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Pickering wraps weather stint with KOLD

Meteorologist Aaron Pickering has spent the last three years gearing for a career change, and finally implemented that transition last month, thus concluding an eight-year run as part of the KOLD TV 13 weather team.

"I started getting my master's degree about three years ago. I really enjoy weather and really enjoy what I do, but at the same time I also started to look at what I needed to do for the next phase of my life," said Pickering. "This is something my wife and I had discussed: going back to school and getting my MBA. The next logical step for most TV people is moving onto another market, but I really enjoy Tucson and didn't necessarily want to pick up and move everything to another place. I've always enjoyed doing what I've been doing. It was kind of bittersweet to move into this phase, but I know it's something that will be very good for me in the end."

Pickering landed a position in consumer relations management with a local tech firm.

"My family has been supportive in this, and I've had a lot of discussion on how to shape my future," Pickering said. "I'm still relatively young, so this presented itself as a great time to do it. My sister has an MBA and she encouraged me to look down that route, and the more I looked at it I thought this was the way to go."

Pickering let KOLD know of his transitional plans upon returning to school three years ago, and was pleased with the way the station supported his wishes.

"The people at KOLD allowed me to pursue this, and they were gracious enough to allow me to stay on the air, and it looks like I'll do some fill-in work as needed," Pickering said. "I can't say enough about the people I've worked with. Legends like Bud Foster and Barbara Grijalva are the best people you'd ever want to meet. I've worked with so many people and had so many great experiences, that's the toughest part of leaving. This is a big year of change for me. I'm going into a new job. We're expecting. A lot of things all at once. At the same time I'm excited and looking forward to it."

ALAMEDA BATTLES INTERNAL SHINGLES ISSUE

Shingles sucks. Anyone who has endured it will confirm just how excruciating the pain is. But for KOLD TV Sports Director Damien Alameda, his bout with shingles, which has been a near year-long continuing struggle, was a rare case that has significantly affected his vision. Unlike the external version, the affliction itself wasn't painful, but it set into motion numerous procedures geared toward trying to contain the outbreak while returning some semblance of his eyesight.

"I contracted shingles inside the optic nerve of my left eye last August," said Alameda via email. "I First noticed black spots in my vision after walking out of a San Diego Padres game. Took the doctors some time to figure out what the problem (wa)s but once they did, it was all about making sure my retina wouldn't detach and more importantly that the shingles didn't spread to my right eye. My vision in the left was pretty shot at that point. Went through three surgical procedures, some less intrusive than others.

"The virus had been contained and things seemed to be moving well until Halloween when I woke up and noticed all I could see in my left was white. Went to the doctor and sure enough the retina had detached. So that was my fourth procedure (the most intrusive at that point). The retina was reattached. Still no real vision. More like looking through a broken funhouse mirror. Anyway, the doctor had to wait for it to heal. Then this past April I went in for the fifth procedure where the surgeon sewed a buckle around the eye to ensure the retina doesn't fall off again.  Had to take six weeks off for that one. My first day back to work was last Wednesday. Have one more procedure that needs to be done but we'll wait on it so the eye can heal. Dr. Henry Hudson of The Retina Center has been the guy working on the eye. Good man. He's been great."

Alameda still has procedures in the offing, most notably a cataract surgery scheduled in a few months where doctors plan to put a new lens onto the eye in hopes some vision will return.

"Shingles is typically associated with an exterior rash that is extremely painful," Alameda said. "I didn't develop any external symptoms. There was no rash and no pain. My vision just kind of went bye-bye. The night I saw those spots my wife gave me eye drops that our eye doctor had given us. We thought it may have been allergies. I put them in and within seconds this black cloud moved left to right over my vision until I couldn't see out of that eye. That was my big boy indication that something was wrong."

Not surprisingly, adjusting to the situation has brought its share of frustrations on the job.

"Eyes had to adjust to the studio lights. I have the Teleprompter brought up pretty close for me. Eyes get sore quickly so I have to take more frequent breaks from watching screens (TV, computer, and otherwise)," said Alameda, who resumed driving this week. Before then, his wife drove him to work and a co-worker brought him home. "Shooting (video) isn't a good idea right now. My depth perception is a tad off.

"My right eye is perfectly fine so truth be told I'm all kinds of good. Furthermore, the viewers have been really great the whole ride through. I've received a slew of supportive messages and it's really meant the world. Couldn't thank them enough. Same goes for my Tucson News Now family."

More by John Schuster

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