Naming body parts – Do you name yours?
A stoma. Just another body part. Like a leg or an arm, your ears or your little finger, it has a purpose and does its job to keep our bodies working. It just looks and functions slightly different to the majority of other peoples. Yet somehow it’s far more than just another body part. For some of us it ended years of pain and anguish. For some it saved their lives. I’ve heard people say their stoma is “a miracle” and “I’m crazy about her”.
Others are still unsure and coming to terms with theirs. Of course you wouldn’t choose to have a stoma over normal functioning bowels, but for many of us, there was no other option, and it is here to stay. For me, it is now a part of me, and in many ways it is an incredibly fascinating and interesting part of me.
Whichever way you look at it, stomas can be temperamental little things and certainly have a mind of their own. They can be unpredictable, and unlike a regular bowel function, we certainly have no control over them! You might liken having a stoma to having a pet. I know that sounds a bit odd, but hear me out! You have to look after it, feed it (well, ourselves), clean it, and there are even similarities in having to get rid of the poo, only we change or empty our poo from a bag, not pick it up from the backyard!
It’s a living thing. Mine is my friend (most of the time), with its own unique personality! Some people with an ostomy talk to it, and sometimes it even responds. Okay, you may not be able to have an intelligible conversation with it like a friend, but it definitely has its own opinions, particularly on certain topics (such as disliking something we’ve just eaten and protesting with lots of little farts)! I like to think that it can hear and understand at least some of my words of encouragement and thanks. I even feel guilty after I scold mine for misbehaving! Some of us even celebrate our stoma’s birthday or “stomaversary”, and we go on lots of adventures together.
I haven’t named my stoma, like many people do. I like to call mine “my little guy” or “my little buddy”. I do talk to him quite regularly. When we were travelling, I got into the habit of welcoming him to each new country the first time I changed my bag in each place, and asking him what he thought about things. When we returned to Australia I thought he might have a poo spew everywhere in protest of being back! I thanked him for behaving himself (on most occasions), apologised to him if I’d eaten too much or something I could tell he was having a tougher time than normal processing for me. I let him know we were almost there if he badly needed emptying and we were on a mission to find a toilet, and often reassured him that everything was okay and he was doing an awesome job with a little pat of encouragement and gratitude.
A lot of people name theirs. I have even heard mention of creating a registry for stoma names, and I love this idea! Why name it? Naming it might be a coping mechanism for some. A way to add a bit of humour to an otherwise not very funny or fun situation. For others it is a way to thank our bodies and anatomy for being able to do such incredible things, and acknowledging our thanks and gratitude for often giving us our lives back. Some people aren’t that attached to theirs, and think it’s weird and unnecessary – like men naming their genitals?!
Whatever the case, there are thousands of stomas out there, some with and some without their own name, and there are a range of different ways people look at naming them. Perhaps not quite as much thought goes into naming a stoma as it does your children, but I thought it would be a fun thing to look into!
Some names are based on people’s personal opinion of what they think theirs looks like. For example a sea anemone, squashed tomato, rose bud or Mick Jagger (for his lips). I’m not quite sold on some of these, but each to their own! Others come from the likeness to the poo spurting action, such as Moby Dick (akin to a whale blowhole) or Mount Vesuvius (for when it erupts like a volcano).
Many think it has similarities to male genitals and thus have come up with a name related to this such as Little Dicky, B.P. (for baby penis) or Willy. C’mon, you have to admit, it does kind of look a bit like a miniature perhaps slightly shrivelled version of one! I read someone’s thoughts once suggesting that it has to be a guy, because a girl could never be that unpredictable! I’m not sure why, but I definitely see mine as a he, not a she.
Some people have different names for when theirs is well behaved versus being naughty! Rosebud for when it’s good, and butthead for when it’s bad!
Some are named after TV characters like Sponge Bob, Winnie the Poop or Oscar the Pouch. Or how about the stoma formerly known as anus?
There are even just every day normal human names (masculine and feminine), sometimes starting with an “s” or “o” for the alliteration, such as Susie the Stoma. Or named after a politician they think is full of shit (I won’t list any examples for that one)!
One of my last favourites is the name Ankh, which is the Ancient Egyptian symbol for life. Our stomas do enable us to live fulfilling lives, and unlike the saying “Men/Women, you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them”, we really can’t live without our stomas! My little guy is full of character, and I think in some strange way I might even miss him now if he wasn’t around. I will definitely be celebrating his stomaversary again this year, and I might even give him the present of a proper name!
I would love to hear from everyone else out there on your thoughts on naming body parts, and if you have a stoma, why and what you have named it. Please free to comment and join in the conversation.
Special mention to Shaz’s Ostomy pages website and forum on stoma names (http://ostomates.org/names.html) where I sourced many of the stoma names for this post.