After Kidney Removal – Recovery in Hospital

Same day as operation:
My bed in the transplant ward was going to be ready at 5pm so my family had been told to give it until 6pm to allow me to be settled etc. It was actually 6.15pm that we heard my bed was ready and as I was wheeled into the ward I saw my family at the nurses’ desk and called out a “Yoo Hoo” and gave them a big wave. They expected me to be half asleep and out of it I think, and they almost fell on the floor so see me so awake, happy and smiling … hahaha ….I was taken to my room. Very nice room. Just two beds, I was by the window overlooking the little garden area which had a bird table in it. Shared the room with another lady (who had a kidney/pancreas transplant) and we had our own bathroom. My family were told that I needed to be settled in and it would be a little while so to go for a coffee and come back in say an hour.

I was helped off the trolley into my bed. I couldn’t quite manage this on my own as for some reason my right leg would not bend properly and had not much muscle power. This did by the next day correct itself. The first night I was going to be regularly monitored. Blood pressure sleeve was put on and automatically every two hours it would inflate and do its stuff! Gone are the days when the nurse had to come and do it. I was constantly impressed by all the advancements over the years since I had last visited someone or been in hospital myself. I had boot wraps on my calves over the thromboses stockings. They were wired up to some sort of pump and alternatively each one would inflate and deflate so massaging my calves and thus helping to prevent any blood clots (blood clots are rare, but can happen). A “clip” was put on my index finger which was wired up to a heart monitor. I had a drip in my left arm giving me fluids . In my right arm was another drip which was for the pain meds…

The nurse showed me how to use the pain med control. Each press of the button gave me one dose of painkiller. There was a little machine next to the bed that showed how many doses I had. Once I had the maximum amount then I could not use it again for 5 minutes. The machine gave me all the information regarding this. So even though I could self medicate the pain meds, I could not overdose on them. I had a buzzer if I needed to call a nurse and another control for the bed (to raise and lower the head or foot end etc).  The hospital bed was beautifully comfortable, wow .. plenty of support yet you sunk into it and you felt like it wrapped around you, rather like a memory foam mattress. It really was very good.  Pillows too … and no crinkly waterproof covers!! Shows how long ago it was that I was last an in patient! You also had the control that raised or lowered the different parts of the bed. Had fun playing with that later until I dropped the control on the floor and had to embarassingly buz for the nurse to come and retrieve it for me – one look from him as to the position I had got the bed in caused us both to laugh. Believe me, it hurts when you laugh! The table next to me had a jug of water. I had to drink quite a bit of water each day and the amount was monitored and then compared to the urine output in the bag attached to the catheter. Next to the bed was a swivel arm on which was a TV and telephone.

 Once settled my family came and stayed for about an hour. They got me a couple of magazines. They also got me a TV card. £7 for 3 days – quite expensive but well worth it but thank goodness I was not in for a fortnight, unless there was a discount for longer periods. My son set it all up and activated the card. I must say it was great having this TV (with headphones if required), which also had internet and telephone. I Did not make any phone calls during my stay as it was quite expensive to make a call and even for a person to ring you on it – but once the card was activated apparently it automatically sent the number of the phone to my contacts (presumably the numbers I had entered on the form I completed when I was admitted?). The phone rang me later with an automated message to say it had informed my contacts of this phone number. Wow!! I was constantly being surprised. (I later found out that it was very expensive for people to phone in on that number, so advice from me is do not use the bedside TV/phone to phone anyone or for them to phone you. Use a cell phone or ask the nurse for the general ward phone).

A lady from the kitchen came to see what I would like to eat and I chose chicken and leak pie. When it came to be honest I was not really that hungry. The nurse said she could get me a “snack box” if I preferred. I didn’t actually know what that was but it sounded good, so yes! …. I had a choice of sandwich and had ham, then also in the box was an apple, bag of crisps, a snack bar, small drink of juice – can’t remember what else. I ate the sandwich and had the juice and the rest I saved and snacked on them during the night as I got rather peckish then.

Later in the evening the lady in the bed next to me had a bit of a setback and had to be taken to ICU. It was rather upsetting to witness . I believe she was okay though. Next day another lady came to share the room. They both had been given kidney/pancreas transplants. The first night I did not sleep much at all. What with the blood pressure going off every couple hours, which to be honest I found quite uncomfortable when it was doing it. When it reached maximum pressure my chubby arms really felt pinched. Then the bleeps from the heart rate monitor going off periodically and the foot compression pump thing. If I bent my left arm another monitor would start bleeping and a nurse would have to come and reset it. All sorts of little noises and things which I was just not used to. As I would doze off one of them would fire up and make me jump. I was tired but ended up deciding I would put on the headphones, watch TV and maybe would fall asleep in front of that. It didn’t matter really that I was kept awake, I was very comfy and the transplant ward was very quiet. I was quite content just laying there resting. I didn’t have any pain unless I moved then it was where the bikini line incision was to remove the kidney. I tried the pain med and it worked like a dream. Within a very short time (30 seconds or so) the pain was dulled and had I clicked again it would have totally gone. As I rarely moved though, I didn’t bother with the pain med. Also it did make me feel a little light headed which I was not keen on.

I had some discomfort at the back of my right shoulder that I felt each time I breathed in. Again this was normal. To enable the surgeons to rummage around inside me they puff me up with Carbon Dioxide, sometimes a little of the gas gets trapped up around the shoulders and can take a couple days or so to go. Bit of a nuisance more than anything else. Towards the end of the night I was actually getting used to the boots inflating and at times was not aware they had so would actually focus my attention on them to make sure they were still working! I am just so very thankful that there are all these machines and pieces of equipment available to monitor me and help keep me safe. It was very reassuring in fact. The only time a nurse came was to take my temperature (or turn off the buzzer if I bent my left arm – lol!). I had my TV to watch (with headphones so no one else was disturbed). I think I also found it a bit hard to sleep as I was still on a high knowing that by now someone else had a working kidney. How wonderful is that. Doctors, nurses, surgeons, medical, non medical personnel – everyone on the two teams are just absolutely amazing to enable this to happen. I am in awe of them all. I did get to sleep periodically which was fine.

Day after operation:
Various people popped in to see me the next morning. I lost track of names I am afraid as most people I had not seen before and they said who they were before I could take it in. Everyone was just so lovely. Always smiling and a cheery hello. Thought I would use the internet and pop a few emails off. Nearly got as far as sending then got the black screen! lol. The whole screen froze and could not access internet or TV. Shortly after, the co-ordinator came in to see how I was. We had a good chat and I just mentioned the TV was not working now and why. She was brilliant! Got straight onto patientline and they rebooted there and then and I was back in business though have to admit I didn’t try to use the internet again – just in case.

A lady came and asked me what I would like for breakfast. I chose weetabix followed by toast and marmalade. I really enjoyed it. Long time since I have had toast and marmalade, in fact I am having it at home each day now I so enjoyed it.

A nurse came and said it was time for me to get out of bed. Not as easy as it sounded! Just laying in bed I felt fine. I did not feel ill (after anaesthetic etc), or feel any pain in fact I felt totally relaxed and comfortable. I hardly used any of the pain meds as I didn’t need them. When I did (mainly just testing how well it worked really), it worked but I also felt a bit light headed if I moved my head. So I didn’t use it much. Once I wanted to get higher up the bed and it did hurt in my lower abdomen area to do this, so a click or two on the pain med control and with slight discomfort I could then move up the bed. More clicks and there would have been no discomfort I am sure. Trying to get out of bed though was painful. You don’t realise how often you use your lower abdomen until it hurts! I was a wimp and laid back on the bed grinning sheepishly at the nurse as I had given up so quickly!

It hurt a lot around the lower abdomen where the incision to remove the kidney was made. So the nurse said to use more pain meds and get rid of the pain and we would try again shortly. I clicked the pain med button until I got to maximum dose and very quickly the pain went. Let’s have another go. The nurse stood next to me with his arm out in case I needed support. I held on to it and in one courageous effort hiked myself out of the bed …. oh boy! As soon as I was upright I felt so dizzy and light headed, it was horrible, I thought I would pass out. I steadied myself, and said I felt yuk and could he help me to the chair. Luckily it was only next to the bed so a couple of steps and I sat down in the chair. I felt not very nice at all (polite way of putting it). No pain though! lol. My nurse looked most concerned and asked if I was okay. I told him I just wanted to sit there and do nothing, but I was fine. He said he would come back shortly. Another nurse came in to change my urine bag which was nearly full. I turned to say hello to her and my head nearly span off my neck, lol. Oh I don’t make a good patient, that’s for sure. The dizzy feeling made me feel sick and I said that I thought I would be. She quickly got me a sick pan and I retched twice but that was all. I felt sure it was the fact I did the pain meds too quickly on top of the fact I had been laying down for over 24 hours. I just sat in the chair and closed my eyes and waiting for it all to pass.

Couple hours later lunch came, but I said I did not feel like anything. I was feeling not so bad now, but still felt “delicate”. The nurse said I had to eat as I had to keep my body going, it had to heal and get better and it needed food to do that. Very sensible advice, so I did have some food. I have to say, I did feel a lot better after that and very quickly got back to normal. So maybe lack of food also contributed. I still didn’t like the effect on the head of the pain meds though, it made me feel very dizzy when I moved my head, not very nice. The nurse said she would give me tablets instead. The drip was removed and the canula was closed off but not removed, just in case it was needed again. I was given pain tablets periodically. I was also given a dose of laxative! I was offered some the night before and I refused (mistake!) as I did not want to be suddenly caught out. No worries on that account, you certainly do get constipated which can be quite uncomfortable and the laxative is very welcome!

My weight when I came into the hospital was 89 KG … having an operation – then the fluid drip and all the water I had to drink does bloat you. Most people there got bloated. In 24 hours I went from 89KG to 93KG!! quite an increase. My hands were noticeably puffy I also felt bloated in the body. Fluids have to be got into body and they need to give them to me via the drip until they are totally sure I am drinking enough myself and that my body is processing it okay etc. I had to drink quite a bit of water which was fine as I normally would drink 1.5-2litres of water each day anyway. A doctor came to check me over and I mentioned the bloating. He suggested one more drip bag after the one I was finishing then to discontinue.

It was late afternoon now and I was drinking plenty of water and my urine output was fine and the nurse agreed to remove the fluid drip at the end of that bag rather than give me another one. She left the canula in though in case it was needed again. She wanted to remove the catheter but agreed to leave it until the morning. I was just worried that with the incision pain I would find it hard to get out of bed to go to the loo in the night and would have an accident.

Evening meal was really enjoyable. I had mushroom soup followed by chicken and mushroom casserole. Some orange juice and then a small tub of ice cream.

My family came and because I was no longer on the drips I was more mobile so Matthew went and got a wheelchair and they took me out into the little garden. Even at 6.15pm it was hot out there. We had a lovely hour in the fresh air. It really was a glorious day. The garden was just outside the window to my room and the nurse was in there and saw me through the slatted blinds and peered out and gave a wave ….

Just a few minutes earlier I had been telling my family how the nurse from recovery did say she was going to pop in to say hello at the end of her shift, but I think she had forgotten as it was now gone 7pm. Of course she hadn’t forgotten! She turned up and I was so chuffed she had not forgotten. We had a good hug and chat. I will miss her. After a long and no doubt tiring day, she still came to see me. How wonderful was that.

My son wheeled me back and my family left and I got settled in the chair for the evening. It was lovely not having a drip in each arm as I could move around without getting tied in knots or setting buzzers off. No more blood pressure sleeve or the inflatable boots! I watched Britain’s Got Talent then got into bed. I slept very well even though woke a couple of times when had temp checked by a nurse.

2nd day after operation and going home!:
Getting out of bed painful again but I did manage it on my own. Had the catheter removed but a “dish” was left in the bathroom for me to pee into so they could measure how much I was getting rid of. I also had a bowel movement. That was good as believe me, one of the main drawbacks is not having one! Had my weetabix and toast and marmalade for breakfast. I used to have that as a child sometimes which perhaps is why I am now so fond of it again. Someone came and checked my wounds. The top three keyholes had a lot of bruising around them. The guy said when they put the drain in there was a bit of a discharge. I imagine the drain went in immediately after the op and was removed before I came around as I don’t remember any drain being in me. But he was happy with the wounds. Just said to keep an eye on the bruising and to regularly check on them. I had large waterproof breathable plasters on them, so as long as no extra discharge that was fine. The nurse took some more bloods and said they will be sent straight away for testing and if all okay I can be discharged later that day. Probably early afternoon. The pharmacist came and went over with me the medication I would be sent home with. There would be panadol and tramadol for pain relief and lactulose and senna to help with constipation. She would prepare them so they were ready and waiting for me on discharge.

I was then advised by a nurse that they would move me to the Renal unit just up the corridor. Someone had just had a transplant and they were male, so the nurses had to shuffle people around a bit. I would go to Renal. The lady with me who would be in for around 10 days plus would go to another room in the transplant unit and then our room would become a male only room …. I collected all my belongings and then the nurse said to stay until after lunch. Have lunch in my room, then if I didn’t mind not having a bed I could spend the rest of the time in either the Transplant Day Room or the Renal Day room or in the garden. If the blood tests came back okay I could then go home. If for any reason they didn’t then I would have to be officially transferred to renal and stay there. Well that suited me great. I have to be honest and there was a huge difference between the Transplant Ward and the Renal Ward.

Lunch was lovely, again. Couldn’t fault them on the food. The transplant day room was full so I went into the garden for a while. While I was there two patients came, pushed by their relatives and spent some time in the garden chatting with me. They were both resident at the hospital and with failed transplants behind them were back on dialysis.

It was late afternoon now and I wondered when my blood results would come back. I went into Transplant and asked at the nurses desk. They checked and not ready yet, but should be soon. The nurse came and found me in the day room and yes, blood results all okay I could go home. My discharge papers would be done and wouldn’t be long now. I telephoned my family to come and collect me. I was given my bag of medication and discharge form. I thanked everyone for taking such great care of me. I didn’t bother getting changed into day clothes. Apart from the fact I was still very bloated, I knew getting dressed would not be that easy a task. Also what was the point, I would only change back into nightclothes as soon as I got home. I quite happily left the hospital and walked through the car park in nightdress and dressing gown and slippers.

Was good to be home!



69 Responses to “My Hospital Stay after Kidney Removal”

  • Tammy Miles:

    Hi Claire,

    Not sure if I can post my email on here but Di is more than welcome to forward it along to you. 🙂

    Di, Having a slight panic about clothing. Will I need a few day sets of day clothes or will mainly be in jammies and nighty? Its something I always forget to ask at appointments lol


  • Diane:

    Hi Tammy, No you dont want to publish email on this blog … open yourself up to tons of spam, lol. I will send you each the others email.
    clothes. You need to be prepared you may be in for more than a couple of days. Personally I was more than prepared to wear nightdress / dressing gown all the time mainly for comfort. You will be sore around your middle, or could be, so I didnt want anything elasticated around my abdomen. Plus you will have a catheter immediately after the op and part of the next day …. so nightdress is sort of more convenient with that 🙂 Once the catheter is removed and you are out of bed, you can wear what you like BUT take into account that getting dressed/undressed can be painful when it comes to bending down etc.

    I even went home in my nightie and dressing gown!!! seeing me walking through the carpark must have been a hoot, mind you I did have a David Napier dressing gown – so that must count for something 🙂

    Not sure how near to home you are, but maybe put out change of clothes in case you stay in for a few days and then have somenoe b ring them in should you need them, and depending on how you feel?? I took in change of nightie and some underwear, but never got to wear the underwear as too hard to bend down. Mind you I did have a load of blubber in front of me which didnt help 🙂

    The choice is yours as to what you take or leave out for someone to bring. You could be in for 2 days or a week!! Above all you want to be comfortable.

    Hope that helps.

  • Katie:

    HI Diane
    It has been a while since I last posted/followed. I donated my kidney to my father last Friday, Dec. 13th! Both myself and my father are doing great! I was under for about 3 hours, was given oxygen for just one night and IV pain meds were needed for only one day. I was released from the hospital on Monday with a follow-up appointment scheduled for Wednesday. All in all, pretty smooth procedure!

  • Diane:

    Hi Katie,
    What fantastic news for me to wake up to!! I am thrilled for you both and so glad your operation went okay. How did your father feel? Did he notice a difference almost immediately? I am told often the kidneys work straight away with immediate benefit, other times can take a little while.

    What a great Christmas you are all going to have 🙂
    Thank you so much for letting me know. I do wonder how people are getting on.
    All the very best
    love Di

  • Katie:

    My dad is doing great! He was released yesterday and his creatinine levels are as low as 1.13! They told him they would never get below 1.5. I am flying home tomorrow, can’t wait to see my kids, I have been away since last Tuesday. I have a few pictures, which I made into a slide show…before surgery, during and after. Is there a way to post?

  • Diane:

    Hi Katie,
    That is wonderful news!! Pictures …. well you can’t but I have just had a look at the admin side of this page and it looks like I can add them to your comment above …. so ?? if you want me to, just pop me a line via the contact link, top right of the page, and I will send you my email address …. send the pictures and I will do my best to upload them. If that doesnt work …. actually you still can if you want .. do you fancy writing a page or two on your and your dad’s experience of all this and I can add it to the Blog page (link at top of page) and can add the pictures to that? Totally up to you …. but if you want me to post on your comment just pop me a line via contact link 🙂

  • Chris:

    Just wanted to say how useful (and comforting!) I’ve found this site. I decided to be an altruistic donor, and began the tests etc., when a family member suddenly became ill with kidney failure, and is now on dialysis. Long story short, we are a match, and after a lot of soul searching they have accepted my offer of a kidney – told me on 1st Jan!- I can’t tell you how pleased I am.
    As people say, I’m scared and excited all at once – but it just has to be done. Thanks everyone for all of this information,it’s good to be informed. will keep reading.

  • Chris:

    What I didn’t make clear, is that i decided to donate before family member became ill – wasn’t even in the same country! So how fabulous that we are a match – obviously ‘meant to be!’

  • Chava'le:

    Chris, that’s insanely fantastic! Look how Gd arranged it that you already embraced the idea beforehand, definitely lessening everybody’s discomfort about you giving to a relative.


    I wish you lots of luck, blessings and prayers that your whole journey goes smoothly and safely for all involved.

  • Chris:

    Hi Chava’le

    Thank you will need as many prayers as possible!!


  • Diane:

    Hi Chris,
    I think this is just so wonderful. How amazing that not only were you wanting to donate but then you are a match for family member. Please keep in touch and let me know how thing progress. Any questions please just post or contact me direct via the Contact link top right of page.

    God Bless

  • Chris:

    Thanks Di

    Have to go for more blood tests on Tuesday, keeping everything crossed that it’s still all OK – won’t know for about 6 weeks we’ve been told. But I firmly believe it will all be fine. will definitely keep you informed of progress.

  • Hello Di,
    Thanks for this, my wife passed on the link and it’s full of great information.
    I’m going in next Tuesday, 19 Jan, to donate a kidney to my friend.
    A lot of it was familiar from my gall bladder op in 2012, which didn’t go well and couldn’t be done keyhole!!
    I well remember the worst part was the constipation after I got home but I hadn’t been given anything to counter it, or any real advice. Things have obviously moved on a bit since then.
    Thanks for the reminder, must remember to eat, drink lots of water and move around even if I feel like just lying there 🙂
    Well done on your donation to a stranger, I carry the organ donation card but had never thought of being a live donor until my friend said he was having trouble with his kidneys nearly 2 years ago.
    Thanks again for all of the excellent advice, and a laugh along the way.
    I would be interested to know which hospital you were in? I’m going to Southmead in Bristol. I’ve started keeping a blog but it is protected. If you want the password please drop me an email, which you can probably see but it’s not public on this page.
    Best wishes
    Dave (Gloucester)

  • Diane:

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for making contact. Have marked 19th January off on my calendar and will be thinking of you both on that day.

    you made me smile when you said you had constipation problems, haha (sorry not funny really 😉 ) but is the curse of so many ops …. but am sure you will be offered something. Take it as soon as it is offered. If you don’t get offered, then day after op – ask!

    I went to Churchill Hospital, Oxford. I could have gone to Bristol, but Oxford was that bit easier to get to.

    Yes I have your email and will pop you a quickie and yes please would like the password.

    I also expect you to post on this blog when you are feeling up to it after the op to let us know how it all went, or email me. I often think about people who I know are donating, wondering how things went and how recovery went ….

  • Diane:

    Have sent you email 🙂

  • Hello Diane,
    As you know, the transplant has been postponed.
    When my testing started, over a year ago, my friend had already been told he had to lose a fair bit of weight before the transplant could go ahead.
    After receiving a call from one of the transplant doctors to let me know about the postponent Ian and his wife dropped by our house after they left Southmead Hospital, Bristol, last night. They explained that apart from the weight itself it is the girth around the abdomen.
    He only needs to lose about 6 more kilos but the other reason for the postponement is because of the size of his girth it is difficult to get an appropriate length of artery tubing to attach the new kidney. They might have been tempted to go ahead if there had not been a failure over the weekend for exactly that reason.

    I will be called by the transplant team within the next week to discuss the rescheduling and possible time scale.

  • Diane:

    A bit upsetting all around, but perhaps Ian had a small idea that might happen. Well at least now he knows exactly how much he needs to lose in weight. I hope it all comes off the girth for him. Can understand from what you say, why the hospital said that. Need everything just right. Never occurred to me about the size of the girth, I have only ever thought about weight issue as regards any operation recovery.

    Will wait to hear more from you. Thanks for update 🙂

  • Isabelle:

    I’m writing to you from Montreal, Quebec in Canada.

    In one month I Will give my husband a kidney And i would like to Thank you dearly for taking The Time to write your story. It prepared me and answered all questions I still Had And made me feel much better And less srtessed about it.

    Thank you so much 🙂

  • Diane:

    Hi Isabelle,
    Thank you so so much for making contact. I am so delighted you found my story of help …. exactly why I wrote it 🙂 …. It is great to hear from people telling me that my writings have helped them.

    If you do have any further questions, not addressed by this website, please do just contact me … either posting on this website or sending me private message via the “contact” link top of page.

    I wish you and your husband all the very best for next month. Would love to hear how you are both recovering if you feel like sharing that info.

    All the very best

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