Granted, it’s a huge part of it and the most important, but the first month following the operation is intense. Mostly, the transplant team is concerned with rejection. And rejection, if it happens, can be a very quiet thing so there are a lot of indicators the team is watching to see how the kidney is doing. Body temperature, blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar are the things I have to measure multiple times a day. Then there are the blood tests. For the first month, we’re going over to the hospital twice a week and each time they take multiple samples of my blood and run it through a series of tests. They look at everything – my creatinine levels, BUN, eGFR, phosphorous, red blood cell count, white blood cell count, glucose, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Based on all of this information, they adjust my medications regularly.
And I do mean regularly. Nearly each time I’ve gone in they have adjusted my meds. And with 17 different medications, I am SO grateful they take such care managing them all. I have to tell you, it’s overwhelming. When I was in the hospital, the pharmacy team came in to go over everything with me. They allowed me to play with the instruments I would need to take all the measurements. They were willing to spend whatever time I needed to make sure I could do it myself when I got home. Even still, I felt lost and overwhelmed. It was just so much to learn in such a short amount of time. Thankfully, Tiffany (one of the social workers on the team) sat with me and helped me talk through it and helped me come up with a plan to not only make me feel more at ease but have a sense of control over the process. Plus, it was reassuring to know one slip up wasn’t going to kill me. I feel like I have a good routine down after the first week and it all seems pretty manageable. I do push myself probably harder than I should but it’s hard for me to feel so helpless. Still my family has been awesome. Emma has helped out a ton and Cassie has taken it upon herself to do all the shopping and transportation. Both of them have been such a blessing.
Today, it’s been a month since the surgery. Thankfully, I’m recovering well and things are progressing nicely. I’ve been ahead of the curve so far, but nothing like Cassie who went home THE NEXT DAY from the hospital. She was off pain meds soon after that. Her recovery has been miraculous! She was cleared to drive by the time I went home from the hospital and was able to pick me up. You can believe it was a relief to see her doing so well and welcoming me home. There have been some changes in my life as a result of the surgery. I have to be more careful because I am immunocompromised – especially the first few months when they are adjusting my rejection medication. They’re trying to find the right balance to make sure my body doesn’t reject Three while at the same time protecting me as much as possible from other infections. I can’t eat grapefruit or have anything with grapefruit juice (not a big loss). I also can’t eat anything raw or half-cooked – which means no sashimi or raw fish sushi (that IS a big loss). But it’s a small price to pay for new lease on life.
We celebrated our 20th anniversary during this month of recovery and I’ve got to say, it was not what I expected. It was better. In more ways than one, Cassie is a part of me in a way we never imagined. There couldn’t have been a more unimaginable show of love than what Cassie was willing to do for me. We’re both recovering well and I’m back to work at the church for my final month before moving on to a new adventure. In the meantime, keep us in your prayers for continued strength and healing and I will continue to keep you updated on our progress.