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.

“Hey, Gramma Jo Has a Moustache”

Hey gramma jo moutache

Photo By: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Called out by my 4 year old granddaughter as I walked into the living room. Honesty from the mouths of the innocent little ones. With chuckles and laughs, I peeked into the mirror, and she is right! I’m in the 6th decade of my life journey and my body is reflecting the mileage, pain and wonder, of a life that was almost cut short several years ago.

When my stoma Percy was created there was instantly a rupture in the normal course of my life. It was an emergency lifesaving surgery, and I was left stunned into incomprehension. Ostomy had never been discussed, I didn’t really know what an ostomy was, I only knew some folks eliminate in a pouch, whatever that meant. The tragedy of the illness that brought me to that point, and the physical alteration the would be permanent, sent me on a turbulent intellectual, emotional and physical, pilgrimage to discover the meanings in and of my life.

Although my colon was no longer connected, my whole being began to reconnect as I began to recount and then discover what is important to me, what is meaningful, and what is not meaningful anymore. The pain revealed things not otherwise had ever been seen by me. When I arrived at the core of my pain it marked the moment when what was unseen in normal circumstances became more visible.

My pilgrimage continued, I stepped beyond the core as I expanded my insights through the communication and connection with other ostomates. Their experiences and observations became my teacher. Through the teachings I progressively modified my own knowledge base and my attitude.

With each new pain, tragedy, joy, and life triumph experienced during the bonus times of this life journey, I am alive. With each experience I am given the opportunity to expand and enhance the depth of meaning of the beauty of life. The beauty of living life large, living every tiny piece of intimacy, and living life to the fullest, in spite of it all.

With a moustache, wrinkles, bulges, sags and my stoma Percy, I am not an extraordinary person. I am rather, an everyday person, an average Jo with a deep love of life. I never expected this turn in my life journey. But as I have learned, in the heart of any and all human pain, tragedy, joy and triumph, there are things that we never dreamt and imagined.

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

 

 

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.

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”

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.