Monday, July 8, 2013

Transplants and the Great Outdoors

During the wedding planning process, Ben and I set up three different registries.  We knew that most people probably wouldn't even go onto our registries and that they would just give cash or checks.  And most did.  But, just in case we had some "gift givers"--and by that I mean people who enjoy the registry process, going through the list, picking out the items--we selected some gifts from Macy's, Amazon, and a honeymoon registry.  Our Macy's registry was our "grown-up" registry, which is what we like to call it, because we asked for things that grown-ups need. Like drinking glasses and an awesome rice cooker.  We also asked for a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer Ice Cream Attachment.  That counts as something grown-ups need, right?

Our Amazon registry was basically filled with stuff that we could buy to facilitate our hobbies.  Spending time outdoors is one of our favorite things to do, along with traveling.  How original!  A married couple who like traveling and going outside (OK I'll stop now. I know sarcasm doesn't always come across well in print).   So we asked for some camping equipment of our own. We got a lot of great gifts from our friends and family members and this past weekend we decided to break in some of our new gear. 

Before we left for the trip I was kind of nervous because this was the first major trip that I've done since I had the transplant.  We went camping in Virginia of course, so it's not like I went on an eight hour flight.  But when you have a transplant there are certain things that you try to avoid:  germs, germs, bacteria, bug bites, animal bites, oh and also bacteria and germs.  Spending the night outside, eating outside, sleeping outside proved to be my first big challenge since living on my own post-transplant.  So I came up with a short list (and added some pictures) for the bacteria-conscious and low-sodium diet campers out there.

Tip #1:  Un-can your beans.

Ben and I wanted to keep things easy for this trip. I know some people like to make gourmet meals with fancy stoves for their camping trips.  But Ben and I didn't actually request a fancy stove on our registry.  We decided to go with the free option of cooking things over the fire with sticks and a pan.  So baked beans and hot dogs were on the menu.  There's really no way to get around the processing of hot dogs.  Those are just one of the few things that really taste much better the way they're ever they are made.  But I knew that I could cut out most of the sodium sodium, high fructose corn syrup, and other additives that come with canned baked beans.  So I made my own, basing much of what I used on this recipe.  I started a little late (like the day before we left for the trip) so I didn't have a two-hour block of time to just stand at the stove and stir, like the recipe says. So I put the beans in my slow-cooker for eight hours.  And I have to say, these beans were so good.  I put enough for Ben and I in a mason jar, and froze the rest.  

And yes, behind those beans you can see the box of my new RED Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.  EEEEEEE!

Tip #2:  Also have wipes.
One of the first things they tell you as a transplant patient is that the drugs we take make us more susceptible to illness.  I take immunosuppressants to keep my body from attacking my dad's kidney.  So I have to wash my hands all the time, and when I can't get to a faucet I use hand sanitizer.  Touching the outside of a tent, then the car, then grass, then the dirty picnic table, then eating hotdogs with my hands was not gonna be the right way to go.  Ben and I bought roughly nine liters of water with us on the trip to use for drinking (I have medicine to take, so I drink a lot of water), washing, and whatever else comes up.  I also made sure to pick up three different types of wipes:

I picked these anti-bacterial wipes along with a travel pack of Clorox bleach wipes.  

Tip #3  Pack extra medicine.
 I made sure I had enough medicine to cover me for a while.  If I had forgot the wipes, oh well.  Forgot the tent, oh well.  Forgot my medicine?  That would have been an "oh sh$%" moment.  Another thing the doctors and nurses tell transplant patients:  always take your medicine.  Missing a dose, could mean rejection.  And that's something that seriously scares the crap out of me. I want to be able to go on trips and have fun like normal people do.  But I can only relax and have fun when I know my medicine has been taken or that I at least have extra in my purse.  People who don't take a daily pill for an illness don't necessarily get how missing a dose can just completely ruin your mood.  Even Ben, who's the most supportive husband and even reminds me before bed to take my medicine, has had moments where he's asking "Do your really need it?" to avoid having to turn the car around or stop whatever exciting thing we're doing or about to do.  The answer is always "yes, I really need it."  Camping or not, it's my responsibility to protect my body, and protect my dad's investment in my life.  Who cares about camping if your kidneys don't work?  Nobody, I hope.

Our first camping trip as married people was fun and just what we needed. We're looking forward to taking this show on the road/plane in just 3 1/2 weeks.  Not sure if I mentioned it yet, but we're going camping at the Grand Canyon!  And Sedona, Arizona which I've only heard great things about.  I've never been to either place so this will be my first big adventure, post-transplant.  Here's more pictures from our first trip with our wedding gifts:

We were pretty close to our campsite but we had to stop so that Ben could eat without veering off the road.  View's not bad, either.

Our site, and you can see our tent!  The weather was perfect so we set it up without the rain fly.  From inside the tent, we could stare up at the beautiful sky.  

And at night, we could look up at the stars, which we don't really get to see as much since we live in the city.  Below you'll see our chairs.

Now look at us actually using the chairs!

A good-bye view from Loft Mountain.  These memories come courtesy of all the people who gave us these awesome camping gifts and gift cards.  We couldn't have done it without you.  Thank-you cards are on the way.  It's just taking forever to write them.