Tag: rheumatoid arthritis

What is dignity?   And why is it so important?

Dignity is a complex state and something that I truly believe that everyone deserves.  Dignity is the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect

My blog is all about being fabulous despite the circumstances of your life.  Despite the curveballs that life throws at you.  Your dignity is something that is truly integral to your fabulousness no matter what age, gender or circumstance.

A little about me

Over the past five years (and a bit more perhaps) a lot of things have come across my path. I have been a victim of gaslight bullying in the work place. My health as also been a huge struggle, most especially with my arthritis, which has been stripping me of some of the things that I perhaps took for granted.  It is some of these situations that has made me realise how important dignity is.

If dignity has been stripped from you – for whatever reason, it isn’t the easiest thing to get back. Walking tall and acting confident when you are crippled with pain or humiliation is hard.  The first time I walked out with Stan, my trusty walking stick was hard.  Not simply because I thought people would be looking at me and questioning , but because I felt vulnerable.

Vulnerability is closely linked with dignity.

When I feel vulnerable, be it a situation when I had to return to the office after a humiliating dressing down, or when I had to introduce Stan to my date.  I feel vulnerable when I am faced with a plate of dinner that I know I cannot cope with (there are days when I cannot cut my food because of pain in my hands, and many days when I know I will be decorating my clothes with the food that I might spill).  I feel vulnerable when I need to ask for assistance to carry my tray in a restaurant and even on a very bad day when I cannot pick up a cup of tea.

There are days like this – perhaps more than I would like.  After several attempts, trying to get my essential fix of tea, I realised that lifting the cup was not an option.  I asked for a straw which was delivered with a smile and with an attitude that didn’t make me feel vulnerable.  This kind woman understood dignity.

We are all different

No two people are alike and there are many people living with disabilities both visible and invisible.  This month is autism Awareness month and I am delighted to hear of many supermarkets introducing shopping hours where attention has been paid to decreasing light, sounds and other sensory stimuli.  I will certainly be taking note of these.  As a result of my conditions I am hypersensitive and find shopping overwhelming at the best of times.

Invisible disabilities (very like me on a good day when I don’t have my stick or hand splints)  are exactly that.  They are invisible.  These include depression, arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and MS just as a start.  Anybody going about what seems like daily life with these conditions is fighting an uphill battle and dignity is part of that.

So how can we help people to maintain their dignity?

  • Firstly as mentioned above we don’t know who is struggling.  So why not show everyone respect.  It is old-fashioned I know but if you are sitting on a train or tube and know that you are ok to stand, offer your seat.  I promise there is someone who is struggling to stand and maintain balance.
  • Be aware.  It takes so little to hold a door open, to perhaps notice that someone needs a little help, perhaps with carrying a tray or a cup of coffee.  Perhaps allowing someone to go ahead of you in the queue.  These are all little actions that will allow someone to maintain their dignity and not feel quite so vulnerable.
  • In close relationships, family and friends who know what someone is going through it is both easier and harder.  My advice would be to again be aware, be conscious of what things might be difficult, and simply help silently.  I had visitors over the Easter weekend and every day I realised that little things had happened.  My bin had been cleaned thoroughly, the back garden was tidied, the dishwasher had been packed and unpacked.  I didn’t ask for help, but it was given.  And I am so grateful.
  • Acceptance is key.  If there is a person in your life who is disabled in any way, simply accepting them for who they are is a wonderful gift of dignity.  When I was in a new relationship, I was shy about introducing Stan the Stick.  Eventually we were going on a trip and I knew I would need the support of my stick.  I remember asking my Mom.  If he doesn’t accept Stan he isn’t the man for you.  Wise woman!  I just loved the day when he suggested bringing Stan out with us.

 

My tool kit for coping

It may seem odd, but the little things I do for myself to feel better, and to maintain my dignity are important to me.

I like looking good.  I love my fashion and style.  If I am going out (and even sometimes staying in) choosing great clothes, doing my hair and spending time on my make-up give me that added confidence boost.

I also of course rely on the old favourites of pain relief, mindfulness and rest.  A great day out feeling totally dignified has a lot of planning behind it.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who I share my life with.  My friends who know and the strangers who don’t.  Allowing me my dignity is a gift.

 

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

 

The Magic of Three – and how this little number helps me in my day to day life.

Three is a magic number.  Or so I am told.

I have been having a bit of a tough time lately.  I had two bad falls which set me back a bit.  As I stumbled around the house trying to get focus and motivate myself, I realised that three really is my magic number in so many ways.

I make a commitment to tackle (at least) three things off my to do list every day.  It might seem little, but when you look back on the week, know that you have achieved 21 things.  By using this focus I know that I move forward.  Sometimes little and often, but I do achieve what I set out to do.

As someone suffering from chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia it isn’t always easy.  Even if I think of keeping my home tidy – it is overwhelming.  By the 7th day of concussion and I was getting frustrated.  Three things I kept telling myself.  Put a wash on, unpack the dishwasher and wipe the counter.  Then you can sit down.  A little later I tackled three computer related tasks, and after that sent three thank you messages to friends who have helped me out.

By the time I got into bed I felt a real sense of accomplishment despite the fact that I was ‘under the weather’.

The Magic of Three – in so many ways

Every night before I go to sleep I always recall three things I am grateful for.  Sometimes it is more than three, but never less.  This really puts me into such a positive place.

The more I think about it three is a number that resonates through my life.  It is a small number but a perfect number.  It is just enough but not overwhelming.  Add a few threes together and you can really rack up some impressive personal statistics.

Imagine if we saved 3 Euro a day.  That isn’t a lot – a cup of coffee.  Over a month that is 90 Euro.  Over a year it is over a 1000 Euro – more than enough for a holiday.

Three and its multiples are also a great way of dividing up your day.  As I mentioned before I need to pace myself due to my conditions.  By dividing my day into 30 and 60 minute chunks I can ensure that I get enough rest time and also get things done.

I have followed this principle for a while now and I can honestly say that 3 is my magic number.

The internet of things

The internet is awash wish apps, blog posts, and articles confirming that by simply using a formula of three we can become happier and more effective in life.

I have downloaded the 3 Good Things app for my phone and am going to see how that goes.

Before writing this blog post I did a little bit of internet research as to why 3 is a number that seems to have magical properties.

  • As a creative person I was delighted to be reminded that there are 3 primary colours
  • Almost all religions have 3 as a sacred number
  • Mathematicians will confirm that 3 is a really cool number.  It is the first prime number and of course is the first number that forms a geometric shape – the triangle

So many things come in threes – here are a few random ones that delighted me.

  • The beginning, the middle and the end
  • The past, the present and the future
  • The three bones in the human ear
  • The three little pigs
  • The beauty of 3 dimensions
  • And of course the perfect 3  minute egg.

Frivolity aside, I am happy that I have the number three in my life.  It really helps me to pace myself, feel productive and puts me in a lovely positive mindset as I am reminded daily that we have at least three things to be grateful for.

Thank you so much for reading xx

Kerry

 

Fake it until you make it – a coping with Fibromyalgia

Fake it until you make it.  This is a mantra I find myself repeating over and over.  Especially when I wake up feeling less than fabulous.

There are mornings when I wake-up or rather get up and know that I have had little sleep, am so stiff and awkward that I walk like a puppet.  I stumble downstairs to get painkillers and put on the kettle so I can ease myself into the day. This is what it is like for me coping with fibromyalgia.

I am a very positive person so feeling less than great is hard for me.  I try to focus on the good things in life and not on fibromyalgia, arthritis and the other things that are my shadow.

It would be so easy to simply stay in my lovely fluffy gown and binge watch Netflix.  You really can 3 or 4 episodes without realising the passing of time.

Don’t wallow!

I am determined to not wallow (although there are days that I do).  My lipstick is my companion, it reminds me that you can fake it until you make it.

I recently read something that I really related to.  It was a list of things only people with chronic conditions would understand.  One of these was sitting on the bed and wondering if you really needed to shower and wash your hair.  Yes, this is a real thing.  It takes energy to do this and it causes more pain.

Fake it until you make it

I keep trying and so I wanted to share how I fake it until I make it.  How I push myself  to get going and ultimately how I normally enjoy myself once I do make it to an event.

Realistically each time I do this it does make me very tired the next day, but the joy of getting up and getting glamorous is worth it.

Off to a Fashion Show – Faking it all the way!

A little while ago I was invited to a fashion show at Bellissimo in Galway as an ITWBN blogger.  The show featured fashion from the fabulous Olivia Danielle boutique.  It was one of those days when I really had to push myself.

I got dressed in my new dress from The Curvy Gurl, accessorised and put on my make-up.  Just before leaving I got my photo taken for the obligatory Instagram/Facebook post.

Details of my outfit as requested:

Dress – The Curvy Gurl – Newry (I bought my dress at the Ireland’s got Curves show but they have a fab online shop)

Cardigan: Matalan – old as the hills but a firm favourite as it is my favourite colour

Shoes: Ballet flats from Debenhams

Necklace:  A gift from my sister!

I was also extremely overwhelmed and humbled by the response to a simple social media post. Hundreds of likes, loves and comments all which made me feel better about myself.  I am struggling with weight gain at the moment due to medications and other factors and being told I look good certainly spurs me on to try even harder.

This is how I know that Faking it until you make it works for me.  Looking the best I could already put me in a brighter mood and going out distracted me from pain and tiredness.

I know that there are many people out there, and possibly reading this that are in a position where faking it isn’t always possible.  So this is my call to ask people to understand when your friend with a chronic condition like fibromyalgia says sorry she can’t make it.  I bet she tried really hard. She is coping with Fibromyalgia.

Thank you so much for reading.

Kerry xx

 

SeaBreeze – An oasis of tranquillity

Since moving to Galway over a year ago I have been searching for a place for me.  A place where I can indulge myself in little treats that make me feel good about myself.

You can be excused for thinking I might be talking about a coffee shop that served good cake, but this is so much more important.  I have been looking for a beauty salon where the staff are friendly and the service is good, and more importantly where I feel good, going in and even better coming out.

It was an honour to be a guest at an event for SeaBreeze Beauty & Day Spa when they celebrated their 16th birthday towards the end of last year.  I came away with a sense of finding my new beauty home.  My eyebrows had been threaded as a treat and I was clutching the little booklet which was fast becoming my wish list of treats for me. (anyone wishing to know what I would like for any occasion please feel free to buy me something from here).

There are real perks to being an ITWBN blogger and I was beyond delighted to receive a tweet to ask if I would like to try out one of the SeaBreeze treatments.  At the time my back was in a spasm and there was one treatment that jumped into my mind – a massage!

An Oasis of Tranquility

The salon is in Oranmore which is great as it is a minute off the motorway and less than 15 minutes from home for me.  As I parked my car, my sense of anticipation was mounting.  I knew what was behind the glass doors.  Tranquiliity.

The SeaBreeze decor is ‘sea’ themed and there is the most wonderful restful energy in the salon. There is a sense of stepping into another world where worries, stress and to do lists simply do not exist.

Ciara took me off for my Swedish massage which was simply blissful.  She was so kind and caring and adjusted the pressure to ensure that I got the benefits but no additional pain as I was very tender that day.

I was so tempted to spend a little while sipping tea in the relaxation room.  This room is an oasis itself.  Deck loungers would lull you into forgetting about real life.  I was honestly so relaxed from my massage that I thought I might fall asleep so I passed this time.

I love quotes and when I saw the quote from John Steinbeck on the wall at SeaBreeze I knew I had found home.

The best six doctors anywhere
An
d no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest and air
Exercise and diet.

If you live in Galway – I urge you to visit Sea Breeze and relax and treat yourself.  If you don’t then find your own little oasis and treat yourself when you can.  Fabulous Women deserve to be pampered.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry xx

 

 

 

 

 

Bellissimo – Everyone has a right to feel lovely

Bellissimo translated into English means lovely.  I strongly believe that no matter where we are in our lives we all should feel lovely.  Sometimes that comes about due to some kind words but sometimes it rests on us to make ourselves feel lovely no matter what is going on in our lives.

Bellisimo pretty mermaid nailsI know for me having my nails done is a big treat.  Due to some of the auto-immune diseases I have and some of the drugs I need to take, my nails are brittle, ridged and dented.  One has a fault and it cannot grow.  Every little millimetre it grows just causes a vertical split.

One of the few things that helps is having a manicure and if I go all out and have a Shellac (two-week manicure) it kind of holds my nails together.  And of course makes me feel lovely.

I was treated to a beautiful ‘mermaid’ themed shellac manicure at a blogger pamper evening held at the very aptly named Bellissimo salon in Galway.  My comment – these nails look so good I might have to scratch someone just to show them off.  Of course there might be other ways of showing them off too.

It was such a fun evening, hanging out with ITWBN bloggers having manicures and pedicures while eating delicious food supplied by the g Counter.  Honestly it was a bit like a grown-up slumber party with lots of giggling and laughing as we had the run of the salon for the night.

Trying on a long glamours dark wig!The biggest laughs of the evening came about when we started trying on wigs.  There were shrieks of laughter as we transformed ourselves into different characters by simply changing our hair.  Loads of giggles.  Wigs however are a medical necessity for many women.

A couple of years ago when I started on Methotrexate to treat arthritis a lot of my hair fell out!  I have always been quite proud of my hair and I can tell you I panicked.  Hair wash day became worry day as the plug hole filled and each stroke of the brush meant less hair on my head.

Thankfully I didn’t loose all my hair, and by using vitamins and other tricks and techniques (which you can read about here), I was able to get back on track.  I regularly trimmed my hair and waited hoping it would grow back.

Many many woman are not as lucky.  Various conditions and drug programmes result in thinning hair leaving woman feeling less lovely than they should be.

As we clowned around in the wig room at Bellissimo I couldn’t help thinking how important wigs are to so many people.  Many of the wigs available look so good, you wouldn’t realise that they were exactly that.  These wigs are well made and although synthetic would make anyone look fabulous – even if they were simply having a bad hair day.

I spoke to  Mike and Dympna our Bellissimo hosts who explained that because the salon was registered with the HSE (Ireland’s health service), there was a contribution that could be claimed against the purchase of a wig if hair loss was medically related.  The staff is fully informed and are happy to help anyone in a confidential way.   You can also have a look at the info on the website. I can promise you that anyone leaving the salon would feel fabulous!

Bellissimo in Galway is a simply gorgeous venue.  I really couldn’t think of a better name for a salon that makes woman feel lovely!

Thanks to the staff and the lovely ITWBN bloggers for having a pretend slumber party with me.  I felt Bellissimo going home.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry x

 

Making a gratitude list – and checking it twice …

gratitudeˈɡratɪtjuːd-nounthe quality of….. there are many people who have been very nice, and none that have been naughty.

I have a lot to be thankful for.  Over the last couple of months I have been through a bit. I have moved home twice, started a new job, said farewell to friends and hello to new friends.

Throughout it all, there has been one constant.  Gratitude.  I have so very much to be thankful for. My family and friends near and far have been there for me.

Sometimes it is the big things like a the gift of a holiday or a bed for a month that I am extremely grateful for, but then again there are those smaller things that simply come along at just the right time when you need them.

The day I moved to my new home I had so much help.  I simply could not have done it without the kindness of others.

I was moved in and was surrounded by boxes and memories, all the helpers had left and I must admit I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.  A little bit lonely to be honest.  The next thing I was greeted at my front door by a fellow South African I had ‘met’ on Facebook.  She had those moving day essentials, a bottle of wine and a cake!

I am no good at scrubbing and cleaning because it hurts my hands.  How blessed am I to have a friend who came and cleaned my bathrooms for me.  True friendship,

I have honestly been so humbled when I wrote my gratitude list.   It is something quite personal but very important.to remind us of the true meaning of gratitude.

This definition is very true.  It is not enough to simply be thankful.  We need to show appreciation and return kindness.It is also really important that amidst the hustle and bustle of life, it is important to make a call, send a text or even send a card to say thank you.

I challenge you to make a gratitude list.

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

Treating my hands to a bit of Revive

icarevive

 

I love magazines, I guess I have a bit of an addiction to them.  As you can imagine I was delighted to receive a copy of the first ICA magazine, and after setting myself up with a cup of tea I sat down for a good read.

Tucked in the back was an advert for Revive, a Galway based company who are developing some fabulous health supplements.  I knew about the ‘green’ Revive (Revive Active) as my sister had been raving about it.  I had also had a little sample in my ITWBN goody bag!  But here was a blue one – and one especially for joints.

My hands are a constant struggle for me since being diagnosed with arthritis.  They simply hurt all the time, and I am struggling with flexibility.  Because I am me, I am doing everything I can to keep going, including injecting with methotrexate which is a bit hectic to say the least.

I am delighted to say that I have added the Revive joint formula to my anti- arthritis arsenal.  The supplement that comes in a sachet and is mixed with water doesn’t taste like chocolate, but it isn’t bad at all.  It has all the building block ingredients that are supposed to reduce pain and increase mobility.  With any luck it is also going to repair cartilage, and reduce inflammation ( a biggie for me).

My new breakfast addition from ReviveI have been taking it for over two weeks now.  Last night a friend was over and asked me how my hands were.  I had to stop for a minute to think.  They hadn’t been hurting all day!    Could be a coincidence, but I will take whatever pain-free days are available.

This is a long-term solution and I will be updating everyone on the blog regularly.  Revive uses the slogan the science of nature.  I can do that!  I am delighted that I am not adding any more baddies into my blood stream, and feeling better to boot!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your feedback.

Kerry xx

 

Arthritis to Zebra – the A-Z of me

A great idea for bloggers.  Thanks to Danielle LilliWhiteRose for the nomination.  It is a great fun way of taking stock!  I challenge you to do it.

A – Arthritis. It is in my hands, and although I deal with it the best I can, sometimes the pain does get me down.

B – Busy.  I keep myself very busy between my real job, my blog and my craft teaching.

C – Card making.  Teaching card making and craft is something I really enjoy.  It is a great hobby.

D – Diabetes.  Part of my life and my quest for better health and fitness

E – Energy.  I have been told I only have two speeds, go and stop.  Sometimes I have energy and sometimes I don’t

F – Food.  I love cooking and strive to create yummy healthy meals.  Love sharing food too.

G – Girlfriends.  I am so privileged to have some amazing girlfriends in my life.  They are my true wealth

H – Would have to be health.  It is a real struggle for me as I battle with a number of auto-immune conditions.  Keeps me focussed though

I – Inspiration.  It is like food to me.  I get inspired by people, by nature and by random things

J – Jeans – they joy when they fit.  I like to measure my size in different jean sizes!

K – Kindle – I love my little kindle.  Easy to hold and contains hours of escapism.  I have to read – it is like food to me.

L – Laughter. I love to laugh and make people laugh.  Trite but true, laughter is the best medicine

M – Motherhood is so important to me.  Even though my son is grown-up being a mother is the thing I am most proud of.

N – No.  I really need to learn how to say it.  I tend to be a people pleasure and I don’t want to let people down.  As a result I overextend myself – trying to learn moderation.

O – Oranges.  My favourite fruit.  My mom would make oranges in caramel as my birthday treat every year.

P –  Painting.  I love to paint – not sure I am very good at it, but I am happy with a brush in my hand and a day in front of me.

Q – Quiet time.  I am chatty, and bubbly but I really need my along quiet time.  It keeps me sane.

R – Relaxation.  I need to do more of this.  Sometimes I push myself too hard and need to learn how to switch off more.

S – Sex – I have a fascination with the psychology of sex.

T – is for Tea.  I drink far too much of it.  I love it – also love the ceremony of afternoon tea, my favourite is at the G Hotel

U – Untidy.  I am desparately untidy in most instances, and then I have weird quirks of OCD inside my wardrobe where all the tops must hang  together etc.

V – Voluptuous.  Say no more.

W – Writing and walking.  Writing is my passion and walking my goal

X – X-Factor – my guilty pleasure.  Used to have a tiny crush on Simon Cowell (I know!!) until he made rude comments about fat people in the press.

Y – Yellow.  My favourite colour.  It is such a happy colour.  My shop was called Siopa Buí (Irish for Yellow Shop) and my arty name is Kerry Buí

Z – Zebras are my favourite animal.  I think they are the most fashionable animal.  They also have a great sense of community.

Thanks for reading x

I challenge these bloggers to do their own A-Z challenge

Áine McManamon of Social Onya

Kerrie Burke of Bella and Vogue 

Rachel Burke from The Wholesome Nut

Zoe Behan from Day Dreamer Chic

And any other ITWBN member who feel inspired.

The power of rest and relaxation

Rest and relaxation (2)

The importance of a sofa day

I am one of those people who try to pack as much living in as I can.  The one thing I seem to struggle with is how to include rest into this life of mine.  This week I learnt a powerful lesson.

I plan my life and try to pack in as much work, play, socialising and self improvement. I laugh about the fact that I have a real job and my hobby jobs (blogging and crafting).  I know I need to rest but, there is a part of me that simply loves life. The famous line from the Dead Poet’s Society lives in my brain – Seize the day!

I landed up at the doctor this week literally shaking with fatigue.  Four days later I still hadn’t stopped and gave myself a bit of a fright when I realised that I was literally too tired to stand up.  It is scary enough that it took four days for the penny to drop.

The Doctor  kindly explained that people who are dealing with what I am dealing with, couldn’t do what I do. The word she used was comobidity (I had to google it when I got home).  Basically it means dealing with more than one disease at a time.

I suffer from a number of conditions including diabetes, arthritis and pernicious anaemia, all which contribute to my tiredness. Methotrexate treatment doesn’t help either, nor pain which makes me tired too.  There are weeks where I am in pain every day.

Using my rational mind I can understand why we need to rest, however, I find it very hard to do.  I just have this burning need to pack as much life in as I can.  This week I learnt a hard lesson.  I pushed myself until I literally stopped.

So today, a Sunday I have rested.  I wanted to share a few lessons that I have revisited some thoughts about rest that I need to remember.

  1. We all need to rest.  Don’t forget that.
  2. True rest is for the mind, the body, the spirit and emotions.
  3. It is ok to switch your phone off and take time out.
  4. A TV marathon never killed anyone
  5. Meditation is a mighty powerful form of rest
  6. If you can, prepare for your day of rest by stocking up on snack (healthy is good, but a little indulgence isn’t the ned of the world either.
  7. Drink lots of water – it gives your system a rest
  8. An early night is a good idea
  9. Listen to your body
  10. Spend a little of your rest time contemplating the good things in your life.  Your friendship circle, your beautiful home and the joy of a day where you can simply do nothing.

I am sure that my day of rest will set up for the rest of the week.  All I need to do now is remember to include rest in my schedule.  Please feel free to share, especially if you know people who forget the importance of rest and relaxation.

Kerry xx

If we didn’t have bad days we wouldn’t appreciate good ones

If we didn't  have bad days we wouldn't (2)We all have those kind of days . The days that put everything into perspective.

I have promised myself that this will be  a positive blog, but this post is about turning a negative into a positive.  Let me explain.

I have rheumatoid arthritis in my hands.  I am self injecting Methotrexate (which is one of the drugs from the chemotherapy cocktail).  It has been helping and his given me some relief from pain.  There are days however when things are not good.  Pain is severe and quite frankly it must makes me crabby.

I am definitely a glass half full kind of person, but when the pain gets really bad it is hard to concentrate, never mind think of the glass and whether it is full or empty.

Today was one of those days.  I felt myself becoming snappy, and if someone gave me a tiny bit of sympathy, I could feel tears welling up.  Not a good way to be, especially if you are trying to keep up your ‘fabulous’ and professional persona, and of course keep your invisible crown on your head!

At 4pm I gave in and reached for a painkiller.  I try very hard to steer away from them, but there comes a time, and this is my first piece of advice for dealing with those kind of days.

If you are in pain – take a painkiller.

The next piece of advice is to distract yourself.  After work I went silly shopping.  I wandered around the supermarket and bought easter eggs, and crazy dessert pizza.

The final piece of advice is not to wallow.  I was invited out by a friend and although my head was telling me to stay home and rest, my spirit said get out and live.  I had a lovely evening with good company and yummy food, and to an extent forgot about the pain.  (The pills I had taken helped a bit too).

My lovely sister called to find out how I was, and I think was a bit surprised to find me out and about.  I guess this post goes towards explaining why.

My philosophy is to embrace life, no matter what.   I embrace life, and try to be fabulous, regardless of the circumstances.

When I wake up tomorrow, the RA will still be there, and the pain might wake me up in the night.  No matter what in the morning, I will put my make-up on, position my invisible crown and find my fabuliciousness.

And when I have a good day, I will appreciate it even more!

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