Even though I couldn’t turn over comfortably, I slept so so much better in my own bed with no noisy roommate! The gas pains subsided over the next couple of days and I started getting better by leaps and bounds – longer walks, able to walk up stairs, sleeping on my side, and finally real pants! By Sunday, four days after surgery, I was doing pretty great. Then my digestion started bothering me – lots of extra gas, low-grade stomach aches like feeling hungry – and it took about a week for it to settle down. Kefir helped for sure. I was back to my very part-time work a week after surgery, able to drive and do small errands.
Two week follow-up
To my surprise the surgeon had said not to do labs yet – they’ll do a blood draw at my 6-week follow-up and that will establish my new baseline. But they did take my blood pressure, which was back to my normal low-ish range (it had been high in the hospital). I saw the social worker, whom I like very much, and this was the very best part: she also works with my recipient and she said something like “You changed her life. You really changed a life.” They passed along my card and it sounds like the recipient will be OK with getting in touch but after things have settled down a little more – the social worker said that sometimes people take a while to believe that the transplant has really taken, and the coordinator said something about her wanting to look like she’s in better shape and not hunched over. Whenever she’s comfortable, even if it’s never, is fine with me. My coordinator asked whether I know David Copperfield – yes, I love Dickens! – she knows I am willing and it always reminds her of “Barkis is willin’,” so that’s our in-joke now – Barkis is willing. The surgeon said I’d only had one dose of antibiotics and that probably wasn’t causing my digestive issues, but that the surgery itself messes with the intestines and they can take a while to settle back down and get used to the new normal. He cleared me to run, do yoga, go hiking and biking, take a bath – basically whatever I want!
I’m doing really well now – not sleeping great yet but that’s getting better too. I’ve been running a mile or two and doing a little pilates to get my core back in shape. I’m drinking more water just naturally, which is great because that’s a habit I’m going to need to keep up. Interesting that many people say this adventure helped them take even better care of themselves and appreciate their own health even more – I am glad to feel that possibly taking hold.
I would do it again in a heartbeat! All told, I had maybe ~4 hours of quite severe pain, which I knew didn’t mean anything bad and would go away, and the rest was just some discomfort and inconvenience. Totally, totally worth it!!! And having the privilege and opportunity to do something good during this horrible year is extra-sweet.