13 April 2009

3 months (or so) post transplant

[Our story so far...I have had kidney failure since 1989 due to Goodpasture Disease. I had one kidney transplant in 1991, and a second one on December 23 of last year, this one donated by an old college friend. You will see him on Facebook as 'Shark'. Friend him! He's an intelligent, funny guy, and painfully shy.]

Today was my three month post-transplant appointment with my transplant surgeon. My lovely and intelligent wife went with me, as she usually does. I feel compelled to point out this transplant clinic is one of the most efficient medical organizations I have ever encountered.

My borrowed organ is still working perfectly. My blood levels related to renal function are all well within normal range. I have shown no signs of rejection whatsoever, and I'm whizzing like Secretariat. Surgically, all is perfectly healed and no twinges, no pulling, even when I lift (relatively) heavy objects like my 4 year old. (I still have to be careful there.) My blood pressure -- which as you all remember from physiology is controlled by the heart and kidneys -- is continuing to improve. This week I'll be down to 2 blood pressure meds from an original 4.

Really the main medical problems still remaining are the gout and the anemia. For the gout, time is the main cure. For the anemia, I'm now taking megadoses of iron and vitamin C. The doctor was a little concerned about my iron levels, but Monica pointed out to him that since I'm building lots of muscle now, most of my iron is going into myoglobin. To which my surgeon replied, "Hm, good point." See, that's what I keep her around for, to be as smart as the doctor.

So I'm working on rebuilding this patched-up ol' bod of mine into a well-oiled hairy machine (sorry for that image). Many chronic diseases can have insidious effects; I didn't notice the daily damage that was happening over the years, or simply chalked it up to getting older. I've been as active as possible, but with your own body working against you, it is often one step forward and two steps back.

That's all starting to reverse now. I'm still going to the gym and I'm building significant amounts of muscle. I can tell from my own senses, from Monica's compliments, and from the fact that I keep having to add weights on the machines :) I typically walk, do nautilus (except abs), swim, and my new favorite activity, the rowing machine. I've had a problem with doing cardio since my knees are absolutely shot; I can't run, do the fitness bikes, or do the ellipticals/stairsteppers. But cardio is critical for me since the main cause of death for kidney transplant patients is cardiac-related. Then I tried the rowing machine at the Y a couple weeks ago and wow! No joint strain at all. Great cardio, both upper and lower body excercise, and since it doesn't strain I can go for a long time. Of course, I have to keep close track of my heart rate during exercise, but it's generally been fine. Just a glimpse into how I modify my fitness regimen for my conditions. Our local YMCA is a fantastic facility, by the way.

As good weather approaches, I'm eager to get back to my favorite fitness activity, hiking. It's not just fitness: it's fitness, meditation, stress reliever, family activity, and time communing with nature. I anticipate we'll be able to get back out doing this by the end of the month.

In other news, I'm mad as a hatter and an insomniac to boot, but my shrink likes that since it pays his bills. Seriously, going to a psychiatrist is de rigueur for people with longtime chronic diseases or transplants. Better living through chemistry, in particular (S)-citalopram. I'm also still a shiftless bum self-employed, and Monica is back in school to ultimately get her MS in Chem Eng. The kids are dramatic musical insane energetic argumentative morose creative geniuses. Life is back to abnormal.

Citius, altius, fortius!