Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 21
  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    01-23-2016
    Location
    Virginia
    Age
    26
    Posts
    171

    Default Backpacking after major surgery?

    Hi folks,

    I'm having a kidney removed next month and was curious if anyone can share their experience of getting back into hiking and carrying a pack after a comparable operation.

    Obviously my first and most important source of advice each step of the way will be my doctors, but so far the recovery seems to have a very wide range of possible timelines, and I was just curious to hear any first hand experiences.

    I'm hoping to thru-hike the PCT in 2021, but maybe do a shorter trail (Tahoe Rim, JMT, and Wonderland are my current top contenders) next summer, about 8 months after the surgery. I like the idea of having a big hike as a goal to motivate me through my recovery in the cold and darkness of my first full New Hampshire winter.

    If you've had major abdominal surgery, how did you get back into hiking shape? When did you start carrying a pack again? Did you notice any long-term reductions to your strength, stamina, etc?

    Thanks!!
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
    Follow along at www.tefltrekker.com

  2. #2

    Default

    Your young, so if there are no complications or other health issues which might complicate recovery, I would think you'd heal fairly fast. Unless they need to remove it intact, I imagine they don't need to make much of a hole in you these days. Of course, you would know more about the procedure - and reasons for it - then any of us.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  3. #3

    Default

    I’ve had major abdominal surgery and the best advice I can give is to be patient with yourself. Follow your Dr’s rules and do what you’re supposed to do. If you get impatient, frustrated, and don’t listen, you will cause more harm than good.

    I tried to be in good physical condition prior to surgery and was very strict about only doing the activities that my surgeon cleared me to do. But as soon as I was released for an activity, there was no sitting around. When he said I could walk, I was walking daily. What he said I could swim, I was in the pool. When he said I could do easy runs, I was running.

    It will go faster than you think if you have the right mindset. It’s a mental game and requires a positive attitude. Be prepared to be less active for 6-8 weeks. Freeze some casseroles, load your favorite music and books into your apps, (oh heaven, listening to John Denver while on pain meds was quite a trip.)

    And always listen to your body. If your surgeon says it’s ok to put on a pack but it causes too much discomfort, then you’re not ready. You will know when it’s time. Let your body guide you.

    Best of luck to you, you’ll do great!

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    01-23-2016
    Location
    Virginia
    Age
    26
    Posts
    171

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Your young, so if there are no complications or other health issues which might complicate recovery, I would think you'd heal fairly fast. Unless they need to remove it intact, I imagine they don't need to make much of a hole in you these days. Of course, you would know more about the procedure - and reasons for it - then any of us.
    This is why I tried to make it clear from the wording of my question that I'm hoping more for personal experiences than advice. I'll follow the recommendations of my doctors who understand my specific situation, but interested in hearing some anecdotes that might help me have realistic expectations for the recovery process.

    But yes, I'm hoping that my youth and fitness will put me at the quicker end of the recovery spectrum! The kidney does need to be in tact, so even though the laparoscopic surgery is much less invasive than the huge side incisions they used to have to do, the hole will still be... significant.
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
    Follow along at www.tefltrekker.com

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    01-23-2016
    Location
    Virginia
    Age
    26
    Posts
    171

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    I’ve had major abdominal surgery and the best advice I can give is to be patient with yourself. Follow your Dr’s rules and do what you’re supposed to do. If you get impatient, frustrated, and don’t listen, you will cause more harm than good.

    I tried to be in good physical condition prior to surgery and was very strict about only doing the activities that my surgeon cleared me to do. But as soon as I was released for an activity, there was no sitting around. When he said I could walk, I was walking daily. What he said I could swim, I was in the pool. When he said I could do easy runs, I was running.

    It will go faster than you think if you have the right mindset. It’s a mental game and requires a positive attitude. Be prepared to be less active for 6-8 weeks. Freeze some casseroles, load your favorite music and books into your apps, (oh heaven, listening to John Denver while on pain meds was quite a trip.)

    And always listen to your body. If your surgeon says it’s ok to put on a pack but it causes too much discomfort, then you’re not ready. You will know when it’s time. Let your body guide you.

    Best of luck to you, you’ll do great!
    Thanks, this is helpful! Yes, I'm super wary of the hernia risk so I'll be very careful not to lift anything until I'm allowed. My biggest concern is all the awkward stretching necessary to scrape snow off my windshield all January long! Maybe I'll hire one of my students to clear and start my car for me each morning...

    I'm usually a gym rat and hike twice a week or more, and ample physical activity is really beneficial to my mental health, so I'm not looking forward to being less active. But my plan is to just take long walks on the treadmill while listening to audiobooks and slowly build my stamina back up. Hopefully I'll be feeling back to normal long before it's warm enough to hike outside without snowshoes again!
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
    Follow along at www.tefltrekker.com

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KnightErrant View Post
    Thanks, this is helpful! Yes, I'm super wary of the hernia risk so I'll be very careful not to lift anything until I'm allowed. My biggest concern is all the awkward stretching necessary to scrape snow off my windshield all January long! Maybe I'll hire one of my students to clear and start my car for me each morning...

    I'm usually a gym rat and hike twice a week or more, and ample physical activity is really beneficial to my mental health, so I'm not looking forward to being less active. But my plan is to just take long walks on the treadmill while listening to audiobooks and slowly build my stamina back up. Hopefully I'll be feeling back to normal long before it's warm enough to hike outside without snowshoes again!
    Sounds like a great plan. You are young and healthy and will recover quickly.

    (I forgot to mention that you may want to ask your Dr. about an abdominal binder for support. It helps a lot).

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-28-2015
    Location
    Bad Ischl, Austria
    Age
    62
    Posts
    1,185

    Default

    Since you are asking for anekdotes:

    I've had a minor sugery that was followed by cancer diagnosis, which got finally shied away by chemo.
    The chemo seemed not to be too bad, I could stand it, and all the time in hospital and later back home I kept my business and did exercises and short hikes. Listened very careful to my body and acted very disciplined.
    Then we were on holidays for two weeks down south in my beloved desert, and I did my usual morning jog along the beach, and some hikes. Extremely excited to be able to do the real things again.
    I over-did it.
    The jogging gave me a severe Achilles tendinitis, and the hike brought me extreme blisters that got infected and I lost several toenails, was in fact lucky to not lose part of the toes.
    It took me more than a year to recover from my stupid overdoing.

  8. #8

    Default

    As an observer of someone who had a kidney removed all I can tell you is what I have seen. He was much older than you so recover was slower. Physically once the recovery was medically over the long term effects of only having one Kidney became a concern. The changes in allowed over the counter medicines is to this day 20 years later an issue. The mindset of what is proper to eat may also be an issue, and hydration became a bigger issue. The overall issue of I've only got one left and if I mess this one up I will have big problems is something that he had to learn to live with. For the most part barring other physical complications recovery was uneventful.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    01-23-2016
    Location
    Virginia
    Age
    26
    Posts
    171

    Default

    ^ Yep, in preparation for this surgery, I was already told to quit ibuprofen three months ago and to use other NSAIDs sparingly. It's a minor inconvenience since I don't find acetaminophen as effective in managing headaches or muscle pain, but on the other hand I've also noticed reduced frequency and severity in my headaches since improving my nutrition and hydration in preparation for the surgery. In fact, the only migraine I've had in the last three months was the weekend of my best friend's wedding, during three days when I had more sugar, caffeine, and alcohol than usual... an amazing coincidence!

    While having to actually eat healthier and drink more water may be annoying, as someone who has always simply compensated for my sweet tooth with copious exercise, I think it will probably improve my overall health in the long run by forcing me to make more thoughtful food choices. And as for long term effects and restrictions, one of my doctors recommended against boxing due to the risk of a blow to the area, and the other said he doesn't restrict activities at all. Luckily I've never been much of a boxer!

    My biggest concern related to having a single kidney is the thought of an infection while backpacking. I had a sudden and scary kidney infection in New York during my AT thru hike, and was luckily only 5 miles from a road crossing where I could Uber to an urgent care. The thought of the same thing happening 30 miles from a road on the PCT is unnerving. But still preventable with better recognition of the early signs and better hydration.
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
    Follow along at www.tefltrekker.com

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    01-23-2016
    Location
    Virginia
    Age
    26
    Posts
    171

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    Since you are asking for anekdotes:

    I've had a minor sugery that was followed by cancer diagnosis, which got finally shied away by chemo.
    The chemo seemed not to be too bad, I could stand it, and all the time in hospital and later back home I kept my business and did exercises and short hikes. Listened very careful to my body and acted very disciplined.
    Then we were on holidays for two weeks down south in my beloved desert, and I did my usual morning jog along the beach, and some hikes. Extremely excited to be able to do the real things again.
    I over-did it.
    The jogging gave me a severe Achilles tendinitis, and the hike brought me extreme blisters that got infected and I lost several toenails, was in fact lucky to not lose part of the toes.
    It took me more than a year to recover from my stupid overdoing.
    Great to hear that your chemo was so effective!!

    But that's a good point, I bet it would be really easy to dive back into hiking when you feel strong enough just in terms of cardio, without consideration for how your tendons and calluses need extra time to develop again. Definitely something to keep in mind, thanks!
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
    Follow along at www.tefltrekker.com

  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rdljr View Post
    As an observer of someone who had a kidney removed all I can tell you is what I have seen. He was much older than you so recover was slower. Physically once the recovery was medically over the long term effects of only having one Kidney became a concern. The changes in allowed over the counter medicines is to this day 20 years later an issue. The mindset of what is proper to eat may also be an issue, and hydration became a bigger issue.
    I found out in my 50s that I was born with only one kidney (horseshoe kidney). Have had no kidney issues before or since. Though I've always been very careful (a few hiking partners would say paranoid) about drinking water while hiking and not running out. Normal for me to drink six quarts while backpacking on a summer day.

    It's been useful to know why I've been so concerned about water, and nice to know that I did listen to my body.

  12. #12

    Default

    I would encourage you to backpack after surgery because perhaps the most important factor regarding recovery is blood flow. What better way?

  13. #13

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    I would encourage you to backpack after surgery because perhaps the most important factor regarding recovery is blood flow. What better way?
    Theres usually a lifting restriction until sutures have healed so there’s no incision dehiscence.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-28-2015
    Location
    Bad Ischl, Austria
    Age
    62
    Posts
    1,185

    Default

    All the best for your surgery, KE.
    Sure you are aware that hiking (if in moderate doeses) is about the best way to get healthy and strong again.

  15. #15

    Default

    I didn't require any major surgery, but they did poke a hole in my side to drain an infected liver abscess. (Which made it's presence known 4 days into a hike starting at New Found gap. If I had tried to "walk it off" I would not be here today and as it was, barely made it into the ER in time. )

    Anyway, I spent 2 weeks with an antibiotic IV in my arm and then 3 months of oral antibiotics to kill off the infection. It took me nearly a year to feel normal again after that treatment.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  16. #16

    Default

    What they said.
    Don't do what your doctor says to not do, and just as importantly, DO as your doctor (or physical therapist) says to do.
    I realize this isn't a kidney removal, but:
    After getting 9 screws and a titanium plate in my collar bone, I stayed off the mountain bike until I was told I could ride again, and I kept a backpack off until I was told I could put it on again. I did, however, do the suggested things to help me recover as soon as I could. I have 100% range and use of my arm now, and I didn't even need physical therapy (the Dr said "keep doing what you're doing") .
    There was some (a lot of) concern as to whether or not the pack straps would bother the area where the titanium is, but it doesn't bother me at all.
    .
    Also, I had never taken pain meds before and was a bit fearful of them, but the Dr said that I WILL need them after the surgery. I tried to take a half dose, you know, since I had never used them I would have a low tolerance to the opiates and less would work just fine. Nope. I had to take the full prescribed dose exactly as prescribed; every 4 hrs. And by the time I ran out, the pain was lessened enough where I didn't need them any more. It's almost like they knew what they were doing!

    Good luck.

  17. #17
    Registered User SawnieRobertson's Avatar
    Join Date
    09-15-2002
    Location
    Sugar Grove, Virginia
    Age
    86
    Posts
    1,353
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    This ia a thread that contains information that can be of help to any of us. Follow your physician's advice is, of course, probably a good idea. Sometimes, however,His/he the physician is not a backpacker. Listen to your medical people, your trainers, your physical therapists. Weigh what they advise, but most of all, listen to your body. It is more than the incision. In my lifetime, I have recovered from 12 successful major surgeries. Averaging, I would say to expect to get back to who you were prior to this shock to your body, you can be a real revelation. You may find that it takes about 12 months to return who you were when you started planning your trek. Too long? Well, I would include your ability not to consider whether you can perform without even thinking about it...like before.
    You never know just what you can do until you realize you absolutely have to do it.
    --Salaun

  18. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    01-23-2016
    Location
    Virginia
    Age
    26
    Posts
    171

    Default

    Update: kidney transplant was a success! Recipient and I are both doing fine, although the first few days were so much harder than we could have imagined. Now at post-op Day 8, and I went for my first little hike today! 3/4 of a mile at the local state park. It's good to get outside again. (Especially not in NH... here in VA where my folks live, it's 50 degrees and sunny today, whereas tonight's low in my town in NH is -3F!)
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
    Follow along at www.tefltrekker.com

  19. #19
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
    Join Date
    01-02-2007
    Location
    DFW, TX / Northern NH
    Age
    63
    Posts
    7,840
    Images
    27

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KnightErrant View Post
    Update: kidney transplant was a success! Recipient and I are both doing fine, although the first few days were so much harder than we could have imagined. Now at post-op Day 8, and I went for my first little hike today! 3/4 of a mile at the local state park. It's good to get outside again. (Especially not in NH... here in VA where my folks live, it's 50 degrees and sunny today, whereas tonight's low in my town in NH is -3F!)
    That's fantastic news for you - and even more so, of course, for the recipient!

  20. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-20-2019
    Location
    Brunswick, Maine
    Posts
    8

    Default Vitamin I

    When you are back on trail,, keep in mind that ibuprofen is very toxic to the kidneys. Also, as Iím sure youíre doc will tell you, stay hydrated.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •