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Seven Months Into the Pandemic and I’m…Adjusting to my newly transplanted liver.

Back in February, I was a wife and mom balancing a career in public health policy; chauffeuring my son between school, soccer practices and other activities; carving out enough time for myself for regular runs to remain perpetually “half-marathon ready”; and co-managing day-to-day household functions to keep my family clean, fed and generally functioning.

I was also a woman with end-stage liver disease, waiting for a call from my medical team that a new liver had been found to replace my own that had slowly died due to a blood clot during pregnancy 11 years prior. 

The emergence of COVID-19 complicated life for us all. When that hit and my community locked down, my family rolled with it just like everyone else. Work went on. School went on. Running went on. Life went on. Just in a modified way.

And then on May 13, right around 11:00 p.m., I got the call that a donor liver match had been found and I needed to come into the hospital for my long-awaited transplant. Overwhelmed with gratitude to my donor family and blessed beyond belief, especially because transplant rates had declined early into the pandemic, I was wheeled in for surgery on May 14 around 3:30 in the afternoon.  

I came out of the haze of anesthesia 2 days later. When I was cleared to stand up and start walking around the ICU on day 3 post-op, it was on. I knew going into transplant surgery that movement helps speed recovery. Being fairly fit before surgery, I had both a plan and expectations for how I would speed my own recovery along.

Spoiler alert: I had no idea what I was in for. 

While my immediate recovery was faster than is typical and I was fortunate enough to be discharged from the hospital 6 days after being transplanted, there have been some bumps in my recovery process.

BUT, if being a runner has taught me one thing, it’s that forward momentum —whatever that looks like on any given day—is progress.

So here I am, seven months into the pandemic, still isolating at home with my little family; I now have no immune system and cannot risk exposure to any infection. I'm trying my best to keep moving forward with my running —it still feels harder than I think it should—my health, and life. 

I know that many people call 2020 a dumpster fire, as the year has been uniquely challenging and tragic for many. But for me, 2020 has been the best year of my life so far, albeit a hard one.

How lucky I am that amidst a pandemic, I was blessed by the unbelievable generosity of a stranger that allows me to continue to be a wife, mom, policy wonk, runner, outdoor adventurer, food enthusiast, and whatever else floats my boat on any given day. 

P.S. Be an organ donor and safe a life!

Read more Seven Months into the Pandemic essays.

8 responses to “Seven Months Into the Pandemic and I’m…Adjusting to my newly transplanted liver.

  1. Michelle here. (This is my essay. I’m the newly transplanted mom.) Thank you all for well wishes! To answer Sharon’s question, my doctors have been very supportive of my running. I just need to be very mindful about staying hydrated and listening to my body so that I don’t push too hard.

  2. Michelle here. (This is me. I’m the newly transplanted mom.) Thank you all for well wishes! To answer Sharon’s question, my doctors have been very supportive of my running. I just need to be very mindful about staying hydrated and listening to my body so that I don’t push too hard.

  3. @ Sharon – This is my story. I’m Michelle. I had a liver transplant, not a kidney transplant. My doctors have been very supportive of my running. I just need to be careful to stay hydrated and really listen to my body and not push too hard.

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