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.
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It's been 6 days since I gave part of my liver to my cousin, who is now doing amazing! This is my incision. It looks to heal well. But I wouldn't mind if the scar stays prominent enough to remind me of the amazing opportunity God gave me. The healing process is going to be lengthy, but I don't mind at all. My cousin is going to live. And have a real life again. Thank you, everyone who continues to pray for our healing process. It's been better than expected. And thank you to those who've supported us with donations. It helps more than you know! #livingdonor
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.