Typically I write about running and fitness. And while I’ve taken a break from those topics to cover this transplant journey, I will get back to it as I recover. I think it’s marvelous, though, that my healthy lifestyle helped me be a living donor for my cousin. For those following my donor story, thanks for reading. Last time I talked about the recovery process in the hospital. This time I’ll share about the recovery process between being discharged from UCSF and through my first check-up post transplant.
When I left the hospital I went to stay with family in Modesto. This way I could be closer to UCSF for my initial check-up appointments.
I was sent home with three medications; oxycodone for pain, zofran for nausea, and a stool softener. I used the zofran once, and the stool softener a few times, but I will not touch oxycodone because of that whole blurry vision nonsense. I was able to manage my pain just fine with Tylenol, thankyouverymuch. I got an abdominal wrap for support, which does help sometimes.
Physical feels and discomforts:
- The skin above and below my incision was a little numb. My belly was definitely swollen.
- Sleep was difficult to accomplish with anything less than 5 pillows.
- Gas pain/bloating was my number 1 complaint. Heat packs helped.
- Laying on my right side hurt my ribs. They got pulled up in surgery so some soreness was expected.
- I noticed a weird knot under my skin, about the size of a pencil eraser and near the end of my incision. Made sure to ask about that at my check-up.
- My incision started itching like CRAZY. I knew it probably meant healing but it was so bad it was all I could think about. Loose shirts that tickle the skin make it worse. The compression shirts I got are the most comfortable.
- I played it safe with food; oatmeal, bananas, unadorned scrambled eggs.
- I walked around my aunt’s house or backyard to get movement.
Emotional feels and discomforts:
- My first night out of the hospital it all really “hit me”. We’d saved my cousin. I was doing well. All of life was before us now. I thanked God so hard and just wept with relief a few times.
- Seeing my kiddo again was hard. He didn’t exactly look me in the eye at first. Then he wanted me to hold him and I couldn’t. We eventually figured out that placing a pillow over my stomach allowed me to sit and hold him.
- Relying on others is…*sigh*. I like my independence. However, accepting help from family often means things aren’t done quite how I prefer. Then I feel disappointed. Then I feel guilty for feeling disappointed. Just be grateful for the help.
- My husband flew home 8 days after the transplant. That way he could return to work and get Moxie home. This is the longest time we’ve ever been apart in nearly a decade. I don’t like it.
For the first 5 days, recovery was going well for the most part. I even graduated to eating things like steak, potatoes, and fresh fruits again. Then things went south, literally, like…liquid south.
Bowel Issues Begin
Sunday, nine days after transplant, I ate a Costco hotdog. I’m not saying that was the culprit, but that afternoon my belly was distended, gas pain/pressure was building, and by that evening I was in a world of hurt. It felt like I was in labor again. Hot packs didn’t work. Shifting around wouldn’t release much gas. At least not enough to relieve the pressure and pain. I cried.
Monday, around 4 AM, my body started dumping everything. The pain subsided but all day Monday I’d repeat a slow increase of bloat, then pain, then gas, then dumping liquid again. I hardly ate anything. My cousin was able to go home that day though, which was great news for everyone!
Tuesday I felt tired but…stable. I had an appointment at UCSF at 8:30 in the morning. We anticipated a 3 hour drive (ended up being 4 hours) so I didn’t eat or drink much. I didn’t want to have a mid-commute bathroom emergency.
One week after being discharged, I had my first check-up. I had already stopped taking the Tylenol by that point. I met with Ana Marie, NP. My incision looked to be healing well. She said the knot I’d found was a suture that would go away with time.
I told her about my bowel issues and the itch. She recommended Sarna anti-itch cream (which does help) and said if I was still having diarrhea by Thursday to give her a call. They’d have me come in again and check for things like a bowel obstruction or viral infection.
We talked about my appointment the following week. She suggested I do my ultrasound then so that I didn’t have to come back to UCSF in November. That way I could go home after my 2nd appointment and get my lab work done locally in Oregon.
I got my labs done and then went back to Modesto.
In the next post I’ll cover being re-admitted to UCSF, which will pretty much get us caught up to real time in this process.
If you haven’t yet, consider pitching in a little bit on our GoFundMe page. This is helping my cousin and his family with their ongoing costs for post-transplant care. It also helps me too as they try to cover any expenses I may have. I do still have t-shirts for sale on my Etsy shop – all profits go toward my travel costs to and from UCSF.
Thanks for reading, supporting, praying, and letting us know you care.