Recovering from My Kidney Surgery

I’m officially 3 weeks from having lefty removed. Kidney surgery was a success and went even smoother than my doctor had anticipated. Unfortunately, the recovery part has been a combination of harder and longer than I’d anticipated. That’s definitely not a knock on my doctor, but instead of my naive optimism that I was going to immediately start feeling better and my life would return to normal.

Initially the pain was overwhelming. The first night was horrendous. Knowing what I know now, I think it was a result of all the carbon dioxide the pumped into me for the laparoscopic portion of the surgery. That gas added all sorts of extra pressure to my entire abdomen area so that it felt like a giant was stepping on me all night. The nurses kept trying to give me drugs to make the pain more manageable, but it’s like my body just doesn’t understand how to process morphine or something. There was no relief.

About 36 hours after surgery, I got to see my stomach for the first time – someone took a photo using my phone so I could look. It was astonishing. I had not 1, but 4 incisions and they were no where near I had imagined them being. Everything was swollen and bruised. It was like my torso had gone several rounds with Mike Tyson, except there was also a lot of cuts.

After three nights at the hospital, I finally turned the corner and got a grip on the pain. And that was my ticket out of there. It was still another 4-5 nights before I was finally able to get any significant sleep, but at least I was home in my own bed.

Recovery has been a bit of a culture shock for me. For the first time in a long time, I’ve been COMPLETELY reliant on other people and really needed a small team to support me and all of the other things my family had going on. The reliance has gradually dropped over time (last week I started getting myself up out of bed without help!) but I’m still not driving, not doing chores and needing help with anything that requires lifting/moving something more than 5-10 pounds.

At this point the toughest part is my remarkably low energy levels. I’m only able to work or sit upright for a few hours at a time before I’m exhausted. Being out in the heat, like at one of my kid’s ballgames, speeds up the energy plummet. Consequently I’ve missed more games this summer than I have in the last several summers combined.

I’m so lucky that I have an amazing support system. Tony only left my hospital bedside for a few hours while he had to go get his own MRI done. Outside of that he lived there with me while my parents held down the fort at home. They parked their camper in front of our house and have lived out of it off-and-on the past few weeks. They’re providing transportation for my doctor’s appointments and all of the kid’s things (weights, ball practices, ball games, reading lessons, etc.), not to mention providing entertainment and opportunities for them that I just don’t have the energy or ability to do right now.

I honestly think there’s a chance my kids will look back at this being one of their all-time favorite summers. In some ways it may end up being mine too. The love and support I’ve felt from my family, my work friends and my clients has brought tears to my eyes many times. And the quality time that both myself and my kids are getting with my parents is priceless.

Now if only I could be a bit more patient and get feeling better already.

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