For at least a few weeks afterwards, do not over-do things. But also do not lounge around all day. Spend the time appreciating those around you and what this generous donation has done to improve your quality and quantity of life.
Tests and monitoring
After your transplant, it may take between 6 weeks to 12 weeks for the transplanted islets to start functioning and you might start to see a decrease in your insulin requirement 2-3 weeks after the procedure. You will be advised to monitor your blood glucose levels several times a day and to keep in touch with your medical team.
Your medical team will need to see you very often for the first few weeks after your transplant.
Your insulin requirements will probably drop by a quarter or half during the first 3 months after your first transplant.
After your second transplant, you may be able to stop taking insulin and stay off it for a few months. It has been seen that most islet transplant patients continue to take a small dose of insulin. Taking a small dose of insulin after an islet cell transplant may be beneficial to the transplant and extend the length of time that it continues to work.
Stages of returning to activity, including work
Return to work or other activities only if you feel up to it. It is recommended you start slowly in the first instance. This also includes sexual activity. If in doubt, ask your doctor. Don’t be shy – they have heard it all before.
Let good nutrition and exercise be part of your healthy lifestyle. Everything and anything in moderation until you are completely stable.
- Avoid foods that may interact adversely with your medication.
- Maintain good food hygiene while preparing your meals.
- Maintain personal hygiene, including dental hygiene
- Clean open wounds and cuts with antiseptic. Consult your GP if your wound becomes red and painful.
- Always check with your transplant doctor if another doctor suggests you should receive any immunisations. The Mantoux test for tuberculosis and immunisations for yellow fever and polio for example are not recommended as are any other immunisations using live or weakened bacteria or viruses. However, influenza vaccinations or immunoglobulins are okay.
- Reduce the risk of infection by maintaining your hygiene and reporting symptoms early. If possible, avoid coming into contact with people who have a cold or the flu.
- Avoid coming into close contact with children or people with chicken pox or measles and other viral and bacterial infections.
For more on caring for your new heart after discharge and the precautions to take, please refer to the section on “After your Transplant”.
Driving after Transplant Surgery
You may wish to resume driving as soon as possible after your surgery. You must check with your doctor to clarify when it is safe to drive. Before driving, ensure that you are alert and not fatigued, no longer experiencing significant pain or taking medications that can cause drowsiness.
For information on assessing fitness to drive, please visit the website www.austroads.com.au . The guidelines on this website outline the responsibility drivers, health professionals and the licensing authorities. The rules for driving are very clear and are set out to protect you, the transplant doctors and the general public.