Six weeks ago I donated my left kidney to a high school friend. The excitement we felt to be approved for donation and the nerves we both experienced the day of surgery are now a not-so-distant memory. So far, the kidney is working like a champ for him and, beyond a little lingering nausea, I am healing. Six weeks out the focus is now centered on getting back to "normal". Getting back to "normal" was my biggest worry when considering donation. I wasn't worried about the surgery itself, the doctors and hospital was more than qualified. I wasn't worried about the future "what-ifs". What if______ (I get cancer later, my kids need it later, my kidneys fail later)? All valid concerns but I can't control what MIGHT happen in the future. Right now a wife needs her husband and 2 children need their father. The question I now get most from people after they find out I'm a donor, and let's be honest it’s the biggest question I had prior to donation- how has it affected my life? People want to know if I am able to go to work, to play with my kids, to go on vacation and even if I can go all day without a nap. The short answer is yes!
So how has my life been affected in the last 6 weeks? First of all my surgery went smoothly and my pain level was minimal in the hospital. My largest issue from the past few weeks has been continued nausea. I am on meds to help control it but it's still there. I have a 23 month old so a big challenge for me was not picking him up after surgery. My eight year old twins were very helpful and understanding – the baby was not! Six weeks out I am returning to MY normal. This involves my 9-5 job, kids' activities, running, Crossfit and volunteering at my kid's school. I give a lot of credit to my Crossfit training for keeping me healthy enough to donate. The full body training I've received has helped me in my recovery as well; I was up walking (slowly) the day after surgery. I was jogging at the 4 week mark and 6 weeks post-donation, on 1/17/2016, I ran a DisneyLand Star Wars race weekend. This required me to run a 5K on Friday, 10K on Saturday and then a half marathon on Sunday. It was my worst times ever but I am prouder of these medals than any I've earned in the past. I took my time and walked when my body told me to and drank more water than I ever had for these race lengths. The most important thing is that I started and I finished! Next up will be another Disney race weekend in February and then the Crossfit Open at the end of February.
I am slowly returning to my normal through my races and competitions. Does this mean every donor will be able to run 6 weeks after donating? No, of course not, especially if it's not your normal. What this does demonstrate though is that you can do anything that you were previously doing after donation. Play with your kids, run a 5k, go on long vacations, hike the local mountain or test yourself in any number of physical events. Listen to your body but know when you can give it a little push as well. Our bodies were made to accomplish amazing things!!