I went to my first post-surgery follow-up appointment this morning. It was in the same beautiful building as all my pre-surgery appointments. After I checked in, I was brought back and had my vital signs checked, and everything looked normal. I was then brought to an exam room to have my incisions looked at.
My surgeon was supposed to be there, but she was called to the OR last minute and couldn’t attend, so my donor coordinator performed the exam. She asked how the recovery has been going, if I’ve been walking and drinking enough water, which medications I’ve been taking, what my pain level has been, etc. As it turns out, I am walking enough, but I need to be drinking more. I’m a bigger guy, so she recommended 64 oz of water per day, and I’m probably only drinking half of that. She asked if I had any questions, so I asked about a couple of things I was worried about: a little numbness around my incisions, a really weird feeling I get sometimes when my incisions touch the fabric of my shirt, a couple of pain points and a few bruises. She said all of those were normal. She then took a look at my incisions. She took off the little clear band-aids that were holding them together, and said everything looked great. She even took a picture to send to the surgeon.
One thing we learned is that not only do I have sutures just under my skin holding it together around my incisions, but I also have internal sutures as well. During the surgery, they had to cut through muscles in my abdomen, so to make sure they heal properly, there are sutures holding those together too. All the suture wire holding me together will eventually dissolve, so I don't need to go back in to have them removed. We also learned that they had to cut through nerves as well, so the numbness I feel around some of my incisions is because of that.
As far as my recovery goes, my coordinator said I’m right where she wants me to be, which is great news. Since everything looked good, she gave me instructions for the future. I need to see my primary care doctor around my 6-week surgery anniversary for a checkup, and also have more labs to be completed the week before. I also need to see my primary care doctor and have labs done at my 6 month, 1 year, and 2 year anniversaries. Normally, these checkups would be done here, but since I live so far away, I’m allowed to have them done closer to home. The only dietary restriction I was given was for protein, which was that I’m only allowed to have one gram per kilogram of body weight per day. In my case, that means I can only eat up to 100 grams of protein per day, which I don’t think will be an issue. There were also a few other things, such as checking my blood pressure regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and staying active. They reminded me to stay away from NSAIDS like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, and ibuprofen.
We also talked to the coordinator about the car ride we took to Wilmington. We mentioned we had our room in the Transplant House until February 1, so she suggested we stay through that date so that I was as healed as possible before making the long car journey home. Thus, we will leave here on February 1. As excited as I am to go home, it’s not such a bad thing since the transplant house is such a nice place to be.
If you’re interested, click here for a picture of my incisions right after surgery (with the clear band-aids) and click here for a picture from today. They’re not bloody, but just in case, you should not view them if you are squeamish.