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HAWMC Day 7: Why I Named My Colon

I've started to write this particular post several times in the last couple months, and today is health activist's choice for HAWMC, which means I get to write about whatever I want. So, I figure now's the time to get it out there.

I've written several times about how I named my colon, but I never really specified why, and I think that's pretty important. The truth is that I didn't even know why I was doing it at first. I was going through a really rough flare and reading Are You My Guru: How Medicine, Medication & Madonna Saved My Life by Wendy Shanker (which you should totally pick up). I had read a review of the book on and it sounded really interesting, so I bought it on Amazon. At one point, Wendy visits some sort of non-western medicine practitioner (I can't remember the proper terminology, it was a while ago...) and is asked whether she's named her liver, the organ that was causing the most trouble for her at the time. She, of course, answered no. But then she did name it. And talked to it. I thought that sounded kind of fun.

So, I set about trying to find a good name for my colon. Eventually, it came to me. Myrtle. After the Hogwarts ghost that lives in the plumbing. Perfect. So, I introduced my friends and family to my newly-christened colon and before long it became common practice to ask me how Myrtle was feeling. Or when she would grumble, my friends would say "Oh! Myrtle's not happy, is she?"

At first, I just thought it was just this funny, quirky, kind of clever thing that I did. Just another way of keeping a good sense of humor about the whole situation. Soon, though, I realized that it was changing the way I understood and communicated with my disease. I know that seems like a weird thing, to communicate with my Crohn's, but I can't think of a better way of describing it. See, naming my colon was about recognizing that there was a part of me that I was ignoring. It was about conceptualizing stomach pain and grumbling as not just symptoms of my disease, but as my body communicating its needs. It was after I named my colon that I started to be okay with it. Instead of yelling at one another, we were in conversation. It was, and is, great.

It also gave the people around me a new understanding of my disease. It gave them a "safe" way of bringing it up. Instead asking, "how are you feeling?" It became, "how's Myrtle?" Which is at once funny and caring. Suddenly, because I had named (literally) the source of my discomfort, it was okay to talk about it/her. It was almost fun, actually. Certainly funny.

So, that's why I named my colon. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made, even if I didn't realize it at the time.


  1. This is a brilliant idea! I'm totally gonna do it, but it has to be the perfect name. It'd be nice to having a working relationship with my guts instead of us always being at odds with each other.


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