Tomorrow morning will be 3 weeks since surgery. I'm doing well, and although this blog has mostly served its purpose, I'd like to write a few more times for a complete accounting of the experience. This may continue to be relevant later too, because as I outlined once before, being a kidney donor has three big parts: 1) the processing and testing before, 2) the surgery and recovery, and 3) the rest of life with one kidney. Dustin and I captured the most intense parts before and after surgery here in the blog. I kept a journal for all of part 1 from my perspective, and not sure what I'll do with it, but I have it if it turns out useful. I'm not sure where to account for part 3 or what is most important to impart, but I expect that anyone exploring the idea will want to know how things turn out for me long-term, and some of them may be reading here. So a few updates towards that end may be useful.
Currently I'm still recovering, but mostly back to regular life. I'm somewhere between part 2 and part 3. I think recovery will continue until I'm back at previous strength and fitness, or as close as my new potential will bring me, if that has changed. I won't know for a while if that potential has changed, but I'm optimistic. Overall I feel really good. No fatigue, no moodiness, and no other complaints except minor ones like my guts aren't quite back to normal regularity (sorry if TMI). No complications whatsoever from the surgery -- everything went as expected. Mom drove up to Oklahoma and after a day trip and the hospital appointment, we drove home over 2 days last week. I went back to work as of this past Friday, and that went well. It's hard to sit/stand ALL day long, but if I find a place to lie flat for a few minutes and relax, that helps a lot. I can do normal activities without any problems. Still on lifting restriction so can't do a whole lot fitness-wise for a few more weeks except walking. I've been walking 1-2 miles most days. Today I walked my longest walk of 3 miles. I could have easily walked further, but I'm not pushing things too hard and that seemed right for today. My heart rate and blood pressure are good. My labs from 16 days post-op were good; as expected. As Seth said, the "new normal." Mostly this means creatinine level of 1.12 mg/dL is slightly higher than it used to be, and estimated GFR (glomerular filtration rate) is slightly lower than it used to be, both due to one kidney filtering instead of two. Not a problem health-wise, and should slightly improve a little closer to previous values over the next few months as the solo kidney slightly enlarges and does more work. My kidney (left kidney, previously named Elkay) has been renamed. Since Dustin's kidney is Idunn (In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth), the other half of the matched pair is also from Norse mythology, Idunn's husband Bragi (BRAG-ee). "Bragi is very wise, and he is known for his wisdom he is very creative with words and he also has the most knowledge of poems and songs." Bragi means “Poet” according to https://norse-mythology.net/bragi-the-god-of-poetry-and-music-in-norse-mythology/ Maybe my creativity with words will be enhanced with this identity.
The incision has healed beautifully. The surgical glue is gone and the precision closing done by the surgeon has healed nearly completely, though I know there's more healing still occurring under the surface. He said I could put Vitamin E oil on it to help soften the scar. I love the scar already. It's not painful; it's slightly sensitive but also slightly numb right around it. My belly is close to normal now, just slightly puffy still but I can wear all my regular pants. It helps if my clothes are snug, either the pants or the shirt, because the friction around the waistband is slightly increased when I walk from my temporary slight difference in shape. Still a bit like an early pregnancy, just a little lopsided. I lost 6 lbs in the 3 weeks since leaving home for surgery, so that helps keep the overall size the same. That's about as expected. My coordinator said 5-7 lb loss is common. There were a few days of almost no eating in the hospital, and since then my appetite is less than it was. That's good since my activity is less than it was. I've eaten good healthy food (except for a few Braum's ice creams, haha) and my body seems to appreciate it. Hopefully my appetite combined with my commitment to healthy eating and living will guide me as I work back to fitness. And there are no Braum's here in Mississippi, thank goodness!
It's too early to summarize the experience or how I feel about having done this. I can say, as I've said all along about choosing to do it, "I'm SO glad I did." All I can add right now is that it's all incredibly positive and every single day is a bonus. I'm grateful that everything has gone well. And I'm incredibly grateful for all the people who were there for us and helped during this time. It took a village, for sure. THANK YOU. Those who followed the journey and encouraged us with your comments and messages are also much appreciated. THANK YOU as well.
Updates from Dustin are the best. I'm kind of in awe that this whole thing is now producing the desired result, getting him back to health. I'll let him talk more about that but it seems to be going really well. Certain aspects of this are the same for us and we're sharing insights and information. Other aspects are different and we learn from observation. It continues to be a privilege and and honor to share it.
So... if it sounds like I'm in limbo-land between "in the midst of it" (as previous posts were) and "reflecting on it" as if it were in the past... I am. That's about what 3 weeks post-op will bring. But all is well. I am good. The journey continues.
Anna Cannington has offered to be part of this program. As a kidney donor with a nephrologist brother (not to mention next level human) she will be able to provide unique insight into "other side" of the transplant process. It is particularly apt for her to join up as she is Dustin's Donor. To schedule a conversation with either of Anna or Dustin just connect with either of us!
Dustin was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy (Berger's Disease) in early 2007. He and his family know well the struggles that come with suffering kidney failure, dialysis and the transplant processes. Born from these fustrations and Dustin's love of strengths-based coaching (centered on what is best in people) comes the Kidney Koach program. This NO FEE program is for Renal patients, their families and nursing staff that want support, understanding and a little help on the path.