Cancer Chronicles 3: The Naming.

It’s amazing how one thing can make such a big difference. In my case, stomach muscle. That’s sliced in order to do the colostomy, and it’s sheer agony to force that muscle into action, and there’s no choice about that, either. You can’t just lie flat for the time it takes to heal. Well, I suppose you could, but that’s not me, and I don’t like catheters. Anyroad, while you’re still in hospital, the mass amount of drugs helps to blunt the pain a bit when you have to get into a sitting or standing position. Once you’re home, it’s a symphony of contortion and pain trying to figure out the easiest way to get yourself sitting or standing. The injured and screaming stomach muscle, along with the stoma, feels incredibly heavy, you feel very weighed down. I’m 10 days out now, and the stomach muscle still feels sore, like it would after a heavy workout, but it’s a world of difference, being able to sit up, stand up straight, and be able to get into and out of bed without mass problems. I don’t feel weighted down, either. So. Much. Better.

I’m finding a need to hang on to my sense of humour with everything I have. Still on a lot of fart humour here. Makes me feel very juvenile, but that’s okay. Better than feeling ancient. So, as we’ll be living together quite a while, I figured it was time to name my stoma. Yeah, yeah, it’s silly. I don’t care. I have this very old name book, and I was flipping through, when a meaning caught my eye and made me laugh: helmeted battle maid. I looked down at my stoma, freshly bagged, and thought “that’s perfect!” The name? Grimhild. Seriously perfect. Out of curiosity, I looked Grimhild up – turns out in any incarnation, she wasn’t a nice lady type. That works too, because I am not feeling at all nice towards this part of me gone rogue.

Things get better when you get your appetite back, too. This took me quite a time, I didn’t have much appetite at all until a couple of days ago, and eating small amounts throughout the day/evening works best for me, rather than trying to do standard meals. I’ve also learned it’s best to be very fluid when it comes to sleep. This isn’t an option for everyone, especially those who want to get back to work; but I’ve found I often just can’t get to sleep when I want, so whenever I feel like I could nod off, I lay down and sleep for as long as I need. So far, that’s keeping me feeling fair energetic.

Now, I do believe Grimhild is making noises along the lines of ‘feed me’, so breakfast it is.


  1. says

    I completely understand Grimhild. I began suffering from basilar migraine syndrome 5 1/2 years ago, and at first it was diagnosed as a viral infection on one of my cranial nerves. It had such a profound effect on my function and behavior, and when it was active it felt like Athena pounding her way out of my skull as she did Zeus’. But there was no way in hell I was giving it a dignified, honored name like that. Because it so took over my life, I named it Asshole, after the BrainPal in John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War”. Now that I know it wasn’t a viral infection (a neurologist diagnosed it correctly a year or so later, after no improvement from treatment), I still call it Asshole. It helps me cope with its cognitive damage if I externalize it. I tell people it’s a symbiote living on my frontal lobe.

  2. says

    Constance Reader:

    I tell people it’s a symbiote living on my frontal lobe.

    I grok that, because it feels that way. I know well enough that Grimhild is not her own entity, but she feels like she is, and it helps me to hang on to humour and sanity.

  3. avalus says

    My aunt needed such a bag a few years ago, she named it “Helmut Kohl”, fromer chancellor of germany, in honor of her views for most his politics (mostly conservative). She also said that poop-humor helps out a lot.
    Grimhild is an interesting pick, and yes, fitting.

  4. jazzlet says

    Grimhild is an appropriate name.

    Glad you are feeling less heavy and more like eating. Sleeping when you feel sleepy is sensible, getting a good amount of sleep does help you heal more quickly and not doing it in one block is good for still getting things you want/need to do done..

  5. chigau (違う) says

    When the SO had some gut surgery a few years ago, we tied a rope to the foot of the bed and he used it to pull himself into sitting position.

  6. Raucous Indignation says

    Ah yes, the joys of surgery. One day soon after the craniectomy, I crawled miserably upstairs on hands and knees only to lay on the bedroom floor because I was too worn out and in too much pain to stand up and get into bed. Good times, good times …

  7. chigau (違う) says

    With the tiny font and speed scrolling and rapid eye movement (and rum),
    the title of this post has (more than once) reached my comprehension cortex as Narnia Chronicles
    I refuse to tell you where my mind goes what with mysterious portals and epic journeys and strange beasts…

  8. Sean Boyd says

    When my dad had his done (a year ago next week), docs were very concerned how he’d come through the surgery…lot of competing illnesses that made it risky. Even so, day of surgery, doc comes in to do the quick pre-op interview and asks my dad, “So Mr. Boyd, what are we doing for you today?” His response: “You’re tearing me a new asshole.” Juvenile, yes. Did ease the tension a bit, though. We took to calling his stoma “little fella”.

  9. says

    Sean Boyd:

    Even so, day of surgery, doc comes in to do the quick pre-op interview and asks my dad, “So Mr. Boyd, what are we doing for you today?” His response: “You’re tearing me a new asshole.”

    I was on the slab, and one of the docs was holding a mask over my face, telling me to take deep breaths, when I finally reached up to move the mask away, and said “that makes me claustrophobic”. He said okay, and held it to the side, and was explaining why to another doc who came in. I turned my head and said “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be a pain in the ass.” He grins at me, and says “so what you’re saying is, you are a pain in the ass?” I grinned back, and said “yes, but I’m a polite pain in the ass.”

    I heard later that little story was making the rounds among the anesthesiologists. :D

    Your dad gets major points for tearing me a new asshole, that didn’t even cross my mind!

Leave a Reply