Last time I talked about the recovery process in the hospital. This time I’ll share about the recovery process between being discharged from UCSF and through my first check-up post transplant.

Going “Home”

When I left the hospital in San Francisco, I didn’t go home to Oregon. I stayed the first night at the hotel that my husband and son had been in. Then the next day we went to stay with relatives in Modesto. This way I could be closer to UCSF for my initial check-up appointments which were only a week away.

I was sent home with three medications; oxycodone for pain, zofran for nausea, and a stool softener. I used the zofran once, and the stool softener a few times, but I will not touch oxycodone because of that whole blurry vision nonsense. I was able to manage my pain just fine with Tylenol, thankyouverymuch. I also got an abdominal wrap for support, which does help sometimes.

6 days after surgery. A bit swollen and “saggy”.

Physical feels and discomforts:

  • The skin above and below my incision was a little numb.
  • My belly was definitely swollen.
  • Sleep was difficult to achieve with anything less than 5 pillows.
  • Gas pain/bloating was my number 1 complaint.
  • Heat packs helped.
  • Laying on my right side hurt my ribs.
  • They got pulled up in surgery so some soreness was expected.
  • I noticed a weird knot under my skin, about the size of a pencil eraser and near the end of my incision. Made sure to ask about that at my check-up.
  • My incision started itching like CRAZY. I knew it probably meant healing but it was so bad it was all I could think about.
  • Loose shirts that tickle the skin make it worse.
  • The compression shirts I got are the most comfortable.
  • I played it safe with food; oatmeal, bananas, unadorned scrambled eggs.
  • I walked around my relative’s house or backyard to get movement.

Emotional feels and discomforts:

  • My first night out of the hospital it all really “hit me”. We’d saved my cousin. I was doing well. All of life was before us now. I thanked God so hard and just wept with relief a few times.
  • Seeing my kiddo again was hard. He didn’t exactly look me in the eye at first. Then he wanted me to hold him and I couldn’t. We eventually figured out that placing a pillow over my stomach allowed me to sit and hold him.
  • Relying on others is…*sigh*. I like my independence. However, accepting help from family often means things aren’t done quite how I prefer. Then I feel disappointed. Then I feel guilty for feeling disappointed.
  • My husband flew home 8 days after the transplant. That way he could return to work and get our dog, Moxie, home. This is the longest time we’ve ever been apart in nearly a decade. I don’t like it.
  • Our son stayed with me at my relative’s house. It was nice to be able to love on him and yet have someone else helping lift him and dress him. All the things I wasn’t yet well enough to do.

For the first 5 days, recovery was going well for the most part. I even graduated to eating things like steak, potatoes, and fresh fruits again. Then things went south. Literally, like…liquid south.

Bowel Issues Begin

Sunday, nine days after transplant, I ate a Costco hotdog. I’m not saying that was the culprit, but that afternoon my belly was distended, gas pain/pressure was building, and by that evening I was in a world of hurt. It felt like I was in labor again. Hot packs didn’t work. Shifting around wouldn’t release much gas. At least not enough to relieve the pressure and pain. I cried.

Monday, around 4 AM, my body started dumping everything. Liquid diarrhea. The pain subsided but all day Monday I’d repeat a slow increase of bloat, then pain, then gas, then dumping liquid again. I hardly ate anything. My cousin was able to go home that day though, which was great news for everyone!

Tuesday I felt tired but…stable. I had an appointment at UCSF at 8:30 in the morning. We anticipated a 3 hour drive (ended up being 4 hours) so I didn’t eat or drink much. I didn’t want to have a mid-commute bathroom emergency.

First Check-Up

One week after being discharged, I had my first check-up. I had already stopped taking the Tylenol by that point. I met with Ana Marie, NP. My incision looked to be healing well. She said the knot I’d found was a suture that would go away with time.

I told her about my bowel issues and the itch. She recommended Sarna anti-itch cream (which does help) and said if I was still having diarrhea by Thursday to give her a call. They’d have me come in again and check for things like a bowel obstruction or viral infection.

We talked about my appointment the following week. She suggested I do my ultrasound then so that I didn’t have to come back to UCSF in November. That way I could go home after my 2nd appointment. After that, I could get my lab work done locally in Oregon.

I got my labs done and then went back to Modesto to wait until my next check-up.