Logan and I have a lot of data from the hospital such as my blood work results. I have also been tracking my weight since leaving the hospital to see the progress back to an acceptable BMI (body mass index). What we don’t have written is routine progress updates, other than what we write in this blog.
When Logan and I went into the transplant, the recovery time was given as anywhere from 2 to 6 months and Social Security considers liver transplant a disability for a minimum of 1 year from transplant. As someone who likes to plan, it was a little unnerving to have such an open-ended recovery timeline. I know someone will be asking me what recovery was like, and how long it takes so I’m writing down some of my thoughts and physical abilities from the past weeks:
Week 1: (April 14) – Live Donor Transplant Surgery, Hepatic Artery Thrombosis Surgery
Week 2: Transplant Relisting, waiting
Week 3: Second Week of waiting
Week 4: Third Week of waiting
Week 5: (May 13) Deceased Donor Transplant Surgery – up until this point, I had abdominal and surrounding muscle pain most likely from compensation; I couldn’t use my abdominal muscles, so the work load fell to other areas. After transplant, most of the muscle pain went away and the primary pain/discomfort was the incision and internal volume where the surgery was done. Using this surgery as the start point for comparison to other transplants will not be accurate because of the 5 weeks to build compensation muscles, recover from portions of surgery that did not have to be re-performed, and the significant loss of muscle mass.
Week 6: Released from hospital, capable of walking up to 500 feet at a time but very tired. It was much easier to sit in a chair, and having a wife/roommate/nurse/caretaker around to help with food and medicine was a necessity. Extremely hunched over.
Week 7: Able to move around better, but still unable to pick up anything that has weight. Getting in and out of bed and chairs, plus moving around was difficult. Planning actions was very important to minimize movement. Very hunched over because of the lack of abdominal muscles and staples. Gradually worked up to walking 1 mile at a time, at a 2.2 mi/h pace.
Week 8: Walking at a 2.5 to 2.75 mi/h pace and was able to travel longer distances. Still slightly hunched.
Week 9: Staples Removed! Walking hills and 3 miles at a time with some discomfort (2.5 mi/h). Abdomen felt like it was being pulled by a string throughout the walk, not enough discomfort to stop the walk completely, although it forced a few rests along the way. Body was very tired at the end but no nap was necessary! More work to eliminate involuntarily hunching over.
Week 10: Walking at a 3 to 3.5 mi/h pace, but with some discomfort on walks. No longer hunching over.
Week 11: This week! 3.5mi/h walking speed. It seems as though I have very few restrictions. I feel very little discomfort in my abdomen when walking. I even tried jogging for a few steps and believe that it would be possible, but I’m hesitant. The other things I refuse to try at this point: sit-ups and bowling. I have been doing pushups on my knees, and tried doing a real pushup, but physically could not.
Although I currently feel “normal”, I’m sure that baseline will change as I continue to get more muscle back and can physically accomplish all the things I want to do and could do prior to surgery.