The Crucible of the Bag

No More Searching…It’s in the Bag

The shift, that moment when I was never going to feel the same again, happened 6 years ago in the moment the surgeon advised us, “I recommend you say your good byes, noSun and roadw”.

I had just been prepped for emergency surgery. The expectation that I would survive the surgery was slim. It was my unplanned moment. As I lay at the edge of the point of no return, I looked into my husband’s eyes and said good bye to my life partner. I later realized I also said good bye to myself and my life as I had known it.

When the surgery to deal with my critical intestinal and internal situation was over with, and the days, weeks and months of recovery, I became aware that I was dodging death. I had traded a body bag for an ostomy bag.

During this time in my life the situation was a severe trial. As I embarked on the healing journey, the crucible of the bag caused different physical and psychological elements to meld, oppose and interact. I was fashioning myself into a new creation in my body, mind, and human spirit. I should have expired, I didn’t. Instead, every day since has become a bonus. I shouldn’t be here, and yet, I am.

The bonus days have afforded me with the opportunity to continue on a voyage of self-discovery, but my approach has profoundly changed. Often when we think of self-
discovery, we believe this is a journey of becoming aware of one’s true potential and character motives, resulting in happiness, awareness, clarity, and maybe even enlightenment.

Looking back as I live on bonus time, I have realized self-discovery has always taken me a lot of time and energy. More often than not, this life exercise has caused an army of thoughts to morph into an emotional battle. Always so many layers of complex past and current experiences, situations, events to be examined, considered carefully, pondered, and contemplated, which then leads to mulling, brooding, dwelling…… I would make a stride, and yet I found I was peeling back yet another layer, like an onion and that I had not really arrived at the core yet. So many of the layers are clouded, complex, and it will probably take a lifetime just to “get it” with even one of the layers. I’ve often felt like a dog chasing its tail, moving, and working hard under the illusion of travelling far, picking up speed, getting somewhere, only to realize I can go in circles for a lifetime. I worked very hard in this illusion for a lot of my life. As I stood at the gate to my bonus lifetime, I decided to ignore the noisy mind chatter, and I began the rest of my life.

The heart is eloquent and I find myself listening to it more often. It inspires my spirit to get up and go. There is no doubt the positive and negative experiences, events and situations of my past have played a significant role in shaping who I am. My approach to self-discovery through insights and my personal evolution has changed.

I find myself creating purpose, rather than searching for it. With this approach I don’t dig deep, the affect of this has caused me to become deeply light-hearted. Purpose has become an exercise in simplicity and minimalism.

I realize my current beliefs and I live by them, while being flexible. I do not lock myself into one belief box and throw away the key.

Without over dramatizing, reliving and over analyzing the past that has a big role in shaping me to this point in my life, I give myself permission to feel fear, confusion, misunderstanding, doubt, and I never go to woulda, coulda, or shoulda. No revisiting
past choices, they are history, finished and gone with my descending colon.

I’ve had a hard knock life, but no more than most others. Everyone is a unique soul. Do I get angry, you betcha I do. But, it is in the moment only, and all I have to do is say to myself, “okay, what is the issue right now”, then I work it out.

I create my own purpose. I guess I also have a destiny and I work at trying to connect
with it. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

Knowledge of my upbringing and my past has had its causes and effects. I do not forget the lessons of my life, but for me, they are nothing without applying some imagination to turn them into something useful. This approach unlocks and opens doors.

I haven’t found myself, instead I am something I am creating. I have stopped chasing down and fleeing from my past. I have stopped the search of who I am. Instead I have decided to feel, create, imagine and enhance my awareness of the little things and the big ones.

I notice the breeze on my wrist as I stroll. I hear the tinkle of someone’s wind chimes as I walk by. When the heavy duty life crap happens, whatever has happened, I learn from it, build on it, and move on with my life. I can’t change what happened, I can only change how I deal with it.

In everyone’s life some things that have happened were planned. Sometimes life takes a different path than planned, at one point or another. In my case, the crucible was the moment I said good bye as I was wheeled into the operating room. I was in my 50’s at the time, and sometimes a story told is better when we start in the middle.

As I heal and recover, I see, hear and feel everything for what might be the first time. Good and bad of life is like the dawn and about the dawn, the time when the fingers of light reach out from the dark. The sun is touching me, the ground I stand on, and then the world that surrounds me as I experience my bonus theatre of life.

My approach to myself and my life before and after the crucible of the bag are neither right nor are they wrong. The crucible and so, the ostomy bag was a severe trial causing many different elements of myself and life to interact. All of which have led to my self and my life to be a new and consistently evolving creation. My new approach to life has aroused and inspired my imagination to take the mystical leap over the abyss between life and death, and I landed on another timeline. My spirit is unleashed and I can celebrate the good and the bad until I once again arrive at the point of no return and I must trade in my ostomy bag for a body bag.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

jo-annltremblay.com

BAGs Around the World – New Book Release

Ostomate Jo-Ann L. Tremblay and her stoma Percy, are once again the intrepid adventurers bags-around-the-worlddrawn into the incredible journey of 2nd chances at life in their newest book release, BAGs Around the World.

Boldly venture into experiences that transcend the normal limits of the everyday, through the true life escapades of an ostomate and her stoma.

Join authors Jo-Ann L. Tremblay and Percy Stoma on their quest to discover the meanings in and of life as they explore, muse, and ponder the life of ostomates and non-ostomates, in our challenging experiences as humans on planet Earth.

Through THE OSTOMY FACTOR, the book features blog posts beginning in the month and year of November 2012, and continues through 2015. The collection offers solace, inspiration and joy, as they ignite our human spirit.

Trek along with Jo-Ann and Percy as they share their sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic, and always adventurous real life stories through thoughts and words that readers find valuable in their daily lives for a chuckle, a tear, and for inspired contemplation.

ENJOY

Click  https://joannltremblay.wordpress.com/book-order-information/for more paperback and Kindle order information.

With excitment and joy,

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay & Percy Stoma

Check our newly designed website: www.jo-annltremblay.com

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

 

 

BAGs Around the World – New Book

Step into a journey through experience and transcend the normal limits of everyday life. Join in the intellectual, emotional, and physical pilgrimage to discover the meanings in and of our lives. Be touched by bags-around-the-worldthe spirit of the fellowship of people around the world as we celebrate 2nd chances at life.

Better WITH a Bag Than IN a Bag, introduced Percy Stoma to the world. Another BAG Another DAY, marched to the beat of the recovery drum. Now, the newest book, BAGs Around the World, transports us to the far reaches of our everyday human experiences and life adventures.

Join Percy Stoma and Jo-Ann L. Tremblay, as they explore, muse, and contemplate the life of ostomates and non-ostomates, in our challenging life experiences as humans on planet Earth.

BAGs Around the World, is coming to Amazon worldwide October 2016.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more information on how you can order your copy of BAGs Around the World.

Life Can Turn On A Dime

As we arrived back home from spending 5 ½ months in the South, our fThe Stormamily was struck with a tragedy. We hit the ground running. I am spiritually, mentally and physically running through the storm and my emotions are screaming for me to run away.

As I look up, there are cracks in the sky. When I look around me, the world as I knew it is shattered. Strange thoughts are rolling along, clickity-clack, clickity-clack. Time stands still as I sit through the hours by her hospital bedside. We are lost somewhere in time. Then, spinning like a top I drop my head on my pillow to capture a few hours of sleep.

Everyone we meet has a story to tell, and with blurry eyes born of our tears, we now add another chapter to our family’s book of life.

Today I have managed to steal a few moments from the precious and agonizing hours of the past month to write this blog. From my vantage point it looks as though we are in for the long haul. Potential recovery will not turn on a dime.

My regrets to you dear readers for the delayed blog entries of now and possibly to come in the next while. Thank you for your patience, understanding and your continued THE OSTOMY FACTOR blog support.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

Do Our Hearts Need To Break To Grow?

Everyone has a story to tell and I am struck by the stories that speak to the moments of

Chris - rainbow cloud

Chris’s Rainbow Cloud. Photographed by: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

our lives. Each of us who are ostomates and the non-ostomates who share our lives, have an extraordinary capacity to heal from the greatest tragedies and this fills me with awe.

Every year the month of February is a bitter-sweet journey for me. It is the month that we celebrate my son Richard’s birthday, this year he turns 38. He, our little miracle who we were told could never be. It is also in February that we mark the death day of our son Chris. I’ve lived his death day for 42 years now, and I still feel the unspeakable joy of being graced with him, and then the feeling of his passing impacting me to the core of my being. It is the day I have to accept that he has left us. It is the anniversary of the wailing good bye. It is the annual reminder of how fragile and precious life is, and how deeply and profoundly I love with all of its risks.

Many times through the past 42 years I have tried to make sense of how this could have happened. How could a seemingly healthy 4 month old baby be taken from his parents? Why did it happen? He didn’t do anything wrong, he was just a baby! Then once and again there are the fresh tears as I accept the unbearable pain of good bye.

Through the years I’ve deeply questioned everything I think I know and how I think I know it. Chris, his birth, his short life and his death has been a tragic great teaching for me. Chris taught me life is precious and fragile. He has taught me the world is a wondrous and mysterious place. He has taught me that although I at times feel profound sadness as I stand lonely amid my community of humanity, these are also the same people who with an open heart lend me courage as I face searing heartbreak.

Does our hearts have to break to grow? I do not know the answer to this question. What I have learned is; I refuse to allow any life tragedy to over take me as I feel in my heart life goes on and I will live life to the fullest, I believe my dearest wants that for me. That all life is uncertain, and if we choose to love, it will mean keeping our heart open in the face of perpetual uncertainty. When our courage is tested and we face crisis, a small door opens somewhere inside and we begin to ponder life. Through tragedy we become seekers launched on a path where everything and everyone becomes a life lesson that touches and teaches us.

The nightmare does have a happy ending. Chris’s short life blessed the entire family with joy, and his great life and death teachings of unconditional love, the fragility of life, and the gift that all life no matter who we are or how short it may be…lives on.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

 

Announcement

Another Bag full cover FINAL.001

Another BAG Another DAY

Percy and I are excited to announce Another BAG Another DAY is now also available for purchase through KOBO and iTunes.

Another BAG Another DAY continues to be available through AMAZON worldwide.

&

Better WITH a Bag Than IN a BAG is available through AMAZON worldwide, KOBO, and iTunes.

Providence Smiles Upon Land, Air & Water

There is beauty and music in the movement of clouds and winds. There is beauty in the

ocean wave

Atlantic Ocean – Palm Bay Florida © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

flowers, birds, animals and varieties of plants. There is beauty in the valleys, hills and mountains. There is beauty in the symphony of reflections, ripples and tumultuous waves. There is beauty in the creatures on the shore and below the surface of the sea. Beauty in the vivid colours, meandering rivers, and moon lit nights. Beauty we hold in our hearts in the hope that our planet’s masterpieces will always be our imperishable jewels.

An ostomate’s 2nd chance at life is a great gift. With our bonus lives, we are given the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges of life itself once and again, made fresh and anew with our rebirth. Sometimes our difficult situations conceal beautiful moments from our human sight, and then suddenly reveals life’s secrets to us when we stumble upon them. At other times we are impressed with the magnificence of all creations including ourselves, when we take the time to appreciate our lives and the life around us, taking nothing for granted. Ostomate or non-ostomate, we all get one life to live, and every day we wake up with another chance to give and receive the best we can to and from life.

Pictures speak a thousand words, and so I hope you enjoy this small pictorial romp through the grandeur of the part of the planet where I’ve spent the past few months as I delighted in exploring and photographing the jewels I came upon. ENJOY!

Blue Jellyfish

Portuguese Man of War ©ALL RIGHT RESERVED Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

 

2 Dock Ibis

Lovers ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

 

palm tree clouds

Sunlit Clouds ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Crab at Beach

Crusty Crab ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

 

Edgar ruffled feathers

Snowy Egret ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

 

 

Sand Angels

Christmas is upon us and the music of the Christmas season is playing on the radio. We sway to the sounds of crackling, crystalline snow. There are

Christmas Wreath

MERRY CHRISTMAS

songs that transport us to enchanted glacial vistas, sometimes with a jingling tempo, and at other times with songs that bring us to storybook powdery northern vistas. All beautiful as they transport us back in time and space.

We’re celebrating our first Christmas south, way south of our pure white Canadian home. As I listen to the music, it really strikes me as to how odd that my head is filled with visions and memories of sparkling snow, while my body is nestled on a sandy beach all warm and glowing in the sparkling sun. What a contrasting effect!

As the radio station is playing “Sleigh Ride”, my body is heating up in the sun and my mind is wandering as it often does and I find that I’m changing the words of the song as I sing along to fit my southern experience.

(Sleigh Ride is a piece composed by Leroy Anderson completed in February 1948. Originally an instrumental piece, lyrics, about a person who would like to ride in a sleigh on a winter’s day with another person, were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950. The orchestral version was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Over the years, the song has become a Christmas standard.)

So, with a lighthearted celebration of Christmas, here’s my version of “Sleigh Ride” that I call, “Sand Angels”.

SAND ANGELS

Just hear those beach venders bells jingle-ing

Ring ting tingle-ing too

Come on, it’s lovely weather

For making sand angels together with you

Outside the sand is heating up

And friends are calling “Yoo Hoo”

Come on, it’s lovely weather

For making sand angels with you

Giddy-yap, giddy-yap, giddy-yap

Let’s go

Let’s look at the ocean ebb and flow

We’re sitting in a wonderland of sand

Giddy-yap, giddy-yap, giddy-yap it’s grand

Just holding your hand

We’re dancing in our beach chairs with the song

Of a beachy fairyland

Our cheeks are nice and our noses burnt red

And comfy cozy are we

We’re snuggled up like two

shore birds of a feather would be

Let’s take a walk on the stretch of beach

And sing a chorus or two

Come on, it’s lovely weather

For making sand angels together with you

There’s a beach party under the sun umbrella at Crusty Crabs

We’ll be singing the songs we love to sing without a stop

At the fire pit while we watch popcorn pop

Pop! Pop! Pop!

There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy

When they pass around the beer and we swat the flies

It’ll nearly be like a picture print of Beach Comber Sy

These wonderful things are the things

We remember all through our lives

©2015 Jo-Ann L. Tremblay All Rights Reserved

We miss our Canadian family and friends, but for this year, we are celebrating the Christmas season with all of its joy and reverence having fun in the sun.

Mark, Percy and I, wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR. May 2016 be the best year yet for ALL.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay – Ostomate

Percy Stoma (Eol. Poopology)

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

PS – We so excited, check our newly re-desgined lighthearted and informative website – www.jo-annltremblay.com

Crab at Beach

 

Every Tomorrow Has Two Handles

Nov. 15 Blog Post

Photographer: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay Start Of A New Day

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with one handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. – Henry Ward Beecher

Living with a chronic physical, emotional and/or mental health issue is like perpetually riding a roller coaster for the first time. When we have a flare up of any sort we feel the rapid reversal of direction and that can be scary because of the unknown ahead in our highly dynamic individual health environment.

When the reversal hits, its like the feeling you get in an auto accident. Everything appears in ultra-slow motion as you see the oncoming vehicle. You’re powerless to move. All you can do is get that sick feeling in your stomach when you know the pain is about to strike, and there is nothing you can do about it. Then, the excruciating painful reality hits you hard…full force…WHAM!

On the roller coaster, once we realize the ups are always followed by the downs and visa versa, and we can see the snaking of the track ahead of us, then we can begin to anticipate the next inevitable reversal and brace ourselves for it.

We know we won’t be able to avoid it, but with each reversal we become more accustomed to the sudden changes, pulls, and drops.

When my ostomy (Percy Stoma), was created, it was during emergency lifesaving surgery. When I awakened from the 8 hour surgery I found that I was now an ostomate. I had no idea what an ostomy was. I had no clue about what was required to take care of myself, nor how to care for my ostomy.

At that pivotal point in my life I had been permanently physiologically altered, and so, was inevitably emotionally and mentally altered. I didn’t know what to think, how to behave, nor how I was going to go forward in life. I didn’t even know what the new me was, let alone how to be the new me.

Everyone has their individualized life issue(s), in my case I am an ostomate. It has taken years of research through;

  • connecting with fellow ostomates
  • joining a local ostomy support group
  • a member of ostomy social media groups
  • following ostomy websites, newsletters, blogs
  • and, meeting with Enterostomal Therapists (ET Nurses).

Through my research and connections, after 4 years I now for the most part feel the confidence in knowing I am no longer blindfolded as I live my ostomy roller coaster ride.

Through knowledge and better understanding of our chronic life/health issue(s), we are able to rip away the blindfold, as we live with the perpetual knowing that as the days, weeks and months go by the next gut-wrenching reversal of direction will occur. That’s the emotional character of the experienced person with chronic life/health issues.

Whatever life/health issue you live, whatever community of humanity you choose, and through whatever medium that works for you, know that; through connecting with like minded people who can relate and live the same issues as you do, (and there are many-you are not alone), you will feel the support. As you give and receive from each other you learn so very much. You will know how to prepare for the worst, and adapt as best you can to the ups and downs.

The key is: adaptation.

We can adapt better when we know what is coming, we learn to know when it might happen, what could possibly bring it on, and we have a plan to adjust to our new normal, our new world.

As every tomorrow unfolds as it will and come what may, we are presented with two handles to choose from, this is the choice for today and for our tomorrow.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

 

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”