you truly enjoy with a passion. I hope your time on the water will be good medicine for you and very much a part of your speedy recovery. Always a joy to start the day with a good read. “As iron sharpens iron”, keep the faith alive. Thanks for sharing. Bobby G.

  22. Thanks for the update, so glad you are doing better after all that. Continuing to wishing you the best! Attitude is key and it sound like you have that dialed in.

    I had eye surgery for a detached retina in May, simply an aging thing, only 54, who knew that was waiting for me. So, like you, a quarantine inside a quarantine. Scary stuff, your situation was way more extreme, know you were in my thoughts as I was dealing with my lesser issue. One surgery and some rounds of laser work and I am on the road to recovery. And like you, needing to get outside, there are strong healing powers waiting for you in that water.

    Take care,

    Wayne Parmley

  23. You keep going mate!
    The fact is things seem to be looking up so we are happy you can do a little of what does you good!
    God speed,

  24. So glad you are making the best of a bad situation. It takes a lot of personal fortitude to keep working on something you love despite Multiple potholes in the road. I look forward to seeing and fishing with you again. Proud of you !

  25. Dear Louis,

    Thank you for the update. I doubt that any of us knew the depth of your struggle. Staying positive and optimistic each day is tough enough with all that is going on in the world, but to have a personal struggle that threatens your every day well being, your day-to-day life, your family, and doing what you love is hard to comprehend unless it’s personally experienced.

    We miss you out here. We look forward to your stories and your guidance. Now that we now how you are and where you are in your recovery process, we will send you good karma, prayers, and even fudge, if necessary.

    Hang in friend. There are people out here who care about you and are praying for your quick recovery.


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