I have had so much positive feedback on this particular post, and it seems like it's been the most helpful and informative post so far, so I'd like to keep it at the top of the list!
I hope this helps some of you out there who are donating, or know someone who is donating. It's an exciting experience, but can be scary at times (and a bit uncomfortable!). Little things can really make a big difference in getting through the day.
Tips for Living Kidney Donors (In No Particular Order)
1. Patience – Be patient with yourself! Everyone heals at their own pace. It can be frustrating and depressing to not feel 100% after surgery but it will get a little better every day. Instead of thinking about all the things you can't do yet, take comfort in the progress you have made.
2. You Are What You Eat! – Eat healthy foods that will give you energy and help your body heal. Small meals spread throughout the day will help you feel less bloated.
3. Slip On Shoes – After surgery you probably won’t want to bend over to tie shoe laces or pull a pair of tight shoes on. Make sure you have slippers for the hospital that you won’t miss when you leave (because you probably won’t want anything that touched the floor of a hospital in your house), and comfortable slip-ons for when you get home.
4. Ask for Help – It’s hard to learn when to ask for help, but after surgery this is a lesson you will learn very quickly. You will need help with everything … and I mean everything. Even reaching for something can be very painful if you reach too far. When in doubt - ask for help. Even if it’s just moral support, or you need a hug.
5. Walk Walk Walk – I can’t stress this enough. Walking is your new best friend. It is hard to do but it will help your recovery so much. Get up as soon as you can, and walk as much as you can. Your body will thank you for it!
6. Drink Drink Drink – Another thing I can’t stress enough. Drink every chance you get. Warm water or tea … no cold water! It helps your one remaining kidney do its job better, and gets your insides working properly again. Yes – you will have to pee a lot. But guess what? You get up and walk when you pee! Drinking helps you walk, and walking helps you heal faster!
7. Don’t Overdo It – Know your limits. Don’t push your body to the point where you might hurt yourself. Listen to the signals your body is giving you. If you’re tired, sleep. If you are in pain, rest for a while. The ability to listen to yourself is one of the best skills you can have in this process.
8. Get Fit – Be at your finest before surgery. The fitter you are the easier it will make your recovery.
9. Comfy Pants – Make sure you have a lot of loose pants for post-surgery relaxing. Even 6-8 weeks after surgery I still couldn’t wear jeans for very long without getting uncomfortable. Buy some jogging pants or loose pajama pants that are a couple of sizes too big. There is a lot of bloating after surgery and you will want to be as comfortable as possible. Ever notice no one is wearing pants while they're in the hospital? There’s a reason they have those gowns … they’re comfy!
10. Pets – Pets can be wonderful, and a great source of comfort during the healing process BUT if you have a “lap dog”, or a dog that likes to jump up on you, it might be a good idea to consider having someone look after them while you are healing. Even feeding your pets can be a difficult task for the first few weeks. Bending down to fill a food or water dish, or taking Rover for a walk are going to be out of the question for a little while. If you have any pets (including cats – changing kitty litter is pretty much impossible post-surgery!) arranging for help is important.