The Fine Line 19: Fitness and Alaskan Bush People

The Fine Line is a series from Rick. Check out earlier parts of the series here. We pick up here after Rick has been discharged from the hospital after a liver transplant.


I began to grow restless keeping within the constraints recovery demanded. But I understood the delicate state I was in, that the atrophy over the past few months and the surgery created a need for caution when it came to fitness and physical exercise.

Planning for a Strong Recovery

So I did what I always do – plan. At a week post-liver transplant surgery, I hopped back onto the elliptical. I decided that I’d start with five minutes, and every day I would add a minute until I reached thirty minutes. At one hundred fifty pounds, I was thirty pounds underweight, combined with the other factors, the elliptical was the hardest it’s ever been.

Along with the elliptical, I would lift three- and five-pound weights. It was a drastic drop from my usual thirty-five, but in my condition, I wasn’t allowed to lift more than ten pounds. Often unable to sleep at night, I found myself lifting the weights while watching shows on the Discovery Channel about Alaskan Bush people.

Rick exercising after his liver transplant

I don’t have cable, so watching commercials was interesting for the first few days. One particular commercial caught my eye. The Harvoni commercial played every ten minutes, to me, it was like a carrot dangling just out of reach. The irony of the incredibly low rate of failure, and the timing of my watching it just after a liver transplant due to hep C was not lost on me.

It took me a few days after the transfusion to separate things that were real, with the small bouts of confusion, my memory was playing tricks on me so I used Post-it notes on my mirror to remind me of things that were real and things I needed to do. It was hard for me to accept that I’d made it, I’d spent so much of my life being let down by medicine that when it succeeded in its most critical moment, It was hard to believe.

Finding a New Normal

I slowly began to expand my diet, and within the first few weeks, I needed a taste of normalcy. And a good fitness plan includes meal planning. I’d spent a great deal of time on social media during my search for normalcy. Talking with friends I hadn’t spoken with for a long time, congratulating me on my new liver, It was starting to really sink in. I had survived the worst of hep C, I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet, but it was a huge step in recovery.


Check back for more from Rick’s series “The Fine Line”

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