3 Months Later

by , on
2021-07-11

Today is the 3 month mark since the transplant. So it’s time to share about the recovery process these past two months since I’ve been back home in Oregon. Plus, I have a bit of good news from my cousin!

Physical Recovery

Sometimes I forget that I’ve donated part of my liver. Meaning I can go about my day and not feel anything weird in my abdomen that reminds me it was cut open and stitched back together. In many ways, life is “back to normal”.

BTW, UCSF has great follow up. About a week or two after I got home, I got a call from the social worker at UCSF. She wanted to see how I was doing, if I had the support I needed, and remind me that I could reach out to her if I needed anything.

My 10lb lifting restriction ended at the 2 month mark, or 8 weeks. I was able to lift my own child again that was a huge life improvement for all of us. Lifting him out of his crib. Lifting him into the car seat. I can do it all myself now.

My no-alcohol restriction lifted yesterday, at the 3 month mark. I had a glass of wine and whoa, I felt it. I haven’t had a drink since last June so, not surprising I guess.

Here’s how the incision looks now.

Not much different looking than at 1 month really.

However, there are a few things worth mentioning that are still…different.

The skin around my incision does not yet have full feeling, though. It’s prone to getting itchy and irritated.

At the very top of the scar “mountain”, there is one last scabby piece that still flakes and weeps every once in a while.

That pokey suture finally went away I think.
Here is a video of it at the 1.5 month mark.

My stomach muscles do seem to “get tired” if I’ve been holding my kiddo a lot (25lbs of wiggly toddler). Sometimes a spot here or there will feel sore. Not painful. Just sore.

I have to be intentional about eating for good gut health so I can keep regular bowel movements. In the past two months, I have felt like the digestion process is slowing improving, but I still tend toward getting backed up and feeling bloated. More than I used too. I got a Squatty Potty though and I love this thing so much.

I’ve not started running yet, partially because I am making myself be a consistent walker before I will allow myself to run again. I haven’t been walking consistently because of weather and other life changes happening. This is one of my primary goals for the remainder of 2017 – regular walking all bundled up against the cold.

Mental/ Emotional Recovery

In the past couple months, I’ve noticed a few things worth mentioning. Getting back home was amazing. And yet, surrounded by all the “normal” life stuff and not yet being able to do things normally…there was some struggle there.

This was my scar at 5 weeks after I donated a portion of my liver to my cousin. The swelling has gone down and the skin around my incision is starting to recover from the adhesive, the rash, the ingrown hairs from being shaved (one of those things I totally didn’t anticipate). ⠀

I’m happy with how my scar is healing. Makes me think of a mountain. Which makes me think of hiking and trail running. And if I’m being honest I desperately want to get back to running. But if I am being honest, I’m also nervous to do too much too soon. I want to be careful. Make sure I heal properly. I know my body and I know it needs extra time. ⠀

I will continue to share about my recovery process on my blog. I hope it helps others looking into donating. I know that I had looked for donor experiences post-transplant, but a lot of times the experience sharing ends with the transplant itself. Because that’s the “exciting part”. ⠀

I’ll also continue to share because it helps me. It helps to know that my family and friends (many of whom live far away and/or are not on Facebook) know where I’m at and what I’m going through. Thanks for being there for me.

At times, I felt silly.

When I finally got back to my own home, I was looking and feeling pretty good. But I still couldn’t lift my child or anything over 10lbs. And I had low energy. I felt silly asking for help with the groceries or having friends come over just to put my kid in his crib for a nap and take him out again. I still did it, though.

At times, I felt like I had nothing to give.
Probably because I really didn’t. I fully recognized I had just given a lot and welcomed the recovery phase of NOT doing for a while. But there are many things I enjoy being able to do for and with others that I simply could not do. I had to be okay with (i.e. not let myself feel guilty about) not joining in, not volunteering, not offering for a while.

Even still, I have zero regrets.
All the negative things I’ve mentioned are shared in the spirit of being honest about my experience. Basically, I’ve had a great recovery experience so far. I am overwhelmingly excited that I was able to do this for my cousin and when I think about it, I am still amazed. Amazed that it is medically possible. Amazed that he is doing so well. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Good News Updates

My cousin told me last week that he is doing so well that they have reduced the number of anti-rejection meds he needs to take, and may reduce it again. We’ve been chatting via the Marco Polo app (so video messages) and I had to laugh at how he was just beaming, radiantly, as he pointed out how white his eyes are. He really does continue to look healthier and happier all the time.

Also, I have heard from a few people who are getting ready to donate or thinking about donating a liver or a kidney. They have followed my journey online and it has helped them in some way. It is really affirming and special to know that sharing my story has helped others prepare or at least consider donating an organ.

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