M.A.G.I.C. Tips on Recovering from an Organ Transplant
Editor’s note. If you have read my other blogs then you know I had a heart transplant on August 21, 2007 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. The following tips are from my personal experience and the guidance of the experts at Mayo.
Bob’s NewHeart Tips for Transplant Patients
Manage your recovery
- Exercise daily. Shopping is activity, walking at a good clip on a treadmill is exercise. Exercise and a good diet are essential to a successful recovery.
- Keep a daily journal of the following:
- Exercise. Track type and duration. Try for 60 minutes a day.
- Medication dosages, frequency, changes, stops, new meds.
- Nutrition. Track foods and liquids according to the limits set by your physician. At a minimum you should be watching liquids, calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium intake based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
- Vital signs. Purchase a quality blood pressure cuff at your favorite drug store and begin keeping a daily record of your weight, blood pressure and pulse.
Attitude. No matter what the challenge in your recovery a “can do” attitude is absolutely necessary. When you consider that you have just been given the gift of life a “Poor me” attitude makes absolutely no sense! No matter what the challenge, and there will be many of them, you can do it!
- You can and must watch your diet
- You can and must exercise daily
- You can and must take your meds on time and live a normal life
Gratitude. Appreciate the fact that the organ you received is a treasure. You have a responsibility to take good care of it. A family somewhere is grieving over the loss of the loved one who donated your organ, a loved one whose generosity and selflessness has allowed you to live.
- Your caregiver has made a commitment to you, you must make a commitment to the caregiver. He or she is deserving of all the cooperation and respect you can offer. Because you are recovering from a major surgery, you will make great demands on their time and patience. It is important for you to do as much for yourself as you can, without violating the restrictions placed upon you by your physician. Activity is good for you, even if it hurts.
- Family and friends have your best interests at heart as well. Show them you appreciate their concern and efforts. One way to show gratitude is to follow the rules and live a great, long life.
Information. Because of the complexity of transplantation, you will have hundreds of questions.
- No one is going to give you a packet that answers all of them. You must take it upon yourself to seek information on medications, insurance, nutrition and more. Visit my Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative.
- If you have access to a computer and can get on the Internet, you will find support groups, general information sites and medical information. www.nutritiondata.com for example, can help you track calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium content and more. A group I just started on Facebook, Organ Transplant Initiative could also be helpful.
- Most importantly, ask questions. Do not be intimidated by physicians or others who are guiding or directing your care. If you do not understand what they are saying, press them until you do. And, by all means, take notes.
- The medical experts guiding your care know what they are doing. Yes, you should question them and yes, you should ask for clarification but remember that everything they suggest is for your own good. If, for example, you are told to consume no more than 1850 calories a day, do it! When you don’t you are only hurting yourself. Who gets hurt if you eat too much, gain weight and put added strain on your new organ? It sure isn’t the physician or nurse or cardiac rehab expert.
- Follow the advice given to you by rehab experts. Transplant drugs can have a negative effect on other parts of your body including bones. In rehab everything from proper breathing to stretching has a profound effect on your recovery.