7 Bursts of Glow

Oh how wondrous, it’s pure delight! Seven is a number that is often referred to as the number of completeness and perfection, (both physical and spiritual). There are 7 days of the week, 7 notes of the musical scale, and 7 directions (left, right, up, down, forward, back and centre). And for us, 7 also represents the birth of our 7th grandchild. SBurst of Glowo tiny and so innocent, our little granddaughter has the magical ability to ignite us with a burst of glow that glimmers and gleams. She is snuggled up within us and the radiance of her glow has added to the luminosity of our heart light that now outshines the celestial sun.

A friend of mine recently said, “If we had to do it all over again, we’d probably have our grandchildren first.” For me, I am in awe that my life was spared, Percy Stoma was created, and I was carved into a survivor. As an ostomate, this 2nd chance at life means I can live my life to the fullest. As ostomates we have another opportunity to embrace the joy and trials of experiencing our lives as it unfolds.

Already our 7th little one and I have mounted her unicorn (named Stinky), and began our mystical journey through the mushroom fields and peony forests. Arriving at the enchanted grove where the faeries live, one by one each of the faeries sprinkled shimmering faerie glitter on her button nose.

As life will have it, this is the beginning of many adventures we will embark upon together. Her birth is the start of her circle of life, ostomates such as myself have been reborn, and have begun another circle of life.

Welcome little one to the Planet and to your time. May you live life to the fullest.
Welcome ALL who create a 2nd chance at life, may you once and again live life to the fullest.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

CELEBRATING WORLD OSTOMY DAY – OCTOBER 3rd

CELEBRATING WORLD OSTOMY DAY – OCTOBER 3rdStomaversaryPlanet Earth

An estimated 750,000 Americans and 90,000 Canadians live with an ostomy every day, including myself. Our ostomies have saved our lives and now we have a 2nd chance at living life to the fullest. Through awareness and advocacy we are celebrating all who have and will have an ostomy, and to the families, friends, caregivers, and medical professionals, who will join them on their journey.

Live, love, laugh and enjoy your day to the fullest!

Percy and I send our best to you all.

EXTRA…EXTRA…Another BAG Another DAY has arrived!

Extra Extra largePercy and I are pleased to announce:  Another BAG Another Day Creating a new Lease on Life in a New World (the sequel to Better WITH a Bag Than IN a Bag), is now available in paperback and KINDLE versions. Soon to come on KOBO and iTUNES

 

NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

Another_BAG_Another__Cover_for_KindlejpgClick here for more information, and how you can order your copy today.

ENJOY

*To my Canadian friends: currently Another BAG Another DAY is available in KINDLE format only with amazon.ca. You may purchase the paperback version at amazon.com.

Jo-Ann’s New Book – Another Bag, Another Day – September 23, 2015

Jo-Ann’s Latest Book, Another Bag, Another Day, is the sequel to Better With A Bag Than In A Bag. Jo-Ann an ostomate and Percy her life sustaining stoma have co-written this funny, hopeful, yet inspirational and adventurous true life account of their journey as they march to the beat of the recovery drum. With all the power left in them, this story goes beyond survival to arrive at the gateway of a new world, a new life, a new normal.

Jo-Ann’s New Book
Another Bag, Another Day
Arrives September 23, 2015

Another Bag Another Day Cover

After September 23rd you can order your Kindle & Paper Back copies through Amazon
(Canada, USA, UK, Europe, Australia, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, India, China)

The Art of Life & The Life of Art

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge – Albert Einstein.

Planet Explosion Artist: Emelyn

Planet Explosion
Artist: Emelyn

It was my distinct honour and pleasure to enjoy an art day with our 10 year old granddaughter Emelyn, in July. Oh, what a glorious day!

We immersed ourselves in the logistics of preparing for our art, acquiring the necessary tools to create with, and the joy of creating. Emelyn explored and engaged in every aspect of the creative process. She had so many wonderful questions. For example; “What medium is best for what I want to accomplish?” Together we explored the art store shelves filled with paint brushes, as I shared information on the various painting tools an artist would use in order to achieve a particular technique and outcome. Then we chose the type and size canvas shapes to compliment the paint medium to be used, and for the display configuration she envisioned for her art creations on the wall. We took a time out, enjoying our lunch together, as we explored and discussed her art project ideas.

Arriving home we immersed into creating. We laughed and giggled with the joy of our imaginations as she worked all afternoon breathing life into 3 canvases. She transformed each plain white canvas into colourful vistas of beauty that evoke the emotional power of creativity and imagination. When we completed the final canvas she exclaimed, “I love this one, look how the colours blended!”

Her art shimmers with colourful creative expression, and at the same time the art anchors the accomplishment of, “I created this.” Her loving and supportive family have honoured her artistic pieces by displaying them. One is on the dinning-room wall, one in the living-room, and the third at the front door. Everyone who enters their home is graced with the opportunity to appreciate each work and to explore them with their own individual imagination.

The life of art is the application and expression of our human creative energy and imagination. It is an exploration enjoyed by the artist and the viewer alike. Stirring the imagination, the art invites them to explore their own revelations from within the art, each time it is viewed.

The art of life engages us in envisioning what is important to us, and what we want for and from our life experience. Initially without knowing all of the details of what, when, where and the how of what we are choosing, we immerse ourselves into the logistics of preparing for our artful life vision. We inventory our tools in the form of talents, skills and abilities, in our personal and professional toolbox that we will use to make our vision become reality. If we don’t have a particular tool to achieve a particular outcome, then we explore what is required and we acquire that tool, all for the purpose of creating. We choose what we want our vision to look like, and then, where and how it will fit into the canvas of our lives.

Time outs on our own and with others are important interludes for rest and relaxation, which is always helpful in bringing forward the appreciation of our current reality, as we explore the hopes and dreams of our visualized future.

We immerse ourselves in living and working on ourselves and on our life experiences. We laugh and we cry as we breathe life into the blank canvas of our lives. We transform ourselves and our lives with the emotional power of our creativity and imagination. Even those whose point of view is that they and/or their lives are mundane, can say, “This didn’t just happen, I created this, at  least in some part.” Even if they are not creating everything that is showing up or not showing up, as the case may be in their life, somehow they are contributing something to it.

In art and in life, you are always using your point of view paint brush. Some of us choose to transform ourselves and lives into technicolor creations. Some of us choose to transform the technicolor of our lives into black and white creations.

In life and in art, with every blank canvas, regardless of any and all happenings, there is always the hope that our creative expressions and the knowledge we gain through our choices, that there will always be constant generation and creation of possibilities.

In the life of art and in the art of life, the artist takes control of their visions, the self, and their tools as they immerse into every creative and life expression. What the artist cannot control, they then use the experience as an inspiration. Neither the artist nor the art is perfect, this leaves room for them to further develop and grow. In the experiences of the artist, life is an ongoing process of discovery and co-creation with life.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

Stomaversary!

Happy stomaversary to us, happy stomaversary to us, happy stomaversary dear Percy and Jo-Ann. Happy stomaversary to us.

Stomaversary
 Wow Jo-Ann, it’s our stomaversary. Sounds like party time to me.

      Yes Percy, it’s our 4th year together. It sure has been an experience and a half little buddy.

 

A lot of water has passed under the bridge as they say, during this time. Percy Stoma and I embarked on our adventure together on July 21, 2011. It was a crazy time for us. I had arrived at hospital in such a condition that the attending physician stated that if I was to have arrived an hour later, the odds on me surviving were slim to none. During the lifesaving surgery, Percy was created and I must say my life hasn’t been the same since.

Hey, I hope that’s a compliment, Jo-Ann.

      It sure is, I would not be alive without you Percy, you’re my hero.

      Oh I like that, I’m a hero!

     Of course living with a stoma is not always easy, you are high maintenance, little buddy.

      I guess living with a hero has its price, Jo-Ann.

      Yes, I suppose it does.

At any rate, a lot of living sure has happened throughout the past 4 years. During the first year of recovery Percy and I had to adjust to one another. Relationships of every kind takes a lot of hard work, and stomas are not an exception. Then, during the following year we underwent another major surgery. As time passed during those years, the good news is; Percy has taken care of the elimination end of things, and I’ve regained control of my life.

After our ostomies are created, an ostomate must then continue to live with the ravages left behind from the original disease, and there is always the complications from these invasive surgeries. To add to the experience, there are the ongoing everyday physical and psychological realities of living with an altered bio elimination system and required equipment. Let’s just say there are many bumps on the road. An ostomates life, is a life that is forever changed. Many of us feel we are living another life, in another world. The fact of the matter is; we are living another life and it sure is another world for us. It is our second opportunity, it’s another chance to live, to laugh, to cry, to struggle, to triumph, and another chance to live life to the fullest.

There is a time in everyone’s life when something important to us is lost. Then, there is the time when we really and truly notice the loss. We enter into upset, denial, we can even feel anger, and we grieve our loss. We experience the difficult moments when we remember what we lost, and we want to go back to the time before our loss for a visit. We strive to make peace with what has happened. Then, we explore what we can do about it all, so that we can come out to the other side.

Starting July 22, 2011, Percy and I chose to keep on moving through our lives in spite of ourselves, and it was me who was to get us both moving somewhere. We know we’re not broken for good, nor are we beyond repair, of sorts. It’s terrible what’s happened to us, and there are so many brave people and stomas out there going through their own struggles and tragedies. For sure I’m sorry that all of this happened to me, but I’m an active spirit, and both Percy and I decided after a couple of years together, that we’d take on the attitude that we could turn this around and use our challenges for the sake of ourselves and others. We decided that from tragedy that we’d create elation. I’ve often heard it said; “tragedy and elation are often close neighbours”, and so, our work began.

I promised Percy we would start again as we go along on this life journey, and together we made commitments. We’ve committed to ostomy awareness, to be advocates where needed, and we will share all that we experience and learn with all, in various ways and forms within our abilities, skills, and energy. We have set out to learn everything we can about ostomies, ostomates, how to cope, accept, manage, and learn how to live as an ostomate in partnership with our little stoma buddies. This journey has taken us beyond basic survival to a place where we feel we are flourishing.

With our commitment in mind, in 2012 Percy and I created, THE OSTOMY FACTOR blog. In that same year I wrote and published, Better With A Bag Than In A Bag, for more information, go to the menu bar at the top of this page and click Better With A Bag Than In A Bag. Percy and I have co-authored the sequel, Another Bag, Another Day, which will be published and available for purchase from Amazon, the the Fall of 2015.

In 2013, Better With A Bag Than In A Bag, was reviewed and the review article was featured in The Phoenix Magazine, The official publication of the United Ostomy Association of America, (http://www.pheonixuoaa.org).

In the winter of 2014, Percy and I were featured on the cover of Tidings Magazine, and “Jo-Ann’s second change at life….”, was the inside Cover story. Tidings Magazine is released every quarter, each issue of Tidings contains real life stories, features on Ostomate issues, updates from the Colostomy Association – UK, the latest products and more. (http://www.colostomyassociation.org.uk).

Also in 2014, as part of our quest to support ostomy awareness and advocacy, I became a member of the Medical Advisory Committee with the Ostomy Canada Society. The Ostomy Canada Society is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to all people with an ostomy, and their families/friends, helping them to live life to the fullest through support, education, collaboration and advocacy.

As a member of the Medical Advisory Committee, my area of responsibility is Ostomy Lifestyle Expert. In this capacity, I respond to questions posed by the general public on a variety of ostomy relate subjects. Go to the very well designed and information filled Ostomy Canada Society website, (http://www.ostomycanada.ca). To enjoy the Ostomy Lifestyle Expert page, click on “Information” on the websites bar at the top of the page, a pop menu will appear, click on “Ask an Ostomy Lifestyle Expert“. Together we are learning so much.

In addition, Percy and I have enjoyed writing articles published in the OstomyCanada Magazine. This quality, full colour magazine is published twice a year, and offers ostomy related information as well as motivational personal stories, and up-to-date product information, it is a valuable publication to be enjoyed by all. (http://www.ostomycanada.ca)

Over the past several years Percy and I have had the pleasure of being invited as Guest Speakers in the United States and Canada. It sure has been a delight to meet and share in fellowship, with the Ostomy Support Groups, we’ve made many ostomate and stoma friends.

On a personal note, during the past 4 years Percy and I have witnessed the birth of 3 of our 6 grandchildren. We have filled our lives with all of them, as they grow and develop into their own. We had the pleasure of enjoying a daughter’s wedding, and are now anticipation the birth of her first child, our 7th grandchild. We have travelled on many adventures, and have met many new friends.

Well Percy, we’ve been busy living, laughing, crying, struggling, we’ve had our triumphs and our failures, but through it all, we’re living our life to the fullest.

      Yes, we sure have been busy, just as we like it. I’d like to add something here Jo-Ann?

      Sure Percy.

     Ahem…Thank you to everyone who has come on this journey with us, and may your next year ahead be the best yet.

 

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay, Ostomate

Percy Stoma, Eol. Poopology

“Everyone we meet has a story to tell.”

 

 

Marching To The Beat Of The Recovery Drum

June has been a gripping bad news, good news month. A month that held me firmly at attention. It all started with a battle with congestion, which then progressed to become an upper respiratory infection. I am now taking antibiotics and if they work, by next week July 1st, Percy and I will be feeling much better. Not that I should be counting the days, but alas, I am counting the days to a full recovery.June 2015 THE OSTOMY FACTOR

That was the bad news, now for the good news. When one is ill with what may be a contagious germ and everyone stays away from you, what does a writer do with their time, well, they write. Percy and I are so pleased to announce we have completed the manuscript for the sequel to Better With A Bag Than In A Bag – From the brink of death to recovery through humour and inspiration, it is now in the hands of our Editor.  Percy and I are so excited! Percy has co-written the sequel with me, my clever little stoma. With Percy’s sense of humour, straight from the hip no-nonsense, (or in Percy’s case, straight from the abdomen, south, south-east, of my belly button), tell it like it is attitude, well, we’ve had an amazing writing adventure.

Better With A Bag Than In A Bag is a book that shines the light on the odyssey that I was forced to embark on in 2008, that continued to my lifesaving surgery July 21 2011, and then beyond through the year long recovery afterwards. This book is the real-life story of an ordinary woman taking a stand against an extraordinary nemesis called diverticular disease. The story follows me as I navigated through a myriad of doctors, diagnostic tests, and procedures, only to find myself lost in the mysterious landscape of misdiagnosis. During this time I wondered who would help me. I asked myself many times; “How was I going to save my life before time would run out?”

My life was saved, Percy Stoma was created, and my little buddy has now joined me on this journey called life. The first book chronicles my march to the beat of the recovery drum, and the many bizarre, often times comic, definitely frustrating, and challenging situations and circumstances an ostomate faces. It is a book that I shared the poop on poops as a new ostomate, with humour, and the triumph of the human spirit that is within all of us. I have had the pleasure of receiving emails and letters from readers, many of which are ostomates, and others who are not. One of the most often shared comment I receive is, “This book made me laugh, and made me cry, it provided me with vital information, and it gave me hope.” Another ostomate comment is, “This book made me remember my own journey from the brink, and it has inspired me to continue taking those small steps forward.” Percy and I are so very pleased that in sharing our story, we have been valuable for so many.

On the day of my first stomaversary, we enjoyed friends, good eats, and all of the sparkle July 21, 2012, could bring. On July 22, 2012, the following day, the full impact of reality set in and I realized that although the official recovery period was now completed, Percy and I found ourselves at a “beginning again”. Hmm…Well, ah, the beginning of what, who, when, where and how, of a new life, new self, and a new normal, whatever the heck it’s all supposed to be. And so, the sequel begins the day after our first Celebration of Life Stomaversary Day, where Better With A Bag Than In A Bag, ends. The candles had been blown out, the cupcakes devoured. Percy and I had thrown away our gem-studded ostomy pouch. Time to move on – or so we thought.

Living with the full impact of the lingering damage from the original disease and the damage from the extensive surgery. Coupled, with the emotional toll it takes to adapt and live with an altered body function, and another surgery about to be scheduled, on the horizon there was another storm brewing. Gun metal black, indigo, and grey clouds of pain and doubt swirled and boiled, inside of me. My body and emotions seemed filled with unseen monsters, bewitching me with their seductive mystery, beckoning ever beckoning me, to jump. With all that was in Percy and I, it was time for us to harness the power of the storm within.

The sequel chronicles the 2nd year march to the beat of our recovery drum. Together, with an army of family, friends, caregivers and medical professionals, we navigated through our healing journey that has been filled with disaster and triumph. This is my individualized true life tale of exploration and adventure as I perceive it. An adventure that goes beyond survival to arrive at the gateway of a new world, a new life, a new normal.
Through THE OSTOMY FACTOR blog, Twitter, and Facebook, Percy and I are pleased to keep you up to date on the latest announcements, notifications, and the publication date of: Another Bag, Another Day – creating a new lease on life in a new world.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

And

Percy Stoma

Eol. in Poopology

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

Jo-Ann & Her Bear Hugs

Bear Crystal CaveAll good stories begin with once upon a time, and so, once upon a time, there was a lady, her name is Jo-Ann.

It came to be that I entered into Jo-Ann’s life in 2011, during a life saving surgery. You see, I’m part of Jo-Ann’s colostomy and since then, I have rocked her world. I’m affectionately known as Percy Stoma, and I fancy myself as her constant companion, I go everywhere she goes.

Stomas will brrt,

and pfft,

and flurppppp,

and thwerrpppp.

(Stomas can make dramatic noises just so everyone knows something is happening down there.)

In the beginning when I first joined her life adventure, our journey was stormy. She did not understand why I had entered her life, nor what I was all about. I was as new to being her stoma, as she was having a colostomy. It took both of us quite awhile to settle in and accept one another.

From the very start, as we anticipated our new life together, we were delighted, filled with promise, and hope. At the same time we were frightened, unsure, and lost.

There were many moments, hours and days, we felt we were standing on a pillar of blood red stone, as gun metal black, indigo and grey clouds, swirled and boiled within us. Bolts of lightening cracked and electrified Jo-Ann’s mind, as thunder rumbled and exploded throughout our body. The pain and the ecstasy of being alive transcended our spirit. There was no doubt, powerful forces were at work within, as we continued our journey.

Time went by, and we got on with Jo-Ann’s life. She made friends who also have stomas. Jo-Ann and I have become familiar with one another, and together we’ve enjoyed many adventures. We have attended weddings, we’ve welcomed grand babies, and, as we strive to embrace life, we are slowly and surely learning how to appreciate each other.

It is not always easy. Sometimes we move to the dance of our lives together, and sometimes we are opposed to each other. We are constantly designing our partnership for life.

Over time, Jo-Ann has regained her confidence as she encircles me with my ostomy flange. She lovingly surrounds me with a protective pouch. I feel like it’s all a great big bear hug!

I, Percy Stoma will brrt,

and pfft,

and flurppppp,

and thwerrpppp.

(Just so everyone knows something is happening down there.)

And, as every good story ends with, and they lived happily every after, when you get a determined ostomate with a fire in her belly and a clever Percy Stoma, they get together and they live happily ever after.

The End

 

Percy Stoma, Eol. Poopology (Experience Of Life)

“Better With A Bag Than In A Bag”

Breathe

One day, one moment, one breath at a time. Oh my, I’m pulling air painfully down my throat, to the place where my body is going into spasms of violent coughs. Throat constricted, airwaysWill o the wisp inflamed, each breath a struggle. March was a tough month as I battled an upper respiratory infection. With each effort to breathe, I was reminded of the powerful gift of breath that I had come to realize in the year before Percy Stoma was created. Following is an excerpt from “Better With A Bag Than In A Bag”, From the brink of death to recovery through humour and inspiration, the book I authored that chronicles my illness that led to colon surgery, Percy’s creation, and the year of recovery that followed.

In 2008, when my illness and pain had become chronic, there were times when I was only able to take life one day at a time. Through the years that followed, I was eventually reduced to coping with my body and life one moment at a time. During these times, I often found myself searching, trying to find any reason, any excuse, to have a positive attitude, a positive outlook. I, of course, could find many. I am very fortunate to be blessed in so many ways. But as time advanced along with the illness, I realized that I was not being totally honest with myself in thinking I was being positive while knowing in my heart that I was downright miserable. My mind was in a push-me-pull-me mode. I endured the physical pain as I was drowning in an emotional quagmire. I was sick, angry, and fighting for my quality of life.

As the illness progressed, I arrived at the realization that I was taking life one breath at a time now. It was becoming more and more challenging to remain honestly positive so I decided there must be another way. I could try to talk myself into “positive thinking” until I was blue in the face, but in reality there came the understanding that this approach, this life tool, was not working for me anymore. It was not the appropriate tool for this circumstance. It was not real. It was a mask. It was dishonest. It was downright denial. I needed to step down into the depths of my current reality with eyes wide open. Be truthful with myself. I had to look the monster of my illness and predicament in the eye, with full awareness.

Aha! Awareness. That’s the ticket! I began to insert awareness as a coping tool, rather than positive thinking more often than not. In my attempts to simply be aware in the very breaths I took, I used this tool to help develop a deeper understanding of my individuality and the many aspects of myself, my illness, and the life all around me. With full awareness focused and interwoven into each breath, I eventually became sensitive to the truths I was operating from, those I was expressing, and the true realities of my situation. It was honesty, not a fantasy in all its wonder and all of its ugliness. A value-added bonus to this approach was an immersion into the fullness of breath. With every inhale and exhale I realized that time expanded on occasion to the place of forever. I was beyond positive thinking and had arrived at a place where I realized that any one of us can die at any time. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, or in twenty years from now – who really knows? The only thing that is true is that the “now”, the “present”, is the reality that exist. It is up to us to put as much into and receive as much as possible from that breath, that moment, that day. I was hurting in all ways possible, so it was hard to see a positive future, but it was easy to immerse into my breath and explore the depths, wonders, and potentials a breath can hold. Like a string of pearls, my string of breaths encircled me with the hope and the strength that life – at least for the moment – continued.

I live in awareness because I could die today, tomorrow, or in twenty years from now. I really don’t know. Awareness as a tool works for all times, circumstances and situations during the course of a lifetime. Positive thinking is a great tool, one that is appropriate when we are working hard and anticipating a successful outcome. Positive thinking is a tool of great usefulness, but it is not the only tool in our personal and professional toolbox.

Sitting on my patio on those warm summer days during my recovery, I found myself looking back, and looking forward. Awareness is a valuable tool I use quite regularly and continue to hone as my life continues to unfold.

Breath…..breath…..just breath.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate
Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

Magical First Times

Rich & Evan OceanOn a cloudless day a child dances on the warm sand. He sees the ocean, he hears the rhythm of the pounding surf, and he smells the salty air, for the very first time in his life. His daddy takes hold of his hand and they make their way to the edge of the surf. In a few seconds the little one will be dipping his toes into the salty water.

His mother, grandfather and I, his Gramma Jo, are witness to the little boy who is about to experience an extraordinary change in his young life. We’re seeing for the first time an ocean that has always been there. We stand on the edge of time, as an event that will become etched into our memories unfolds before us.

Our children and grandson are visiting us at our southern vacation home. We have had the amazing experience of sharing many firsts with our grandson over the past few days. Seeing the magic of first times through his innocent eyes has been an honour and a pleasure.

It’s a wondrous moment when we adults suddenly see something as if for the first time, even though we have seen it many times before. The difference is, it’s through the magic of a little six year olds innocent first experience.

As an ostomate I am still amazed that I have a second chance at life. I am in awe of the power of life itself. Thanks to the creation of my stoma, “Percy”, I have the good fortune to live on and experience more of life. Having an ostomy is a daily challenge indeed, and yet, is a great life learning experience. One of the many lessons it teaches me is; life is what we make of it. One can go through it and let things pass them by, or a person can actually go out and capture life as though each moment is the magical first time. And, as life will have it from time to time, when things are especially tough, then we can choose to simply roll with the tide.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”