Yesterday was my 2016 Transplantiversary. We’ve been together for five happy years now.
But at my last clinic appointment, I got the news that I am starting to show symptoms of kidney disease again.
It’s shocking, but not unexpected. After all, a transplant is not a cure; it’s just an excellent band-aid.
On average a cadaver donated kidney lasts in the range of 8 – 12 years. It’s a sad fact that the immune suppression drugs you take to prevent your body rejecting the kidney also contribute towards its demise. Not to mention that your original disease can recur in the transplant.
Five years in, I am otherwise doing well.
- My body has not rejected the kidney.
- I do not have diabetes, nor do I suffer from long-term cardiovascular deterioration caused by my kidney disease or time on dialysis.
- I am already doing better than 30% of transplant patients whose kidneys fail within the first five years.
But half of kidney transplant patients lose them between five and ten years. And if that’s not bad enough for you, as time passes, I am more likely to die from a malignancy (cancer) or an infection that gains hold because I’m taking immune suppression. I think it’s time to make that dermatologist appointment don’t you?
That makes it time to take a look at what science says now about the best ways to maximise the life of a transplant.
- Maintain the recommended weight.
- Eat good quality food that is good for you; a healthy and varied diet.
- Exercise every day, at least a 30-minute walk.
- Get proper sleep.
- Avoid sick people.
- Take medications as prescribed (the correct doses on schedule). Do not take other medicines or supplements without checking that there will not be complications.
- Bathe every day with a mild soap to prevent acne and skin infections. Use a body lotion to prevent dry, flaky and itchy skin. Wash hands before and after everything.
- Brush and floss teeth morning and night, have regular dental check-ups and take a course of antibiotics to prevent post-treatment gum infections.
- Manage sun exposure and get annual skin cancer checks through a dermatologist.
- Keep cuts and scratches clean and dry, and monitor to prevent infection. Seek medical attention for big injuries and infections.
- Dead virus vaccinations including an annual flu shot.
- Annual ophthalmologist eye examinations for cataracts and other drug related issues.
It looks a lot, but aside from the medication, it’s not much more than the fundamental, eat, exercise, sleep and take care of your skin recommended for “normal” people. Interestingly, there are some little tweaks from the information that I received five years ago.
I feel as though I need to be more Accountable for my progress, so I have set up a page of health goals to track:
- Weight: ≤ 59 kg by 6 February (revise in February)
- Exercise: daily walk, target 10,000 steps (revise in February)
Goals still to be defined (more research required):
- Nutrition: things like calorie intakes, serves of fish, fruit, vegetables and so on.
- Sleep: quantity and quality of sleep, bedtime routines, etc.
There are other things; partly disciplined daily habits and partly scheduled medical appointments (dentists, ophthalmologists and opticians and dermatologists) which I probably won’t add to the page.
- Dental: daily care, dental treatments.
- Optical: daily care, drug-related damage checks and prescription lenses.
- Skin: daily care, skin cancer checks
But I really should take myself in hand and get stubborn about it.
Have you considered being an organ donor?