It’s Our Stomaversary

Tunnel of LightIts time to celebrate and to reflect. The journey on the gurney began 7 years ago today. I had an estimated 1 hour to live. As I laid in pain and I wondered if my body was beyond fair repair, I could have just let go and stepped gentle unto death. If I could, I would have just gathered myself and flee. Flee to the mystical void.

But I couldn’t. And so, my thoughts turned purely for the sake of survival.  Although daunting with no guarantee, I rejected failure. Failure was no longer an option in this game to survive. I knew in those moments this decision would not be easy.

I embarked on the white-knuckle challenge. Together with my winning team, consisting of me, my doctors, the nurses, and my beloved husband Mark, survival became our only goal. Although I didn’t fully know what was at stake, I decided I would find a way to heal.

During the almost 8 hour marathon surgery, my amazing stoma buddy Percy was created. In those moments I became an ostomate, and I now sport my permanent ostomy with joy and pride.

The passing years since certainly have left their marks on Percy and I, with wounds and scars. There have been and will be, the feelings that storms with the destructive elements of fire and water, will continue to claw at us with the ongoing realities all ostomates must endure daily, monthly, and yearly.

And yet, this is our sequel. Our second chance at life. We are survivors. We carry on. We have brushed ourselves off and we hold our heads high.

Without fail, every year on that special stomaversary day, we celebrate and reflect once again. Happy Stomaversary Percy Stoma. Thank you for my continued survival. Our goal has been achieved. We are successful!

Happy Stomaversary to you too Jo-Ann. Life goes on, and so are we!

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

&

Percy Stoma

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request be our guest. We want o help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, Preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

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8 Bursts of Glow

Burst of GlowImagine creating something that never existed before. How wondrous! Its pure delight on every level, and in every dimension. 8 – that’s the number of grandchildren we have now. Our darling 8th burst of glow was born June, 13th, 2018.

I’ve said many times, “If we had to do it all over again, we’d probably have our grandchildren first.” As an ostomate, and I’m sure others feel the same, we have a 2nd chance at life. We have another opportunity to embrace the joy and trials of experiencing our lives as it unfolds.

8 is often referred as the number of abundance and power. Number 8 is a very lucky number in China. The opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in China began on 8/8/08, at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 p.m. The number 8 is the atomic number of oxygen. For our family, we feel our bursts of glow are 8 deep breaths of fresh air, and we sure feel powerfully abundant.

Welcome little one to this beautiful planet and to your time here. May you be powerful, abundant, and lucky in all ways as you live your life to the fullest.

And, may all the little one’s on our planet today know they are amazing creations, and are our gifts no matter who they are or where they live. They are the bursts of glow that illuminate each and every day. May we treasure them, do our best to make our world a safe place for them to flourish, grow, and pass on the wisdom of the ages to their children.

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

Life Goes On…

I felt as if my life and myself as I knew it was being erased. My hands were shaking and my bottom lip trembled. I was told to do this and to do that. I had no choice. Another White Feathertragedy had happened, and my life seemed to have fallen short, again!

When I awakened from life saving surgery, once again I faced the interesting conundrum called, “Life Change”. Do I go along for the ride, not ask questions, not share the truth of my pain and confusion, as I stay in quiet desperation? Do I let this situation limit me, as I mourn what could have been, if things would have just stayed the same? Or, do I let go of the fantasy, that dream I had of my life, and at least make peace with the past. Let’s face it, I can’t go back to what I had.

I know this surreal place, the place where my current life intersects with my future me, and life. The crossroads where once again I am challenged to reevaluate and rebuild myself, and life again. Something I call recovery. I know it. It is a familiar place, I’ve been here too many times in my life. I buried my child, I buried a life partner of over 30 years, my only living child lives with an incurable disease. I was challenged to live with the illness that eventually led up to the creation of a life altering change, my permanent ostomy. Yes, I know this place.

When someone, or life treats us poorly, our natural response is to feel anger. If we hold onto anger/resentment from the individual/event, and take that into our future, there are dire consequences. Usually the consequences are at best a diminished life experience. At worst, we eliminate our ability to shift, evolve, and change over time.

Woe is me. Life’s not fair! Why me? For most of us it’s easy to be motivated by negative emotions. We all know this place too. Change is a hard challenge, especially ones we had little to no control over in the first place.

So, we can embrace, “why me”, and hope the passage of time will heal us. Or, we can use the time to recover. I say recover because there are some tragedies we just can’t consistently pack away neatly in the past and be done and over with. It’s just not truthful and realistic for me not to feel, in the depths of my being the bitter/sweet of Mother’s Day.

The viable goal becomes: long-term and sustainable change. Real change needs a positive platform to launch from. In my experiences, this is based on my desire to instruct and improve myself and life. This approach is strengthened by my desire to be caring and compassionate with myself. Self-care and compassion facilitates the recovery process. And finally, the platform supports my belief that when I grow as a person and have learned something to move my life forward, then the life changing challenge has served the purpose of bringing me closer to my meaningful success. My recovery process has continued.

I have not and never will take the changes I make as I recover all at once. Instead, I start somewhere, take measurable actions, (most of them small and specific). Then as life unfolds as it will, when a person, and event or a situation shows up in my life, I simply continue to march to the beat of my recovery drum.

When the next life change shows up in my life, and I am sure it will, I will once again feel myself and my life being erased. My hands will shake and my bottom lip will tremble. I will again find the ways and means to recover and grow as a person, as I navigate the recovery path. I will march ahead to learn something that will move my life forward. Then, this change will have served a purpose. And so, life goes on…

Author by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and our reprint/republish request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com. Click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

Diamonds On The Water

When sunlit diamonds reflect on the water, they glimmer and shimmer. Glittering sparkles on the surface, hiding the dark secrets below.

Diamonds On The Water

The depths are filled by the infinite streams, flowing into the great timeless ocean. Drop by drop the endless flow mirrors the roaring cascade of the drip, drip of our tears.

Below the surface of our sparkling smiles, we cover the truth of the physical, emotional, mental, and human spirit pain, we have endured in our lives. Our radiating smiles on the outside are a reflection of the sunny world we desire to show, and to live in.

It is the mask we present to the outside world, all the while we are going through deep issues in our lives. We all have challenges of varying degrees of difficulty.

Don’t know if you can handle the change in your body? You don’t think you can handle the pain, discomfort, even the occasional stigma? Yes, you can, because it doesn’t matter how deep the water is when you know how to swim.

Don’t let the deep water scare you. You can handle a lot more than you think you can. It doesn’t matter how deep the water is when you know how to swim.

You may exclaim, “Whoa, I’m in over my head!” You might have the overwhelming feeling, you’re in way to deep. Be encouraged and remember, it doesn’t matter how deep the water is when you know how to swim.

Swimming is a matter of keeping your head, neck, and spine in line, as you reach forward and pull yourself along, even when you’re wearing a life preserver. As you move through life, hold your head high, and with a straight back, reach, and then reach out ever more to life, and you will keep on keeping on.

The surface glitter conceals the dark secrets below. It’s true water like life issues, comes in many forms, and is a force to be reckoned with. It can give life, or it can take it.

As you hold your head high and pull yourself forward through life, know that it doesn’t matter now deep the water is, you know how to swim.

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Percy Stoma

Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to:www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

A Secret Door

DoorBehind the thin decorative covering of our clothes and outward facade, there is a secret door. This door is the gateway to the fascinating world of our internal physical, emotional, intellectual and human spirit, our inner universe.

It just so happens we ostomates, have had a true life/death defying experience, and we have survived. This experience, and the creation of our secret door has impacted us in all ways possible. We will never be the same again.

During the time leading up to the creation of our secret door, we were ill, and this presented us with health issues that seriously affected our lives. Then, our secret door was created. We were impacted externally and internally, and our lives have been changed forever. When the door was opened we began a new chapter of our life story. A chapter that is often a physical, emotional, and social dichotomy of good and not so good, consequences.

In the years since I became an ostomate and through my Ostomy Canada Society volunteer responsibilities, ostomy support groups, social media forums, Ostomy Factor Blog and my website, so many people have shared their stories of personal experiences.

Through our shared stories we participate in camaraderie, experiences and understandings, that offer all of us clues to the inter-connectedness of all people, ostomate and non-ostomate alike. This is a source for food for thought, and of inspiration.

We share common experiences. Some of us are a parent, a friend, a co-worker, a child, a sister, a brother… We are part of a greater whole on this planet, and in this universe of universes.

As the events of our lives unfold, through the secret door, we internalize and we externalize. There are wondrous possibilities available in both the inside and on the outside. We can take the opportunity to incorporate these potentials in our everyday lives.

Life in reality for everyone is complex, and filled with events, issues, and perceptions. There are no simple or all encompassing solutions. Yet, as ostomates through our physical secret door, we have been gifted with not only continued survival, but with a symbolic representation of a gateway to life’s quantity and quality of life.

Behind the thin decorative coverings, there is a secret door. It is the opening created to give us a new way to eliminate what no longer serves us. It is the threshold to boundless energy, potential, and possibility, all of which we can use for expressing our unique individuality, as we navigate through our 2nd chance at life.

We can perceive the door as closed, and so, we become limited and prevented. Or, we can perceive the door as the opening to potential and possibility. Each of us faces a choice, we hold the key. We can turn back and be defeated by this barrier, or we can push on and step forward into the wondrously something new.

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Percy Stoma

Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

We Know What Its Like…

We know what its like to suffer. We know what its like to persist. We know what its like to face death. We know what its like to survive.

We understand we have endured a life altering experience, and now we live 2 sides of ourselves for the rest of our lives. They say no matter how you split it, there are always two sides to every coin.

IMG_0342

On one side we are joyously grateful, our lives have been saved. On the other side, we are terrified of the altered body and function, we have to live with for evermore.

We worry about the potential for blockages. We are happy to at least, be able to poop in a bag. It sure is an endurance, but way better than the alternative, for every single one of us.

We are hyper focused on everything we eat. We are ever vigilant and prepared, in private and in public of any equipment breaches.

Our ostomy has made it all possible-but at what cost? Our bodies have been altered. Possibly our brains eventually become rewired too.

We are confronted with stigma by some, and praised for our persistence and courage to live life to the fullest, in spite of it all, by others.

We swim in a sea of nostalgia, longing for the old days. Yet, we do the happy dance that we now have more opportunities to live, love, and laugh.

We battle fatigue, discomfort and at times pain, on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. And, because we were at the brink and have come back, we can do anything. We just have to strive, and push ourselves.

Some days we declare:

Today was the most crap filled day ever

And don’t try and convince me, that

There’s something special about everyday

Because when you explore in more detail, taking that closer look

My world is a poopie place

Now read the previous 5 sentences from the bottom to the top, and you will know what we also declare.

No matter how you split it, there are always 2 sides to every coin. Like it or not, there is duality to everyone’s life. Besides feeling our personalities seem to be split, what does the duality of life do for us? Duality is the great teacher and equalizer. It teaches us, that all aspects of our selves and lives, are rooted in the interaction between opposite and seemingly competing forces. The experience of these forces do not have to be viewed as opposite, in fact they can be complimentary. Like the wings of a bird, they definitely don’t cancel out each other, they purely offset each other. And, this is balance.

We know what its like to suffer. We know what its like to persist. We know what its like to face death. We know what its like to survive.

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Percy Stoma

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questionsand your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill our the contact form.

 

Goodbye 2017-Hello 2018

As the sun sets on 2017, “Wow, what a year”, comes to mind. It has been

Sunseta year of extremes on this living orb we call Earth.

Canadians celebrated throughout the year, as we wished Happy 150th Birthday to Canada. We partied in every community across the country, and what a party it was!

We participated in the celestial dance of the sun and moon, as many of us watched the eclipse. We stood in communal awe at the wonders of the universe. There were an onslaught of monster hurricanes that ravaged and devastated so many. It has been a year of fires, floods, and ferocious winds.

There were of course a slew of shocking controversies, great global tensions, bombshell revelations, and investigations. There was a lot of fuzzy fact-fiction going around. It has been a year feminism fought back, a year of apologies for behaviour, and the #MeToo movement.

On a more personal note, throughout 2017, I have been grateful to the Ostomy Community on the national and global levels. We have had to sadly say goodbye to some of our ostomy family, friends, and colleagues. And, there are many who have joined the ostomy community this year. Although most of us never expected to have this life saving/altering surgery, it is with caring and sharing that we welcome you to the “fellowship of the bag”. Through Support Groups, Newsletters, Associations, Social Media Groups, and more… we have reached out and touched each others’ lives, as we worked hard to share information, to comfort, spread awareness, and help in reducing taboo’s and stigma.

Percy Stoma and I would like to thank everyone for your support. THE OSTOMY FACTOR Blog continues to focus on ostomy/life information, awareness, and advocacy. Each blog publication explores the life and thoughts of an ostomate and her stoma buddy. Percy and I, through this blog and our books, (Better WITH a Bag Than IN a Bag, Another BAG Another DAY, and, BAGS Around the World – available through Amazon), do hope you continue to enjoy our individual and collective, life adventures and antics, in 2018.

As the sun sets on 2017, and a new sun rises on 2018, it is our wish that the next year ahead will be the best year yet, for all.

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Percy Stoma

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.