- Chicago, Illinois, United States
- Make Life Happen! Welcome to all of you who visit. If you are looking into becoming a Living Donor and would like a detailed idea of my journey..scroll down and begin with the older posts first. I welcome any questions or topics that you would like to know more about.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The healing process after donating a kidney
It has been six weeks since I donated a kidney. So many people have asked me to give my view of the healing process. I made sure before going into the hospital to do any errands since I knew I would not be driving when released from the hospital. And of course me being OCD I had to be sure I had exactly what I wanted. God forbid I ask someone to do a me a favor! I stocked up on any foods that I wanted for when I came home as well as magazines, books, anything I might enjoy while recuperating.
The first week was without a doubt the most difficult. For me, when I am not feeling that great, I prefer to just hang out in sweats and not have too many people hovering over me. It is also important to avoid people who may have colds or flu. Coughing or sneezing is not fun right after surgery. If you do need to cough or sneeze, holding a pillow over your tummy will help a great deal. I was instructed to not lift anything more than 10 pounds for the first couple of weeks which believe me...I had no desire to. Although I was hungry I found that I couldn't eat the usual portions I did prior to the surgery. I am sure part of this was from not eating that much in the hospital but I also believe that because there is so much CO2 pumped into you when you have the surgery, there is a bloating feeling and adding too much food at one time makes it more uncomfortable. A friend of mine who is in an incredible cook brought me my favorite...fresh home made soups. I did make sure to eat something every three to four hours.
Sleeping the first week was a bit of a challenge because I am a "tummy sleeper". There was NO way that I was going to lay on my stomach to sleep. I tried a bazillion different positions but I found that putting a pillow between my legs while lying on my side took pressure off of the incision. I more or less gently rolled out of bed as opposed to popping up like I normally would. You will of course receive pain medications when you leave the hospital and most likely a stool softener, as pain medication has a tendency to cause constipation. Honestly, having a bag of good old fashioned prunes is a major help in this area.
The second week was definitely much better. I had stopped using the pain medication which meant it was ok for me to drive. I have to tell you that driving is THE one thing that gave me the most discomfort. I did fine on short runs to the market, etc., but I made the mistake of thinking I could visit friends in the burbs that next week. NOT a good choice! I was literally stuck in the usual Chicago traffic on I88. Forty-five minutes passed and I think I managed to move about 8 miles. I felt incredibly nauseated and I was so uncomfortable around the lower incision, that I pulled off the interstate and went back home.
I think everyone has a good idea of what their own pain tolerance is. I have a fairly high tolerance and I am not one to use pain medications unless I'm really in agony. I'd rather know what's going on with my body in the healing process. By the time I got home I could not WAIT to take a half a pain pill. People who know me will tell you I avoid taking anything but this was misery. Now I do have a car that is sporty and low to the ground. I tried every possible seat adjustment button I could for the seat to no avail in being more comfortable.
I made sure to contact my transplant coordinator to make sure that this was normal and not an issue. One thing I can not stress enough is DO NOT hesitate to call the Transplant Unit, they are available 24 hours a day if you are having difficulty of any kind or have questions. As far as I am concerned, there are no stupid questions.
Now I know that the hospital says that most people can return to work after the first week. Obviously that doesn't hold true for someone who has a position that requires hard labor or lifting anything. But even if I had a desk job, I doubt seriously that I could have gone back after one week and have resumed a full time schedule. Again, everyone is different. I found that if I was confined for any length of time, sitting, driving, attending services that I simply could not do it without getting up and moving around.
I love to walk. So after the first week I started my daily walking routine. I generally walk three miles a day but I took it slow the first week and did one mile and gradually worked up to my usual three miles. I found that walking really helped me work out the "kinks" as well as help boost my energy level.
Remember...you just gave the most wonderful gift you could give...and you owe it to yourself to take care of you!
Link for the WTTW Channel 11 Interview: