Lucky Number 10?

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Totally in touch with my inner pirate

On Thursday, June 8th, I go in for my tenth eye surgery.

It’s been a long time since I posted an update about my eye condition. I quickly got tired of writing about it and I’m sure most of you got tired of reading about it. In the absence of good news, I opted for no news. Many of you have emailed asking how I’m doing, so here’s a report.

Four years after what I thought would be a six week interruption in my routine, I am headed in for my tenth surgery and that seems like the only thing in my life that is still routine. I have no really usable vision in my right eye now. Not for a long time. I’m on my fourth retina surgeon, as I seem to wear them out, and we are running out of option for this eye. 

Ten surgeries seems like an extreme effort to save an eye that doesn’t do much for me but there are reasons we’ve gone to such lengths. Although my left eye is doing well, there will always be the risk of the same thing happening to it, so any vision we can save is worth what it takes. I guess. These surgeries are not like cataract surgeries or other more common eye procedures. They are really tough with long recovery periods, often requiring me to be face down in bed for months after. The toll this is taking on the rest of my body is not insubstantial.

My retinas side by side

Briefly, for those of you who have not read previous updates, my eye was damaged by a botched cataract surgery in 2019. My retina detached and I developed a condition called Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy, PVR for short. With PVR the retina continues to build scar tissue and tear itself apart. It is a persistent condition that never ends well. Read up on it if you’re interested.

I’m not going to deep dive into where I stand right now. Let’s just say that we will know a lot more about the future after this surgery. If it goes perfectly, I should be able to start moving forward with a more normal life. If it doesn’t I will probably lose the eye in the next year. Believe me when I say, I am fine with that. As a friend once told an IRS agent who was conducting an audit, “You can have the cheese, I just want out of the trap.” 

As for me, I’m doing well. I have been over a year without surgery, which is a record. I’ve gotten a lot of my strength back, connected with friends, done some great fishing and relearned how to do almost everything in my life. in the last year I caught bonefish in the Bahamas and kept the Bonefish School going strong. I caught permit in Belize, tarpon in the Keys and trout all over the Southeast and the West. I spent six weeks camping with my dog, and my wife for three of them. I’ve made some guitars and some furniture. There’s very little that I want to do but can’t. I’m going to be fine. It’s just going to take a little longer.

I appreciate the support I’ve gotten from this community more than I can say. I know things have been different on G&G during my illness. There are new things in the works, so stay tuned. I am committed to keeping this space vibrant and engaging. I am committed to sharing my love and knowledge of fly fishing. I will be 100% again at some point. Thank you for your patience!

I have added a 4th week to the Bonefish School at Bair’s Lodge Jan 2024. If you are interested in finding out more about it, check out the hosted trips page. The info is all good, except for dates and pricing, which do need to be updated but that’s not going to happen before my surgery. You can email me for details but it will be a while before you hear back. Just use the subject line “Bonefish School” so I can find your email when in back at it.


Justin Pickett

Gink & Gasoline 

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