(This is Bobby’s third installment here on Kidney Donor Athletes. If you haven’t read the first two, click here!)
Seems like I was on the bench forever. It seemed an eternity before it was going to be my turn to get called into the game. The build-up seemed like it would never end. I prepped, and prepped, and prepped. Well, January 2, 2019, it was my turn to get called off the bench and into the action!
I’m so super thankful that I took my bench role seriously so that when it was my turn, I was ready to roll!!!! OK….enough of all that 🙂
But seriously, donating my kidney January 2 and the following recovery could not have gone any better – you may think ‘yeah right I’ve heard that before’, but I’ve found it virtually impossible to find things that would have made any of this process go better. I was fortunate to have a master class surgeon and the medical team at the University of Washington in Seattle, no complications, and then an incredible post-op team taking care of me and getting me back on my feet.
In reflection, I think it can’t be underestimated how important it was for me to spend time prepping physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. And now, 14 short days later, I’m reaping benefits in all departments.
The day after surgery they had me up and one of my targets for the day was to walk one mile….9 laps around the big hallway on 7SA. I was humbled taking my first steps, and I’m pretty sure that first lap took a week to complete, but complete it I did! And yes, I completed 8 more before the day was done.
Day two: same goal; massive improvement; and goal achieved.
Saturday day three: potential release day….after completing 2 miles walking the halls and jokingly complaining to my nurse that I was bored, she told me I could go anywhere in the entire hospital, even outside….just take my phone with me in case I needed help, but she said go have fun! It was so great to feel the sun on my face, the cool winter breeze and to feel like I was just about ready to go…..sure enough, once I completed the last of the 5 checklist items to be released, the paperwork was in progress and I was on my way!
My brother took me to his house and we watched the Seahawks vs Cowboys playoff game…….seriously???? If we only threw the ball a few more times we would have won that game!!!
Sunday I decided to give myself a day of rest. What a good call that was! My body really and truly needed to rest, not to walk again. And so I entered my week on Monday rested and ready to hit my neighborhood for daily walking. I have a “one mile” post from my front door, and so I set out. First mile: 35 minutes. When I normally “speed walk” that, I hit 14 minutes. No worries, I’ll get there. I complete two more miles for my day and call it with a solid 3-mile walk. Feeling great, looking for a nap and food and fluids…..a good day.
Each of the next two days found me doing the same routine timing my first mile. Day two first mile: 28 minutes. Day three first mile 22 minutes. I took Thursday off, changed my fluid and food intake ratios a bit to get more calories, had a good sleep and woke up Friday feeling AMAZING!!!!! I mean truly incredible!
I texted my brother and told him “I’m going sub-20 today on my first mile”…..and sure enough, as I clocked 17 minutes and broke a sweat for the first time in a couple of weeks 🙂 I’ve continued to listen to my body, figure out hydration, adjust to my appetite, and make wise choices…..one day at a time 🙂
And today, January 16, two weeks post-op, I felt it was time. To take it easy, continue to listen to my body, but to get back into the mountains. I did 4.5 miles RT with an elevation gain of 1150 feet. I set no course records today mind you, but that was not my intent. It seemed appropriate for how I’ve been recovering to try this relatively simple adventure, and see how I respond. I can tell you that I have plans to be back on the trail several more times before the end of the month!
It’s been a tremendous period of recovery, and when people ask me about it, I tell them I’m simply astonished at how my body has recovered. And yet at the same time, I get it. I’ve been a pretty competitive athlete for large spans of my life, and I know what good preparation looks and feels like. Prior to January 2, I decided to take my preparation to the best levels I could in all departments, and I’m completely convinced that my mental and physical preparation has helped immensely in my post-op recovery.
I only wish I had more kidneys to give.
So my brain has been churning with all kinds of positivity, connections, ideas, conversations, and extreme amounts of energy to take this donation to the next level. It was a blessed experience to start a chain where right now 4 people will receive kidneys, and I know how lives will be positively impacted. But I can do more. Much more. Like go outside and look up at the big sky…….yes, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Not one day goes by where I don’t come across a new idea, have someone send me a possibility, and I add those ideas to the think-pot that is my brain for how I can now really make a difference.
And so I will. And I’m ecstatic about what the future holds for my kidney journey and all the lives I’m going to get busy helping!
I can’t thank Tracey and this community enough – I’m not even going to try because I can’t even come close to wording it right. But I will say, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you to you all. For how you’ve shared and created ripples that continue to ripple on. And I offer myself up as a resource for anyone now or at any point in the future who might want to talk about anything at all – I’m in the game now and I love it!!!
A long-ago quote from a player on my college soccer team, a team that was 5-time NCAA National Champs in Division 2 men’s soccer: “This is the best team to be on, to be on the bench on!”. It was a humorous quote back in the mid-80s, but it rings so true for this kidney team. This is a great bench team to be a part of, but now that I’ve been called into the game, it’s game time, and I’m going to make every minute count!!!
I’ll periodically update as I have some huge athletic endeavors on my 2019 calendar…..bring on the opportunities, the mountains to summit, the races to run, the Grand Canyon to cross, bring on the challenges, and let’s all bring on board more people to this great cause!
Thank you for sharing your arduous journey and spectacular recovery! I was just made aware last Friday I’m my mom’s approved living donor, we have surgery already next Friday, Feb. 1. I, too, like to claim I’m a rigorous athlete and soccer runs HUGE in our family. I hope to follow your progress if my body and soul allows. Thanks, again – Danel in Denver.
Congratulations!! If any of us can help support you in any way as you get ready for your own amazing journey just let me know!
I will, thank you Tracey. I plan on sharing my story here on your blog and becoming a contributor! I just got done with my pre-op today and getting more and more ready for this to happen.
Daniel that’s SO awesome you get to donate for your mom!!! Well done you!! Feel free to reach out anytime if I can support you – you got this!!!!
This is wonderful and I think very much in line with how other donors have been feeling. Many of us have had easy recoveries and we want to shout from the rooftops about how great donating a kidney really is!
Stanley met you to cheer you on for your Kilimajaro trek. He is a great guy.
I hope you have a wonderful time in Tanzania and promote your endurance post kidney donation.
Albin Gritsch – UCLA