A Month After Donating a Kidney

Framed Embroidery Kidney Anatomy Art. Hand Embroidered.

On the one hand, it seems like the surgery just happened. On the other hand, it seems like it was ages ago. I will blame my confusion on the residual anesthesia still coursing through my body.

When I posted last about my kidney donation, I was still in what I refer to as “the rough period.” This recovery has been more difficult than I expected. I was told that the first few days would be tough; the day of surgery and the day after were a piece of cake since I was on a lot of pain medicine. The following day when I went home was a lot harder; the car ride home was torture!

I got a list of what I should expect after discharge from the hospital, but somehow I was still caught somewhat by surprise. There was a fair amount of discomfort. I lost a lot of weight (which I did not need to do). I began to feel like I had turned a corner until 10 days after surgery. After 2 weeks, I was back to training clients virtually–albeit with naps in between! After 3 weeks, I was training my in-home clients, and then a few days later I went back to teaching my fitness classes. The main thing now is that I still tire quite easily; as I indicated in my last post, I have really had to listen to my body and figure out what I can and cannot do. I do finally feel like myself again, though, and look forward to building up my strength and endurance.

Would I do this again? Absolutely not–I intend to keep the one kidney I have left! Did I think this was worthwhile? Absolutely yes! A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I had dinner with Phil and his wife; he is the guy for whom I donated, but was not the one to actually receive the kidney since we were not a match. It was great to see how well he is doing; unlike the donor, the recipient feels better almost immediately. Sometimes in life we wonder if we really make a difference. This time, I know that I did. It was also just amazing to have this connection with a stranger.

Next week, the Cleveland Clinic will be hosting a reunion for the 3 donors and 3 recipients in our “daisy chain.” This will be when I meet the guy who got the kidney I donated (I try not to call it “my kidney,” because now it is his). I am kind of nervous about it. I had gotten to know Phil through social media, but the recipient is really a total stranger. I hope it will be just as amazing to have a connection with him; we will see how it goes.

In the meantime, I have heard about three people I know who need kidneys. One is in the thick of finding a donor. It is refreshing to see the outpouring of concern, support and prayers on Facebook. Hopefully, it will translate into something more. Hopefully, someone will see it–just like I saw a post last year–and decide not to keep scrolling, or to just “like” the post, but actually take the first step to find out about donating.

Despite all the discomfort, I feel so grateful that I was able to do this. I am thankful that I did not wait until it was too late. I am proud that I have made my health and fitness a priority.

Thank you to my wife, my family, and my friends for all their support. Thanks to everyone at the Cleveland Clinic: my doctors, the kidney donor coordinators, the nurses, aides, phlebotomists, environmental services, and administrative staff. In my book, you are all heroes too!

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