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Mom who lost son to opioid overdose shares heartbreaking photo

A Calgary mother wants the world to see the destructiveness of drugs.

As her son lay dying in a hospital bed from an overdose of fentanyl, a man-made opioid, Sherri Kent climbed into the bed to comfort him and held his hand. Kent posted a photo of the emotional moment on Facebook in hopes of warning others to stay away from the deadly drug.

>> See the Facebook post here

Her son, Michael, was just 22 years old. 

“I just want everyone to know that my son Michael overdosed on fentanyl,” she wrote in the Facebook post. "My son was not an addict he made a mistake that cost him his life. I just want to make everyone aware of the epidemic that’s goin (sic) on right now. It’s out of control and there is no way to protect our children from this other than to warn them of the dangers of drug use today.

>> Read more trending news

“I’ve lost my son to this horrible tragedy and want to make parents aware that it can happen to anyone … Please share this with your family and friends to help prevent another tragedy.”

In an interview with the CBC, Kent said her son met a man who offered him heroin while he was in the town of Kelowna – about 240 miles east of Vancouver. He didn’t initially take the man’s offer; however, Kent said her son tracked down the man the next day.

She said the man and her son went into a store bathroom to use the drug.

“The other man got all sketched out and messed up and left my son in the washroom,” Kent told the CBC. “About 20 minutes later, he was too scared to go back and check on my son … so he ran for the people who own the store to unlock the door, and that’s when they found him.

“He was already blue in the lips. By the time the ambulance got there, he was in cardiac arrest.”

The young man was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on March 21 when the life-support apparatus was turned off.

>> Watch the news report here

Police want to know who's shaving other people's cats

The fur is flying in a Virginia town, and police are trying to solve the mystery.

Someone in Waynesboro is shaving other people's cats, police said.

>> Read more trending news

Since December, seven cats have been taken, have had their underbellies or legs precisely shaved, and then are returned to their owners.

Police Capt. Kelly Walker told The Associated Press Friday all the cats appear otherwise unharmed, though act a bit bothered. He said police aren't sure what crime has been committed, but they do want to find the perpetrator.

Concerned cat owners contacted police to put a stop to the disturbing activity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Woman’s reaction to sandals prompts severely swollen feet, ER visits

An unsuspecting woman was confined to a wheelchair and visited multiple hospitals when her ankles blistered and swelled uncomfortably and alarmingly.

>> Read more trending news

When Jessica Jones noticed a small, red spot on her ankle in February, she thought it was a spider bite. When she saw a doctor, he told her it was cellulitis, a common bacterial skin infection, WVUE reported. He gave her medicine and sent her home. 

But the next day, the spot on Jones’ ankle had grown, and it was inflamed and painful.

Jones visited a local emergency room, where doctors told her she had bullous pemphigoid, a rare skin condition that causes large, fluid-filled blisters. Again, she was given prescriptions for medication and sent home.

But the blisters continued to grow, causing Jones more pain.

“She essentially had, at the end of the day, second-degree burns,” dermatologist Robert Benson told WVUE.

Visits to two more hospitals left Jones with a diagnosis of a photosensitivity rash and lupus erthyrematosus. Each time she was given medication, but nothing eased Jones’ pain or reduced the swelling and blisters. Before long, Jones couldn’t walk and she was confined to a wheelchair.

“It scared me because I’m thinking, ‘What if they have to amputate my feet?’ That was going through my mind,” she told WVUE. “They’re telling me this is lupus, bullous impetigus, and I said, ‘This is getting worse.’ I said, ‘I’ve been on all these antibiotics, steroids, creams -- nothing’s working.”

Two weeks after her first doctor’s appointment, Jones called an ambulance and was taken to a third hospital. While at Oschner Hospital in New Orleans, a doctor asked a question that the others hadn’t. She asked if Jones had worn any new shoes recently. Jones said she had. 

“I noticed a couple of days after wearing them, the top(s) of my feet (were) getting sore, but I didn’t think anything of it. Shoes have always done that whenever I tighten the straps up on them,” Jones told WVUE. “The doctor said, ‘Where the strap is located on the shoe is exactly where your burns are.’ She says, ‘This is looking more like a chemical burn from leather more than bullous impetigus or lupus.’”

The doctor diagnosed her with contact dermatitis, a result of the severe allergic reaction Jones had to a material out of which the shoes were made.

Jones, who doesn’t blame the shoe manufacturer, said she may never wear leather again. 

“As soon as you see (your skin) with redness, blisters and irritation, don’t wait too long to get checked out,” Benson said.

Read more at WVUE.

This 10-Minute Core Workout Will Make You Feel Confident As Hell

By now you know that a strong core (the muscles that surround and support your spine) is essential to mastering nearly every exercise. But did you also know that core strength holds the key to killer confidence too? For proof, check out this quick 10-minute core workout. 

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The do-anywhere routine targets your core muscles from every angle, which will cinch in your waist like a corset and help you stand taller, sit straighter, and walk prouder thanks to extra support for your low back and spine. Which is to say: You'll be strutting into rooms like a boss in no time. This workout is the perfect finisher to your go-to cardio routine or a great option for busy days when you can't make it to the gym. Plus, there's a bonus AMRAP at the end to test your total-body strength and track your progress, so be sure to bookmark or pin this one. Getting in any movement—even if it's just 10 minutes—makes you feel accomplished and proud, so press play to get started. 

To recap: You don't need any equipment for this workout. An exercise mat is optional. 

Workout: Plank Crawl Superman Series Side Plank Thread the Needle (R/L) Reverse Plank (With Leg Raise) Circle Crunch Turtle Inchworm (With Push-Up Progression) Bear Bonus AMRAP

Looking for more short and effective at-home workouts? Grokker has thousands of routines, so you’ll never get bored. Bonus: For a limited time, Greatist readers get 40 percent off Grokker Premium (just $9 per month) and their first 14 days free. Sign up now!

Running Short On Time, Covered California And Insurers Seek Obamacare Answers From GOP

With a deadline looming, California’s health exchange and a major insurer pressed Republican leaders in Washington to clear up confusion over their commitment to key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Health insurers participating in the Covered California exchange for individuals and families must submit initial rates for 2018 on Monday. Peter Lee, the exchange’s executive director, warned in a conference call Thursday that rates could jump by more than 40 percent if the Trump administration and Republican-led Congress walk away from crucial elements of the health law.

In the meantime, House Republicans are looking to revive their Obamacare replacement bill and rally more support among moderate lawmakers in hopes of holding a vote soon.

In addition to Covered California, the chief executive of Molina Healthcare, a Long Beach-based insurer, implored Congress and the Trump administration on Thursday to act quickly to stabilize the exchange markets.

At issue are the continued federal funding of subsidies that reduce low-income consumers’ deductibles and copays and the enforcement of the individual mandate to purchase health coverage or pay a penalty.

Premiums in Covered California plans could increase by 42 percent, on average, if those subsidies aren’t funded and the mandate isn’t enforced, according to an analysis released Thursday by the exchange. Covered California has about 1.3 million customers.

Lee said it is imperative for leaders in Washington to clear up the uncertainty to avoid damaging insurance markets nationwide and hurting consumers. He said statements this week by the Trump administration that it would continue funding the cost-sharing subsidies haven’t specifically addressed whether that applies to all of 2017 or 2018.

“Health plans need to know now what are the rules of the road,” Lee said. “Insurers are considering their participation in the face of unprecedented uncertainty.”

Much of the debate this week in Washington has centered on House Republicans amending their Obamacare replacement bill, the American Health Care Act. But Lee said addressing the current market rules should be a priority ahead of crafting broader legislation.

Lee declined to comment on the latest legislative proposal from House Republicans, but he noted it still faces a long road ahead in Congress before it would win approval. “Health plans need to submit bids for today’s reality. Policymakers need to address that reality,” Lee said.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional leaders, Molina Healthcare CEO J. Mario Molina said the cost-sharing reduction subsidies are essential for making coverage affordable for many consumers. Those subsidies cover out-of-pocket costs for exchange customers with incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. They are separate from the tax credits that subsidize premium costs.

Without that federal funding, Molina wrote, “we will have no choice but to send a notice of default informing the government that we are dropping our contracts for their failure to pay premiums and seek to withdraw from the marketplace immediately.”

Molina said his company currently serves more than 1 million people through insurance exchanges in California and several other states. Molina had nearly 69,000 enrollees in Covered California as of December, state data show.

Anthem, California’s largest for-profit health insurer and a key player on exchanges nationally, issued a similar warning this week. During an earnings conference call on Wednesday, Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish said the insurer may exit some state exchanges or resubmit for higher rates if the fate of the cost-sharing subsidies isn’t resolved by early June.

Anthem has more than 310,000 customers in the California exchange, or nearly 25 percent of the market. Rival Blue Shield of California is the leader in state enrollment with 389,480, or 31 percent market share.

Republican leaders in Congress say they will address these concerns and move quickly to aid consumers by replacing the ACA with a plan that will reduce premiums and expand options for coverage.

The health law “is collapsing,” Ryan said at a news conference Thursday. “The American health care system in the individual market is in peril right now. We have a moral obligation to prevent people from getting hurt, to stop the damage from being continued.”

Many conservative Republicans oppose the Trump administration’s decision to continue to pay the cost-sharing subsidies, calling the subsidies unconstitutional because they lack congressional approval. House Republicans successfully sued to block the payments, but a judge put the ruling on hold while the Obama administration appealed the case. It’s not yet clear how President Donald Trump will handle that appeal.

Amid this political uncertainty, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told insurers this week they could submit two sets of rate filings on Monday for their exchange business. One filing would reflect continued funding of cost-sharing subsidies and enforcement of the individual mandate. A separate filing could assume the opposite.

“In light of all the actions taken by the Trump administration and House leadership to undermine the ACA, I expect that health insurers will consider filing significant rate increases for 2018,” Jones wrote in a bulletin to insurers this week.

For 2017, rates in Covered California rose by 13.2 percent, on average, statewide. The state exchange is one of the few that actively negotiates rates with insurers. Premiums for the next year usually are announced in July.

This guy catches his dog in the act and the shame is immediate