Question: I am the primary caregiver for my husband, who has been on the transplant list for a new liver for two years. I am angry at his family. They do very little for him during this very grave period. He ignores them, but I really need their help. I've tried to educate them about liver disease, but it almost seems like his mom, dad, brothers and sister don't care! I know I cannot change anyone but myself, but I am really consumed with anger and resentment. I am in therapy and that helps. Another thing is that there is not enough information and support out there on caregiving for transplant candidates! What can I do that I haven't already done?
Dr. Amy: It sounds like you are doing a great job in a very challenging situation. You are taking care of your husband, educating yourself and others about the disease, and taking care of yourself by getting therapy to deal with your stress and anger. Good for you.
If you have not already done this, it might also help to ask yourself:
Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. In the first column, write down all the things you can control about your situation. You can control how you care for your husband, and how you think about your situation, for example. In the next column, write down all the things you can influence. You are already doing this by educating your husband's family. What are some other things you can influence? In the last column, list the things you cannot control, no matter how much you wish you could.
The goal of this exercise is to focus your thoughts and your time on the things you can control and the things you can influence and to let go of thinking about the things you can't control. Sometimes, just by writing these three lists it may help you become more peaceful and shift your focus to giving time and energy to the things you can control or influence. Other times you may find you need support or therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or a spiritual practice, to help make this shift. The effort will be well-worth it because it will lead you to a more peaceful life!
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