Transplant and Pulmonary Hypertension

Information for the CaregiverCouple holding hands

Standing by a loved one while they list, wait, receive and recover from a transplant is a long, emotionally wearing process. Like everything else in life, this process will have its ups and downs. While it is invaluable to the transplant candidate to have a friend, loved one, or family member by his or her side through this process, these caregivers must make sure that they also take care of themselves.

The transplant process does not only impact the patient; the transplant patient’s entire family is impacted by the reality of their illness, the transplant, and the changes that come after transplant. Financial pressures from the continued cost of transplant medications, changes in family roles, and other sources of stress can sometimes overwhelm families and marriages. As a caregiver, the key to maintaining emotional stability will be stress management. Stress management tips are discussed below.

Although the transplant patient will have a variety of physical and emotional needs, you as the caregiver must ensure that your needs are being met. Throughout the process, you should maintain your friends and activities and make sure that you have time to relax and step away from the stresses that the transplant process brings with it.

To some caregivers, this may seem impossible because of the vast amount of time that caring for the transplant patient requires. The key will be to enlist support. It is unrealistic to think that one caregiver can provide for all of the needs of a transplant patient. Rather, a support network should be formed of friends, family, social workers, physicians, mental health professionals and/or spiritual and religious leaders. In this way, the transplant patient can receive all of the support he or she needs without too much stress being put on a single individual.

Watch out for signs of stress, including:

  • Denial
  • Withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Unexplained anger

If you experience these or other signs of stress, try to take a break or talk with someone about your feelings.

Tips for coping with stress:

  • Maintain as much of your normal routine as possible. Be sure to make time for friends, family and activities you enjoy.
  • Try to either act on or accept changes and challenges. If it is something you can change, act on it. If it is something you cannot change, try to work towards accepting it.
  • Learn a relaxation technique such a deep breathing, meditation, prayer, visualization, guided relaxation or progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Set priorities, focus on achieving the things that are truly important and either delegate or put off tasks of lesser importance.
  • Delegate responsibility. Though you may be the primary caregiver, enlist a support network of individuals that can address all of the various needs of the transplant patient. Remember, it’s OK to ask for help.
  • Share your thoughts and feelings with a friend, family member, spiritual/religious adviser or mental health professional.
  • Exercise regularly. It’s a great way to relieve stress and re-energize your mind and body.
  • Keep a good sleep schedule and maintain healthy nutritional habits. Stress makes your body much more susceptible to disease: these good habits will help fortify you.