I was really excited and totally ready to go. It took about a year from when I first inquired about donation to actually having the surgery.
And here I am first waking up from anesthesia. Look at my eyes! Totally stoned.
I felt quite good the evening after surgery. I was sore but the pain meds were working well, and I wasn't feeling nauseous. I was actually hungry, but of course could only have jello and broth.
That evening I was drifting in and out without really realizing it. My boyfriend (now husband! but that's another story) Ted was laughing at me because I had been told to use my incentive spirometer (a little toy that gets you to breathe very deeply) as often as possible, so I was doing my ten breaths, falling asleep for three minutes, waking up, doing another ten breaths ... And having no memory of any of it. Also, I fell asleep while drinking soup and poured it down the front of myself. Fun times!
The next day was the only real rough day I had. In the middle of the night I requested some jello from the nurse, and it went down fine. Then at around 7:00 the next morning, the phlebotomist cheerfully trooped into my room to do my daily blood draw, and I said with some urgency, "Please give me that garbage can!" And out came the jello. Poor phlebotomist. They gave me nausea meds that helped a lot, but the next issue was I was having pain breathing and couldn't get much of a breath. They were worried about a blood clot, so they sent me down for chest x-rays. That was hard because I had to stand for the x-rays and I was very, very sore and shaky. Later that evening they also had me walk with a walker, and that too was hard. I made it halfway down the hall and back. The chest x-rays came back clear, so that was a relief.
The next day I felt about 3000% better. My lungs stopped hurting, I wasn't nauseous, and I was able to do a full loop around the transplant ward, two different times! I also took a much needed shower. Ted wheeled me outside for the first time, too, for some sunshine.
The next day was discharge day! I felt really good. I was completely mobile and the oral pain meds worked great. I was just delighted with how quickly I was bouncing back.
One funny thing that Ted and I hadn't anticipated: the recipient was in pre-op at the same time I was, in surgery at the same time, and was in the same wing for recovery. And we're not supposed to have contact for three months, and then only if the recipient wants to. So poor Ted didn't even get to go to the regular waiting room during the surgery because the recipient's family was there. And when I did my walking rounds through the ward, I would peek into any room with an open door and wonder if that was the recipient. We do know that it's a woman and that she's doing well. Her surgeon visited me a couple times and told me I have "the kidney of a racehorse."
Recovery at Ted's house was uneventful. I got stronger every day, and my appetite came roaring back. After a week we were going to movies and walking around the mall. The only hiccup came about two weeks ago, when the pain in my lungs came back, and the difficulty breathing. I called the transplant center for advice, and they said to go to the ER in case it was a blood clot. Luckily, it wasn't -- it was walking pneumonia. They gave me a Z-pack, and five days later I was good as new.
So, one rough day post-surgery and a short bout of pneumonia. Otherwise, the whole experience was truly wonderful. In October I'll get to know more about the recipient, and hopefully she'll want to exchange a letter at least. I absolutely don't want her to feel like she owes me anything; it's more just curiosity. She's walking around with a piece of me inside her :)
I had my surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center. I can't say enough about how fabulous the entire staff was.