health

Mountlake Terrace resident Jennifer Calnon, 67, recently discussed her advance directive with her doctor. Starting January, Medicare plans to pay physicians for end of life counseling.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

For Jennifer Calnon, end-of-life discussions boil down to this: “This is my life,” she says. “I should be the one who gets to make the decision.”

Calnon, of Mountlake Terrace, is 67 years old and fairly new to retired life. These days she has a list of projects she wants to finish. Like finishing the pillowcase she started years ago for her daughter’s birthday and cleaning out her junk room. 

In the coming months, a few shoppers will encounter a new and unfamiliar phrase when looking at packages of pork: "Produced without the use of ractopamine."

It's the brainchild of David Maren, founder of Tendergrass Farms, which sells pork products from pigs raised the "all-natural" way, on pasture.

Maren first heard about ractopamine years ago, when he was just getting into this business. Maren was talking with his cousin, who raises pigs the conventional way, in big hog houses.

Operators of some hookah lounges in Seattle say the city's crackdown unfairly targets them. This hookah lounge is on Roosevelt Way Northeast in the University District.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

David Hyde talks to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray about the city's decision to close all of the hookah lounges in Seattle. 

Hospitals have a free and powerful tool that they could use more often to help reduce the pain that surgery patients experience: music.

Scores of studies over the years have looked at the power of music to ease this kind of pain; an analysis published Wednesday in The Lancet that pulls all those findings together builds a strong case.

Former President Jimmy Carter in the KUOW studios in Seattle with producer Amina Al-Sadi on March 31, 2014.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday that recent liver surgery revealed that cancer has spread to other parts of his body.

Students headed for college this fall can expect a slew of new efforts aimed at preventing campus sexual assault. A federal law that took effect this summer requires schools to offer programs to help raise awareness and lower risk.

It was once a tiny niche market, but it is now an exploding industry with everything from fingernail polish that detects date-rape drugs in drinks to necklaces that hide mini panic buttons — and all kinds of crash courses on how to get and give consent.

Next year, the military will officially lift restrictions on women in combat, the end of a process that, according to the Government Accountability Office, may open up as many as 245,000 jobs that have been off-limits to women. But those who deploy overseas may continue to face obstacles in another area that can have a critical impact on their military experience: contraception.

Last Tuesday, Netflix announced it would begin offering employees who are new parents unlimited paid leave for a year, allowing them to take off as much time as they want during the first 12 months after a child's birth or adoption.

The news drew praise from people who said it would be good for working parents, and would help America catch up to most other developed nations, where paid time off for a new child is mandatory.

About 120 people a day are dying from unintentional drug overdoses, according the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

An increase in prescriptions for painkillers, like Oxycontin, is one reason. Another is that when opioids aren’t available, people often turn to heroin because it is cheaper, stronger any easier to obtain these days.

The problem appears worse in some communities, but it’s not often clear why.

Shilo Murphy at the People's Harm Reduction Alliance in Seattle's University District.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

The day Shilo Murphy found his friend dead from an overdose, he resolved to change his life.

He wouldn’t quit drugs. He liked how heroin made him feel. But he wanted to improve the lives of drug users.

"My experience of having a close friend die was that I wasn't going to take it anymore,” Murphy told KUOW’s Ross Reynolds. “It being the conditions we lived under, the discrimination we felt, the constant violence towards us.”

Until recently, nurses at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Hospital had to maneuver through a maze of wheelchairs, beds, boxes and lights to find surgical supplies in the equipment closet for the operating rooms.

But as public hospitals like Harbor-UCLA try to cut costs and make patients happier, administrators have turned to an unlikely ally: Toyota.

Slide the City had planned events at three places in Washington state but canceled them due to permitting issues.
Slide the City

The giant slip-and-slide event that was hyped on social media in Seattle, Spokane, or the Tri-Cities has now been canceled. All the excitement came to a halt over everyday health regulations. 

In Seattle, a big chunk of Mercer Street was to be closed Aug. 16 so people who plopped down $30 a ticket could take a wet-and-wild ride.

Dental patients really don't like Western Dental. Not its Anaheim, Calif., clinic: "I hate this place!!!" one reviewer wrote on the rating site Yelp. Or one of its locations in Phoenix: "Learn from my terrible experience and stay far, far away."

Ten years ago, Chris Young was crushed by a car he was working under. “He was crushed accordion style,” says his wife Lesley.

The accident left Young, 45, almost completely paralyzed and in a wheelchair. He does have some sensation in his legs, but that is also where he experiences acute pain.

“It feels like electric shocks, like lightening bolts going down my legs and when it gets down to the bottom it feels like someone is driving a big metal spike up my legs,” says Young.

Operators of some hookah lounges in Seattle say the city's crackdown unfairly targets them. This hookah lounge is on Roosevelt Way Northeast in the University District.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says hookah lounges are attracting crime and violence and he wants to shut them down. But some operators say they're not part of the problem.

The city has started cracking down by filing criminal charges against King’s Hookah Lounge in Seattle’s International District, alleging that the operators failed to pay taxes.

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