Life After A Kidney Transplant - What You Need To Know And Do
So you or someone close is about to get a Kidney Transplant. That’s good news and be assured it will make for a better quality of life. But are you ready to make the best of life after a transplant?
Here are some dos and don’ts, for you to prepare yourself for a healthier and more mindful life after transplant. These pointers are divided into three parts – What to expect right after surgery, What to ensure once you are back home to recuperate and once you have healed, What does the rest of your life needs to be like.
What To Expect Immediately After Surgery
You will be in hospital for roughly a week or more after surgery. You will be made to get up and walk a bit after one day. Your medications will now include immunosuppressants, to increase chances of kidney acceptance. Your body will not immediately start producing urine so expect the dialysis catheter to continue. There will be some tenderness and itching around the operated area – this will get better soon.
What To Ensure As You Reach Home
The next 6 to 8 weeks are about following each and every instruction of the doctors to the tee - not 99 but 100%. This is a very critical period because your body is working its best to reject the kidney and you have to ‘convince’ it to accept it.
- Do not miss a single dose of your immunosuppressants and if you do, inform your doctor
- Stay active and move around but NO strenuous activity like driving, sex, travelling, working long hours for the first 4 to 6 weeks.
- Try to stay calm and relaxed because stress causing chemicals are not good for you
- Eat as advised by your doctor. You have a new kidney and in a few weeks, you can eat a normal diet but for these 4 to 6 weeks, go easy
You Have Healed, Now What?
A whole new organ has been inserted in your body, and it needs to be treated with utmost care and respect. Remember M.E.L.D. at all times, to ensure a healthy and happy life ahead.
M = Mental Health
E = Exercise
L = Lifestyle
D = Diet
Mental Health: Transplant patients often feel anxious, stressed – even guilty, after a transplant. The immunosuppressants might also lead to some mood changes. Even the people around you might be undergoing some emotional changes. These are all natural reactions. You just need to ensure that you actively work towards overcoming this phase. Involve your family and close friends, engage with them and if you feel you need a counsellor, do not hesitate to get professional help.
Exercise: Exercise daily but avoid heavy exercises, unless your doctor allows. Walking or swimming 20 minutes a day is significantly better than doing weights in the gym 3 times a week.
Lifestyle: You need to keep in mind that the side effect of having immunosuppressants is that your immune system is being weakened. This makes your prone to infections as well as some other serious diseases like cancer. Some modifications to your lifestyle need to include not going back to any vices - no smoking at all, avoid alcohol and eat fiber rich, light food. Avoid crowded places like cinema halls, especially for the first year - this will keep you away from infections. Always tep out in the sun with sunscreen,.
Healthy Diet: This directly impacts the success of a functional kidney and you need to be strictly watchful:
- Always, always stay hydrated - it is very essential to your kidney health
- If you haven’t done it already, drastically reduce salt because sodium strains your kidney and increases blood pressure
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are very important and try to take as many options as possible
- Avoid processed foods. They have no nutrition and are high in salt and white sugar content, along with other harmful additives.
- Prefer lighter ways of cooking food – so YES to steaming, grilling, stewing, stir-frying and a big NO to deep frying, charcoal barbecuing or fat based cooking.
A kidney transplant is a new lease of life and it is very important you make it work, for yourself and your loved ones. Be mindful and reach out to your doctor if you notice anything strange or different about your health.