Getting Back to Running: Running a New Liver

Two and a half months post liver transplant. The doctors said back to running at three months. Obviously they intend that as a challenge.

Ellie’s Timeline So Far

Intermingled with core stability exercises (boring bits)

  1. Liver transplant
  2. Patience
  3. Lost patience, went running (6 wks post op)
  4. Success!
  5. Oh actually no, pain
  6. Stopped running (7 wks post op)
  7. More pain
  8. Started spinning (8 wks post op)
  9. Lots of spinning
  10. Love spinning
  11. Micro run (11 wks post op)
  12. Happy Ellie, happy liver (always)

Just for you, I’ve saved up all the ‘interesting’ (at a stretch) rehab events to blast into this one, man-booker-prize worthy post. If blog posts were books. And this showed even a smidge of literary skill.

Rehab in the Gym

My last post was about my first attempts to become stacked in the gym. And since then I’ve even started learning people’s names at the gym – I go that frequently. One of the gang. To start with I was taking my liver along, sitting on the exercise bike and sweating while turning my legs on little to no resistance and watching the ‘news’ (furniture restoration programs). Then I braved joining a spin class.

Spinning Classes

It goes without saying I accidentally joined the extra long extra hard class for extra serious cyclists. Paul came along with me and George, the instructor, spent his time alternating between “Looking great Paul, good cadence” to “Ellie are you OK?”…”Keep it up Paul mate”, “Ellie are you sure you’re OK?”.

I only had to hold back tears once, it was shocking how difficult I found it. My entire body felt sick working at a level that wouldn’t usually have touched the sides. But once I reminded myself how good it felt to be out of breath and sweaty and around lots of other, normal people, I loved every, painful second. And I managed almost two thirds of the class, I thank you.

Amazing People

Before the next session I explained to George the situ so he didn’t think I was just rude or lazy finishing early every time. He seemed quite relieved that there was a reason I turned “a colour he’s never seen before.” At every class since he’s always kept an eye on me. Made sure I’ve got enough water and mouthed “you OK?” when nobody else is looking. Aren’t people really just amazing. The second I’ve ever even hinted to anybody I need help, I get it in floods. Before ‘all this’ I knew people were great, but I’ve never had quite so many genuinely wonderful experiences of it.

Back to RUNNING!

The more exercise I’ve been doing, the better the pain has been getting in my abs. Coincidence? I like to think not. So yesterday, in the beautiful, happy sunshine, I went for a runwalk. Can I coin that? Fairly sure it’s taken but if I hashtag it it’s mine right? So I went on a #runwalk™ and did 16 x 10 second jog, 50 second walk. My legs wanted to go so much faster, so so much further…as did every part of my body and mind but my legs felt the happiest of all. Anyway I was good and stuck to 16 (which actually wasn’t good as 10 was the plan but 16 is just a better amount. Because it’s more). I’m back to running again!!

I skipped spinning in the eve because I wanted to be able to monitor how the running effected the pain with no other influences. I then had a coughing fit in the evening which the pain just loved so that experiment was ruined. Pretty bad pain today but not enough to stop a wee sesh on the exercise bike. In fact I think it may be just the ticket.

Not ‘Just Exercise’

I remember how frequently it was commented on that my quick recovery after the op, as well as how long I managed to last before it, was largely down to my running and fitness. I’m well aware now that resting is an important part of the rehab process…but what if I start to reject my liver? And then I’m back to hospital but this time I’m NOT running and I’m NOT fit…exactly. To the Gym!

Plus…expanding thigh girth needs serious attention.

You and Me, We’re So Lucky!

On a slightly different note…recently I’ve been having mini panics about dying (OK, a very different note!), not because of the liver at all. Just because I think liver gate has made me realise just how bloody brilliant living is. And I’ve so much to do!! I have so many plans, big plans, so many places to visit, so many people to spend time with. I don’t want to waste a single second, not one. And I want to shake all of you too, and remind you how great life is. Let’s all do a mental shake, whack on a big smile right now and do something brilliant today!

My brilliant thing is to try and get our crowdfunding project ready to publish – raising money to sponsor local Ugandans to race in our Running the Rift Marathon this November. I can already imagine the atmosphere on race day, 350 people wearing our bright orange t-shirts, sweaty, full of endorphins. Our international runners side by side with our local runners, one big, vibrant community.

Being able to work on the marathon through all this dull recovery has been a total Godsend to me and really has kept me sane, happy and fulfilled. No Jeremy Kyle, I don’t need you mate.

What’s your brilliant thing today?