Transplant Athlete
Sunday, March 12, 2006
  Transplant Athlete

This is supposed to be a blog about being a transplant athlete, but most people reading might think I was just an athlete, because there isn't much posted about how the transplant affects me. I'm happy to say that in most cases it doesn't.

When I first started riding after the transplant, the prednisone I was taking upset my stomach when taken during a ride. In general it made me gain weight which was also bad for cycling, but I've been off that drug for almost three years now. There was a study published that said there is little difference in the outcomes of transplant patients on Prograf and Prednisone versus Prograf alone and I think, some transplant centers have done away with the prednisone after leaving the hospital.

My hematocrit fluctuates pretty wildly from 33 to 38. The cause is unknown. It could be my original kidneys (the ones that were anemic to begin with) or it could be the medication. It doesn't seem like I'll ever know. When my hematocrit is low, I feel the need to take multiple naps during the day (I'd probably stay in bed if I could get away with it). Before you say chronic fatigue syndrome or mono or "I thought I had mono once for a whole year but it turned out I was just lazy." I can feel the difference cycling, especially at altitude. I've gone to Denver a couple times (post transplant) and sometimes I could get on the exercise bike and pedal away, other times, I was huffing and puffing in what should have been a recovery zone. Right now it seems to be worse and I'm afraid to get my monthly bloodwork done in case it says my hematocrit is low. (I've been putting that monthly blood work off for 3 months now...)

On a day to day basis, sometimes I leave so early for a ride or I come back so late, I forget to take my medication. That can be bad.

If the transplant is impacting my performance in other ways, I don't really know. Am I slower because of the transplant or because I'm not training enough or is it just bad genetics?

One other thing, I do tend to worry more about my health post transplant. I think "is that lump cancer or what?" The medication I take tends to increase the risk of cancer. Is that pain in my new kidney area?

The greatest gift the transplant has given me is the ability to appreciate this second chance. The ride this past Saturday reminded me of that "Life is Good" feeling I had back on the Pactour in 2001.


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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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Warning Signs for Kidney Disease:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Burning or Difficulty when Urinating
  • Frequent Urination at Night
  • Blood in your urine
  • Cola or tea colored urine
  • Swellig of the eyes, ankles, or feet
  • Lower back pain unrelated to physical activity

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