Last Updated: Thursday - 09/30/2010
September 27, 2010
Flood brings a tidal wave of realizations
A burst pipe, followed by months of renovations trigger physical dilemmas only prayers can help
In June, two days before our first summer holiday since we were married four and a half years ago, a pipe burst and flooded our entire condo apartment with three inches of water. It went on to flood most of our neighbour's apartment and much of the hallway.
We did not expect it. As my wife Catherine said, at least Noah had advance notice.
For most of the summer my voices were louder and my hallucinations were more frequent because of my schizophrenia. We both became physically and mentally ill. With rashes and, in my case, more hallucinations, we hacked from the constant dust.
But we tried to continually joke about it to each other and with friends.
Catherine's jokes were funnier than mine.
After blacking out due to stress a day after the flood, I went to the doctor. Aside from giving me a larger prescription of Ativan (used in my case as a sedative before bed), he said he could do nothing to solve my problem except to urge me to get through it.
No pill could solve the problem. That is an example of where medicine's power ends and faith in God takes over. Medicine has distinct limits; faith gives the strength to face what might seem to be a no-win situation. My major chronic illness schizophrenia limits my life at every turn.
I asked God to keep me out of hospital because it would have put the whole burden on my wife who is herself physically disabled. My prayer was answered and neither my wife nor I collapsed. Except for a few stalwarts, our friends seemed scared to come around.
One teenager from church, Zack, helped us continually during the crisis and renovations.
Living out of a suitcase and without blankets for two months showed Catherine and I that the most important thing in our home is our relationship.
Does medicine give us meaning? I believe not. It gives us the health to function and then to aspire to live life on a spiritual plane.
That is where life gets its meaning. Medication, like car repair, is mere technology.
Our spiritual life and the meaning that we derive from our faith enable us to face life's vicissitudes and struggles.
Catherine's online spiritual director recommended that we be kind with each other and, in our pain and adversity, not strike out emotionally.
When I react, I think my reactions are unique because of the schizophrenia (hallucinations and paranoia) but Catherine keeps telling me that normal people under stress also react with anxiety.
We are near the end of our journey with that burst pipe but we have grown spiritually, knowing how important our faith has been in helping us cope with our miniature deluge.
When people ask whether we blame God for our disabilities, we ask why should we. Faith allows us to keep going when we encounter discrimination and fear because of our disabilities. God gave us a burden that we could handle.
I know that I will be on medication to treat my schizophrenia for the rest of my life. For me, that is okay. We don't need the promise of a miracle cure to keep our faith.
(Austin Mardon received the Alberta Medical Association's, Medal of Honour on Sept. 24, the highest award the AMA can bestow on a non-physician. He attends St Alphonsus Parish.)
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.