Top Transplant Hacks: Patients Share Their Best Tips and Tricks
Your doctor gave you a list of do’s and don’ts to minimize your risk after transplant, especially due to your weakened immune system, and slowly you’ve begun to learn some tricks that help you in your recovery. Beyond this great information and experience, what if you could also get some tips, or life hacks, from other transplant patients who have been there, done that?
In Mayo Clinic’s online community, Mayo Clinic Connect, members share exactly that — their best post-transplant hacks — in a discussion thread called Living Life after Your Transplant. We thought you might enjoy them brought together in a handy list.
Rosemary, a transplant recipient at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester, Minnesota, had the following to say about her hacks: “I remember being told that it is all about choices and risks involved. I want to assure you that my choices as to how to live after transplant are just that: mine. We can become friends, chat, share ideas on how to live our lives — but ultimately your own post-transplant care team is your primary judge and jury on your important issues. You will find what is comfortable and what works for you as you move forward.”
Here are some of the top hacks Rosemary and other Mayo Clinic Connect Transplants Group members identified, in hopes it will help make your life easier after transplant:
Maintaining a Healthy Diet
- Avoid unpasteurized foods, such as dairy, juice and cider.
- Wash food before preparing.
- Make most of your meals at home.
Taking Your Meds
- Write out and keep a schedule for taking your medications.
- Create a daily medicine reminder so you don’t forget.
Flying on an Airplane
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring your own beverages.
- Do not touch equipment belonging to the airline, such as blankets.
- Get up and walk every half hour or so.
- Wear a fitness tracker.
- Go walking.
- Attend water exercise class.
- Practice yoga.
- Consider working with a trainer.
Practicing Good Hygiene
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times.
- Carry along a face mask to use if you feel the need.
- Maintain general cleanliness personally and in your home.
- Clean hands after touching money or other items many members of the public may have handled.
Managing Your Interactions
- Avoid sick people, school children and those who’ve traveled abroad recently.
- Encourage your family members, coworkers and others with whom you associate regularly to cover coughs or sneezes.
- Stay away from crowds. Consider, for example, going to the 1 p.m. matinee movie instead of the evening showing.
- Stay in a transplant patient lodging facility when traveling for transplant-related care.
- If you have workers in your home, use disinfectant aerosol or wipes on all surfaces after they leave.
- Try some alternatives to handshakes: American Sign Language hand sign for peace, bumping elbows or simply smiling and nicely saying, “I’ve had a transplant and my doctors ask me not to shake hands.” If you really want to shake hands, follow it with hand sanitizer.
Listening to Your Body
- Allow yourself time to heal.
- Don’t overdo it. Consider saying “no,” even to activities you’d enjoy, to avoid exhaustion. Know it is okay to pass on some functions.
- Take time for yourself. Stay home, relax and take it easy.
- Ease up on physical activities for a while.
- Treat yourself to a nap — doze on the couch while “watching” TV.
- Return to your hobbies as you feel interest and ability, or perhaps pursue new ones.
- Consider whether your career is appropriate to your recovery, especially if it’s very demanding. Think about whether it might be helpful to make some changes or even retire.
- Request special treatment of your food at a restaurant.
- Set eating utensils on an extra napkin to avoid leaving them on the table.
- Avoid eating foods that have dropped on the table or that you observe a server touching inadvertently.
- Look out for food bits on the edge of your plate, as this may indicate where the chef touched the eating surface.
- Drink your beverage from a straw to dispel any doubts about the cleanliness of the glasses, or take along your own water bottle.
- Choose restaurants that have menus or menu sections for various restrictive diets.
- Use hand sanitizer after handling a menu, condiment bottles or salt and pepper.
- At a buffet table or salad bar, only eat food where you can observe food safety measures. Limit food you take to only those served steaming, frozen or commercially prepared, such as individually-wrapped items. Alternatively, consider reducing your visits to buffets or salad bars.
- If you are concerned about eating food in a certain environment, eat something before you go, take your own food along or try drinking coffee instead.
- If you are eating out at someone’s home, explain to the hosts beforehand that you have special diet needs.
We hope these hacks, which patients in the discussion group have found helpful, will be useful for you following your transplant. At the same time, however, please be sure to consult your own transplant care team if you have any questions about which tips and tricks are right for your situation.
What post-transplant hacks have worked for you?