Transplant and Diet

Now, after eating food with zero salt, zero taste, zero anything - to being allowed to eat anything was music to my ears! My urine was flowing like the ganges, my numbers looking great, and I was ready to eat some good food. For the first time, my mother's food tasted like pure bliss! Everything tasted fantastic - idli's, sambar, spinach, bottleguard, bitterguard; there was nothing I didn't like. I ate and relished it all. Just being able to be at home, with my family, listening to conversations, listening to my brother's side of the transplant and things he had to face, just humbled me to my core. (I will write about his experience as a donor soon!)

At one side, I was happy eating and experiencing life all over again, the other side, my body was going through a huge transformation.

I mean, HUGE.

The medicine dosage were obviously very high at the beginning of the recovery phase - the steroids, the immuno suppressants were at their highest dosage and this caused my body to quickly gain weight, even though I was working out by the first month - walking and then cycling, nothing seemed to slow down the weight gain.

Stretch marks begun to show on my stomach, tiny pimples begun to show on my face, my breasts grew bigger, and most of all - I lost my bum!!

Haha.. Being a Bharathnatyam dancer, my derriere was poppin! But soon as my transplant, she was gone, and I don't know where. She didn't even leave a note. :/

Moving on from my toosh, one part I wish someone tied my hands and kept me away from was SUGAR! Even after all the warnings I couldn't keep my hands off it, and now I am type-2 diabetic. Stupid me. I know. It’s been four years now, and I hate it. Sometimes managing my diabetes is more stressful than anything else. It’s a tough job - I cannot skip working out, cannot skip checking my range, and always skip sugar. I’ve gone sugar free in my coffee and tea, no cakes. But occasionally, I do indulge in my absolute favorite dessert - CARROT HALWA! It’s something I can’t resist!

I’m used to people eating pastries and other confectioneries in front of me and it does not affect me at all, BUT, I have zero chill when it comes to Carrot Halwa.

That’s when I need to do extra time on my work out.

Nowadays, I stick to just walking. I’m consistent with it, every morning, between 7:30 and 8:30 am, I am at the park listening to Ariana Grande or Kanye or some good old AR Rahman, while brisk walking. I’m not a gym person, and I say this after a lot of gym experience. I like the outdoors better. - I love playing badminton and love swimming if I have company! But for now, it’s a lot of brisk walking.

To maintain my diabetes, I have started eating Ragi porridge for breakfast everyday with one Egg white. Mum mixes half rice and half millet for my lunch and I stick to 2 chapatis for dinner. I do get hungry in the evening and I go a little crazy on the chips and other munchies - listen, I don’t want to be a ‘size zero’, thank you very much. I’m happy and have always been happy in my skin, and with my body. I love my curves!!

Currently, I’m back on insulin unfortunately. I’ve been beyond stressed with a lot of things happening in my personal life and I just couldn’t seem to get a grip on my sugar levels even though I wasn’t having any. After consulting with my doctor, he said that stress is a major contributing factor in diabetes, and that I should consciously try to bring down my stress levels.

And what did I do?

I had lassi, ice creme and carrot halwa, I ate grapes, oranges and any other fruit (I love fruits), I went dancing, went drinking, you get the drift. Basically did anything to bring me joy. I ate all that and didn’t worry about my sugar. I’m not saying that’s what everyone should do, but that’s what I did. My sugar levels are back to normal, and my stress levels, well, I wouldn’t say are normal, but it’s something I have to keep working on.

Life after kidney transplant is challenging. There are new obstacles to face every now and then, one learns to deal with a new normal which is filled with

medication, new routines, check-up’s, health scares, stretch marks, acne, and diabetes.

It’s stressful, no doubt, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It has humbled me, grounded me and made me stronger than I ever imagined. I’m seeing my body in new and different ways, seeing life and food in a new light. Everything is in bright techicolour and I love it. I hope you will try and see the brighter side of things, I know that’s easier said than done, but take it from someone who has seen the dark.

I thought I'll keep this post fun and light - I have been super serious in all the others. I know, we recipients tend to over think and analyse much more than the common man - it doesn’t hurt to go easy on ourselves every once in a while, no?

General post transplant advice:

  1. Stay away from the sweets! Please consult your doctors to see how you can avoid diabetes.

  2. If you get acne, don’t sweat. From never having seen a single pimple on my face, I was seeing multiple. I decided then, that it was least of my worries. I had to get my health in order and that’s the only thing that mattered in my head. Also - I didn’t touch or try to break them. It’ll all settle once your medication dosage comes down. My skin is clear now!

  3. You will gain weight. You have to accept that. I felt like 'Nutty Professor’ - with the weight distributed all wrong. Again, it’ll all settle once the dosage comes down.

  4. No visitors! Don’t see anyone for one year at least. You don’t know who is carrying what germ. Wear double masks while visiting the hospital.

  5. Work out! Walk, however slow or fast..walk. And depending on your doctors advise, you can start gyming etc. later.

  6. Love yourself. Don’t be hard on yourself, weight gain and other things are not in your control initially. Like everything else, you will learn to control it. But until then, Be patient and be kind to yourself, no one else is going to tell you!

That’s all I can think of, if there is anything else, I will update it! I hope you got a good idea about how I dealt with many diet and weight issues. It’s still an ongoing process. With everything going on in my personal life, I’m trying to do things that make and keep me happy.

Us transplant recipients have a lot to be grateful for, and we have a lot of life to live and a lot to give too!

A special shout out to Vasundhara - this warrior has come out with a new book called ‘Nutritional Secrets’, which gives you an in-depth look on all the do’s and don’ts for Kidney patients. The online link to purchase the book will be updated soon.

Until then, onward!!

P.S - I turn 4 this April!! I mean, 4 in recipient years and I’m planning to host my second photowalk in Bangalore on April 28th (Sunday). I started this initiative to spread awareness on Kidney disease and organ donation.

the details will be mentioned on my Facebook page soon.

all are welcome!