Pancreatic Islet Transplant Blog - Blood - Roger Sparks

Transplant Recovery – First 2 Months

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Blood samples, drug changes, monitoring, and visits to the City of Hope dominated the first two months post-surgery.  In addition to taking lots of drugs, three times a day, I had to carefully record them in a drug diary, monitor all the food I ate, test my blood sugar levels, and carefully note any reaction I was having to the medication.

The transplant team at City of Hope stayed in constant contact with me, and I was required to physically report to Duarte weekly for drug tests, reviews of my progress, plus changes to medication.  It usually required 5-6 vials of blood being drawn, but it wasn’t unusual to see this sometimes increase to 20-30 large vials.

They also encouraged me to return to my normal physical regimen as quickly as I comfortably could, so I was playing tennis again after about a week, albeit pretty badly.  I had definite stamina issues, and it took a while to build back up.

Physical Condition Changes

Two months, however, went by quite quickly.  Since my transplant:

  • I’ve had no significant negative side effects from any of the drugs I am taking.
  • I’m averaging blood sugars from 85 to 140, 24 hours a day. This is almost the same as a non-diabetic, and is better than I ever could have imagined.
  • I haven’t come close to a low blood sugar. Once again, an incredible blessing, and one that I am still getting used to – being able to go to sleep, without worrying about not waking up, or perhaps going into a coma, is just a most amazing feeling after all these years.
  • I haven’t come close to a high blood sugar.
  • I’ve lost about 17 lbs. You can imagine how that makes me feel.
  • I feel better than I have in years. I had no idea how the constant blood sugar fluctuations, from very high to very low, were affecting how I physically felt before the transplant.
  • I’m still requiring insulin, but it is steady at the rate of about 18-19 units a day, down from 60. The long term benefits from this should be significant, but I am still hoping for better results, perhaps with another transplant.

Post Transplant Regimen

Of course, there are slightly difficult parts.

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    Daily Drugs and Drug Diary

    I am currently taking anywhere from 15 to 20 medications per day – I was already taking some before the transplant – and will probably continue to do for some time.  I have to keep a diary of all the drugs I take, since they change them frequently.  This is not very difficult – about 5 minutes per day, 3 times per day in total. Long term, I should require fewer drugs, but it will be for the rest of my life. So be it.

  • I go back to City of Hope every two weeks, and sometimes more, for complete blood tests and to meet with the team of nurses, doctors, and administrators who are keeping me healthy and monitoring my progress. This will lessen over time, hopefully to about once every month or two, then even less frequently over the long term.