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Tattoo Story – Kelly’s Octopus

octopus tattoo

Here’s the story behind Bobo, my octopus tattoo.

From 2000 to 2005 I had chronic abdominal pain caused by endometriosis, adenomyosis and uterine fibroids. Anyone who’s had chronic pain knows that it’s hard to talk about, hard to describe. You don’t want to be complaining all the time, and you don’t want people to feel sorry for you, but it’s also important to express what you’re feeling. It’s important to communicate your state of pain to other people so you don’t feel isolated and alone in your distress.

In 2002 I started characterizing my uterus as an octopus in my abdomen — a strong force of nature who was sometimes very angry and swollen, sometimes mildly stirring, sometimes blissfully asleep or gone. I named my octopus Bobo, and it was easy to talk about her. “Bobo’s very angry today,” I’d say. Or, “Bobo’s good, she’s off somewhere else and I’m so happy for her.” People could ask me, “How’s Bobo today?” and I didn’t have to feel like they were feeling sorry for me or judging me.

Talking about Bobo was an effective way for me to talk about my pain disassociated from emotions, lighthearted, playful and irreverent. The octopus was also an effective metaphor for the types of pain I was experiencing — whether she was squeezing, spikey, radiating or whatever. Bobo the octopus wasn’t bad or mean, she was simply a strong force of nature, doing what she had to do.

In February of 2005 I had a hysterectomy — a blissful, wonderful, freeing hysterectomy. I have been pain-free since my surgery and I am so thankful for no longer living with pain and pain medications. Bobo has been free in the world, set free, and I have been given my life back.

The octopus is still a powerful symbol for me. In May 2006 I got my octopus tattoo from Sasha at Electro Lady Lux in Vancouver, BC. Sasha created the custom design, and I’m so happy with it — it’s exactly what I wanted, like Sasha was reading my mind.


Tattoo by Sasha at Electro Lady Lux in Vancouver, BC

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5 Responses to “Tattoo Story – Kelly’s Octopus”

  1. Jaclyn Says:

    That is an awesome tattoo. I’ve heard great things about Electro Lady Lux…I think I might have to visit there one day for a super colourful tattoo…maybe get my scar-covering rose done there :) Awesome story too, and I’m glad Bobo has been freed to see the world :)

  2. Emgee Says:

    What a wonderful way to have delt with the situation. I’m sure it has been inspirational or will be. It’s a great thing to be able to allow yourself to think in such a way and allow for a place for those feelings.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Tara Says:

    That is a beautiful story. I just got an ocopus tattoo was referred to your story. That’s a great design and I think it’s lovely that since Bobo was gone that you got something to represent it. I like how you describe it as a force of nature doing what it needs to do:neither bad or good. That’s kinda how I view life.

  4. Lindsay Says:

    I am going through the same thing you are. It is nice to see how someone deals with this situation. I love the tattoo as well. Very beautiful!

  5. Laila Says:

    Oh my I just had the freeing hysterectomy from te exact same reasons as you! I am just finding out that there are more people out there with the same issues I had! I love the tattoo! Great survivor of the pain that was horrible!!

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