Health & Science

Sometimes a psychiatric crisis can be triggered by something small. For Alexia Phillips, 21, it was a heated argument with a close family member in February 2017. She remembers the fight blew up before she left the house to go to classes at Queens College in Flushing, New York.

By midday, Phillips, then a sophomore, says she began to cry loudly and uncontrollably.

"It really triggered me. I just got really angry really fast...I was crying so much I couldn't breathe and couldn't talk. I didn't know how to handle it," she says.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sarah Witter couldn't catch a break even though her leg had gotten several.

As she lay on a ski trail in Vermont last February, Witter, now 63, knew she hadn't suffered a regular fall because she couldn't get up. An X-ray showed she had fractured two bones in her lower left leg.

A surgeon at Rutland Regional Medical Center screwed two gleaming metal plates onto the bones to stabilize them. "I was very pleased with how things came together," the doctor wrote in his operation notes.

Chris Kurtz is trying to keep his sense of humor. Even after the VA told him last summer that he no longer needs a caregiver.

"Apparently my legs grew back, I dunno," he says with a laugh, and sinks into his couch in Clarksville, Tenn. And then he mentions that he probably can't get out of the couch without help from his wife.

Greg Kelly's grandson, Caden, scampers to the tree-shaded creek behind his grandfather's house to catch crawdads, as Kelly shuffles along, trying to keep up. Kelly's small day pack holds an oxygen tank with a clear tube clipped to his nose. He has chairs spaced out on the short route so he can stop every few minutes, sit down and catch his breath, until he has enough wind and strength to start out again for the creek.

A crew of engineers in the middle of the ocean will try to fix a device that was intended to clean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic have coalesced into a field of debris twice the size of Texas.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., says he will introduce federal legislation this week that would require more transparency surrounding states' Medicaid drug decisions. The bill comes in response to a recent investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and NPR.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Yassiry Gonzalez goes to bed early. But often she wakes up around 1 or 2 in the morning. And from then on, sometimes all the way through dawn, the New York City high school student is on her phone — on FaceTime with close friends, or looking through Instagram.

"Sometimes, I'm so tired that I'll just fall asleep in school." She estimates the all-nighters happen once or twice a week. And on the weekends? "There's no sleep. No sleep."

Looking back, 2018 may be the year that a critical mass of people started wondering: Am I spending too much time on my phone?

Image courtesy of Annie Weiss

Editor's note: This piece was originally published Oct. 19, 2018.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a 1,200 mile footpath that is entirely within the state of Wisconsin, though the distance it covers could take you from Milwaukee to Orlando.

This month, a comet called 46P/Wirtanen is doing a dramatic fly-by, giving Earth an unusually good view of its greenish glow.

The timing of the comet's apparition — and its seasonally appropriate coloring — have led some to dub it the "Christmas Comet."

The Affordable Care Act faces a new legal challenge after a federal judge in Texas ruled the law unconstitutional on Friday. The decision risks throwing the nation's health care system into turmoil should it be upheld on appeal. But little will be different in the meantime.

"Nothing changes for now," says Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent of Kaiser Health News.

Chuck Quirmbach

Chronic wounds like foot or leg ulcers can take months or years to heal. They can be uncomfortable and sometimes lead to amputations. But a recent graduate is helping lead research that aims to do a better job of healing these chronic wounds.

Christina Megal just earned a doctorate of nursing practice from Alverno College, one of the first graduates of Alverno's new doctorate program. Megal's already been working at the Medical College of Wisconsin as a nurse practitioner, specializing in chronic wound care.

Pages