I have a cousin who has become disabled due to surgery from a brain tumor. He is alive two years after diagnosis of the most deadly of brain cancers. According to statistics, he should be dead.
Even though he can now stand and is beginning to converse a bit better, he also rages and curses at his wife. He is demanding and uncooperative. He also cries and is scared. He is now feeling depressed. He has threatened to give up, saying that he won't get better.
Now his wife is feeling despondent too. She has devoted the last two years to him. And when I write "devoted" I mean it literally. She has taken him to appointments, fed him, changed his diapers, given him medication and so on. But what is most telling is that she has given up herself for him. He is her universe. She said that last night he was yelling at her to feed him at 1:30 AM when he had already had dinner at 8 PM. She has gotten about 3 hours of sleep a night for the last week.
Maybe it is just the brain tumor causing this behavior. But maybe this is also about his self-pity and manipulations around that. It all sounds too familiar to me: The idea of sacrificing oneself for another who doesn't appreciate what is being done for them. It seems like enabling to me. And when I last visited them, I wanted to tell her to take some time for herself. And today, she finally admitted that she can't take the situation anymore. She said that she thought about crawling in bed with him and just dying too.
So I asked her if she had considered that by doing everything for him, he might not need to cooperate or do anything to help himself. And had she considered that by taking care of herself and getting some rest, the whole situation might be better. H.A.L.T.
I have never had to take care of anyone to this extent so I may be off base here. But it seems to have similarities to the alcoholic relationship in which one person enables the sickness of another by overdoing. If anyone has any experience on dealing with individuals with disabilities, please post some thoughts. Sometimes I think that I see everything through the 12 steps and perhaps they don't apply in this situation.