Thanks to this blog and my instagram posts, I’ve been contacted by about 10 prospective living liver donors in the past 6 months, several of whom have actually been able to donate. I know having a donor mentor meant a huge deal to me and I love being able to help others who are in the process.
It’s been 6 months since my last update, so I’ll walk you through how recovery and life after transplant has been going since then.
Actually, I tried some short stroller jogging not long after my 3 month update. By the 4 month mark (in January) I was back to my weekly 3-4 mile run/walks with my group. Then I added Zumba and our local co-ed indoor volleyball league.
My body felt capable but I was still a little over-aware of my abdomen, if that makes sense? When I’d do some “sprinting” at the end of the run I was found my mind mentally searching, anticipating a feeling that something wasn’t right. Ready to stop right away if something felt painful. Nothing ever did, though.
I went back to Physical Therapy for a few weeks to recalibrate my body awareness. Prior to my first pregnancy, I’d learned over time what it felt when I had “good form” while lifting or running. After a few years of coaching feedback, I could sense if my hips were tilted too far forward or if I was over-extending my back.
After my first pregnancy, my core was naturally needing to rebuild strength and re-establish what good form felt like. After the transplant, it felt the same way to me. I was starting to feel the same kind of tightness in my right hip flexor, the lower back pain, and the spinal inflexibility, just like I’d felt postpartum.
I tried to stick with the program my physical therapist gave me. I tried to do my exercises religiously, tried to regularly massage the scar tissue, etc.
Some family came to live with us. We sold our house. Moved to 7 acres of wilderness. I began to process my adoption trauma and wrestle with my mixed racial identity. God’s been exposing suppressed and hidden wounds. While I believe excavating wounds is necessary to heal, it’s still spiritually, mentally and emotionally painful.
So for a while I stopped running.
Stopped doing my PT exercises.
Stopped anything extra.
And it was good that I did.
The only weird thing since January has been this recurring rash on my stomach around the incision. Every month, usually around my menstrual cycle, the rash would flair up. I’d apply the clotrimazole I had gotten from UCSF when I had been readmitted. It’d go away after 4 days or so.
My last flair up was early May and I made an appointment with a dermatologist (for two weeks later). Of course it was gone by then but she said that now that she had seen me, when it comes back, they’ll squeeze me in priority. Okay. I figured the rash would come back around soon with my next cycle. Which actually hasn’t happened yet so…we’ll see if that means something….
I had to get a physical and a blood draw at the 6 month mark. I was able to do that locally. No trip to UCSF required.
At my cousin’s check up at UCSF, his surgeon (Dr. Roberts) told him that he now shares some of my genetic makeup. I think that’s hilarious. My adopted cousin now has some of my DNA.
My healing process continues. At this point I’m working on massaging scar tissue and rebuilding core strength. Definitely having lower back pain due to core weakness. So no weight lifting for exercise yet.
My skin still gets rashes off and on. There is still noticeable numbness around the scar as well. However, I can run and pretty much all other aspects of life are back to normal. We could even start planning to have another kiddo….hmm.
The superficial skin layer around my incision are still a little numb. Mostly below the incision line around the belly button. It kind of weirds me out a bit, I won’t lie.
In regards to not having a gallbladder anymore, I am eating dairy and fatty foods with few to no issues. If I do have some digestion issues, it feels like an unrelenting cramp in my lower right abdomen which is super annoying. So that’s not bad just different than before.
I’m on day 4 of a daily mile run + core work. I’m only committing to one mile a day for the first week of #startingoveragain and I go out somewhat begrudgingly but whatever. I’m doing it. It’s helping. Also softball season has started. More activity is good.
But then I’ll see my scar and be like, Oh yeah! Or I’ll see my cousin post something snarky on Facebook and think…dammit I’m glad he’s alive and feeling feisty. Or someone from church will know me as the “liver girl”. Or someone will ask me what it was like to donate a kidney (haha).
I guess what I’m trying to say is life and self-perception has normalized. I no longer think of daily modifications to my diet or physical activity because of the transplant. My cousin is doing so well I’m no longer wondering what his latest test results will reveal. We just keep celebrating each new month’s liver-sharing-anniversary.