Marian P. Merritt - Lagniappe

Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Living in the Wild Wild West

A couple of weeks ago, we headed up toward the Flat Top Mountains (up Rio Blanco County Road 8 - a Colorado scenic byway) just north of our town.

With our Polaris Ranger and ice chest
in tow, we stopped near Meadow Lake--off a mountain road between Buford and New Castle-- to off-load the Ranger and then went up to the top.

Here we stopped to have lunch next to a small mountain lake. All the snow last winter and the rain this spring has made for the most amazing scenery in the mountains this summer. The wildflowers are gorgeous and all the small lakes are full. It's been a real treat.

Here are some pictures we took along our day trip. Hope you enjoy them!

Scott standing on the edge--Yes, he makes me nervous.

An icy ledge facing north. Still fairly thick.

I've dubbed this hill "Mardi Gras Hill" the purple and yellow flowers against the dark green grass were an awesome site!

At the Summit!

Colorado's State Flower - The Columbine. Several patches out this year. Thanks to the rain and snow!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Death By Wasabi

This is a short (true) story I wrote a few years ago after my first encounter with sushi. I continue to enjoy sushi, but am a little more conservative with the wasabi!

Hope you enjoy the story!

Death By Wasabi

Marian Merritt

Deciding my palate needed stimulation, I ventured to the sushi counter at the local grocery store.
Not only would this be fresh and exciting, but something I could say with a measure of class. “Why yes, I love sushi.”
Anxious to join the ranks of the other sophisticates, I eagerly opened the package and examined the California rolls. The small tray held six of the delicately wrapped goodies along with a package of soy sauce, a small bundle of translucent flesh-colored slices, and a marble-sized piece of avocado. Why would this avocado be rolled into a ball?
I popped the “avocado ball” into my mouth fully expecting the smooth taste and texture.
Instead, a pasty glob assaulted my tongue.
But then—OH MY!
An inferno unleashed into my head. The burning spread like a brush fire through a dry wheat field.
The intense flames traveled unmercifully through my sinus cavity leaving a blazing trail of torture. I grabbed my head and hopped about the kitchen as though performing a ritualistic pain dance.
Tears distorted my vision. Through the blur, I read the ingredients. Aha, the weapon of wrath—wasabi.
My heart raced. Odds were not in my favor for surviving this wasabian adventure.
“I’m going to die!” I bellowed to the empty kitchen and the midday newscaster.
Would the anchor on tomorrow’s midday news be broadcasting my demise? I imagined tomorrow’s headline. “Woman dies of Wasabi overdose.” Not the epitaph I’d hoped for.
Pain seared through my head and set each cranial nerve ablaze.
Natural childbirth—a walk in the park compared to the torrents of torment I’d fallen captive to.
My sinuses—a runaway faucet. As a river of fluids gushed from my face, I prepared for imminent death. Please Lord, don’t let me die like this. Not—death by Wasabi.
I envisioned a gloved CSI team examining my kitchen, the scene of this gruesome crime.
What if forensics can’t trace Wasabi? My death would be a mystery. The only evidence—a tray of uneaten sushi. Would anyone notice the missing Wasabi ball?
As I rolled my head on the cool counter in an effort to ease the pain, my physiological need for oxygen prevailed. I braved a deep breath.
I now knew what inhaling broken bits of glass felt like. Please, instead, give me a root canal without anesthesia, a red-hot poker in my eye, bamboo shoots under my fingernails, or perhaps, a guillotine.
The pain continued its search and destroy mission. Survival consisted of short shallow breaths and hopping around the kitchen like a bare-footed kid walking on oyster shells.
Dare I try another breath? Not a walk through a spring meadow, but at least it didn’t feel like I’d snorted gasoline.
A flicker of hope ignited. The pain recoiled. Its mission accomplished.
The sardonic circles of calamity sat there so innocent looking.
Approaching the rolls like a lioness stalking her prey, I sneered at the tray. Were there more of the little green marbles of malice?
Both my appetite and confidence withered. Hours later when hunger returned, my ego-bruised palate dined on a simple PBJ sandwich with extra grape jelly.
The rolls? 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Are Minor Leaks Part of Your Day?

Do you know where all the clean bathrooms are in the areas you frequent? Do you use them "just in case" when you walk by? Have you ever practically dropped your bags beside the door when you return home so you can make it to the bathroom in time? If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you may suffer from urinary incontinence.

Whenever we think of this condition, it's in the context of wearing diapers and total loss of control. Most people believe leaking urine is a normal part of aging or the normal consequence of childbirth. It is NOT. The truth is the small leaks during coughing, laughing, sneezing or any physical activity are considered incontinence. Many women don't seek help in this area because they feel embarrassed or think this is normal. Only when the symptoms become out of control do they seek help. With the recent bombardment of commercials advertising drugs or panty liners, many women think these are their only options. There is another option--physical therapy.

Types of Incontinence

  • Urge incontinence is the most common type of incontinence. This is also known as an “overactive bladder.” This occurs as a sudden need to urinate and you feel as though you cannot reach the bathroom in time.
  • Stress incontinence happens when there is a sudden increase in pressure (stress) in the intra-abdominal area that results in increased pressure on the bladder. This can be caused by laughing, coughing, sneezing, exercising, or heavy lifting. It is essentially a weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. This is the most common type in women age 30 to 50 and can be caused by:

o Pregnancy and Childbirth

o Episiotomy (during childbirth)

o Injury or trauma

o Vaginal or Rectal Surgery

o Lack of exercise and lack of use

o Weight gain

Mixed incontinence is a combination of stress and urge incontinence

  • Functional incontinence occurs when a person cannot physically get to the bathroom in time. This type of incontinence is uncommon and can only be established as a cause after other possibilities have been ruled out by a physician. Possible causes:

o Environmental (Too far to bathroom, slow ambulating because of walker or cane use, too many obstacles to navigate around)

o Joint pain or muscle weakness

o Decreased functional mobility

o Confusion or dementia

o Psychological problems such as depression or anger

  • Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder cannot empty properly. Because the bladder never empties completely, it may feel full again very quickly. Tests can be performed to determine if you have this type of incontinence.

Urinary incontinence can be the result of weakened pelvic floor muscles. These muscles attach from the pelvic bones and run from front to back to form a sling-like structure that supports the internal organs and controls the sphincter muscles. They aid in strengthening the low back, stabilizing the pelvic girdle, and help with sexual function. When these muscles become weakened they no longer perform as well. Physical therapy can help strengthen these muscles.

Physical therapy intervention can include:

Behavioral modification - Education on avoiding foods or drinks that may irritate your bladder and/or change behaviors that may be contributing to your incontinence.

Bladder retraining - Education on techniques to increase time between voiding.

Biofeedback - Visual feedback that shows you how your muscles are working.

Electrical stimulation - Used to strengthen or relax muscles.

Physiological quieting - Guided imagery for relaxation.

Personalized exercise program - Techniques to increase awareness and initiation of the correct pelvic floor muscles.

With physical therapy you can regain control over you bladder and your life. Save money by eliminating or reducing the need for costly incontinent medications and supplies. Surgery can possibly be prevented. But the biggest benefit can be a return to an active healthy lifestyle.

If you suffer from incontinence, please discuss this with your doctor and see if a physical therapy referral is right for you.

The following link offers help with discussing your problems with your doctor.

Kegel Exercises are the most well known exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. How do you know if you're actually tightening the pelvic floor muscles? Physical therapists trained in Women's Health can help ensure you are activating the correct muscles. The following document from the Women's Health section of the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) can provide more information. is a Kegel.pdf

For more information, visit the following sites:

Women's Health Section of the APTA

Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute - Resourses

To find a physical therapist trained in Women's Health in your area, click on the following links:

Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute - Practitioner's Directory

APTA - Women's Health Section - PT Directory