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Category Archives: thankfulness

Paying homage and giving back

I know I’ve talked about these bears and dolls before…

I’ve been making them for almost a year–maybe closer to 10 months–so that I could donate them to our local police department for children in trauma situations. I had stopped making them for a few months because of my pain and health issues, but last month I finished up a few more bears so that I had an even number of dolls-to-bears ratio to donate. I then returned extra yarn I had to force myself to stop waiting on doing the donation by trying to convince myself that I just need to finish up those couple of skeins (I literally had enough yarn to probably make another 10 or 15 bears).

So last week, Hub and I put all 30 stuffed toys into the mini-van and set out for our local police station. When we finally found it (who hides a police station? Yeesh…we had to ask a random sheriff we spotted near the court house for directions), we gathered the three big bags and went into the station.

I’ve never been in a police station before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turns out, the station is actually on the newer side and seemed modern but dark. There were two women behind a huge, thick glass window and I went up to talk through the little speaker. The woman I was talking to seem surprised at my explanation, then rushed to say she didn’t have any tax deductible donation slips. Once she was convinced that this wasn’t about that, she made her way through a series of doors to join us in the lobby to take the bags. She seemed really pleased and said that most people try to bring in used toys or toys without tags (so they wouldn’t be sure if they were new) and that was a health risk, so they can’t take those. But since these were hand-made and obviously new, she gathered up the bags from us and told us how nice this was of us, and that she was going to take them straight to the administration offices.

We thanked her for her time, asked her to pass along how appreciative we are of the officers who take care of our community, then we left. She never asked for my name or anything else. I wanted to make this donation in honor of my mother, so that part made me happy. But I was sad to bring closure to that project. I’m not sure if I’d do it again with those particular patterns, as they are more tedious than I can handle these days.

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Hub took me for ice cream at a local shop in our downtown historic area, then we went home. The next day was the anniversary of the day my mother died. In honor of her on that day, I ate cheetos and chocolate marshmallow ice cream I’d made for her that she didn’t get to finish. Those were two things she ate a lot of in the last couple of years of her life. (I didn’t eat them together, of course!)

I’m glad to have done a little something to give back to my community. It’ll be odd if I happen across a child holding one of the toys, but no matter what I hope it helps someone somewhere.

 

 
 

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All the colors (pic heavy b/c yeah)

So here’s the thing. I went into the salon and said, “no yellow and no orange” and had given them an “inspiration” photo which I think they must have misplaced. But truthfully, I told the stylist to do what she thought would look awesome, but that I wanted purple and blue to be the base colors.

I got some purple (in some lights) but not as much blue as I wanted. Beyond that, the stylist really went gung ho on my hair. Other stylists kept stopping to watch, and one who went home before we were done made my stylist promise to get pictures and put them on instagram. Ya’ll are gonna see more of me than you ever have (don’t be dirty!) in this here post.

So for comparison, here’s my hair under normal recent circumstances.

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I had some color done last January and that shit just hung on for dear life. It really didn’t look too bad, but you can see it was growing out. It was red, so the stylist was worried about some warm orange tones sticking around even after the “lift” procedure.

Step one…I call this “Foil and Plastic Nightmare”

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It was hot as shit under those plastic sheets and those foils. And then THIS nightmare happened…

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I had no idea this is what would happen. I seriously sent this to Hub while I was in the chair saying, “Who am I and what am I doing here?” His response was “uh, okay…” I walked into the salon at 9am. By the time they’d washed and toned and washed this mess, it was about noon. My ass hurt so bad from sitting in that chair, I can’t even…

Then I got the goods… (I wish I had taken pictures of the colors in the bowls, but alas, I did not.) This was about the time other stylists started stopping by the chair to watch the painting. Every now and then one of them would walk by and go “oh yeah!” or “so cool!” or whathaveyou. It was weird.

That’s some shit going on there. At this point, my butt hurt so much I actually got up from the salon chair and was walking around aimlessly. I was pacing around in the front area and a poor woman came out of the salon area to pay and I think I scared her. She jumped and sort of giggled, then ran to the desk to pay. So then I sat on the cushy sofa in the front waiting area while I ate some crackers I had brought along. Shortly thereafter, the stylist came to check on me and we headed back to wash out the colors. Oh, the colors! I got a wash and a special deep conditioning and a scaaaaaaaaalp massage. Then back to the chair. She did a quick trim (I only wanted a trim), showing her assistant how she was handling the cut (which I had thought she was going to do in layers but I don’t think she did).

I wish I had pictures of this, but it was now 1pm and my stylist had another appointment at 1:30. So she pulled in her assistant and the TWO of them started drying my hair at the same time. One yanking one direction, the other yanking the other direction. And as my hair is drying, they both start grinning and pointing at different sections of the hair and I’m like WTF, just show me already! So my stylist laughed and they just kept going. Big round brushs twirling, yanking, hot air. It was quite the show. Then they took a picture with my hair straight.

Brace yo-selves…

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That is some kind of sumpthin’ right thar!

I sort of wanted to cry a little. It was so crazy. I’m so not a crazy person. But this was so crazy.

My stylist had to get to her other client, so she left me with her assistant because I didn’t want to leave with straight hair. The assistant went to work with a big barrel curling iron and as she’s curling my hair she’s muttering, “so jealous, dammit. I want this hair so bad.” I told her I was sorry but it was attached to my head. She told me she was going to get the stylist to do it to her because it was so fun. So the curl is done and the assistant drags me out in front of the salon to take pictures for their instagram. Then she took a few shots with my phone.

One more time, Effie…

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So there’s that.

Now, for more real-life photos…

One of the neat things? She did a bunch of teal and magenta shit underneath, so when I put my hair up, you can see all the more vibrant colors. Also, depending on the light, my hair looks like different colors (you can kinda see that in the pictures). And lastly, as it fades, I’ll get kind of a new set of colors, which will be interesting. Sorry for all the blobby white bits…you  know how I feel about privacy. Although, shit, if you see me on the street at this point you might recognize me from the cray-cray hair. Oh well… LOL

So after all was done, I paid up (holy shit did I pay) and after more compliments from the front desk staff, I went out to my car. I locked myself in, picked up my phone and texted Hub… “You’re going to flip your shit!”

Predictably, because my husband loves me, he told me how amazing my hair looked when I got home. He’s kind of a sweetheart like that.

I think, should I get this touched up in a few months, I’d opt for more blue. I like the blue areas a lot. I really would like more of my hair to look like the underside…but there’s always next time.

Also, I left the salon at 2pm. No joke, from 9am to 2pm. My stylist rocked, and she earned her money for sure.

If I had a mic, I’d drop it. I’m all done.

(edited to add a link to the hairy update)

 

 

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Thanksgiving without

Truthfully, I have been struggling with the concept of Thanksgiving this year. Losing my mother has been incredibly difficult for me and there are many days when I feel haunted by the pain of that loss. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks crying on and off again. I wasn’t sure how to reconcile our gathering for Thanksgiving when the person who held us together was my mother.

Our group was small this year–nine adults and two little ‘uns. And three dogs.

Normally a small group for us is fifteen people. When my parents had their current house built, my mother made sure her dining room was L-A-R-G-E on its own…and then she had a sunroom attached to one end in case we needed to expand the seating for some occasions. Some years we had my grandmother’s large dining room table which seats ten, plus two 3’x8’ tables attached. At my grandmother’s house we had more than 30 people some years. At my mother’s house, it was usually an average of 20 people.

No matter the number of people sitting at the table this year, my mother was the gigantic hole. Even the last two years when she wasn’t feeling 100%, she was there at the table while the rest of us buzzed around taking care of setting out food or cleaning up. She was there making faces at the turkey (which she hated), at the stuffing that everyone scarfed up (which she disliked), and p’shawing at the homemade pies she made (pumpkin, apple, and last year she added pecan pie for my Hub). She was there, in her seat to my father’s right. Across from me. That’s how we always sat in this house. Right across from me, right in my line of sight…we would make eye contact and roll our eyes at the conversation. We would communicate without talking. We would exchange commentary on the food and on the noise and whatever else. She was right there.

No more. Never again.

We did almost everything else the same. My uncle and aunt bring a barbeque turkey they like to eat. They brought their sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. They brought their salad. My brother (who lives there) cooked a 19 pound turkey. He made stuffing the way my mother made it (as best he could). He made my mother’s apple business. My other brother made fresh cranberry sauce. My cousin made a pumpkin pie. Hub and I made a couple of desserts (gf brownies and peanut butter cookies). I brought pickles and black olives. There was apple sauce on the table. A couple of baked sweet potatoes for those who don’t like the casserole.

But she wasn’t there. She didn’t miraculously appear. She didn’t buzz around the kitchen directing the traffic. She didn’t yell at my uncle for getting up and clearing the table too early. She didn’t remind us to put out little dessert plates after dinner. She didn’t offer tea and coffee. She didn’t laugh at the cranberry sauce spilled on the tablecloth…she didn’t wave her hand and say that stupid old inexpensive blue tablecloth doesn’t ever hold a stain no matter what gets spilled on it. She didn’t watch my father scarf down every dessert and scold him because of all the sugar. She didn’t make a face when he grabbed large pieces of turkey skin and “gobbled” it down. She didn’t laugh at how crowded her kitchen was while everyone was cleaning up, saying, “Even this kitchen isn’t big enough!”

She wasn’t there. She won’t be there. Ever again.

But my aunt and uncle were with us again. My cousin and her husband and their kids. My two brothers. My father. My husband. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that I was able to be there. I’m thankful we were able to feed all of us without blinking an eye. I’m thankful we had a place to get together that was warm and furnished and large enough to seat us all. I’m thankful we’re all trying to keep our traditions going. Even when it’s hard as hell.

And I try to remind myself to be thankful for all the years I had my mother sitting across from me (or next to me or near me). I’m thankful for all the years my grandparents were with us. I’m thankful for all the years my aunt and uncle on my father’s side were with us.

Maybe next year the guest list with be larger. Maybe it won’t. But I’ll try to be thankful again for what we have.

Right now, I’m going to go cry again. And when I go to sleep tonight, I’ll make my grateful list. And tomorrow night I’ll recite it again. And again the next night. Because I have so much to be thankful for, no matter what I’ve lost.

 

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2016 in anxiety, crying, death, family, grief, loss, love, mom, thankfulness

 

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They’re here

The nerves, they have arrived. They’re gaining ground. I’m trying really hard to avoid them, but they sit with me, and they taunt me.

I’ve been trying to stay busy, changing sheets, washing the second set so I don’t have to rely on Hub to do it at the last minute (which is when he’d wait to do it). I did all the laundry in the baskets and put it all away. I made fresh lemonade for my recovery. I made split pea soup in the crockpot in the hopes that it would help me keep from getting constipated (soooooo much fiber) after surgery. I cooked portabello mushrooms and made my ricotta cheese mixture to eat on top of the mushrooms for after surgery. I have sliced turkey for easy extra protein. I have laid in food and snack supplies, drinks, been to the library for two dozen books, been the craft store for five skeins of yarn. I have my bag basically packed, my advanced directive packed, my list for the anesthesiologist. I have gluten free snacks for the hospital. I have my stomach pillow for the car ride home. I have the pillows prepped for my bed to help support me if I want to sit there after surgery. The recliner is also ready for me. My parents are going to take our dogs, so we have to pack food and treats for them…tomorrow.

Hub will be home with me Thursday and Friday, as well as the weekend and the holiday on Monday. He usually works from home on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so if I need him around, he can be home those days next week, too. So I’ll have his help if I need it.

I’m as prepared as I can be. And I’m nervous as hell. I don’t feel panicky (though I had a few moments of it earlier today, which I shooed away by continuing to DO STUFF), but I do feel nervous. I feel like I’m “faking it til I make it” kind of thing. Like I’m just lying to myself about how I’m feeling. Am I masking anxiety? I don’t know. Does it matter if I’m faking it? I don’t know.

My aunt called to wish me luck tonight. It was a weird conversation. My primary care doctor wished me luck. My gyno wished me luck. I’m appreciative that people are thinking of me, but I’m not really DOING anything. I want to tell people to call the surgeon and wish HIM luck. Tell him how they want him to take care of me and do a good job and make sure the surgery goes well. He’s the one doing the work, yah? But I get it, and I’m thankful for people who care about me.

I keep thinking “this time next week it’ll be all over.” Tomorrow is bowel prep day. And it’s the day they’re going to call to tell me what time the surgery is scheduled for. I’m going to Mom’s radiation appointment with her (to sit in on the doctor’s appointment), then I get home and almost immediately start with the bowel prep. I’m going to have to have the house phone forwarded to my cell # so I don’t miss the scheduling call, if they haven’t called by the time I leave the house. All this is making it more real, and making me more nervous.

In case I don’t post tomorrow, thanks to everyone for being a part of my journey. The more we share about our worlds, the more we learn how alike we are, and the more we find we’re not so alone.

 

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Surgical consult tomorrow

Today was my mom’s first day of radiation. Beyond the fact that we arrived 20 minutes early (they were worried about traffic) and they took her 20 minutes late, it went okay. She was nervous, which I knew, and which my father reiterated to me after they took her back. I spent the weekend before thinking about how I could help her. She had her “dry run” on Friday, and she told me on the way out that she was more distressed about the radiation than the chemo. She couldn’t verbalize why. At some point in speaking to my brother about it, I realized that she was going to be alone in the treatment room. When we went to her chemo appointments, not only did she have my father there, but me and also the nurses! And she was in a room full of people. Now granted, the appointments lasted 8 hours each, six times, and they stretched out over about six months. Her radiation appointments are about 20 minutes and should be over in five weeks. But they’re EVERY SINGLE DAY (sans weekends) and she’s in a room all alone.

So over the weekend I started thinking about what I could do to help her. I had shared with her (a couple of weeks ago) about the gratitude list that T suggested I do every morning. First thing, before getting out of bed, she suggested I come up with 3-5 things that I’m grateful for. It’s supposed to change your chemistry to start off your day. Mom said she was going to start doing it, and the last time we talked about it, she was doing it. So building on that, I came up with about 25 (or 26 or 27) things to be thankful for, and I typed them up. Then I put them on little strips of paper, folded the papers, and put them in a little bag. This morning, before she went in to change her clothes into a hospital gown (she had to wait for the changing room), I told her to pick from the bag. And I said it was a “prompt” on something she could think about and/or be thankful for in the treatment room. Afterward, I gave her the bag to keep with her because I won’t be with her every single day for treatments. I’ll go as often as I can (and as often as she’ll let me), and make sure my father gets a break from having to take her. But some days I won’t be able to go and/or won’t be going, so she’ll still have the bag and she’ll be able to take good thoughts in with her (and know I’m thinking of her!).

So it’s been six hours since we got home from the treatment. At the doctor’s recommendation, Mom took anti-nausea meds she had leftover from chemo treatment (she never took them, but they gave her anti-nausea meds in her IV) before her treatment. They said that nausea could occur every single day, 2-4 hours after treatment. I think she was really worried about that, hence her taking the medication. Fortunately, she doesn’t seem to be getting nauseous…I’ve spoken to her several times and she ate lunch, did her exercises, and has been taking care of some other things. She even sounded chipper the last time I spoke to her. I hope it continues.

Look, I title this about my surgical consultation tomorrow and yet I’ve written more about her appointment than mine. Mostly because mine is the day before and I have nothing to report. I’m getting a bit nervous, but nothing overwhelming. I went to a website I knew about called HysterSisters to read a little information about what to ask. And to be informed on the different options available, and what the terminology means. I want to be knowledgeable but too much information for me causes me anxiety. It’s a difficult balance to maintain. I also did some research about whether the hospital I’m expecting to be in has any gluten-free food options. I found NO information and so I’m assuming that Hub will have to keep me fed. Or I’ll be eating a lot of yogurt and salad. I have no idea how long I’ll have to be in the hospital, but we’ll have to figure something out. I’m really hoping that my parents will be up to dog-sitting for us because I suspect Hub will be staying with me at the hospital while I’m there. That means my parents (and brother) will have our dogs days AND nights, which we’ve only done once before when Hub and I went out of town on vacation. And at that point my mother wasn’t dealing with fatigue from the radiation (which they say could be pretty bad…).

But there’s time to work that out. And we’ll do what we have to in order to work it out. The gluten-free issue as well. We’ll see how I feel about all of it tomorrow after the doctor’s appointment. My mother has her treatment, so she won’t be able to go with us to listen in on the appointment. I had considering asking my brother to go with us, but he’s going to be with Mom because Tuesdays are the days she meets with her doctor…and we have questions. And we have to have someone other than my father asking questions and listening to answers because he’s not reliable for either. So it’ll be Hub and me tomorrow. Fortunately, this is only a consult, and I know I’ll have more times to ask questions before any surgery happens. UNfortunately, this particular doctor is over an hour away. The hospital is 45 minutes away from our house. But I think the doctor is worth it (at least at the moment), and the hospital is the closer of the two he works with. And if Hub is staying with me, it won’t matter how far away it is from home. If this happens in the next six weeks, it won’t matter how far away it is from my parents because I won’t expect them to come visit in the hospital because I suspect Mom will be too tired. And that’s okay. She’ll be doing me more help by taking care of our dogs and relieving me of that concern than if she traipsed an hour there and back to the hospital to see me lying in bed doing nothing.

 

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Google me this…

Or not. Really, not. Despite the urge, I’ve resisted googling about my PVCs. I know it would end in increased anxiety and stress, which would so not be helpful to me right now. I mean, I’m already anxious and stressed, why would I purposefully add to that? I used to really think that Googling things about my health made me feel better, but I know that isn’t true. So I’m resisting, but I feel somewhat like a junkie, just thinking about doing it over and over again.

I have an appointment to see a family physician this afternoon to get a check on these PVCs. I’m pretty sure I’ve had an EKG done there before, so I assume that’s what they’ll do again. I’m seeing a doctor I haven’t seen before because my doctor is booked through the end of the month. I think this particular physician is new to their staff (and I suspicion has not been practicing for too long) and is a DO. Doctor of Osteopathy. I had a DO one time and really liked her. I hope this woman is nice. I’m anxious about the appointment, but that’s not really news. I really don’t like doctors and doctor’s offices. I totally get white coat syndrome, and I hate having to deal with conversations about my weight. There are lots of stories out there about doctors treating fat patients poorly, and I know that to be the case due to previous experiences. One time I went to a cardiologist who said to me (before doing anything or talking about my history) that I needed to get weight loss surgery. Dude, really? I’ve never met you before, you don’t know my history, and that’s how you open a conversation? Needless to say, that was a short relationship. I understand that weight affects health, but I do have other health issues, thankyouverymuch.

So anyway, I’m sitting around, nervous. I keep trying to distract myself, but I keep lapsing into periods of just SITTING and staring. Hey, at least it’s not crying again!

I also made an appointment to see the NP at that new gyno’s office, but it isn’t until the end of January. If I’d wanted to see the gyno herself, it would have been the end of FEBRUARY. Just as well, T told me that the NP there has a better bedside manner than the doctor (tho she recommended both), so I made the appointment with the NP.

How hard is it to find a good doctor? I mean, I’ve been through many doctors through the years, and in the end I’ve found very few that I felt comfortable with. It’s disappointing to walk into an appointment, hopeful that they’ll at least LISTEN to you and then walk out feeling like you’ve been blown off. I’ve dealt with that kind of scenario more often than not. I want someone who is going to support me in my health, not blow me off or talk down to me. I’m an adult, I’m not an idiot, and I have the right to be treated as respected human being.

So I guess we’ll see how it goes this afternoon. I know my BP will be up because of the WCS, but hopefully it’s not TOO high.

Also, why does everything hurt more now that I’m headed to the doctor? All these aches and pains that feed right into my heart health anxiety? Ugh.

But I’m really thankful that my mother is up to going with me to the doctor, since Hub is still working two hours from home…

eta – Doctor was fine. I’d see her again. She said my EKG was fine, my BP was fine. She’s getting CBC and thyroid test, which they always do for me but nothing ever comes of it. She saw no evidence of PVCs on the EKG but they are inconsistent and EKG’s are really short snapshots (obviously). She said the cardiologist might want to put me on a halter monitor if the PVCs are still there in two weeks. She suggested I hydrate more, reduce my stress (HA HA HA), and follow up with the cardiologist if things don’t get better.

 

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This body

Last night I was not able to fall asleep, so I started working on my thankfulness list. I don’t do it every night anymore, but I still do it when I need the reminder. Or when I need the distraction. Last night was probably both.

One of the things I decided I was thankful for last night was my body.

This body. The one I’m in right now. The only one I have. The one I claim has rebelled against me for years. That has failed me. Yes, that body.

This body, that is too round, too fleshy, too fat. Too dimply. Too hairy.
This body that requires effort to haul around, with muscles that are too tight, joints that that are too painful.
This body that has acne and scars and rosacea.
This body that has allergies and vertigo, migraines and imbalance.
This body with feet that are too big, ankles that are too chunky, thighs that are too wide. Hips that are too wide. Shoulders that are too wide. Butt that is too big.
This body that has hair that is too coarse, too wavy to be straight, too straight to be curly.
This body that has fingernails with ridges, that split long-wise when you sneeze.
This body that has one patch of skin on one hand that itches unbearably but looks completely normal.
This body that has skin on both hands that are dry and crack and bleed all year ’round, that make people ask me what’s wrong with me.
This body that has one eye that doesn’t move right, so that I can’t see to my left without turning my head.
This body that has saggy arms and saggy jowls.
This body that has a stomach that is too big and sticks out to the front like I’m pregnant, but is narrower on my sides than my hips which means I can never find jeans that fit.
This body that has breasts that sag. That don’t fit into bras properly. That need to have extra padding (that I don’t freaking need) to hide my nipples.
This body that has rolls and creases.
This body that has sebaceous cysts. Sometimes in bad places. Sometimes in REALLY bad places.
This body that has trigger points and muscle spasms.
This body that has tinnitus and ears (and cheeks) that burn and turn red-purple from being flushed for no reason (and/or because of allergies).
This body that has stomach issues. Constipation. Diarrhea, bloating, gas. A bladder that keeps me awake at night after drinking less than 4 ounces of water. Or no water at all. (WTF)
This body that doesn’t allow me to sleep. Or get rest. Or feel refreshed. Or find relaxation.
This body that houses my anxiety and my depression.

This body that allows me to help take care of my parents. My husband. My brothers. My aunts and uncles. My dogs. My friends.
This body that makes soup for my mom that is the only thing she can eat the Monday, Tuesday, and sometimes Wednesday that follows her infusions. That makes ice cream which still tastes good to her even when the chemo messes with her taste buds.
This body that carries me through the day so I can crochet chemo hats for patients who need them.
This body that moves me from place to place. That gives me the ability to raise money for charities that are important to me…charities that bring help and healing to many people.
This body that permitted me to write books that touched other peoples lives.
This body that houses my brain. And my heart. And my soul.

I want to love this body, I really do. I want to ignore all the first list and concentrate on the second smaller list…I’m trying. Some days it’s not so bad. Last night when I was trying to remember to be thankful for this body of mine…in the dark of night when I’m trying to ignore how loud and fast my heart rate feels/sounds, saying how I am appreciative for this body of mine felt worthwhile and important. Today, when I’m standing in front of the mirror and I see my naked body, it’s only the first list that crowds my mind.

Without this body–MY BODY–I am nothing. I need to remember that. I need to love my body no matter its form. BECAUSE of its function.

 

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