It’s been a wee bit over 2 years since the anniversary of our living liver transplant at USCF. My cousin, and recipient, is still in better physical shape than I am. However, I have a 10 month old baby to show for my time post surgery. So I still feel pretty good about my physical progress. I’m committed to writing for other potential donors our there. So here is what life 2+ years after liver donation is like for me.
I think the scar looks great! I think it’s done fading at this point.
The linea nigra (dark pregnancy line) is also fading. You can see it when it was a lot darker in my post on Baby After Transplant (see sidebar links). I’m not sad to see the linea nigra fade away completely, so I no longer see the mismatched line.
Postpartum, my stomach skin is doing great too. The scar and skin stretched a lot this past year and I wasn’t sure how it’d all “come back together”. Really happy with the aftermath.
The sort of lump above my belly button (the dark area of skin that crosses below the incision scar) is pretty much the same as it was after the surgery swelling went down.
So yeah, I’m guessing even if I got real lean, I’d always have a bit of a lump there. Not worried about it.
Underneath the skin is still a weak core because…I had a second baby and I’ve been lazy. Yes, I will own my poor commitment to my physical therapy exercises. I’ve been prioritizing other things and hope to find a way to incorporate running and fitness back into my life in a reasonable way.
My main symptoms are a locked and achey lower back/lumbar and tight hip flexors. I DO know the exercises and stretches I need to do. I just need to do them. My body is not in as bad of shape as after my first pregnancy, but I’ve taken longer to get with the program.
Two months before the 2 year mark, UCSF messaged me to ask that I fill out a health questionnaire, get my lab tests done, and see my primary care physician.
The questionnaire was pretty short and basic. The labs I got done at a local LabCorps facility. And…I keep forgetting to schedule an appointment with my doctor. Ugh. Which reminds me I’m also due for a teeth cleaning. Whew.
So, I’m guessing I haven’t gotten the results of my lab work because UCSF is still waiting to get my check-up information from my physician. I’m actually going to follow up with them on Monday just to be sure they got the labs.
When potential donors message me, a lot of times they simply want to know if my life was able to continue on “as planned” after recovery. I’d say, pretty much. I don’t really question if the surgery is impacting me anymore; as in…if it is preventing me from being as active as I want or eating what I want.
I donated in Sept 2017.
I got pregnant around June 2018.
Had our second son Feb 2019.
And now we’re making plans for 2020.
I enjoy talking with my cousin on the phone at least once a week. He’s at the gym pretty much daily and loving life more now that Baby Yoda is in it. This year, he insisted it was time to introduce the boys to all things Star Wars, so Christmas will include some excellent lego star wars sets!
Sometimes, when you do something really big, it shakes your whole life up. Maybe some things that were “stuck” fall off you. Maybe some stuff buried deep shifts toward the surface.
I definitely believe going through the liver donation process made me reflect on my life and brought me to a deeper self-awareness that before. Also, the circumstances with my relatives surrounding the liver donation started a domino effect. Things were stressful. People showed their colors.
For me, realized how much of my own healing I need to do in other areas of life; namely in understanding my own adoption story and racial identity. I have had to do a lot of self-reflection, learning and writing and processing over wounds I didn’t know I had.
Maybe in some ways, deciding to let go of my plans for my life in order to become a donor helped me realize there were other things I could let go of as well; like certain toxic relationships or problematic beliefs I had held. My faith was strengthened through the process of the transplant and from that place of assurance in God, I was able to confront scarier things. And so, the growth and healing work continues.