Clear Eyes: Former La Crosse surgeon finds joy in welding after eye injury ends his career

Michael Roskos grateful for chance to pursue life long passion following career ending eye injury

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – People who get knocked down find ways to build themselves back up.  One La Crosse man found his second chance after a career-ending accident.

“I am now switching gears to pursue a lifelong interest in welding,” said Michael Roskos, a 55-year-old welding student at Western Technical College and former surgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System.

A moment can leave us stumbling around in the dark. Until a light snaps on, we suddenly find meaning out of the darkness.

“A time of uncertainty,” Roskos said. “A time of pain.”

Roskos knows the feeling.

“I was working on our family farm,” Roskos said.

Roskos suffered a career-ending injury.

“An injury that left me without vision in my right eye,” Roskos said.

Two big surgeries and countless weeks of recovery later, Roskos found himself back in a classroom just a mile down the road from his former office.

“I went from no vision, black to in theory being able to see 20/20,” Roskos said.

Welding was a no-brainer for Mike whose previous career was also hands-on. This former surgeon chose a new path. “I think it’s pretty cool,” said Elliot Wood, Roskos’s classmate.

“You could live your life feeling sorry for yourself. Or you could take advantage of what you still have,” Roskos said. “And I’ve decided to do the latter.”

We’ve spoken to Roskos before when he saved Todd Stinson who suffered a near-death weightlifting accident.

“I remember his calmness. His confidence,” Stinson said. “I’m here today because of him and the team. It means a lot. It means an awful lot.”

Roskos considers Stinson’s surgury one of his top 10 moments as a surgeon. Roskos, who for 22 years, gave others second chances received one himself.

“Keep learning,” Roskos said. “Take a chance.”

“I think he serves as a fantastic role model for anyone that sees it,” said Jon Mason, Roskos’s welding instructor at Western Technical College.

Roskos gets the chance to mend his new life with the skills of his past.

“The ability to build new things,” he said.

Welding offers new light in his life he can see with clear eyes.  Roskos said he’ll apply his skills to his hobby business.  The one thing he said he’ll miss about his career in medicine is the people.