An Encounter With Love

Love has many flavours. We can have love between friends. Love can be romantic, and Heart shaped cloud
love can be tragic. We can love money, possessions, and our favourite dessert. Love is a risk. It has the power to break our hearts. Love can cause war. Love can be ecstasy. Real love is believed to be a choice that can be given freely, without wanting anything in return, an unconditional give and receive.

During the past few months I have dedicated my passion and energy for ostomy awareness, advocacy and support, with a focus on Pediatric Ostomy. This new direction for me has been a powerful experience indeed.

January 2019, I published, Why Buttercup Wears a BAG!. I was inspired to write this children’s book for the littlest persons with an ostomy as there are very few books and toys that children with an ostomy can relate to, as they read, play, and live their lives.

In addition, this month I have written an article on Pediatric Ostomy for a leading Canadian ostomy magazine. Working on this endeavour, I have had the pleasure and honour of interviewing several parents of children with an ostomy for the purpose of shining a light on the important and often invisible topic of Pediatric Ostomy. It has been through this experience that I’ve had an extraordinary encounter with love.

Two of the remarkable young people I have met, (through interview), are Mallory, (4 years old), and Delia, (13 years old). Mallory’s health and ostomy journey began Day 2 of her life. Delia’s at 8 years of age. The messages the girls and their parents have shared for everyone are many. The following are a few of the love messages that have profoundly touched me.

Delia and her family want everyone to know; “Having an ostomy doesn’t change who you are. You can love yourself well, embracing whatever challenges you have. Don’t look at limitations, but follow your heart and you will do whatever you want in life.”

“Delia thrives as an individual. She is confident in herself as a person with value. She continues to feel good about her body at 13 in a culture that does everything to undermine that. She gives back to the world always. She has embraced her challenges with humour, acceptance, and grace”, says her Mom.

Delia lives pure self love, (self love can be very challenging for most of us). Her message is universal, with or without an ostomy, our lives are enriched.

Mallory’s parents are working with her to shape her fearless spirit. They embrace their medical parent role, and are often asked; how do you do it? Mallory’s parents’ response is profound. “We are full time professionals and parents of Mallory (medical miracle), and Collin (healthy 7 year old). The answer is simple, it’s just love. We love her the very best we can at home and at hospital. Any parent could be a medical mom/dad because it’s just love.”

February is the  month in which many celebrate Valentine’s as a day set aside to express their love and affection. Through special gestures people remind one another, love is not taken for granted. There are some folks who view this day as an extravagance imposed by commercial interests. The little ones and their families remind us; love with all of its flavours is a never ending story. It is the truest and deepest gift we can give to ourselves, and to one another.

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 tojoannltremblay.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 thecontact form.

buttercup book front cover

Why Buttercup Wears a BAG!

It is with pleasure and joy, that we are announcing the release of our newest book, Why Buttercup Wears a BAG! – The Adventures of Buttercup and Elliott…buttercup book front cover

Written for the littlest persons with an ostomy, this children’s book is a positive story starring Buttercup, her friend Elliott, and their new friend Squiggs. Buttercup is a mouse with an ostomy. This book, for young children, is about the many things children, (ostomate and non-ostomate), can do in a day to learn, have fun, and be strong. As the 3 friends embark on a playful adventure at the park, they raise ostomy awareness. Their special message encourages all young children with or without an ostomy, to know they can do anything they set their minds to.

Family and friends will delight in reading, Why Buttercup Wears a BAG!, with infants, toddlers, and young children. The story cheers readers on, while they connect with Buttercup as she deals with her stoma in her daily life. This book provides readers with the opportunity to stimulate conversations about ostomy thoughts and experiences. The adventure cultivates the awareness that everyone we meet is wonderfully unique, and that we all have an amazing story to tell, no matter who we are.

This colourful and beautifully illustrated book was written with the desire to inspire children and the people in their lives, to know that although we are faced with challenges, we are not alone, and we can live a quality of life in spite of it all.

You can purchase your copy of Why Buttercup Wears a BAG!, in paperback and Kindle format from Amazon, available worldwide. Just go to the Amazon site of your choice, type in Why Buttercup Wears a BAG!, the Amazon site will direct you from there. You can order the book on this blog site by clicking on “Book Order Information” at the top banner of this page. The book can also be ordered from my website www.jo-annltremblay.com

Through the readership of my published adult ostomy books, website, and THE OSTOMY FACTOR blog, I have received requests for pediatric ostomy information and recommendations for young children. Although there are excellent instructional publications I have been able to recommend, there is scant resources/publications that young ostomates can relate to individually, nor how they and their families live with an ostomy, (lifestyle). This has been my inspiration for writing Why Buttercup Wears a BAG!

This book will delight the young ostomate in your life. Reading the book together as you embark on the adventure with the 3 friends, provides the opportunity for you and your child to discuss and explore the everyday experiences of life with an ostomy.

Enjoy!

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay and Percy Stoma


“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

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Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with 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.

Our Wish For You…

From all of us to all of you, have a holly jolly Christmas. Have beautiful moments, and may you find many reasons for happiness.

Happy New Year, and lets make 2019 the best year yet!

In January Percy and I have an exciting announcement. Stay tuned!

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

&

Percy Stoma

Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

Christmas 2018 Image

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 tojoannltremblay.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.

 

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.

A Stranger Came Into My Life…

One day, a person came into my life. A person and a day that changGratitudeed everything. They did not change the way I think about the world. Instead, through their professional expertise and commitment, they changed and altered in all ways imaginable the way I view myself, and they confirmed how I view everyone else around me.

Sitting in the examination room at the Ottawa Hospital, I anticipated seeing her again. Like the dawn, she had given me the shimmering glow of the hope of survival, and that a new day was possible. She who was there at the rising of my new beginning, my new normal, my renewed awakening.

She was once a stranger that I met on my journey to another destination. Perhaps it was fate that she would be the one who would create the masterpiece I call, “Percy”, my life-sustaining stoma.

Right here in this tiny room, during this tiny moment, I am reminded that my mortal body will not last forever, and yet every day since July, 2011, I have lived my gratitude for survival from the brink of death.

Then suddenly, with a vortex of rushing air from the hallway, mixed with the combination of antiseptic gasses and dust particles of my tiny room, the door opened and there she was. “Hello Jo-Ann, and hellooo Percy”, she blurted. In that instant a kaleidoscope of emotions took hold of me. Joy, excitement, trust, and once again an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. She was the one, she had been there at my lowest of low. The stranger who played a major role in saving me.

My gratitude is held treasured within me for Dr. Rebecca Auer, MD, MSc, FRCSC. She the capable surgeon, the stranger that came into my life that fateful day. She who is committed to saving life if at all possible. She who led the team of experts who repaired the many parts of my diseased and injured body. She who worked with natures original colon design, and fashioned an outstanding work of art, my ostomy.

I was delighted to see her and have the opportunity to once again express my gratitude, and to share the ripple effects and flow of her and her team’s accomplishments.

For me, gratitude is a multifaceted gem. One facet is the inner acknowledgement and acceptance of the truth of something dearly received. The second facet is the explicit and voiced declaration of gratitude that amplifies the inner voice out to the giver to be heard in the outer world. The third facet is the action of gratitude. Action is custom-designed to fit the experience. There are a myriad of actions that can be taken, for example; returning the kindness, paying it forward, or creating an enduring and long-lasting legacy.

During the few minutes we had together, Dr. Auer and I chatted about life. I was able to let her know that due to her and her teams culmination of study, practiced expertise, and commitment, I have taken my bonus years seriously. Three more grandchildren have been born since 2011, and I live the joy of my now seven grandchildren with the desire for more. I have been able to continue my travels to the far reaches of our beautiful planet with my husband, Mark. I have solidified my commitment (as my act of gratitude), to becoming ostomy knowledgable, and applying this knowledge and attendant experiences, to awareness and advocacy projects. In support of awareness and advocacy I have written 3 books on the subject of ostomy, ostomates, the life of the ostomate, and their caregivers. I am a member of the Canadian Ostomy Society – Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), holding the title and responsibilities of, “Ostomy Lifestyle Expert”, I write ostomy/life related articles for ostomy magazines in Canada, United States, and the United Kingdom.

I expressed my gratitude to her for doing everything professionally possible for her patients. I told her the reality for me, are the following core facts as I believe them to be:

  1. Because of her commitment to saving lives, her consistent desire to research/find solutions to life destroying diseases/circumstances, and her dedication to assist in ways possible as a surgeon, oncologist, professor, and researcher, she positively impacts the lives of her patients.
  2. The work she and her team(s) perform on a daily basis creates ripple effects, that expand ever outwards across and throughout not only the lives of her patients, but also the people they touch. Every moment longer a patient survives, another level of quality of life that is experienced, is a testament to their dedication which incrementally builds as their patients live their future. Their good works become our shared legacy.
  3. As one of her patients, I am in gratitude that I am alive and so, I am living my life to the fullest in spite of it all, and committed to ostomy awareness and advocacy.

A stranger came into my life and the world took on a different light. This person, this perfect stranger to me, saved my life, created my ostomy, and each day that I attend to my stoma, I glimpse the beauty of natures amazing design that is inside of us. I marvel at the creation I call Percy. I didn’t know this stranger but one thing is for sure, I am forever changed. Thank you.

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.

On a Wing and a Prayer

My nose pressed against the window, the plane is transporting us across the sky, we are headed for Orlando, Florida airport. From my cramped seat I lower my tearful eyes downward. The wisps of white clouds are racing by. With a deep sigh and a heavy heart, I lift my eyes up to the brilliant fluffy white clouds above. Beams of sunlight pour through the openings. Shafts of brilliance holding the hope that this is all just a dreamtime. But, I know I am not dreaming, and I miss her greatly.

You see, it was 2 years ago at our winter home in Florida when we headed down to the lagoon. There we enjoyed the wild dolphins, birds, water, clouds and every other treasure nature can offer. The first of what would become our daily 4:00 p.m. ritual.

We arrived and settled down on a bench and I looked over to my left and there, sitting in her wheelchair was an elderly woman. Beside her was an elderly gentleman in his golf cart. Both were looking out to the water. It was then that she looked over to us, and gave me a brilliant smile. Her smile lit up my heart, and it has glowed with her light ever since.

We walked over to introduce ourselves and the gentleman said; “Pleased to meet you. My name is Bill, and this lovely lady is my wife Straucie. She had a stroke a number of years ago and it took away her ability to speak.”

I said, “Oh that’s okay, I can’t hear well, she can’t talk well, hmm… we’ll find a way. From that day forward, Straucie and I had many lively conversations. Somehow, Straucie and I found our ways to communicate. Straucie could say a few words such as a long drawn out, “yeees”. With her facial expressions, animated body language, and her sharp mind, we discussed life, struggles, blessings, and all manner of the stuff of life. Bill and my husband Mark were often perplexed as to how Straucie and I could have discussions. At one point during our conversation, I would turn to the fellas and say, “Straucie was just telling me…”, the fellas would look at me and Straucie with crooked smiles, and then Straucie would give them a determined nod and say, “yeees”. Yup, we had discussed and understood one another!

Bill and my husband Mark talked about football, politics, and all manner of interests to them. Bill shared many stories of he and Straucie’s life together, and I must say they had us laughing at their adventures and antics.

Just about every day our feisty Straucie would head down to the lagoon at top motorized wheelchair speed with a glowing smile on her face, while Bill followed her in his golf cart. Straucie’s body was paralyzed on the right side, and at 93 years of age, Bill was taking care of her, the house, and meals with the full and consistent assistance of their dear daughter Sandy, and son-in-law, Mark. Together as a team their beloved Straucie was well taken care of.

Our love for Straucie and Bill grew to include Sandy, Mark, their children and grandchildren. Friends became like family and family like friends. As mentioned, the stroke had robbed Straucie of her ability to speak full sentences, but as we found out, she was able to sing. So sing we did! Straucie had a lovely singing voice and when she sang, many words came out clear. Together we sang her favourite hymns, and other songs including some silly ones like: Mairzy Doats which is a novelty song written and composed, in 1943, by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston. The songs refrain, as written on the sheet music, seems meaningless, but it is not.

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey,

A kiddly divy too, wooden shoe…

We would both melt into giggles and laughter with the silly words. She amazed me with her ability to articulate each word, in tune and on pitch.

In the weeks before Christmas of last year, Straucie, Sandy and I went shopping. Straucie and I purchased matching Christmas sweaters. Both of us refused to wear them until Christmas day. We sure had fun being twins for a day!

We are snowbirds, Florida is our winter home only, so in May it was time to head north and return to Canada. We bid our tearful good byes with the promise we will be returning in November. We text Bill just about everyday and send pictures of our summer adventures for their delight.

In early August, Straucie fell ill. Although everyone did all that they could, our Straucie succumbed to her illness, and on the wings of angels she passed, August 14th, 2017.

With my nose pressed against the window, we are on our way to give our final good bye to the lady that lit our hearts with the brilliant light of joyful friendship, family, and love.

Bill, Sandy, Mark, granddaughter Michelle, other family and friends, gave Straucie a celebration of life she would have been delighted with. Songs were sung. Poetry, and a letter she wrote to Bill were read at the gravesite. Personal stories shared. All of this was enveloped in the love we have and hold for friends like family, and family like friends.

We miss you Straucie, we will always hold you in our thoughts. You cozied up in our hearts, and you will forever have a soft place to be lovingly remembered. Thank you for you our beloved.

With all of our love, Jo-Ann, Mark, and Percy xo

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Family Like Friends & Friends Like Family

Sitting out on our Florida deck, I’m captivated by the manatee lazily floating by in the canal with a turtle perched on her back, reminding me of the events of the past week.Manatee:Turtle

We were delighted when our sister/brother-in-law and furry niece (Bernese Mountain Dog), arrived for a week long visit. Our experiences of magical moments, emotional touches, talking and laughing, are the meaningful gifts that are a part of making life special.

As life did unfold over the week, the friends we are fortunate to have here in Florida embraced our family adventure without hesitation, with enthusiasm and sharing; in birthday celebrations of a friend of ours, a day at the races, a gathering at a back deck campfire of smores (a decadent delight of fire cooked marshmallows sandwiched between chocolate and graham wafter cookies), and so much more. The days, nights and activities, were filled with fun, conversations, camaraderie, and the joy of a community of humanity celebrating family and friends.

Watching the manatee with the turtle on her back reminds me of the differences and similarities that make up each individual family member and friend. The nature of friendships and the nature of family are individually unique, yet, when you  boil it all down, each is an experience of what it means to be close. There is a special connection, and it is the connection of the heart. It is the journey of human souls joined for life.

Friends are like family and family are like friends, is the solid foundation we build our life experiences on, and that helps to keep us where we need to be. It’s amazing when you think of it, that someone else will believe in you, and will trust you with a friendship.

During my illness, the eventual ostomy surgery, and the lengthy recovery when my physical and emotional strength seemed to fail me half way through, it was my friends like family and my family like friends whose care, concern and love, drop by drop filled my heart, mind, and body till I was overflowing.

Mother Teresa said: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

So thank you Terri, Murray and Piper. Thank you our dear and generous friends. Thank you all for embracing us and each other.

Reach out to someone(s) in your past, current and/or future, be a friend like a family member, and a family member like a friend. There will be frustrations once in a while and you may have to carry them on your back from time to time, but that’s life too, one sure thing is, you’ll always remember how much they really mean to you, and how much you mean to them!

PS – March is Colorectal Cancer Month. Remember to tell your family, friends and yourself to schedule your colonoscopy, it could save a life.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

www.jo-annltremblay.com

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”