Kidney Transplant and Setting Goals

I started this blog every single day this week at least three times a day. I wanted to talk about my kidney transplant but I have realised this morning that I’m not quite ready to go there. I’m not ready to talk about the tears of joy and fear. I don’t want to share the intimate yoga session on the Friday before my transplant. Surely nobody wants to know about the panic attacks the Sunday night before I came home. These things happened and I’m ok with it all. It was the most surreal, overwhelming experience I have ever gone through in my life. But the truth is, it feels like over sharing. It feels like something sacred that I’m not ready to divulge just yet. So for now, I will share with you my excitement at what is yet to come.

Pre Surgery

There were two in a bed

Just a quick cuddle before you go…. 7am, day of surgery

All I could think about was Monday, September 4th. There was no “afterwards”. I couldn’t give any thought to tea and toast – that gourmet offering that every new mother who has ever sat on a maternity ward will know about. There was just me and Grainne. My family was there, kids, husband, parents …. and we were all having great craic and chilling out before the big day.

Post Surgery

12 hours after this photo, we were back in our own hospital beds post surgery and beginning our road to recovery. As the days went on, we wore a path in the corridor with the walking. We kept others on the ward entertained with our shrieks of laughter and we kept each other company with talks of what events were ahead. We were also present and very aware that what was happening right at that very moment would dictate how each of our recovery periods would go.

Hospital Tea for 2

Day 5 Post Kidney Transplant

Looking Ahead – The Short Term

I am acutely aware of a significant difference in how I feel. Despite feeling sore and stiff, I feel like my body is working better. Even though I feel tired, everything seems clearer. Now I am two weeks post kidney transplant and my short term goals run over the next 4 weeks. I’m not sure that they are transferrable to all individuals post abdominal surgery, but if you have gone into your surgery fit and strong, then these should help with your recovery too.

  1. Walk every day – even on days that I feel tired I will do a little bit. Getting out of bed in the days after surgery, I felt so week and I lost just over 1kg the week I was in. My legs felt so wobbly and weak. My first goal is to simply build strength in my legs again with walking. Make sure you have a friend who will push you on but know when its time to slow down. Ideally, that friend will not make you laugh so hard you burst your stitches.
    A laugh on the beach

    12 days post kidney transplant

  2. Work my Gluts – or simply, my bum muscles. I am tall (5ft 10″). When my butt muscles are weak, my lower back gets sore and my middle back stiffens up. I will start glut work week 4 post transplant but it is high on my priority list. If you want a good glut activation workout, check out the one I posted to my YouTube channel.
  3. Mobility – I’m starting with spine mobility. The spine bends forwards lots, back a little and it rotates and bends to the sides. Right now, rotation, side bends and back bends are out as I don’t want to undermine wound healing. I have been doing very gently forward bends, pelvic tilts and some very gentle shoulder bridges. I will increase movement from week 4.
  4. Keep a diary – A friend of mine takes every opportunity to point out that this is a very special time. I’m going to want to remember the highs as well as the lows.

Looking Ahead For Long Term Goals

  1. This one is a work in progress. I found out about the Transplant Games when I was listening to Marathon Talk a few months ago. A girl called Melissa Fehr spoke about her bone marrow transplant and her subsequent achievements of gold medals in the transplant games. I was immediately transfixed when I realised that my lifelong dreams of making the Olympics might come true. Ok, so they aren’t called the Olympics….but I’m going to stick with it.
  2. Surround myself with people who motivate me. On the days I feel tired and I really don’t feel like training for my Olympic debut (ya, ya I know…not the Olympics), these are the people who will motivate me just by being there. These are the people who love open water swimming, riding horses, cycling, running and generally love moving their bodies so much it looks easy! This kind of attitude rubs off! My kidney transplant will allow me to get back to doing the things I love.
    Picnic at Lough Hyne

    A walk at Lough Hyne while the IronMen (including Grainne) swam. Day 11 post kidney transplant

  3. In November, a swimming course is starting in one of my local pools – it is a couch to 2km run by blondie in the middle pic below. I am aiming to be swimming 2km in the pool by the end of January.
  4. After 12 -16 weeks, depending on how well I feel, I will bring my horses home and start riding again. My job in between that time is to find something to wear that will protect my abdomen.
  5. Week 10, I will set up my turbo trainer and sit up on my bike in the living room whilst watching reruns of Game of Thrones.
  6. I WILL NEVER WHINGE ABOUT MY WEIGHT IN JANUARY. Instead, I will eat what I want to eat over Christmas. I will continue to train a little and stay fit and healthy and use every day that I can for movement and activity.
  7. My most immediate goal is to start back to yoga with Jess at Flow Yoga West Cork.

Looking Forward Vs Being Present

While it is important to look forward, I am acutely aware of the present. Each day, I am grateful for the time I am spending with the kids. They are so intuitive and were so aware of everything that was going on throughout this whole process of the kidney transplant. I only hope that while my positivity rubs off on them, they know its ok to cry. Its ok to have a bad day and its ok to feel sad, frustrated and hard done by. Its ok to not be ok.

But what this part of my journey has taught me is that the best things in life cost nothing. The fresh air, the sand under my feet, waves lapping around my ankles, the smell of my horses and the sound they make when they recognise you. Life is all about experiences and interactions and you can only live these as they happen. So enjoy every moment and express your gratitude with love.

Fi xx

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Fiona O'Donnell

Fiona has a background working in the health industry as a cardiac physiologist. Since leaving hospital work, she has worked as a Nutritionist following completion of her MSc in Exercise & Nutrition Science. Fiona is also qualified as a PT, Pilates instructor and lifeststyle coach. In 2017, Fiona received a kidney transplant and is now back to triathlon training.

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  1. September 18, 2017 / 8:50 am

    Wow Fiona, amazing outlook on life, so inspiring – all the best as you continue on this journey x

    • westcorkfit
      September 18, 2017 / 9:59 am

      Thanks Sasha. It’s been a long road but I’m surrounded by some amazing people. Your thoughts impact your behaviour and your behaviour impacts your environment. Life is what you make it

  2. Lotty B
    September 18, 2017 / 10:57 am

    I flippin’ love you lady. The honesty, the strength & the upmost positivity is infectious – you change lives with the things you say and the courage you show. Keep it up and can’t wait to hear all about what comes next. X

    • westcorkfit
      September 18, 2017 / 9:58 am

      Thanks Lotty. You know yourself, some days are harder than others..but the majority are as good as you make them xxx

  3. September 18, 2017 / 11:51 am

    I love your attitude. It is so good to write our thoughts and goals down, I believe writing is a great way to manifest our intentions, everything just becomes clearer. Get well soon!

    • westcorkfit
      September 18, 2017 / 11:12 am

      Thanks Alice. It’s so true xx

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