Dialysis, transplants and recovery, taking the long view

I thought I’d write a little about the time it takes to recover from surgery when you hit some speed humps; about expectations vs reality.

It’s now about 15 weeks (12 March) since I had my transplant kidney unceremoniously removed.  About a month before that (17 Feb) I had fistula surgery.  While the fistula rework was reasonably straightforward, the transplant removal was a bit of a nightmare.

Once I finally got home, being the Adonis we all know I am, I planned for a reasonably quick, exercise-assisted return to normality.  I started back at the gym early May, aiming to get as fit as I was in just a few short months previously.  As readers of this blog will know, it was a shock to see just how deconditioned I had become.  I had lost a lot of muscle and body fat and my stamina store was closed for the holidays.

In my mind, my plan was simple: I would resume exercising and after about four months, I would see some change, a slightly less miniscule bicep or quads that could hold my weight all the way through a half squat.  In fact, While there has been some improvement (I can lift weights for more repetitions) I have been quite disappointed at my progress.

So much so, that I filled in a termination notice for the gym and decided I would take up jogging.

That decision coincided with a visit to my cardiologist this afternoon.  I told him my sorry tale and he basically said I had made one primary mistake: the timing of my expected return to form was much too short.

It takes about a year to recover from the sort of muscle wastage that comes when you spend weeks immobilized in hospital.  Muscle growth is normally fairly slow, but with BigD members it can be glacial.  Dialysis screws up your body chemistry, and especially your body-building chemistry, and muscle growth is inhibited.  That doesn’t mean there is no muscle growth or increased stamina, it is just slower than normal.

This made me feel a lot better.  Especially when he hardly mentioned the natural collapse of muscle-building capacity that comes with the years (not yet relevant to me).

So I have changed my mind. I will continue going to the gym, I will take it steady (rather than pushing things too hard) and I expect to start enjoying it again.

I’ll let you know what happens (but not for a while!)

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