Today, in honor of being two weeks out from donation, I wore pants. Real pants – jeans with a zipper and a button. My pants-wearing party may have lasted only ten minutes, but I did it none the less! You have to celebrate the little things, because it is easy to get frustrated. Your mind is willing but your body is just too tired. I would imagine that any woman that has had a C-Section can relate, that incision is just in a weird spot and it rubs on everything and feels strange. It is numb, yet tingly – void of all sensation, but still painful. I’ll stick to sweats and loose skirts for a bit longer.
Wearing pants is one of many milestones my family and I have celebrated in the last two weeks. Sneezing and side-sleeping have been two other milestones we have been pretty excited about as well the last few days. It’s amazing to look back on the last two weeks and think how far we’ve come. At first it was a chore to just get up off the couch, then we graduated to having the core strength to open and close the sliding glass door, then just stretching out our arms and legs without grunting in pain. We have come a long way. I’m amazed by the human body. I am amazed by modern medicine. I am so thankful to live in a place where this type of surgery is commonplace and encouraged. We are truly blessed.
This week I had my follow up appointments at the hospital. They checked my kidney (singular- 😉 ) function, blood pressure, and completed a urine analysis. I met with Dr. Andrews (the Urologist that did my surgery), Dr. Chakkera (a Nephrologist), a social worker, and my transplant coordinator. I’m happy to say I passed their tests with flying colors! In order to test kidney function, doctors measure your creatinine, which is a chemical waste product that’s produced in your muscles. Healthy kidneys filter creatinine and other waste products from your blood and expels the waste through your urine. If your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, an increased level of creatinine may accumulate in your blood.
Before the kidney transplant, my creatinine levels were at a .7, which is really good. I think a normal range is between .6 and 1.1. After the transplant, my creatinine levels went up to 1.4 (day after surgery) but then the the remaining kidney has to kick in to overdrive, called hyper filtration, to compensate for the removed kidney. Although my creatinine levels will never go back down to a .7, my remaining kidney is doing great to filter my blood within a normal range. The doctors are very pleased with this number. My mom’s creatinine was a 3 when she was in complete kidney failure before the transplant.
I continue to be easily fatigued. By the time I get ready to go somewhere I am often too tired to go. This will get better with time. My body is getting used to working with one kidney, let alone returning to a normal level of activity. I have been most frustrated with this portion of recovery because I worked really hard to get into good shape for this surgery. My mind thinks that I am still in good shape but my body just can’t keep up. Even just sitting in the waiting room is exhausting, because our core muscles are so weak. They keep saying after three weeks, that will be the turning point.
I have mentioned how exhausting and difficult kidney dialysis has been for my mom. It is not only exhausting but just does not work as well as a real kidney. I learned an interesting fact; Dialysis only filters your blood at 13% what a normal kidney could do. Dialysis, although considered by insurance companies to be a sustainable and long-term solution, is really just a treatment, not a cure for the problem.
My mom is doing well too. She is more sore than I am because her incision was not laparoscopic and she has staples holding her incision together instead of surgical tape like I have. Her surgery was more invasive although I would guess she is healing faster than most would in her situation. She always has a great attitude despite her circumstances which I am sure helps her healing process. My mom wouldn’t admit it, but she is kind of a legend at the hospital. Numerous times I would run into a doctor that would say, “Oh, you’re Sharon Thomas’ daughter. She is an amazing woman.” Even the interns that were in the room during one of my appointments nodded their head in agreement as the doctor told me how tough my mom is and has been. This all is true.
We still have tons of people around the country praying for us which helps immensely. Please continue to pray for her specifically as they are constantly adjusting her medications to keep her different levels stable. She has had no signs of rejection and her kidney function is doing great. We both need to be better about drinking LOTS of water. My mom has to drink a gallon each day! We probably all should drink much more than we do.
The social worker tasked with evaluating how I am coping with the donation emotionaly asked me “If you could do this all over again, would you still make the choice to donate?” and without hesitation I said “Yes!” It has been much easier than I thought it would be. Granted, it was painful and tough, but the reward was well worth it. I have quickly forgotten the pain but the benefit is well worth it.
I’m excited to see the second week of our recovery come and go so we can start to feel better. I’m excited to see what healthy and happy new adventures this kidney holds for my mom! Thanks for sharing with us in this process.