The most important fact about recovery from donation is knowing that you do recover and very quickly in many cases. How quickly depends on you as an individual and includes of course your age, fitness level and the kind of lifestyle you have in the first place.
In the hospital when I was still learning to sit up again and breathe deeply (see my donation story in nine parts) they told me I would be on my feet the next day. At first it sounded like a threat but it was easier than I thought it would be. Although I was walking perfectly well if a little slowly, my hospital in America made me leave the hospital in a wheel chair as a precaution – a bit like leaving the maternity ward. I went to a hotel until I was well enough to go home to London. It was ten days before I could return so I practised walking. My family of course came and chatted and took me out for pancakes and I visited my recipient both in the hospital and later at home.
When I returned to London we continued to compare notes by email on whether we needed naps and how far we walked. One of my happiest days was receiving an email telling me he had walked for 90 minutes! If ever he took a long trip he wrote, “this was possible because of you.”
I worked in an office so there was no heavy lifting or other kind of physical stress in my work life. However, I had a long standing commute to work and as a result I went back to the office in stages. At first I worked from home which allowed me to ease back into work. Then when I did go into the office I avoided rush hour for a time so I would not be buffeted and so I could sit.
The hospital gave me pain pills to take home but I rarely needed them. I sometimes experienced discomfort but pain was never an issue for me. Fatigue was more important. I always listened to my system. When I could work more – I did, but occasionally I experienced sudden tiredness. My colleagues were very understanding. Once I was in a meeting with someone and I felt exhausted all of a sudden. My system just began to close down like a series of doors shutting one after another. My colleague interrupted what she was saying and said “you’re getting tired aren’t you?” I went home after that and rested. I was lucky in having understanding colleagues which allowed me to take the time that I needed to recover completely in an unpressured way.