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Author Topic: Post-Op Recovery - feedback from members with young children  (Read 5673 times)

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Offline MapleLeafMama

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Hello! I just joined this forum a few moments ago.

I have to do a couple of follow up urine samples, and provided all is good, the nephrologist will approve me as a kidney donor for my cousin this Fall. Which makes this all the more real. And of course, I'm starting to have anxiety about the surgery and the post-op recovery. I will be donating my right kidney, and am told that means that traditional open surgery will be performed.

I have had 2 c-sections. The first was an emergency. While the second was planned, until the babe decided to come a month early -- which means I didn't have any time to feel anxious about the surgeries.

My biggest concern is that I have two children, who will be 5 and 9 in the Fall, and both in F/T school. Will I be able to walk to and from the bus stop (a half block) to drop them off/pick them up? Will I be able to get them ready in the morning, make the usual meals (I am a SAHM, for now... was planning on going back to work, but the upcoming surgery kind of puts a wrench in that plan). And how soon will I be able to drive? Am I going to get any sleep? LOL. I remember after the first c-section that I had to modify my sleeping position. And I was sleep-deprived because the darn baby *never* slept. ;) 

So. I don't know. I don't know what to expect. And that is always my biggest hurdle... the not knowing... and yet I hope that the 2 c-sections have better prepared me for the donation.

Can those who have donated, and had younger children, provide me with insight as to what I may expect post-op?
Donating a kidney to cousin in Fall of 2013!

Offline sherri

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Re: Post-Op Recovery - feedback from members with young children
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2013, 01:17:38 PM »
Maple Leaf,

Welcome to the forum and good luck with your donation journey. There have been some donors with young children on this forum so they may be able to address some of the issues young moms face when having surgery. I donated 5 1/2 years ago when my four daughters were 19, 18, 14 and 11. At the time, I worked 24 hours a week outside my home. As I am sure you understand, running a household with children is tough and one has to be organized and you are always busy doing something for somebody. I'll try to address some of the questions you had. You had mentioned you are having an open surgery due to the right kidney being used. I believe there are hospitals who do use the laparascopic technique even when using the right kidney but of course the surgeon has to be skilled and experienced in doing this as it is a little more complex. The open surgery is not as common now because of laparascopic techniques. Comparing it to a hysterectomy I think is pretty applicable in terms of level of pain and recuperation time. A c section you are not under general anasthesia so that makes a difference and bowel is not moved and manipulated. The lifting rules apply. No lifting greater than 10 lbs for at least 6 - 8 weeks (similar to a hysterectomy) so as not to get a hernia. Some patients have a tough time with the anasthesia and feel nausea or vomiting post surgery. There will be pain and you can speak with the anasthesia team about how they plan to control pain. Most places use a PCA pump.

I had no trouble walking up and down the steps when I came home. I had surgery on Monday (laparascopic) and went home Friday morning. Takes time for bowels to return. Felt very "full" all the time, did not have an appetite and had pain around the incision area which was pretty normal. I was able to walk with no problem so walking to the bus stop should be fine but you may not have a lot of energy after that. you are having major surgery so prepare to be tired and not have a lot of stamina. It would be a good idea to have someone come in to help you when you return home from the hospital. Do not lift heavy laundry, carry large items up and down steps.
Driving is recommended after 2 weeks. Need to be able to have the anasthesia out of your system and also cannot drive while on pain  medication so depending on your recovery. I also had a hard time just turning my body fully to look out the back window and back out of my driveway. My older daughter did my carpool for me a few times until she had to return to school and then I had friends pitch in  so my husband could go back to work.

I prepared a lot of meals in the freezer so that when I returned to work after 4 weeks I did not have to come home and stand on my feet but rather I could relax and pop something in the oven. I have a great community and we support each other in times of need so my friends made meals for my family while I was in the hospital and for 2 weeks after that. This is the kind of surgery you can prepare for so that is a plus.

Once I came home I was really only uncomfortable at night when trying to sleep and find a good position. Pillows helped and I took a pain pill just at night to sleep for a few days and then nothing after that. The biggest complaint donors have after surgery is fatigue so pace yourself. Accept help when offered.

How do your kids feel about your upcoming surgery? Are they ok with you going in for an operation you don't need? I found it was easier to have my younger ones go to school the day of surgery and I let the teacher and principal know in case they were anxious. My husband called them during school to speak with them and let them know everything was ok and after school my older daughters brought the younger ones to see me in the hospital. I just wanted so much to wake up and see all my kids when I opened my eyes.

You won't really know what to expect until the surgery. Some donors have an uneventful recovery, others end up having small complications and do need to go back in. Always nice to expect a routine recovery and plan for the unexpected or longer recuperation if necessary.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Sherri

Sherri
Living Kidney Donor 11/12/07

Offline Snoopy

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Re: Post-Op Recovery - feedback from members with young children
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2013, 04:34:29 PM »
Dear Maple Leaf,
  There's not much I can add to Sherri's (typically) comprehensive post, but I can reiterate her point about lifting.  My youngest daughter was 8 going on 9 when I had my surgery.  I'm only a Daddy, and wasn't responsible for day-to-day cooking, etc.  But I had a lot of trouble with lifting during my otherwise smooth recovery.  I remember that my daughter quickly noticed, and began pouring my water for me, to save me the pain of lifting a full pitcher (and yes, that help came in handy).
   Beyond that, another thing to consider is what/when you tell the kids.  Do they already know and (more or less) understand everything?  I was quite secretive about my plans to donate (nearly two years later, I've still told very few people), but as it happens my youngest was one of the few to know beforehand--since she still lives at home, she heard her mother and I make some references to the hospital.  So I took her aside and gave a fairly simple explanation, remembering to give her time to digest it and formulate her own questions.  As bright as she is, she didn't really need to hear about all the epidemiological studies on post-donation health, and she definitely was not interested in too many "yucky" surgical details, so I kept it simple, and that seemed to work.  She's been wonderful about keeping the secret, as well.  But, as a rule, I've learned not to assume that a child actually registered the precise message I thought I was broadcasting, so it's probably a good idea to offer the kids various opportunities to ask questions.
   Good luck to you!
    Snoopy

Offline Fr Pat

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Re: Post-Op Recovery - feedback from members with young children
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2013, 07:10:59 PM »
     Some parents have used a silly game to help the kids get comfortable with the surgery idea. I think it's called "operation" and is sold in toy stores. You have to remove "organs" such as the "funny bone" with a pair of tweezers, and if you touch the edge while doing it a buzzer goes off and the "patient"'s nose lights up. Buy two of the games and the kids can practice doing transplants as well. It's a non-yucky way of talking about the surgery.
     And of course explaining simply that you are having the surgery to help someone else is a great life-lesson for kids.
   best wishes,
        Fr. Pat

Offline dave

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Re: Post-Op Recovery - feedback from members with young children
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2013, 10:25:17 PM »
Dear MapleLeafMom,

I am a Dad with two young children (5 and 3), and I normally provide about half the child care.  Ten days post procedure, I'm able to take care of them fine - including driving them to and from preschool.  The only restriction is no lifting, but they're old enough to come when called and climb into their own car seats.  That said, I had a laparoscopic procedure.  I have heard that open nephrectomies have a longer recovery.  Good luck!

Dave
Donated left kidney to Dad, June 20, 2013.

Offline MapleLeafMama

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Re: Post-Op Recovery - feedback from members with young children
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2013, 05:05:05 PM »
Sorry it took a while to respond. It has been a busy week! I appreciate the responses.

I recently told my 9 year old because she's around and will likely hear (or has heard) me having conversations with others. She was a bit concerned at first, but I positioned it as a positive opportunity to help somebody we all really care about; that it's a gift for my cousin. That seemed to help. Since then she has had a few questions, mostly out of concern for me. We, my husband and I, will continue to encourage her to ask questions. AND perhaps even have a chat with my cousin too, if she'd like.

I really like the idea of playing "Operation," particularly with my almost 5 year old. What a GREAT idea!

I'm sure there will be some anxiety, particularly for the older daughter, but LOVE the idea of calling the school to have them let the kid(s) know all is alright post-surgery. I already spoke with the school counselor about this and know they will be very supportive.

So if I can't lift anything, will I be able to do much more than shower and make meals? I'm assuming I won't have energy for much. I'm not good at doing nothing. Fun times! LOL.

I never even thought about carpooling. Great suggestion. Hoping my DD#1 is placed on a ringette team with a family we know.

Again, thank you so much for the replies/feedback and food for thought.
Donating a kidney to cousin in Fall of 2013!

Offline Snoopy

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Re: Post-Op Recovery - feedback from members with young children
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2013, 01:43:53 AM »

So if I can't lift anything, will I be able to do much more than shower and make meals? I'm assuming I won't have energy for much. I'm not good at doing nothing.

Hi, MapleLeafMama.
   Years ago, when we had lots of little kids running around the house, and when I was providing around half of the child care, I developed the knack of sitting on a strategically-placed chair and directing traffic, for times (and there were many) when I was simply exhausted.  I got the older kids to supervise the younger kids, under my direction.  Also, I planned in advance to break tasks down into jobs I could do sitting (like chopping veggies, sifting flour, folding laundry, etc.), and had the kids set up a sort of assembly line where they brought me "raw material" to chop, fold, etc., and took my "finished product" to the appropriate rooms.  It all depends on your kids' ages, and so forth, but the model helped me a lot. 
   Good luck! Snoopy

Offline dave

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Re: Post-Op Recovery - feedback from members with young children
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2013, 08:06:11 AM »
For me, it was no lifting anything over 10 pounds for 12 weeks.  But that still leaves me free to do most housework chores - laundry, dishes, dressing kids, bathtime, rides to preschool and playground, and so on.  My spouse helps with taking the garbage out (used to be my job!) and hauling loads of folded laundry up the stairs.  Kids are encouraged not to jump on my tummy during playtime.  :-)
Donated left kidney to Dad, June 20, 2013.

 

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