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As the story goes, nearly 80 years ago on the Faroe Islands - a stark North Atlantic archipelago 200 miles off the coast of Scotland — a neurologic epidemic may have washed, or rather convoyed, ashore.

If you like this article, you should check out Life Kit, NPR's new family of podcasts for navigating your life — everything from finances to diet and exercise to raising kids. Sign up for the newsletter to learn more and follow @NPRLifeKit on Twitter. Email us at lifekit@npr.org.

For as long as he can remember, Tommy Tomlinson has understood his identity as inseparable from his body.

When Sarah Spiegel was in her first year at New York Medical College in 2016, she sat in a lecture hall watching a BuzzFeed video about what it's like to be an intersex or a transgender person.

"It was a good video, but it felt inadequate for the education of a class of medical students, soon to be doctors," says Spiegel, now in her third year of medical school.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Isolation is an issue for many seniors, especially in rural places. It can lead to loneliness, which many experts consider a serious public health issue.

That's where Kitty Gee comes in.

Nursing requires hands-on training. But research has found that university curriculum often goes light on one of life's universal experiences — dying. So some colleges have gone to new lengths to make the training more meaningful.

There's a sound near the end — the death rattle. People stop swallowing. The lungs fill up. There can be involuntary moaning.

"So you get all that noise. And that's really distressing for family members," Professor Sara Camp of Nashville's Belmont University says.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Lisa Abramson says that even after all she has been through — the helicopters circling her house, the snipers on the roof, and the car ride to jail — she still wants to have a second child.

That's because right after her daughter was born in 2014 — before all that trouble began — everything felt amazing. Lisa was smitten, just like she had imagined she would be. She would look into her baby's round, alert eyes and feel the adrenaline rush through her. She had so much energy. She was so excited.

Portrait Of: The Founder and CEO of KIND

Jan 19, 2019

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Updated at 3:14 p.m. EST.

Joseph Daskalakis' son Oliver was born on New Year's Eve, a little over a week into the current government shutdown, and about 10 weeks before he was expected.

The prematurely born baby ended up in a specialized neonatal intensive care unit, the only one near the family's home in Lakeville, Minn., that could care for him.

Pain is a complicated experience. Our skin and muscles sense it, just like they sense softness or warmth. But unlike other sensations, the experience of pain is distinctly unpleasant.

Pain has to hurt for us to pay attention to it, and avoid hurting ourselves further.

But for people in chronic pain, the pain has largely lost its purpose. It just hurts.

While it has long been understood how nerves signal pain to the brain, scientists haven't known how the brain adds a layer of unpleasantness.

For nearly a year before family separation became an official and controversial policy of the Trump administration in the spring of 2018, federal immigration agents separated "thousands" of migrant children from their parents. That's according to a government watchdog report released Thursday.

Twenty five years ago, at 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 17, 1994, the Northridge earthquake shook Angelenos from their beds. For those of us who lived through it, the memories of chaos early in the morning are unforgettable.

"We were just literally startled awake by a freight train driving right through our bedroom," said my father, Mark Margolis, who along with my sister, my mother and myself, was sleeping just about seven miles from the epicenter. "I mean the blinds that were supposed to be hanging vertical were like out horizontal. So, there was a tremendous amount of movement."

Want to reduce your risk of dementia in older age? Move as much as you can.

We've all heard about techniques to get us more physically active — take the stairs, park the car a bit further from your destination, get up and march in place for a minute or two when standing or sitting at a desk.

Now a study finds even simple housework like cooking or cleaning may make a difference in brain health in our 70s and 80s.

Updated at 7:23 p.m. ET

Students and faculty at Michigan State University have called for the resignation or firing of interim President John Engler almost from the day he was appointed. This week, they got their wish.

On Wednesday evening, MSU Board of Trustees member Dianne Byrum confirmed she had received a letter of resignation from Engler and that letter would be acted upon at the trustee meeting scheduled for Thursday morning.

The next great insect repellent might come from a strain of bacteria that lives inside a common parasitic worm.

A study published Wednesday in Science Advances has found that a compound derived from these bacteria is three times more potent than DEET in repelling mosquitoes. More research must be done to demonstrate its safety, but this bacterial chemical could play an important role in the fight against mosquito-borne illness.

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Last September, the Trump administration unveiled a controversial proposal — a policy that, if implemented, could jeopardize the legal status of many immigrants who sign up for some government-funded programs, including Medicaid.

Human trafficking has taken on "horrific" dimensions, according to the 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons released this month by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

When Joshua Mezrich was a medical student on the first day of surgical rotation, he was called into the operating room to witness a kidney transplant.

What he saw that day changed him.

After the donor kidney came out of ice and the clamps on it were released, he says, "it turned pink and literally, in front of my eyes, this urine just started squirting out onto the field."

If you like this article, you should check out Life Kit, NPR's new family of podcasts for navigating your life — everything from finances to diet and exercise to raising kids. Sign up for the newsletter to learn more and follow @NPRLifeKit on Twitter. Email us at lifekit@npr.org. Follow NPR's Maria Godoy @mgodoyh.

I have become the type of person that used to mystify me. I ... am a fitness fanatic.

For the first time in U.S. history, a leading cause of deaths — vehicle crashes — has been surpassed in likelihood by opioid overdoses, according to a new report on preventable deaths from the National Safety Council.

Americans now have a 1 in 96 chance of dying from an opioid overdose, according to the council's analysis of 2017 data on accidental death. The probability of dying in a motor vehicle crash is 1 in 103.

Venezuela is not a good place to grow old.

As president Nicolas Maduro starts his second term of office, the country is mired in an economic crisis that has brought the health care system to the brink of collapse.

The lives of the elderly are more a battle to avoid calamity than a sweet retreat.

At least 85 percent of medicines are in scarce supply, according to the Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela.

If you like this article, you should check out Life Kit, NPR's new family of podcasts for navigating your life — everything from finances to diet and exercise to raising kids. Sign up for the newsletter to learn more and follow @NPRLifeKit on Twitter. Email us at lifekit@npr.org. Follow NPR's Allison Aubrey at @AubreyNPRFood.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

As the prospect of life without a paycheck sets in for 800,000 federal employees and others affected by the ongoing government shutdown, questions are arising about health insurance and other health benefits — dental and vision coverage, and long-term care insurance.

Will shuttered agencies continue to cover benefits for employees and contractors as per usual? We've dug up some answers.

Are federal workers and their families still covered by their health plan?

With many federal workers now losing hope that they'll get a paycheck this week, stress is mounting. But so are some efforts to help the hundreds of thousands affected by the ongoing shutdown — including about 8,000 in Massachusetts.

In Boston this week, a pop-up food pantry opened for men and women of the Coast Guard, the only branch of the armed services working without pay.

Need another reason to get the flu shot if you're pregnant?

A study out this week shows that pregnant women with the flu who are hospitalized in an intensive care unit are four times more likely to deliver babies prematurely and four and a half times more likely to have a baby of low birth weight.

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