Hello world! I can’t believe it’s been OVER A YEAR since my last blog update. I am sooooo sorry about that! Those of you that follow me on social media have been pretty much kept up to date, but it’s been a long time since I’ve documented here for those that aren’t on social media. I thought it was high time I gave you all a condensed update.
First of all, I have to say, I am doing OUTSTANDING! Since my last update way back in August 2018, so much has happened in my transplant recovery journey. I’ve totally transformed my lifestyle, I live to take care of myself, and also live to LIVE. No more letting time and life flow by without purpose, without intent, without “living”.
First I’ll talk about my kidney function numbers. I have a lot of previous posts explaining what all those numbers mean, but the short version right now is – Kidney function is measured by a blood level of “creatinine” you have. It’s a muscle waste product that everyone has in their blood. Normally functioning kidneys filter most of this out. Damaged kidneys can’t filter it out. So, the lower your Creatinine reading is, they can generally tell the function level of your kidneys.
A “normal” person (most of you reading this), will have a 0.5 to 1.0 reading. Before I started dialysis 4 years ago, my Creatinine was up in the 5 and 6 range. WAAAYY high. I had less than 10% kidney function, and I was getting sick. Anyway, my doctors wanted my new kidney to drop my creatinine level to about 1.5 or 1.6. I had some rejection in the beginning, so for the longest time my numbers were hovering in the 1.9-2.2 ranges. Not ideal for most, but it worked for me. Good news though! As the summer has gone on, and my fitness level has improved and blood pressure has dropped, my creatinine level has dropped too! My readings in the last 3 months have been in the 1.8s, and this past month I got my lowest reading yet – 1.7 🙂 Sooo happy to see that!
Speaking of my fitness journey, I’ll switch to that topic. I left you with my last post here back in Summer 2018, when I was 6 months post surgery. I was just getting to where I was starting to have no restrictions as far as exercise activity. I was swimming a lot last year as it was a great low impact full body exercise. I did that through the Fall and into Winter a few times per week, along with continuing with my personal trainer at NIFS. I was getting so strong at the gym, and with swimming I went from not know how to “breathe” and swim, to doing pretty fast laps with great form! So proud of that. As Spring came close, I wanted to switch things up. My trainer left NIFS, so I felt that was a good time for me to branch out on my own as well.
I bought a slew of self workout tools. Different types of resistance bands, TRX straps, a BOSU ball, and various accessories. Sling bags to house it all in, and a giant Lacrosse backpack to carry it all around in. I spent the summer working out 3-4x per week at various “gyms” around downtown. And by “gyms” I mean parks and public greenways. It was never a dull backdrop, and I always felt motivated by being a healthy visual prop in this urban setting I live in.
Also back in the Spring, I started walking a lot. First it was around my neighborhoods and downtown. I also bought a Zoo membership so I could walk in there for variety. I even walked 8 miles of the Mini Marathon this year. I did all that a lot and it started getting to be way too easy. So, I upped my game to local hilly park hikes at Eagle Creek Park and Ft. Benjamin Harrison park. I did those parks a 2-3 times per week, upping my mileage to 4, 6, even 8 mile hikes at a time. Now THOSE hikes were starting to be getting easy.
So, in mid summer I upped my game even further by hitting the steeper, more rugged terrain of Brown County State Park and Starve Hollow Recreation Area, both in Southern Indiana. Those were the challenge I needed! I did those each weekend for a month or so. I felt like I was ready to leave the Indiana trails behind and advance myself to much more rugged terrain, so I contacted my old high school buddy Chris Wiggins (who lives in Lexington KY), to see if he knew of good challenging trails in his area. He suggested I come down to visit Red River Gorge, a massive natural creation of 300 foot rocky cliffs that lead into the lush forest gorges down below. So, over Labor Day weekend I had a KILLER weekend down there, doing 4 and 6 mile hikes in some GORGEOUS country. I was in total awe not only of the views but also of the feat I’d accomplished!
Since I’ve been back from my Kentucky trip, I’ve still been doing local day hikes to keep the momentum going, but I’ve got the fever to up my game even more. I decided to invest in hard-core backpacking equipment for future adventure!
These backpacks are designed to keep the brunt of the weight supported at your hips, so it’s like you barely feel the weight on your back. Your shoulders are used to basically provide a “little” weight bearing load but for the most part they are used as a prop to keep the pack from falling over. Amazing! I gave all this a test run at Hoosier National Forest for an overnight backpacking trip a few weeks ago. It all went really well!
Backpack, warm sleeping gear, and a lot of other lightweight pack-able gear meant for hard core backpacking/camping. I say “investment” as all this gear was NOT cheap. I’ve learned that this has become a passion of mine so it’s indeed a lifetime gift to myself. I’ll do another more detailed blog post about this gear itself, but can you believe all of this pictured here packs perfectly into that backpack, and only weighs 23 lbs total?
Now that I’m all “geared up” and I have a couple weeks vacation left this year, I’m planning my biggest challenge yet. I have EXCITING news… Next week I’m going to COLORADO! I’m going to visit some friends out there, AND do some day hiking! More on that next week, stay tuned!
Through all this, I’ve realized I’ve come SO far since last year. I’ve lost about 25 lbs of total body weight, while gaining a LOT of muscle to boot. I’ve gone from my post surgery extreme fragility and weakness to hiking literal mountains in about 19 or 20 months. I’m not quite to my college shape yet (haha) but I’ll be there by Spring 2020. I turn 50 years old in May of next year, and my goal is to be in the BEST shape of my life then… which will be little over 2 years post kidney transplant. Oh, and I’m having the time of life in the process!
Thank you soo soo much to my amazing cousin Dennis Angel for giving me the chance at all this. I owe alll of this to you. I love you brother!
Terry – 10/1/2019