By Danielle Peabody, LICSW and Janelle Gonyea, RD, LD
Waiting for your organ transplant can be a daunting and trying time. Your health may be declining and your life in many respects may feel like it's been put on hold during that time. While you are waiting, there are things you can do to stay as healthy as possible and prepare yourself for the big day. Taking care of these things will help you physically, mentally and spiritually.
While waiting for your organ transplant, it is very important that you follow the nutritional advice given to you by your healthcare team. It is very important to eat in this manner to avoid becoming malnourished. Malnutrition can make it more difficult to heal after your transplant operation.
Getting adequate exercise is very important to maintain your strength and health while waiting for your transplant. Routine exercise will be an important part of your program after transplant. If you currently do not have a regular exercise routine, now is a great time to get started. If you have questions about what type of exercise is best for you, ask your healthcare team to advise you in this regard.
Attend All Scheduled Medical Appointments
Routine follow up appointments will be scheduled to monitor your progress and keep you as healthy as possible while waiting for your transplant. Be sure to attend each and every one of them.
If you require maintenance dialysis, do not skip treatments and be sure to stay for the entire time of the treatment. Adequate dialysis at all times is very important to optimize your health. Maintain compliance with all medications. Also, don't neglect the rest of your body while focusing so much attention on your organ failure. You need to keep up with regular health maintenance concerns such as mammograms, immunizations, etc.
Don’t Put Your Life on Hold
Have you always wanted to learn how to play the piano? Wish you could attend your grandchild's graduation? Considering going back to school to learn a new trade? Don't put off what can be achieved or enjoyed today. Just because you have a chronic health problem doesn't mean you need to forego pleasure and enjoyment in whatever big or small ways you can partake.
Have a Plan and Be Ready!
Have confidence that one day "the call" will come. When it comes, you will want to be ready. Be sure to have your travel plan as well as a backup plan in place to get to your transplant center safely and quickly. Consider consulting a travel agent if you must travel a long distance. Have a packing list prepared. This list should have all the clothing, supplies, medications and comforts of home that you'll want to bring with you. Prepare a "to do list" as well to remind you to stop your mail and newspaper delivery, turn down the thermostat, call the house sitter or pet care provider, etc. Don't forget to discuss your plan with your caregivers. They need to be as ready as you are for the trip. Also discuss important family matters such as health care proxy, living will and any other family plans or medical decisions that may need to be made during your recovery time.