Ask An Ostomy Lifestyle Expert

Jo-Ann provides a fresh and candid outlook, through valuable tips and perspectives about how to live with an ostomy, from her own experiences.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Jo-Ann’s Bio

After lifesaving emergency surgery, Jo-Ann has had her colostomy since July 2011, her positive outlook on life has enabled her to thrive her life-changing alteration. A 2nd chance at life is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top. Her journey inspired her to write her second book, “Better WITH a Bag Than IN a Bag” – From the brink of death to recovery through humour and inspiration, published in 2012. Jo-Ann’s desire to share awareness and advocacy further inspired her to create the blog, “THE OSTOMY FACTOR”,, enjoyed by ostomates around the world. Vice-president of the consulting firm Novacomm since 1987, and proprietor of Potentials Management since 2004, Jo-Ann is a life coach consultant for private individuals, corporations and government agencies.

“My goal while working with the Ostomy Canada Society, as an Ostomy Lifestyle Expert, is to spread awareness, education and uplift people about life with an ostomy, through sharing tips I have learned along the way, and answering your questions with the intent on helping to make your life easier.”

As part of Ostomy Canada Society’s dedication to continually grow our resources and support, we are pleased to welcome you to the “Ask The Ostomy Lifestyle Experts” feature.

People with an ostomy, those with surgery pending, ostomy caregivers and healthcare professionals are encouraged to enjoy this column for education, inspiration and a healthy dose of optimism from Jo-Ann L. Tremblay, Ostomy Canada Society Medical Advisory Committee, Ostomy Lifestyle Experts.

To ask a question of the Ostomy Lifestyle Experts, send an email to:

By sending an email, you are agreeing to letting your question be used in the Ostomy Canada magazine and/or on our website. All replies will be through the column, general in nature, and anonymous.

Question and Answer Section

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  • Ask an Ostomy Lifestyle Expert
  • ileostomy
  • Leakage
  • ostomy clothing
  • urostomy

Skin Irritation Issues

Question: What can I do for red itchy pimply rash under the flange? Response: Skin irritation around your stoma is usually caused by leakage from your ostomy pouch and the output from your stoma getting underneath the adhesive and onto your skin. It is uncomfortable and can stop your pouch from working well. The skin …

Skin Irritation Issues Read More »

Odour Issues

Question: I had a permanent colostomy surgery in May of this year. I am doing very well other than a few minor issues. Hope you can give me some helpful advice. Though I have good adherence of the pouch I find after a day with a new pouch I sense a very subtle odour. The …

Odour Issues Read More »

Ostomy Costs – Ontario

Question: I was looking for some information on the estimated costs of looking after an ostomy in Ontario. I am a Canadian currently living in the UK. My husband, who is 73, has both a permanent Ileostomy and a Colostomy. In the UK all stoma supplies are covered by the NHS. We are thinking of …

Ostomy Costs – Ontario Read More »

Output Issues

Question: I am a 70-year old woman with a colostomy due to rectal cancer which occurred in my mid 30’s. For the first 25 years after surgery, I rarely experienced any problems of living with an ostomy and was even a little smug about how easy management of an ostomy could be. However, all this …

Output Issues Read More »

Ostomy Canada Connects for September 2019

For the latest information about Ostomy Canada Society, read our monthly newsletter: Click here to download the file.

Bathing with a stoma

Question: Am wondering what procedures required with having a bag and wanting to have a bath? Do you keep the bag on, or clean the stoma and leave bag off? Response: You can bathe, shower, swim as normal with your stoma, unless you have been specifically advised otherwise. You can do so with the stoma …

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Anal Discharge

Question: I have a permanent ostomy, my anus and rectum have been removed. People tell me I can experience leakage, is that possible. Response: Not everyone with a stoma will have a discharge from the rectum. One of the most common surgical procedures resulting in the formation of a permanent colostomy is called an Abdomino …

Anal Discharge Read More »

Probiotics Question – May 2019

Question: Hello: I have an ileostomy and I would like to find out how to select a good probiotic that would reduce or prevent blockages. I noticed that today we have a huge selection in the stores. Thank you in advance for your suggestions and expert advise. Response: Probiotics are live micro-organisms intended to provide …

Probiotics Question – May 2019 Read More »

Allergy to Appliances – April 2019

Question: Perhaps you can shed some light on how I should handle this ongoing problem. I have an allergic reaction to the adhesive on most appliances. How am I to handle this? Not wearing a bag is not an option. Any thoughts? Thank you Response: My first recommendation is to contact a NSWOC (Nurses Specialized …

Allergy to Appliances – April 2019 Read More »

Support Groups – April 2019

Question: Hello, Please help me find an ostomy support group in my area of Stouffville. I am about to undergo the surgery and would like to talk to other patients like myself. Thank you. Response: The Ostomy Canada Society is pleased to assist in all ostomy Chapters and Support Groups inquiries, by providing a very …

Support Groups – April 2019 Read More »

Ileostomy – diarrhea after reversal – April 2019

Question: I had an ileostomy for 9 months. Then, in January 2018 it was reversed. Still diarrhea every single day. I’d like to ask if there is any rehabilitation for people in the same situation? Response: Managing Changes in Bowel Function The first recommendation would be to discuss your bowel movement concerns with your physician. …

Ileostomy – diarrhea after reversal – April 2019 Read More »

Rectal Leakage

January 2019 Question: Hello. On April 24, 2018, I had surgery to section my upper rectum due to cancer. I have had an ileostomy, since then surgery to re-sect has been delayed by slow healing at the surgical site. Initially after surgery I had a lot of mucous leakage through the rectum … several months …

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January, 2019 Question: I have had surgery on November 20, 2018, to remove rectal cancer. I am now dealing with a colostomy, the removal of my rectum, the reconstruction of my vagina and skin grafts. The recovery is slow. I am having issues because my stools are very dense and heavy which leads to pancaking …

Pancaking Read More »

Help with reversal

Question December 2018 Hello. I had ileostomy for 9 months. And about an year ago it was reversed. I have been having such a huge effect since then. Diarrhea every single day, very frequent attending a toilet. It’s impossible! I would like to ask is it possible to get any help? It would be perfect …

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Use of Stents

November 2018 Question Question: My Father had a radical cystectomy for treatment of advanced bladder 11 months ago. He has an ileal Conduit diversion with urostomy. His stoma has retracted to just below the abdomen, below skin level. Unfortunately his treatment thus far has involved having stents remain in place and changed every 6 weeks …

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Where to find Support in Vaughan

September 2018 Question: I just had my first surgery. I came across this website and looking for some guidance. Where is the best place/cost efficient to buy products? Are there any support groups in Vaughan?   Response:  New and seasoned people with ostomies find value in our connection with one another. There are many Ostomy …

Where to find Support in Vaughan Read More »

Numbness in heel

September, 2018 Question: Hello, We live in Canada. My father underwent a colostomy surgery 6 months ago. He does not speak english so i am trying to help him. He has a strong heel numbness which causing discomfort especially when he is about to sleep. Just wondering if you could give us some advices how …

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Problems with Ureterostomy night collection tubing

August, 2018 Comment: I have had a Ureterostomy for 2 1/2 years now and have noticed something I am not sure about. I use a night collection bottle and the tube that connects the collection bag to the night bottle starts to turn black after a very short time and after 3-4 months it is …

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How does a person empty their pouch? Both at home and out?

Emptying your ostomy pouch seems to be an individual thing. Whatever way you have discovered, it’s okay. You do have a few options when emptying your pouch at home: You can sit far back on the toilet seat. Kneel on the floor beside the toilet. (Use a towel or pillow to protect your knees.) You …

How does a person empty their pouch? Both at home and out? Read More »

Reversal – Yes or No?

May, 2018 Question: Hi…looking for suggestions on how to handle a very difficult decision. I am 70 and have a temporary ileostomy. The surgeon is willing to do the take down, but all I have heard is horror stories about the long recovery process. A year at this stage of my life is a long …

Reversal – Yes or No? Read More »

Rectal Discharge

November, 2017 Question: I am three weeks post surgery. My ostomy is to be reversed in three months. I was told to expect some rectal discharge and did have some. However yesterday I experienced some uncontrollable brown discharge. Is this normal and will it subside? Response: People who have an ostomy and have an intact …

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Stoma Revision Fears

November, 2017 Question: I have had my ileostomy for 40 years. During the past 2 years my stoma has shrunken to 1/4 inch on good days and is usually flush to my skin. I also have a hernia around it, and a very tight opening through the stoma. I do suffer from cramps but no …

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Abdominal Tightness

October, 2017 Question: I have had my ostomy since surgery Nov. 2015. For the last 6 months to a year I feel that I have a tight belt around my stomach. I’m not constipated and I don’t have a blockage. Is this normal? No pain, just very uncomfortable. It’s not the belt because I’ve loosened …

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Stain Removal

October 2017 Message Body: I hope you include information for caregivers in your service. My husband has an ileostomy and I’m his caregiver/helper. Can you help me with advice for doing laundry after leaks producing strong stains on white underwear and sheets? Thank you. Response: Caregivers are vital and dedicated members of the recovery and …

Stain Removal Read More »


September, 2017 Question: Thank-you for being available to take questions. I am 65 and have had an Ileostomy for 6 yrs. I have had Crohn’s for 35 years and Ankylosing Spondylitis for 5 or more years. So, I face many indirect over-the-counter pharmaceutical costs that I try to struggle to manage. There has been a …

Probiotics Read More »

Bowel Movement with a new Ileostomy

August, 2017 Question: I just had an ileostomy three weeks ago and just had a bowel movement (only one turd) plus brown, poopy mucus. Is this normal? Response: You and your body are only 3 weeks post surgery, it will take awhile to adjust both physically and psychologically to your new body function change. As …

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Ostomy Bulge

July, 2017 Question: My colostomy bulges out like a large breast from my stomach. Is there a product made that can hold in this bulge even for an hour or so when I am out doing errands? Is there any harm in wearing such a product? Response: When you mention your colostomy bulges out like …

Ostomy Bulge Read More »


July, 2017 Question: I have an ilesotomy and do have a hernia, have had 4 blockages this spring and am nervous about diet and different food’s effects with regard to blockages or diarrhea. Response: Illeostomy – Dealing with a potential blockage: After an ileostomy is created, it may be harder to digest foods that are …

Blockages Read More »

Stoma Length Change

July, 2017 Question Is it normal for a stoma to change in length over time? Response No two stomas are exactly the same. But, all stomas do share similarities. They have the same basic shape – round or oval, and most stomas either protrude from the skin several centimetres, or are flush with the skin. …

Stoma Length Change Read More »

Reversal Surgery Delays

July, 2017 Question: I am a 46 yrs old single white caucasian male EMS/EHS professional who had been injured several yr’s ago, I developed intra abd abscess’s and hernia’s chronic bowl obstruction’s etc, In Oct 2015 physicians operated on me and gave me what was only supposed to be 90-120 day Ileostomy and to have …

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Getting a Good Seal Around the Stoma

July, 2017 Question: Hello, I have a temporary ileostomy. My surgery was in December. I have been dealing with stabbing pain since. My surgeon doesn’t know how to help. The surgeon and ET nurse talked about granular tissue around the stoma. In January they cauterized the red lumps/ granular tissue. The pain has come back. …

Getting a Good Seal Around the Stoma Read More »

The affect of stress on an ostomy appliance

July, 2017 Question: Does stress cause an ostomy to leak or affect the adhesiveness of the bag opening? Response: There are times when all ostomates encounter appliances that just won’t stick, and this is frustrating to deal with. We have all shared these experiences. There is always a cause for adhesives failing, and once you …

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Question about an ostomy shield

June, 2017 Question: I have a colon ostomy bag and I’m trying to find a Canadian company that sells some type of shield to place over the bag so I can put my belt over the opening. Response: Great news! The company Convatec has a free stoma guard you can try. You simply need to …

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Ostomy Alert System

June 27, 2017 Question: Hello, Is there any kind of device that exists to alert me that my bag needs to be emptied – it doesn’t fill up at the same speed and I’m just wondering? Thank you Response: An ostomy bag alert system is a very good idea! After extensive research I have found …

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Hip Replacement with an Ostomy

Question: I have had an ileostomy for 39 years I am now 80 yrs old and need a hip replacement has anyone else had this surgery at my age I am fairly healthy? Response: Hip replacement surgery is a common enough procedure today. Your responsibilities will be to work closely with your healthcare team, don’t …

Hip Replacement with an Ostomy Read More »

Support for a Blind Ostomate

March, 2017 Question: I am a CCAC care coordinator and one of my clients is losing their vision due to macular degeneration. I am wondering if there are resources to allow her to learn how to do her own colostomy care at home. She has had the ostomy for years but is now going blind. …

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Ask the Ostomy Lifestyle Expert – March 2017

March, 2017 Question: I do have a question, been using the one piece system on our son, he’s had a new ostomy now for about a week, I put it on correctly, but it doesn’t seem to hold for more then 8 hours at a time. He does pull his sweat pants upward, and sometimes …

Ask the Ostomy Lifestyle Expert – March 2017 Read More »

Ask the Ostomy Lifestyle Expert – February 2017

Question: Is it common or unusual for waste to come out of both passages? I had an incident where I had been having cramping for a few days and then I passed a small amount of poop through my anus and also through the stoma. I have had my ostomy for about 10 months and …

Ask the Ostomy Lifestyle Expert – February 2017 Read More »

Pouch Size Problems

January, 2018 Question: Information or who we could contact to discuss pouch size problem or a supplier? My sister had cancer and is having problems. Currently her bowel movements are during the night and using the “bag” she originally started out with, is not large enough so she tries to stay awake during the night …

Pouch Size Problems Read More »

Dealing with Leakage

January, 2017 Message Body: I’ve been suffering with Crohn’s for over 10 years. I just recently had the ostomy surgery in Oct 2016. It’s been a very big lifestyle change and my incision still has not healed. My stoma is sinking in and on 1 side causing leakage every day, which has my entire tummy …

Dealing with Leakage Read More »

Ballooning effect in pouches during flights

January, 2017 Question Message Body: I’ve had an ileostomy for almost 20 yrs and I’m wondering if there are any tips or tricks that you are aware of that can reduce the ballooning effect in pouches during flights. I’ve flown quite a few times and I always have issues with ballooning during take off and …

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Info about living with an ostomy in Canada

December, 2016 Questions: I’m a 30-year colostomate and in about a week’s time I will presenting a 30-40 minute program about living with an ostomy in other countries for our Northern Virginia Ostomy Support Group. Can  you help me by answering any of the following questions? 1) Where do ostomates in Canada obtain supplies? 2) Who …

Info about living with an ostomy in Canada Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (December 2016) – Reversal Surgery Concerns

December, 2016 Subject: reversal of stoma surgery Message Body: I have had a ostomy for 8 months and now looking at a reversal surgery. What are the things I should be concerned about? What is the recovery time? Is this procedure common? Answer: Stoma reversal depends on the individual and the nature of the surgery. …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (December 2016) – Reversal Surgery Concerns Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (November 2016) – Skin around Ostomy Care

November, 2016 Question: My skin around my stoma is blistered (but not the stoma) I have used the stoma powder but that is not helping.  Should I make an appointment with the doctor? Response: Healthy skin around your stoma is very important, and should be consistently cared for. If the powder you have been using …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (November 2016) – Skin around Ostomy Care Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (September 2016) – Vision Problems and Ostomy Care

September, 2016 Question I have a question for you. I am a student Occupational Therapist working on a school project regarding ostomy care. I have a client who is having difficulty with putting on her ostomy bag due to progressive vision loss (macular degeneration). She finds that she has difficulty placing the wafer correctly surrounding …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (September 2016) – Vision Problems and Ostomy Care Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (June 2016) – Urostomy Night Attachment Device

June, 2016 Question I was wondering if you could help.  My mom has been living with an ostomy bag, (I hope I have the terminology right- it’s for urine) mostly changing it herself for about 15 – 20 years. We recently moved her from a retirement condo where she was living independently to a retirement …

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Ostomy Lifestyle Question (June 2016)

Question: I had my ileal conduit surgery Mar.2016, though the surgery was successful I am experiencing vaginal discharge, odourless , light brownish . Response: When we undergo surgery such as an ileal conduit surgery, it takes a while to heal, and no doubt your body is still healing. The surgeon did a lot of work in …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (June 2016) Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (May 2016)

QUESTION: I really hope you can give me some online stores from which I may purchase some ostomy-friendly underwear and an ostomy wrap. I just had my surgery two weeks ago and I am having trouble having ostomy clothing delivered to Canada, from over the internet. RESPONSE: Thank you for your great question. Unfortunately, Ostomy …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (May 2016) Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (March 2016)

March, 2016 Message Body: As a result of radiation damage from cancer treatment in 1990, I had a permanent colostomy in March, 2012 and I am scheduled to have an Ileal Conduit in April of 2016. I am kind of freaked out to know that I am going to have two ostomys to care for …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (March 2016) Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (February 2016)

February, 2016 Question: I had my ileostomy in Dec 2015. I have had the mucus from my anus but I am now experiencing hemorrhoids. It feels like I have the urgency to release from my bowels but I when I go to toilet its a liquid and I have red blood. Is this normal and …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (February 2016) Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (February 2016)

Question: Is it safe to take anti acids with my loop ileostomy? I take Tecta and I find that my output is mostly mucus and a horrendous smell afterward. Gaviscon isn’t as bad but still have mucus/sludgy output. Thanks for your time. Response: Yes it is safe to take antacids with an ileostomy. Antacids can …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (February 2016) Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (February 2016)

February, 2016 Question: My depression around my stoma is at the bottom and both sides. Hernia is at the top. I now use a coloplast or salts ring rolled into a worm shape. My wear time is not good lately. Should I use a full convex ring or try to double up at the depression. …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (February 2016) Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (January 2016)

Question: Hi my husband had a oleo stormy on Jan.5/16. Everything is going well but a couple of times he as the feeling he wants to move his bowels. The doctor told him that was normal and to go ahead. So when he did he had a lot of blood is this normal or should …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (January 2016) Read More »

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (September 2015)

September, 2015 Question: Hi I have had mine for 8 years but in the past 3 weeks it is putting out more than u can imagine. The pain comes and goes drinking lots. I have no large bowel left and not much of small. Had to have rectum removes as well. I have a disease …

Ostomy Lifestyle Question (September 2015) Read More »

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