Holidays: Celebration or Challenge for Transplant Families
Holiday celebrations and festivities can be a challenge for transplant patients and their families. The twinkling lights and music are everywhere enticing us to get out to shop and celebrate. Soon, we will be receiving invitations to family and social gatherings with all of the special foods and beverages. It is no wonder that some of us approach the holidays with trepidation about a season that is supposed to bring joy and cheer.
How will you navigate the holidays? What are your plans?
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My 17 year transplant anniversary is tomorrow (11/30/2005). That year it was just after Thanksgiving and I was doing some work from home. (I was fairly sick at the time.) I had taken out boxes of Christmas decorations and our artificial Christmas tree. I planned to work a bit and reward myself with decorating and putting up the tree later in the day. That was the day I “got the call”! When I came home post transplant I discovered my daughters had decorated and put up the tree! I spent most of December doing transplant labs & follow up appointments. I enjoyed holiday specials on TV and listening to all the great music of the season. Around the 3rd week of December I got sick with something fever etc. and ended up hospitalized to more closely monitor for rejection. It turns out I wasn’t rejecting but had come down with some other ailment (thanks to immune suppression). While I was hospitalized a friend colleague from my church visited me. She was a nurse and chaplain. We talked and prayed together. At that point it looked like I might be in the hospital over Christmas. I am a Christian believer. My friend reminded me that this means to trust God with my life and to trust His timing in all things. In our prayers we thanked God for the spectacular gift of my transplant and for the GIFT of SALVATION (the reason for Christmas). I ended up being discharged on Christmas Eve. We had a frozen pizza for dinner. My daughters came over and made some Christmas cookies and a nice dinner for Christmas Day. We exchanged gifts and had a very laidback day. That year there was no hustle and bustle or attending a bazillion events. Since then things have changed a bit. Daughters are married and we have 6 grandkids. But that season prepared us for the past few years of COVID when we needed to take extra precautions for my immune compromised self.
Happy Transplant Anniversary!
I hope that you have something planned to celebrate this miracle of life day! Perhaps, to quote from your post, "…a very laidback day. ..no hustle and bustle…" kind of day.
What will you do to honor this day?
Happy transplantversary, sounds like u have it going on w/the holidays. I know u will have a very Merry Christmas w/family😊💚
I am 2yrs LT had a acute rejection over the Thanksgiving holidays but on the mends I think.
@rosemarya & @myfablife thank you for the Transplantversary greetings. Initially we planned to go out to eat and to a movie to celebrate. We live in the suburbs of MPLS, Mn. Yesterday we had a snowstorm that lasted all day. A snow emergency was declared in the Twin Cities metro area. So today we will bundle up, break out the shovels and snowblower. Later we’ll warm up with soup and hot turkey/ gravy sandwiches. My husband set up the artificial tree yesterday. Tonight there are Christmas specials on TV and we’ll decorate that tree. @myfablife my prayers are being lifted up for you that this rejection scare will soon be resolved. God is good and does all things well in His best timing.
Amen, yes he does. Thank you so much. Stay warm sounds like a lovely time u have planned.😊💚
I am ready to get in the Holiday Spirit!!
Yesterday afternoon my husband and I had to make a trip to a Barnes and Noble to do some 'in person' shopping. It felt good to do the Pick up/Put down old fashioned shopping! We went mid afternoon, and there were very few people in the store. I was armed with my hand cleaner and had a mask handy if I got near anyone. Shopping was successful and we came away with some gems for Christmas gifting!
Next we went for a nice dinner, which we enjoyed with one of our sons. Did you know that at 4:15 in the afternoon that restaurants are practically empty?
After a 45 minute drive home, and a delightful evening and holiday planning for family gathering, I'm ready to get ready!
Is anybody else making holiday plans? How will you spend your holidays?
I am in week 7 post transplant and am super careful with masking around others I do not know, and avoiding crowds at the holidays. I am not yet driving either. I order presents from Amazon. Sounds like you are a long time past transplant? It is a difficult holiday as my family gets sick at times and I can not be around them at all, like during Thanksgiving. I hope this will be different at Christmas, but I will see. I will be safe no matter what, even if I just do Facetime with them. I guess eventually when I do go out, I will stick to the afternoons when there are no crowds and mask. Thanks for the tips. I do need to ask: what do you do if you do catch a cold? Can you take over the counter meds? I will clear it with my transplant coordinator too. Be safe and healthy, BB
BB, I am happy for you to be preparing to celebrate the holidays in a safe and sensible way that will work for you and your loved ones! I can imagine that you will probably shed some happy tears, because I remember, my holiday after my own transplant. My transplant was in 2009 when I had a liver and kidney transplant at Mayo Rochester. My advice, should you want it, is to use common sense and be prepared to say "no" when you feel uncertain of the safety about going to any event. It does take effort and with time and practice, will become a natural instinct.
In response to your question about a cold, I have learned to listen to my body, and when I feel a cold coming on, I begin to take preventive actions. For me that includes getting extra rest, staying hydrated, and reducing unnecessary activities/obligations. I also monitor my temperature and have seek medical advice if it goes above 101.
Over the counter medicines that are safe (per my transplant notes) include Tylenol, Sudafed, Robitussin, and Benadryl. Never go above the daily recommendations.
Here is a discussion with members sharing their experiences.
Living Life after your Transplant
Every year my brother has a big gathering for Christmas and makes the seven fishes feast. I have never gone, because of various reasons but mainly because I am usually out of country. This year I won't be going because I don't know everyone's vaccination status or if they will be sick (some don't know to stay home). I also won't be going to my church's Christmas party or service in person, but I will go on zoom for the church's service (they do hybrid service). However, I will make a special meal for my husband, son and myself. I am going to try to make coquito (non-alcoholic version) this year for something special for us. Then if our friends are home, we will go over to their house. Maybe my son and I will watch a movie. For New Year's Eve, we will do pretty much the same thing.
My transplant was over 4 years ago. We do pretty much the same things every year. Christmas Eve is spent at our son’s beautiful home and Christmas morning some of the family comes over for a Belgian waffle breakfast. The first two years after transplant I got a nasty cold around that time of the year. That’s pretty much the only times I’ve been sick since the transplant and I’m very grateful. This year, once again the hospitals are filling up with patients, sick with RSV, Covid or the flu. That’s pretty scary. Some of my family has had RSV. They are very careful about not coming near when they are sick. We’re staying home pretty much , ordering groceries and Christmas presents. I hope everyone stays well and has happy holidays.