On The Edge & Close Enough To Kill

A human being is a fragile creature. Life is a test of survival for all. When the circumstances are right, we borderline invincible. When the circumstances are wrong

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Photo by: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

we stand at the edge of the abyss and our scream of anguish stretches to infinity. We are a contradiction of strength and vulnerability, we are the hard and the soft.

Everyone we meet in this life at one time or for many times, have and will endure life on the bleeding edge of some form of disaster. Be it physical, emotional, intellectual, and/or an assault on their human spirit. The ghosts of past trauma shift amid the shadow play of light and dark. Always at the back of our mind we hear the whispering of potential future trauma, trauma we hope will never come.

As we stand on the edge and scan the deep within, we wonder if with foresight we can see the signs. Most of the time it’s a matter of hindsight and we feel we should have seen the signs.

Hubby and I have left our home in the frozen north and have arrived in our Florida home to spend our winter in the warmth of the southern sun, and into the welcoming arms of our Floridian friends. The fact of life as an ostomate is; no matter where I am a breach awaits a breath away. A potential intestinal obstruction lurks within. Chronic discomfort as I hold everything inside, gnaws at my very nerves igniting lightning bolts that spark, burn and singe. This is my ongoing challenge. Your challenging circumstances, whatever they may be, will cause a breach in your calm, an obstruction of flow, and an attack on your sensitive nervous system, and it is only a breath away. For everyone, life can turn in an instant for the worse or for the better.

Still, 5 years since my brush with death, a moment or a situation can at times leave me tense like a rabbit in the headlights. The disease and altered physiology I must live with now simmers as a low-grade anger warmed past grief. Trauma like this, or any trauma you have or will experience, can be tackled head-on-bulled-through without looking back. For most of us the trauma lives in layers of angles, colours, and textures, that at a drop of a hat, a familiar moment, a remembered smell, will dissolve us into a trembling heap.

Sitting on our Florida deck looking out upon the inland canal, frothy clouds brush the horizon. A gentle breeze whispers through the fronds of a palmetto brush. Bluie the Blue Heron and Edgar the Egret are fishing at the shore. The park is quiet as the sun sinks past its zenith, the lazy afternoon stretches out and in a few hours it will be the time of the  long shadows. This ancient and earthly ritual plays out every day, no matter our human experiences of the moment.

Painful memories are soothed as I run my fingers, trailing them down the arm of my chair. In this moment of time I’m relieved by the serenity and tinkling of the dancing water beside me. The urge to connect the past to the present is dissolving into the steamy warmth surrounding me.

Glancing back to Bluie and Edgar, our wild neighbours who gave us such joy last year, I’m reminded of my worry for them this fall when hurricane Mathew threatened its windy
terror. Bluie, Edgar and many of the wildlife eking out a living in the canal were in direct line of Mathew and their prospect for survival was precarious. Possibly they knew it was coming. Definitely they took the necessary steps available to them to increase their odds of survival. Then, they must have hunkered down to weather the tempest in a bottle, probably trembling in fear, only to emerge when calm reappeared. They returned to their goal of living full and fruitful, (in their case, fishy), lives. Sunning themselves, hunting and foraging for food, arguing with other feathered, scaled, and furry neighbours for territory and the best fishing grounds. Life in all its fury and calm, back to normal.

Their approach to life is amazing. They emerged from the depths of chaos to not only survive, but to thrive. They were close enough to have been killed, they hunkered down at the edge, they carry the scars, and they have moved back to the centre of their being to recapture and re-experience life. Their way is a powerful true life surviving and on to thriving, example for all.

We have catastrophes that descend upon us once, twice or many times in the span of our lives. If we survive it is imperative that we strive to thrive. It isn’t the easy journey, there are no individualized road maps to follow, there are always bumps on the road to navigate, and we wear the physical, emotional, mental, and human spirit scars. But, like Bluie and Edgar’s example, no matter the circumstances that brings us to the edge of the abyss, although we may feel vulnerable, tense and tingle, we need to muster the strength to transcend our fear as we step forward with the determined certainty to thrive. And, then there are the inevitable days we just need to hold our nose and get on with getting on with, in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day. And as they say, “that’s life”.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

 

www.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.”

Friends Are Better Than Therapy

We left our home in the cold north last November to spend the winter in the warm sunny south. It was at this time we also left our friends behind. We arrived at our

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Photographer: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay 

winter home in a community where we knew only a few people, it could have been lonely, but as it turns out this is not the case.

We have become members of a neighbourhood with a true sense of community. There is no doubt the setting is well kept and beautiful, and our little home is nestled on the banks of a canal filled with fish, waterfowl, and the occasional alligator. But the natural beauty is only part of the joy, it is the people who pull it altogether.

In the mornings when I take a walk, everyone I meet along the way, greet one another with a smile and a wave. If someone needs a helping hand, there is a line up of folks ready to give of themselves. In the afternoon when I wander down to the bay, people exercising their dogs, people fishing, and folks like me simply enjoying the day, catch up with the latest news. Our community friends are our pals and buddies.

We all have different lifestyles, have come from different places, we follow separate paths, thoughts and memories, yet the feeling of fellowship with each other is powerful indeed.

A short while ago I met a new friend who is a fellow ostomate. She is new at this life altering living and we spent an afternoon sharing our experiences and knowledge gained. At the end of our delightful afternoon we decided to organize a “ladies night out”. Within a  few weeks through word of mouth, we decided to go to the Crab House Restaurant within walking distance from our community, and off we went. With laughs, giggles, great conversations, sharing pictures and more, we who are ostomates and our non-ostomate friends shared a wonderful evening of food, drink, merriment and camaraderie.

Communities come in all shapes and sizes, and they come together for different reasons. We humans are social and when we share a feeling of community with others we are drawn together in fellowship regardless of age, race, colour and creed. Together no matter our personal circumstances, challenges and triumphs, we receive and express support, balance, harmony and joy with our community of humanity and our world.

In our book of life the next page is blank. As we greet the new day a page is turned, and we fill that page with our life happenings. The people who share the day with us sit at the heart of our story. As always the language of the heart is eloquent.

Fellow ostomtes you are not alone, join an ostomy support group, become a member of an ostomy social media group, connect with your ostomate and non-ostomate friends and neighbours. When you do this, you fill the pages of your life story with the joy of people, as you strive to live your life to the fullest, come what may.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

Website: jo-annltremblay.com

 

 

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

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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

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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

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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.”