What a week! Parts of Australia, in South East Queensland and New South Wales, are experiencing catastrophic flooding. It’s due to an extreme, unpredictable weather system we are calling a “rain bomb”.
One reporter said the rain was of “biblical” proportion and I have to agree.
I was lying in bed listening to it’s intensity on the first night, sensing how ominous it was, and I couldn’t help but think of the bible story of Noah’s Ark.
South East Queensland received 80% of our annual rainfall over 3 days. Just unbelievable! Other stats are equally mind blowing:
- Some areas received 900mm of rain in a week;
- Other areas received 300mm of rain in 6 hours;
- In Brisbane city alone, over 15000 homes have been flooded. 1000’s more have been flooded in suburbs and country regions north and south of Brisbane and NSW is now being devastated;
- It’s not just homes either, many businesses have lost everything;
- At last count the biggest devastation of all…10 lives lost in Qld, 5 lives in NSW (more losses expected);
- 1000s of homes and businesses are without power and will be for days;
- Flooded roads have caused chaos throughout all affected regions causing school closures, workers unable to get to work, no public transport etc;
- Food supply is affected across the entire regions and shop shelves are stripped in many areas.
- The damage bill is in the billions according to our National Treasurer.
- Insurance premiums will rise substantially as a result, causing many home-owners not being able to re insure and many businesses not able to continue to operate.
It’s Not Over By A Long Shot
As flood waters begin to subside in some areas, home and business owners are faced with the unenviable task of the clean up.
Just as progress was beginning to be made with clean up in South East Queensland, the sky opened again and flooding returned. Clean up work had to be halted until it was safe to restart. The heartbreak of a second round was hard to watch, let alone live through.
A man interviewed on the local news said, “I just want a normal year with no floods, no COVID and no wars”
It sums up how overwhelming catastrophes are and how fatigued we are from them.
A restaurant owner said, ” I’m wondering if I should continue, I’m wondering if this should be my future”
One lady described the sewerage lids in the street lifting, bringing toilet paper bubbling out and moving through their home.
It’s not just the challenge of water and mud and sewerage, its clearing away memories and achievements. It’s discarding irreplaceable items.
People are told the important thing is they are safe and yes it’s so very true. The rest are items but once reality sets in, they are their items and they are precious. The loss is deep and won’t be swept away by quick comments about celebrating the safety of their lives. Even though they are so grateful to be alive, they will grieve so many things as a result of this life changing event.
Adrenalin is a wonderful thing in a crisis. It gets us through, helping us become survivors, achieving things we never thought possible.
It doesn’t last though. It quickly slips away as tiredness consumes the survivor. Long hours, hard work, erratic meal times, all take their toll both physically and mentally.
The hero’s who have come to help day after day, eventually go home. Back to their reality and their “normal” lives, leaving the survivor left to their quiet thoughts and having to make sense of it all. Often living in a hotel or temporary accommodation while the Insurance teams assess the damage of their property, the future is so unknown.
The words of others replay in their mind, “how good it will be when the water’s reside and you can clean up and get back to normal”
Do we really think it’s that easy? Are we really incapable of putting ourselves in others shoes if we are unaffected? Are we incapable of thinking about how we would feel if we lost everything? Are we incapable of understanding there will be no returning to “normal”? Are we incapable of providing long term support?
The rain may have stopped, the waters subsided, the damage all cleared out and tossed aside but…..it’s not over just because it’s over.
A Different Kind of Flood
As I sat in my armchair this morning, listening to the thunder roar so loud the roof shook and rain pounded my windows, I had a few thoughts.
Firstly, I was worried about these new storms while many homes and businesses were still flooded. My heart ached for those being affected for a second time only days from the first.
Secondly, as I was thinking about the flood victims, I began to compare these floods to the tsunami chronic illness brings to the lives of so many.
I began to think about how an acute disease episode in my own life is like a new flood, enveloping my body and needing a team of workers to help me clean it up.
As I sat quietly clutching my stomach, which was experiencing yet another bowel blockage, due to the strong pain meds I require to remain upright, I saw a sad comparison between all kinds of traumas.
My hot cup of tea was my only comfort, as the storm clouds caused my normally sunny room to be shrouded in complete darkness.
I realised in so many situations we go through in life, just because a crisis or acute illness episode has passed, it doesn’t mean it’s over.
In the example of chronic illness, many sufferers have surgery after surgery, or hospital admission after hospital admission.
Medical appointments are never ending.
Food options can be so limited the thought of the next meal is too much to bear.
Going to bed to rest or sleep, if you can sleep, can cause as much pain, or even more pain, as staying up.
Every acute episode with chronic illness tends to create a “new normal”. Adjustment after adjustment is necessary when living with a progressive disease.
It can be like living in a permanent crisis situation. The flood of symptoms keep on coming, the memories of every health episode continue to replay in your mind.
The thought of another medical appointment, even just a follow-up, makes you feel sick to the stomach. You’ve just had enough!
Another surgery is incomprehensible. You just need to recover and live a “non medical” life for a while. You need time to discover who the new you is.
As the flood survivors wave goodbye to their helpers after the cleanup, they quite likely will feel more like victims than survivors.
Society will want them to survive and thrive, to put the event behind them as quickly as possible, to reconnect with their old lives as if all is well.
Some people will definitely be able to but many will live with the recurring nightmare of losing everything, everytime it rains.
Many will choose to rebuild somewhere new and have to adjust to a whole new community and social network, all the while being reminded the floods took so much from them.
It’s the same with people living with chronic illness.
The extra care and support from your support crew, after a health event, wanes as weeks and months go by.
You may be physically recovering, or making good progress, so people assume the crisis is over by all intents and purposes.
You’ve survived and you are seen as a survivor.
You are a survivor but you also often feel like a victim. A victim of yet another chronic illness flood, or perhaps a tsunami.
It may cause you to need to relocate your life to new accommodation to cater for your disability needs. You may be financially struggling because of constant unforeseen medical expenses.
You may silently lie awake at night playing over and over in your mind all that has happened to you, wondering how your disease came without warning.
You may want others to understand, while you have physically survived another health event, you are not the same person. You will never be the same. Each chronic illness event takes something from you. It changes your life in someway. Sometimes for the better but not always.
It requires you to dig deeper to find your ability to create a new normal. You wonder how much deeper you can dig and how many more times you’ll have to try.
It doesn’t mean you’re weak. You are incredibly strong and resilient. Being strong and reslient doesn’t mean you’re not exhausted or worried about your future.
What you need is people who understand you are working hard to dig deeper. You really need others to help you dig and adjust to a new life, no matter how long it takes.
You would like others to understand, it’s not over just because it’s over.
Thinking of all our flood victims, all those chronic illness victims, all those dealing with loss of any kind, who are digging deep to try and find a way to deal with the tsunami of unwelcome and traumatic life changes. I pray you will be surrounded by people who understand….it’s not over, just because its over.
Coming Soon….My book “My Medical Musings”, is being published by Imaginewe Publishers. Pre-release sale will be available in March 2022
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding and friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
If you would like an audible version of my blog, please check out my Podcast, Medical Musings With Sam