Thursday, March 25, 2010

Topsy -Turvy or Confusion

It seems like a few bloggers are leaving the blogosphere right now, and I just want to say, I am not one of them. I am just, well, running full steam, everything in my life is running so fast it's hard to keep up, I don't know if I am coming or going. Easter/Passover is coming up and I am helping my mother get ready for the hoards of family that will visit and tomorrow is a milestone birthday for my father.

It's like the line in Tolstoy's masterpiece "Anna Karenina", depending on the translation, "Everything was in it's confusion at the Oblonsky's house", or "Everything was topsy-turvy at the Oblonsky's house".

And I promised D. a reader, I would write a column for her, to answer the question she has on the death of her brother. And I try. I keep writing, and it's just I choke for lack of words, something that is crippling to a writer. I have a trash bin of Word docs on my Mac, I've interviewed friends who have also gone through this, and nothing.. nothing is good enough to post. I will have something to post very shortly. I have not forgotten you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm on the Hopeworks Community Blog Tonight!

I want to thank Larry Drain, of the Hopeworks Community Blog for including a piece I wrote especially for him this weekend on recovery. Larry asked several recovery based writers on Facebook to write guest blog pieces for his blog which he has been putting up over the last few days, and I am honored to present mine to my readers. If you don't know this blog, it's a lovely mental health recovery based blog. Enjoy.

I like to tell friends I am in double recovery. Recovery from alcoholism, and from bipolar. I found the alcohol was easy. I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, spent four days in a hell hole getting that horrible stuff out of my system, joined AA, worked the steps and as I write this , have 13 and a half years under my belt. I am so afraid to pick up again, because I know where my last drink took me, I don’t drink. Ever. Period. That was easy. But the bipolar stuff? That is hard. I still struggle daily, and I still don’t know how to do it.

Others make it look so easy, in my support group and other bloggers. I am jealous of them. I’ve spent more than half my life going to psychiatrists, therapists, taking over fifty different med cocktails and ECT all in an attempt to get depression, suicidal ideation, mania and rapid cycling under control. You name it, blue pills, red pills, round pills, square pills. I’ve been through DBT therapy, CBT therapy, Jungian, Freudian, Reiki, Art therapy, Music therapy, Past life therapy, Hypnotherapy/Hypnosis, Trauma therapy, and two I made up, Pet therapy, and Chocolate therapy. All to make the depression go away. All to feel less suicidal and fit in with people.

Article continues here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


House Approves Landmark Bill To Extend Health Care To Millions

Congress gave final approval on Sunday to legislation that would provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and remake the nation's health care system along the lines proposed by President Obama.

By a vote of 219 to 212, the House passed the bill after a day of tumultuous debate that echoed the epic struggle of the last year. The action sent the bill to President Obama, whose crusade for such legislation has been a hallmark of his presidency. Democrats hailed the votes as historic, comparable to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security and a long overdue step in social justice.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Magical Genie Will Answer All Questions

While I deal with a new med change tomorrow, and a mild case of writer's block, I will open the blog up to all who read and pop by.

Got any thing you are dying to ask me? Anything you want to know about me, or my fur ball I share my apartment with? Any topic I should write about?

Let me know.....I am looking forward to this!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Paddy's Day

I love this day, more so now that I am sober, than when I drank. When I was in college I use to go to the NYC parade, drank Guinness and had a great time having guys spill green beer on me. And thought it was was fun. Now on
St. Patrick's Day, I read Joyce and Yeats, and wonder about my bio mom's family. I know I am part Irish but which part of the Emerald Isle do I hail from? Not that it matters. My mom makes a wonderful meal, I wear a button that says "Kiss Me I'm Irish" and listen to this song over and over again. I love it. Reminds me of college days, and watching "The Young Ones" on MTV. (The 80s really WERE the best years of my life). Pass the green popcorn.


And Breaking news. Mary, is celebrating her 3rd sobriety birthday today! Drop by her blog and congratulate her! Way to go Mary!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

They Don't Listen - Rant

During my last two weeks of my IOP program, I had flipped into hypomania. I had stopped eating and was totally unable to sleep more than an hour or so day.

Dr. W was worried and prescribes Seroquel to make me sleep. I don't want to take the script, because I know it will put on weight, I have worked hard since Christmas to loose 12 pounds.

'It's just to help you sleep, you won't put on any weight", he assures me. I ask him for something like Ambien, something else, "No, no, I cannot give you that", but he won't tell me the reasons why.

Two days later, still on no sleep, I reluctantly fill the script, cut the pills in half like he tells me. And miracle of miracles, I sleep for a good 16 hours straight. I feel back to myself, hypomania gone.

After a week on Seroquel, I go for my weekly check at the hospital where I am attending the IOP, blood pressure monitored, blood levels checked, and then weight. I've put on 15 pounds in one week, my 12 pounds lost are back, plus an additional three. I feel like crying and indeed I do.

That night I go home and vow not to take any more Seroquel. Back to warm milk as a sleep aid. I go off it, cold turkey, and I am fine. I can still sleep. But I cannot stop eating , I cannot stop craving sugar. I am drinking over a gallon of water a day to stop the food cravings, making a food diary, an still the weight keeps coming on. And I am having problems urinating. I go to my GP and she assures me, after she gets a sample of that, everything is fine with my plumbing. But I am putting on weight, another ten pounds in 3 days. She looks at my food diary, and accuses me of either lying on it ( which I am not), or something is going haywire in my metabolism. Try to exercise more. Eat more fruit, drink more water.

The next few days, I am eating so much fruit and drinking so much water, I am living on the toilet. Indeed, I bring in a book and a radio in there to keep me company. It still hurts like heck to urinate, and I have this image in my head of King George II who died on the toilet, or my previous down stairs neighbor, who also had a heart attack and died on the toilet. I can just see my dead body on top of that, and the paramedics laughing so hard as they extract me from that, they loose their functions.

I go to Sunday dinner with my parents, and both of them make comments about how fat my face is, my fingers. I cannot even get into shoes, I'm wearing flip flops. On the scale. The number isn't bad, it's like 15 pounds of water is inside me like a sponge, unable to come out.

With all this going on, I am discharged from the IOP program, and the next day meet with a new psychiatrist. She has my records and all the meds I am on. I tell her I am not taking Seroquel anymore and she says OK. Then she starts asking me about Rispardal and wanting to put me on that, when I told her I would never ever ever take Zyprexa. I don't even want to take Ripardal. One of the side effects is weight gain. Has she not been listening? I've put on a ton of weight, even if it's water retention in the last three weeks from Seroquel.

I don't think the doctors listen to patient concerns.

I had an Aunt, who died of breast cancer a few years ago. When she was first diagnosed, she went though the Chemo like she was supposed to. The first treatment left her really sick, when she finished her second treatment, she was in agony. She phoned the doctor and asked him, "If I stop the chemo, how much longer will I live"?

She was told 6-8 months.

And with the chemo? 12-18 months.

She opted out of the chemo, stating she was over 70, and didn't want her last six months on earth to be full of pain, sickness, and side effects from the chemo. She would rather have a good six months, living each day to the fullest and go. The family totally supported her. In the end, she was on a morphine drip, totally in pain, but it was the way she wanted to go, she knew it was the way she would go either way. She had seen her husband go that way several years before.

Now take me. Every time I tell my family, I want to get off my meds, they are making me sick, they have really messed up my body and my brain, I'm told flat out, if you do , you won't live to see 50. You'll be dead within a couple of years. And I reply, statistically speaking, I should live for another 30 or 40 years. But look at all the side effects. Not to mention the grief of not having a doctor, never having a psychiatrist listen to me. My GP listens to me, as does my gynocologist. Even my dentist won't prescribe pain pills when I had a root canal two years ago, without consulting the meds I was on and making sure nothing would interfere and cause me harm.

I don't know what it is about psychiatrists. I am sure there are some good ones out there, I have actually had two in my lifetime who were caring, compassionate men, who really wanted their patients to get better. But it's like one of them once told me and this was echoed by Dr. W lately, "I couldn't become a surgeon". Or, "I just couldn't figure out what specialty I wanted, and this was the easiest one to get into". Only one told me an altruistic reason;" I wanted to help people, I had a friend/family member who suicided, and I wanted to help others".

I just want my new doctor to listen to me. If I tell them I don't want to be on a med because of weight gain, that is a serious concern. If I tell them I am tired of having a head feel like cotton balls, sleeping 16 hours a day and would like to look into holistic meds, can she work with me? If I am telling them I am concerned about a black box warning, and I am suicidal to begin with, is there anything else they can recommend?

Just treat me with respect. I treat you with respect, why can't you?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Intermittent Internet Due To Mother Nature

Mother Nature has really let loose in NJ this year. First, the East Coast had snow, the likes of which we hadn't seen in 35 years.

And now for the last two days, rain. Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day. Rain so hard I swear I saw a bearded man floating by in an ark. Don't tell me it's a Nor'Easter, it's rain, almost in a biblical way! And my poor mom and dad! All the siding blew off their house, as well as their mailbox blew down!

Power keeps flickering on and off, I don't know how much longer I have the computer, I have my wind up radio, trees come down, lightning strikes, the cat howls from thunder boomers. She is scared. I am scared too, as we snuggle together under an old afghan my grand mother made for me when I was a teenager.

The weatherman says two to three more days of this. In the mean time I will get the apartment ready for Passover, and do some heavy duty journaling, and read with a flashlight. Listen to the radio. Make a lovely chicken soup with the left over chicken carcass I have with carrots. And miss the internet.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Lost Weekend

I have been reading some AA blogs, after a near slip late last month, and attending meetings. I've had near slips before but this one rocked me to the core, I was so close, I could taste it. I started having drinking dreams, I knew it was time to do something. So I am grateful for two blogs I have discovered, Syd's and Steve's, as well as Mary's wonderful blog, which helped me get through this latest patch.

I left a comment on Steve's blog about one of my first sponsors, and have been thinking about him a lot the past few days. He's long gone, he was in his late 70's when he was my sponsor, but to me he was not only a sponsor, but like a grandfather as well.

I was sitting in the 24 hour club on a Saturday night, trying to get sober. It was during an open meeting, but it might have been a men's only meeting. I don't know, I was the only female there, but they didn't tell me to leave. An elderly man was speaking, telling his story. I sat there entralled, like it was listening to Scherazade herself spin a story. It was a story of a man who got sober by the help of his first sponsor, a man most famous for a little book he once wrote about his own drinking.

His actual story has long been erased from my mind, by ECT , but what I recall of it, was my sponsor was half drunk in an AA room listening to a speaker. For some reason everything the speaker was saying touched a nerve in him, he sat there listening, and had his epiphamy, if he kept on drinking, he would loose his wife, his children, his job, and if he really hit bottom, his life. His drinking, the way he drank, his black outs, even the poison of his choice was identical to the speakers. At the end of the meeting, the speaker came up to my sponsor, then a very young man in his 30's and talked to him a bit more and at the end of the night, my sponsor walked out of the meeting with the speaker, who became his first sponsor, and a phone number. He never touched a drink again, so motivated he was by the speaker and his story.

My sponsor was a former English professor at Rutgers. He was a widower when I met him, his children were out of the state. He would go to AA meetings every other day, was a sponsor to two other men, including the one one who ran the 24 hour club, and was involved in local politics. Every Sunday he would take me to a Chinese restaurant in Trenton, introducing me to the waiters as his "adopted" granddaughter; and indeed when I was in the hospital with the DT's, he brought me Chinese take out for my first meal I could eat. After a period of time, I got a female sponsor, but I continued on with two sponsors, so fragile was my sobriety, I felt I needed two for that first year. After two years, I stayed on with the woman, and he and I stayed as friends, constantly working together in local politics for our congressman, and offering me tips and advice over weekly Chinese or Diner food every Sunday after a meeting.

The speaker that changed my sponsor's life was Charles Jackson, a name which probably doesn't mean anything anymore. But he got my first sponsor sober, he wrote one heck of a book and left a great film noir for the ages. Not to shabby for life.

Here is a clip from the great film noir, "The Lost Weekend", one of several books that Charles Jackson wrote during his lifetime. I wish they still made movies like this.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Attitude Of Gratitude

I wasn't watching the Academy Awards last night, I have spent several years covering them, when I worked for the media corporation I worked for, doing research on the movers and shakers, and I just wasn't interested. That, and I must confess, I still haven't see "Avatar" or any of the other movies up this year.

I was channel surfing and came across a gentleman on a news station, talking about positive attitude. I must confess I had never heard of this man before, his name is Wayne Dyer and he was talking about keeping and maintaining a positive attitude. But I was struck by two things. He was in his sixties or early seventies and looked about forty. And he made a comment that he was diagnosed as having leukemia, and he still manages to swim every day, walk every day and do everything he use to do. It wasn't going to let him slow him down.

What ever he is doing, he must be doing right, I thought, snuggling on the couch, sleepy cat by my side. I grabbed the remote to make the show louder, much to the feline's consternation. I have committed the horrible cat sin- I woke up a sleeping cat. I guess my mea culpa will be a tin of Fancy Feast when she wakes again.

But I realized, as I woke the cat and grabbed the remote, it wasn't going to let him slow down. Now I can rationalize and think- well, the dude's is older, he's lived 20 or 30 years longer than me. That's silly thinking. Then it occured to me- maybe Nietzche was right, "that that doesn't destroy me will make me stronger".

One of things I noticed when I first got sober was this. How good orange juice tasted without Vodka or Everclear in it. When I had my first glass of OJ, two days after experiencing a hellish withdrawal from said Everclear- I couldn't get enough. Like one of Dickens' orphans, I asked for more. Indeed, it was the best thing I have ever tasted.

When I first got sober, I took pleasure in everything. Every sunrise and sunset. Every star in the sky. Everything my first kitty did. I walked, got my body back in shape because it had been so damaged by the Vodka and Everclear, cooked healthy meals, lost 35 pounds, and a year later, got a job at the best company I have ever worked for. I faced my demons about traveling alone, and toured England, my life long dream, on my own. And did fine. I stayed busy by a part time job in a book store, reading books to inner city children, and doing my own writing, which started to take off. It wasn't perfect, but it was good. I was grateful for every day.

Eventually, after the years passed, sobriety was no longer hard work anymore, I got complacent. I realize that now. I got disgusted with office politics, something I could never figure out how to play. Disenchanted with the whole dating scene, kissing so many frogs and never a prince. Sad from the psychiatric meds, and the whole going to the p-doc and t-doc thing. I was really unhappy, something that leaked right down into my soul. I know that now.

It was perhaps this unhappiness that started to destroy me, to make me walk to the other side, the dark side. I didn't want to live anymore, I took no pleasure in anything. No pleasure in sunrises and sunsets, staring at the stars, or beautiful days to walk in. I just saw unending days that were all the same, and my life being stuck in a rut and unable to get out, much as I feel like again at present.

Cut back to last night. Watching this man on TV, talking about recovery, dealing with leukemia, and not letting the bastards get him down, I actually started to think- this man might know something. I am about a year away from full blown leukemia- according to the oncologist I have seen. It most likely is a side effect from over a score of taking lithium. While I realize it's no longer the death sentence it was 40 years ago, I still am upset. Maybe I shouldn't be.

Maybe it's time to really get off the pity pot. The longer you live in life, the more experiences you will face. Good, bad and ugly. Bad things happen to good people. It's part of life. It's not a pleasant thing for me to know. But I cannot change this, just as much as I cannot change the fact I pay taxes, or will never be 5' 2".

One of the things I got when I first got sober was a little mirrored plaque with the Serenity Prayer. It eventually shattered, no doubt from a gust of wind from an opened window, or a cat playing with a catnip mouse. I need to start following the Serenity Prayer again. I cannot change the fact that my brain and my body isn't what it should be. They never will be again. But that shouldn't stop me from smelling the roses. Well, the daffodils are blooming soon, and they, along with white roses, are my favorite flowers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How Will The End of Print Journalism Affect Hoarders?

A brand new goodie from The Onion. Gotta love something that makes fun out the best place you ever worked in....

Hills Like Gray Elephants

One of my favorite writers/bloggers is Mary, who writes, "Letting Go". It's a marvelous blog, designed to be an AA/12 Steps blog. But like it's webmistress itself, it is amazing and multilayered, as Mary, who lives in South Africa, writes on cooking, on the African landscape, on her pups, on writing. Mary is such a gifted writer, she can make something as a bout with malaria sound exotic and fascinating.

I don't know how Mary discovered this blog, indeed she was my first follower. In the few bits and bobs of conversation we have had , we discovered we both love the same authors, and the whole daily writing that we do. She reminds me of the writer I was up until a few years ago before the ECT and the psych meds destroyed my brain. She drank for totally different reasons than I did, but then, I do believe that alcoholics with psychiatric illness tend to drink for different reasons. It really doesn't matter, we both got sober.

But Mary, is a far better writer, I only hope when I grow up I can write like she does.
Mary blogged today she got a little care package I sent- some books I thought she would enjoy, and my latest chip from AA- my 13 year coin. I was surprised that she said they don't have chips in South Africa. It made me real sad. What do people do there if they feel like drinking, they don't have the Big Book with them? Hold on to your coin!

I had a sponsor, it was either my first or second sponsor when I first got sober, who believed in "Pay it forward". She said to me "you keep your 30 day coin, and your one year coin. All the other ones you pay them forward to help people who you see struggling". And I have done that. Paid it forward. Not that Mary is struggling, I do believe she will stay sober the rest of her life. But I wanted her to have something lovely, and wasn't sure what I could and couldn't ship to her part of the world from mine. Such a small thing, and it means so much.

Mary, your writing means so much to me, it lifts me and carries me when I keep trying to write like I use to. It makes me push harder to get to that point again. With you out there in your part of the universe, a place so different from mine it might as well be Mars, yet it shows how much in common we all really have. A little tiny coin that fits in your palm. Amazing. Stuff. Mary, here's a baby elephant for you as well.

From Mary's blog today-

From the poet William Stafford:

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
And I don’t know the kind of person you are
A pattern that others made may prevail in the world
And following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

The Comforting Side of Depression

I really do feel depression has a comforting side, as long as it doesn't slip to despair. There is a catagory for mania- mania and hypomania- but for depression- as long as it doesn't go to despair, there is something, to me, that is comfortable and familiar.

There is something wonderful at first to lie in bed unable to move out of it except to go to the toilet. I lie in my full sized bed, surrounded by warm flannel sheets, my stuffed animals, and my cat. I have the radio on a talk radio station, lately, I have become addicted to NJ 101.5. I have my books in bed with me. It's comfortable , it's safe and I can cocoon in there and feel safe and happy.

Until I realize I've just spent a whole day in bed. One of the deadly sins, no? Sloth? Nah, cannot be, I got my teddy here and I feel safe....I will get up tomorrow. And then tomorrow comes and it's another day.. and I cannot get out of bed. And thus a vicious cycle starts.

For me, sometime bed keeps me safe and more important, alive. When I start to slip, I no longer can do the simple things one needs to do to daily. Brush hair and teeth. Change clothes. Take a shower. I get in my head, and I realize even with my skills I have from working on the hotline, and CBT and other therapies, my head is not a good place to be.

That is where I am now. Too much in my head, too much longing to stay in bed where I am safe and no harm will come to me. Surrounded by my stuffed toys, some paperbacks, the radio on the night table, and my cat, leaning up against my side, purring softly as she dreams, no doubt, of the first robin of the Spring she saw yesterday and imagines it is between her paws about to become dinner. But I am safe.

And in the end , it's all about staying safe, to me. I am too depressed to do too much else, so it's hit the send key and go back to bed. It's four am. Maybe some more sleep, and I will feel better. But if I don't and cannot function today, at least I have a lovely place to read and be in. As long as it's not in my head.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One Of The Best Pieces I Have Ever Seen On This Subject-Depression's Latest Victims

One of the best pieces I have seen lately on Depression. From Salon Magazine. With Thanks.

Depression's latest victim: Marie Osmond's son

Eighteen-year-old Michael Blosil may have leapt to his own death, but the real killer was his disease
By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mar. 01, 2010 |

When Marie Osmond's 18-year-old son Michael Blosil leapt from his Los Angeles apartment building to his death Friday night, it was the grim end to a life that had been marked with severe bouts of depression -- and according to some friends, at least one prior suicide attempt.

Blosil's sudden death comes a few days after the body of "Growing Pains" actor Andrew Koenig was found in Canada after taking his own life, and just weeks after the suicide of designer Alexander McQueen. McQueen had allegedly been grieving the death of his friend Isabella Blow three years before -- also by suicide -- and had become further depressed after the recent death of his mother.

Yet despite the seeming ubiquity of depression -- the trio of high-profile suicides, the round-the-clock deluge of television and magazine ads for Abilify, Effexor and other motivationally named medications -- depression still gets relatively short shrift in the pantheon of severe, life-threatening conditions.

As the details of Blosil's suicide emerged Monday morning, in among the sympathetic public comments were confused and downright angry responses as well. "This kid was given everything besides love and encouragement; he was given medical help and intervention, and it still wasn't good enough for him. How could he be so selfish as to cause so much pain on those who loved and cared for him the most?" wrote one commenter on CBS. "I raised two sons myself and have to wonder if a child takes their own life, how can it be that the parent has done their job well?" added another. And on CNN, a woman who wrote that her husband had killed himself years before called suicide "an incredibly selfish act."

It's the "act" part that's such a sticking point for a lot of people. You can't help getting cancer. You can, so the thinking goes, not jump out of a building or hang yourself in a closet. And that, in a nutshell, is the bitch of depression -- it isn't just how it makes people feel, it's what it makes them do. There may be overwhelming evidence that it's an illness not simply of the mind and mood but literally of the brain, but it wears the guise of the world's crappiest mood. A friend jokes, "You say 'depressed,' people hear 'sad.' Sad? I want to kill myself. So we're not going to the movies."

That's how it goes with depressed people, why it makes their behavior so inscrutable. Depressed people will cancel plans at the last minute and give distracted, one-word answers when you try to make conversation. They will miss their deadlines. They will offer you no solace on your own worst days. They will confound and frustrate the hell out of you. They will break your heart.

In his suicide note, Michael Blosil allegedly wrote that he felt he had "no friends and could never fit in." That's the sneaky, cruel nature of the disease – it isolates its victims, it cuts them off from companionship and support. As Kurt Cobain wrote in his own suicide note, "Why don't you just enjoy it? I don't know."

On a bright afternoon last August, I got a call from an unrecognized phone number. When the voice on the other end said, "This is Ali's mother," I knew right away. Ali had struggled with severe, "treatment resistant" depression the whole 16 years I'd known her. She'd been in and out of hospitals, sometimes for months at a time. She'd tried a dozen different drug combinations. "She took her life," was all her mother said.

Ali was kind and whip smart and funny and a royal pain in the ass a lot of the time. She would often call after she'd gotten out of the hospital, full of hope and trying so hard just to be normal, just to be able to get out for a cup of coffee. And then time would go by and she'd disappear again. This time she managed to make herself disappear for good.

Six months later, I'm still mad at her for leaving. But I hope that near the end she found a kind of peace, the peace you feel when you stop struggling against the tide and just let it carry you out. That's what I would feel if she'd had any other fatal illness, because I know that's really what she had. Not all suicides are depression-related, of course. And not all depressed people kill themselves -- fortunately, many can, with therapy or medication or both, control it. But Ali died of the same thing that's eating away at approximately 21 million Americans right now, the thing that killed Alexander McQueen and Andrew Koenig and now Michael Blosil. They didn't take their lives because they were selfish. They did it because they succumbed to a selfish disease – one that wanted them all to itself.

If you are depressed, or suicidal, I have references and places to call on my blogroll, under " Suicide Isn't Painless". Please know, You aren't alone.
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