News for the ‘My Journey’ Category

TW: Update

Trigger Warning:  Since I haven’t been writing much lately, I figured I would share an update of how things are going. Here is an email I sent to a friend. It should be read with caution as it can be triggering to a number of people.

I just looked at the calendar, and I am off that Monday, 02/17 and could probably afford to take Tuesday off to travel home on that day. I would just need to leave early enough to get home in time to pick up Miffy and watch Supernatural. 

I desperately want to come up and see you and everyone else. Even if not that weekend, at some point soon, but as badly as I want to come up, I am scared to come up. I am in such a horrible place these days that I do not want to bring anyone else down or put anyone “at risk”. I want and need to see you guys so badly though. 

Dave has asked if there was anything he could do, even offered to come down. Problem is, there is nothing anyone can really do right now. I get up for work at about 5:00-5:30a and do not get home until about 5:30-6p. Then it is often scratch a cat, maybe choke down some food and change clothes before running off to see Anne. I finally get home around 8:00-9:00p, maybe watch a little TV, collapse in bed and pray that there are no disasters at the rehab center that require me to get dressed and drag my less than happy ass back to the center.

Most people do not realize how bad it is for me. There are days when I do not care if I am dead or existing. I will not call it being ‘alive’ because right now all I can really say is that I exist. The only time I really smile or laugh is at work, and mostly because I have to put on that ‘Confessor face’ and pretend that, my existence does not suck totally. I want to give up, but there is something inside me that prevents me from giving up. As long as I know, there is even one person in the world that would be hurt if something happened to me, I will not give up. As much as I hurt on any given day, I do not want to hurt the people I care about in this world.
 
There are nights I cry myself to sleep. There are nights when I come home and want to collapse against the wall, hug my knees and cry, I have not yet, but damn if there aren’t nights that I don’t want to do it. There is so much going on around here. The worst part is that there is nothing I can do; there is nothing anyone can do.
 
Anne’s health seems to be getting worse and it is preventing her from being able to do her re-hab. I want my wife back. I am terrified that I am going to lose her. I am worried she is going to die on me. At times, I worry she will never come home. The last two times they took her to the hospital, the hospital was worried it might have been a stroke. Thankfully, it was not. It takes a lot to scare me, at least when it comes to corporeal things. Demons, ghosts, spirits, etc., now that is another story.
 
Not being able to do anything to help her, not having any control makes things so damn hard for me. I am used to being in control, at least having some control in my life. The less control I have, the harder things get for me. I went about two years without any self-harm, now since October, I have beat the hell out of myself about 4-5 times, even going so far as to hit myself in the head with a pot from the stove and giving myself a nice lump.
 
I am a mess right now.

Edited: February 18th, 2014

TW: My Recent Mindset

Trigger Warning: Most of my posts for the near future will contain a trigger warning since they will reflect my current mindset and feelings. Both of which are filled with pain, anger and helplessness. When I start the articles I do not know how they will turn out so I place a warning on them.

Lately pain, anger, helplessness and uselessness continue to consume me. I watch my wife’s health seemingly decline and cannot do a thing about it. A recent blood test showed she had low levels of red blood cells and platelets and a high level of carbon dioxide.

Today they took a urine culture. You could tell just by looking at it that she has an infection, again. This is the second one she developed since being at this facility. A few hours later I got a call from the CNA on duty that my wife was projectile vomiting. We thought we might need to take her to the ER it was so bad for a while.

Then there are the dreams she is having. The other night she called me in the middle of the night freaked out. She saw five people in Bears uniforms saying they were there to help her.

Her leg and arm muscles seem to be getting weaker as well.

All this is ripping me apart. I am falling back into the self harm mode. It is still infrequent, but it exists again. My anxiety level is through the roof. I had to get my doctor to prescribe me Xanax because the panic attacks were starting to interfere with my daily functioning.

My ability to regulate my mood is deteriorating. Little things are causing me to have intense reactions.

Even seeing others happy fills me with rage and hatred towards them at times. I feel like they are mocking me, throwing their joy in my face. I resent them for it. Why should everyone else get to be happy when my wife and I have to keep suffering. When do we get our turn to be happy and have a good life. It seems like we start to see it and then life pulls it away from us again. No matter what we do it is the same thing.

I just want us to have our turn at being happy. I want us to have a normal life that we can enjoy together. Were we such horrible people in our life that we are being tortured like this?

I only wanted one thing for Christmas, and even that was denied me. All I wanted was to have her back home with me where she belongs.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Edited: January 5th, 2014

TW: Recent Apocalyptic Thinking (November 2013)

Trigger Warning: I am not sure if anything is triggering in this article, but given the nature of it I felt it best to mark it as such. The article talks about my recent mindset and feelings of hopelessness.

Lately I have fallen into a pattern of apocalyptic thinking, fueled by my feeling like my world is crashing down around me. The feeling that there is no hope. I have only seen pain, suffering and endless darkness around me.

I have seen no positive way out of situations, every scenario I have run has seen things ending poorly. No matter how much I analyzed things, it was always the same result, catastrophic. It had all surrounded my wife’s health.

At the end of October, my wife fell and ended up in the hospital and then later a physical therapy rehab center after breaking her toe. Now, the broken toe is far from the only problem at work. She has been suffering from a rash of problems with her feet and increased muscle weakness in her legs all year. She is also epileptic and the doctor was in the process of changing her medication.

After she got to the rehab center, they started messing up her medication. I won’t go into all the details, but they messed it up quite a bit. This among other factors led to increased stress and anxiety on her part. All of it led to get having increased seizure activity.

Here is where the real problems started. For the first few weeks I was working with the center to get her meds right and reduce her anxiety, feeling that was the cause of her increased seizure activity. It was the only thing that had changed. She had been almost completely off one of one of her meds when she got to the rehab center because of the change. She had been coming off it for over a month and her level of seizure activity had not increased. The amount she had been on when she got there has no real therapeutic value.

Then one day her mother came to visit her and saw my wife having the increased activity. She ran to her husband and had him make an appointment for my wife had the neurologist. She wanted my wife back on the medication she was just coming off. It is a ****ing miracle drug in her mind.  This was done without talking to my wife or I. When the appointment came around I was not available because I didn’t have enough advance notice to get off work.

Then at a family planning meeting, to go over my wife’s care at the rehab center, her mother commented about talking to her father because he has dealt with her case for years and has power-of-attorney. Next, she had the doctor increase the medication she had come off of back to three times a day, again without talking to either of us.

This was the last straw and where the damn broke. I told my wife I could not be involved in her care anymore because of her parents. If they were going to get involved and take over, then I could not be involved. I could not live with them taking over like that. Knowing her mother the way I do, I saw no way to tell them to butt out, especially after her mom threw the fact that her father had power-of-attorney in my face at that meeting, without it being catastrophic.

I could, and still do, only see the following outcomes:

1. Best case – Her parents want nothing to do with us/me for a short time, but eventually come around and everything goes back to normal.

2. Her parents tell me I am not welcome in their home anymore and want nothing to do with me.

3. Her parents refuse to have anything to do with either of us and my wife never comes to hate and resent me for it.

4. Worst case – Her parents refuse to have anything to do with either of us and my wife eventually comes to hate and resent me for it.

I am terrified that this will cost me my marriage eventually. I don’t want to lose my wife, but I don’t want her to lose her parents either. I would love to believe that everything will work out fine, but I cannot believe it will.

Edited: November 20th, 2013

Effects of the Government Shutdown on Mental Health

Before I start the article, I want to go over a few things. First, I have my opinions on where the blame lies for the shutdown. Second, I will not go into such things in this article. Finally, I will not approve any comments that talk about the politics of the situation.

Over the past few weeks, those of you living the United States have undoubtedly seen and heard many stories about the affect the shutdown of the federal government has on the economy, at all levels, and the affect it has on many social programs around the nation. While these are all true and serious concerns, there is one thing I have not heard anything about at all, the impact that the shutdown is having on the mental well-being of the furloughed employees and their families.

As one of the 800,000 furloughed employees and the only source of income for my wife and I, I can provide a little insight into this aspect of the shutdown.

The shutdown has greatly increased my stress level, kept me up at nights worrying about how I would put food on the table and pay my bills. These symptoms did not start on October 1st when the government shutdown, rather they started  about a week before the shutdown as it became apparent that the shutdown was inevitable. Each day the stress and anxiety around the office increased, each day there was less productivity because all we could think about was what are we going to do if they do not pull a miracle out of their ass and fund the government? How were we going to pay our bills? How were we going to feed our families?

It is more than just stress and sleepless nights, those two combined have left me feeling physically ill.

I have on more than one occasion felt like a failure and useless because I could not guarantee that I could provide for my wife and I. It has left me increasingly frustrated and angry; especially, since I am hard working and for the last eight years have earned excellent performance reviews from my managers, performance awards and other forms of recognition. It has left me feeling helpless and powerless, to be put in this situation without having done anything wrong and not being able to do anything but sit at home and twiddle my thumbs waiting for Congress to get their heads out of their proverbial asses.

With every day that passes without a resolution, my emotional state deteriorates and I become more stressed. Everyday, I have to fight even harder to keep myself as emotionally regulated as possible. Each day it becomes more difficult.

Sadly, in some cases I am one of the luckier ones. It is just my wife and I. I know a number of people that are married with children, where both parents work for the government. Good hardworking, responsible people who are in the same situation I am in, but even worse off because they have kids. Some of them have some savings while others have had to use up all or most of their savings for medical bills.

How many other workers face mental health challenges? How many of them will suffer severe set backs to their health? How many of them will end up losing their lives if this situation drags on much longer?

These politicians forget, or maybe they do not care, that they are screwing with the lives of human beings. People that are hard working dedicated employees with families, people who just want to do their jobs. People who work for the government, for less money than they could in the private sector, because they love their country.

Edited: October 12th, 2013

Trigger Warning: My Struggles – Part 4 (Suicidal Ideation)

NOTE: The very nature of this topic requires the need for a trigger warning. While parts of the article are a higher level discussion of my bouts of suicidal ideation, some parts will provide more detailed and descriptive examples of the thoughts and actions tied to my ideation.

I have in the past struggled with the decision on whether I should share this part of my struggles and journey. It was only this morning that I made the decision. I made the choice after my most recent bout of suicidal ideation.

Before I go any further, let me provide a definition of suicidal ideation. The following definition comes from http://bipolar.about.com/od/suicide/g/suicidalideatio.htm

suicidal ideation means wanting to take one’s own life or thinking about suicide without actually making plans to commit suicide.

Recently a discussion my wife and I had triggered a bout of ideation. The discussion left me feeling they was no way out of the pain other than death. It consumed me for a few days. I sat there all day listening to the songs “Suicide is Painless” aka the theme song from “M*A*S*H” and the traditional version of “O’ Death”,  overcome with the same thought, dying will make it all go away.

That same morning while I was waiting for the train, all I could think was how easy it would be to jump in front of it. I just wanted out, I wanted the hurt to stop.

I have had other bouts, mostly in my teens and early twenties, where I have sat on the floor with a knife at my wrists or throat, wanting to end everything. Other bouts have involved disturbing images in my mind.

In all the bouts, no matter how deeply depressed I was and how badly I wanted out, I never tried. Something inside me always prevents it. Typically, I am somehow able to stay connected to the fact that it would devastate my family.

This might sound troubling or confusing, but these days when I feel that way I am no longer scared or troubled by the feeling. I have come to accept it as a dark place that I fall into sometimes. More than that though, I know I will never act on the feeling.

The following is something that I do, but would not recommend it to others.

Sometimes, rather than fight a feeling, I embrace it. Instead of going against the storm and wave, I ride it to its natural conclusion. That is why I do things like listen to songs like I mentioned before at times of dark depression. They mirror my mood.

Edited: July 30th, 2013

Trigger Warrning: House of Cards

housecardsfall

Trigger Warning: since I am going to discuss some recent difficult events that have left me in a very depressed state I am adding this generic trigger warning. Descriptions and events in this article may be triggering to some individuals. I will categorize them as relating to relationship and feelings of despair.

Some days, I am afraid of the concept of happiness. While I desperately want to happiness and to recover, they both share me.

Why do they scare me? Too many times in my life I have seen one or both of them in my grasp. I start getting optimistic and feeling good about things, but then all to often the rug gets yanked out from under me and the house of cards comes crashing down.

That’s where I am right now. In 2006, I got divorced, partly because there were things I needed in my life that my ex-wife did not want to share with me. Those things were very important to me. I decided that I would not get married again unless the person shared those same interests. I also wanted to have kids.

After a few years I found my current wife and we shared the same interests; however, she wasn’t able to have children. I thought about it and decided that sharing the other things with her would make up for not being able to have kids.

Over the last year, that has changed. The things she was once willing to share with me, she no longer will share with me. In some cases it is by choice, in others it is related to ability. The reason that the relationship had changed are not important. The important part is that change. The things are just as important to me today as they were seven years ago.

If I ignore them and bury them it is another form of self-harm. It might not be physical, but it is emotional and psychological self-harm. Ignoring these things would leave me feeling numb, angry, hurt and a big part of me would be missing and unfulfilled. I would never be truly and totally happy.

It is not a matter of life, I still love her more than anything else. It is a matter of missing vital parts of me. The moment she told me, everything came crashing down and it sent me into a tailspin. All weekend I have had my head filed with morbid and dark images. My heart and soul have felt totally empty. I have wanted to cry since Saturday but have not been able to for some reason.

It has also awakened a white hot rage in me, not for my wife but for the “person” that hit us four years ago. Maybe without the accident this never happens or maybe we would have found out before we get married and could have walked away friends

The last four years I have dreamed about the day we could share the things together. It was one of the things that helped me get through all the hard times, helped me but hate the woman that did this to her. It was just a matter of time, it was a delay in attaining, not a destruction of, what we wanted. My wife’s words the other day were the destruction that the accident started.

It crushed my dreams. It has left me feeling dead inside, full of pain and rage. The extremes are not desirable and even the middle ground that exists does not sit well with me. It is almost as undesirable as the extremes.

There is so much hopelessness in my life right now. A few months back my therapist and I talked about a small subset of this problem. She seemed to agree with me that depriving myself and neglecting this part of myself with be unhealthy and self-harm.

There does not seem to be any good solution. I am devastated, lost, angry and empty.

After last year, this year seemed so promising. I was full of hope and optimism. I do not even feel like trying anymore. I am tired of getting there…almost but never able to get the brass ring and hold on to it.

Edited: July 9th, 2013

Trigger Warning: “I Remember”

Every now and then I like to take a few moments to share a little about myself. I do not do it often, typically because I find the things I do write about to be more interesting and useful than the story of my life; however, today I have both the desire and need to share a little about my past.

This entry should be seen as potentially triggering and viewed with caution. The entry focuses on the affect a very severe car accident my wife and I had on the afternoon of July 3, 2009. If you find discussions and descriptions of auto accidents triggering, you may not wish to proceed. Even four years after the event it can still trigger me at times.

On July 3, 2009, my now wife and I were driving around Carteret, New Jersey heading back to my father’s house to get ready for a Fourth of July barbecue at a friend’s house.

My wife and I lived, and still do, in Virginia. I was taking her around to places I had worked, ate and hung out growing up. We had lunch at the Reo dinner in Woodbridge and banana splits at a nice little ice cream place, that had been a favorite of my mom’s, in Perth Amboy. As an aside, the ice cream place was wiped out during super storm Sandy in 2013, along with a lot if places from my younger days. After the banana splits we walked out onto the pier for a little while.

We drove around a bit and wound up in Carteret, which was one of the places I worked in my twenties.

As we were heading home we came to an intersection and stopped at the stop sign before going forward. That is when my world was thrown into chaos and hell. About midway through the intersection we were t-boned by a speeding Acura MDX. The force of the impact was so great that it pushed our car from the middle of the road across the street and into a telephone pole. It was so bad, that both my wife and I thought the car rolled over twice.

The front windows, sunroof and rear windshield were all shattered. My wife’s seat broke falling into the back seat and leaving her in a near horizontal position.

I remember the other drivers reaction, which was to jump out of her car and swear she did nothing wrong, telling I didn’t do anything wrong you saw it to the people that were outside. She never came over to see if there was anything she could do or if we were dead or alive. It is hard at times not to hate her and wish ill will on her, not because she hit us, but because of her reaction after she did.

I remember more of that accident than I wish I did. I remember sitting in the car waiting for the rescue personnel to get there. I remember being terrified that she was going to die there next to me in the car. I remember trying to keep her conscious for fear if she blacked out she would never wake up again. I remember screaming for someone to get help because I didn’t know the intersection. I remember the phone call she made to get parents. I remember watching the EMTs cut her out of the car over the course of an hour and a half. I remember sitting on the back of the ambulance and hearing them call for an airlift. I remember the EMTs trying to convince me it was just a precaution, not necessarily a necessity. They did wind up taking her by helicopter to a level one trauma center in Newark.

I remember telling the EMTs that I wouldn’t leave until she left. I remember being at the hospital in the ER getting the cut in my arm cleaned out. I remember them fast tracking me because all I could think about was needing to be there for her. I remember walking out of the ER and signing out AMA because fast track was taking too long. I remember sitting in the ER waiting room waiting for updates and to be allowed back in. I remember that it felt like a lifetime. I remember signing for her valuables.

I remember talking to the doctors to find out what they needed to do and what was the most important test they needed to do. I remember how angry and belligerent she was to the doctors, of course she was in a ton of pain so it was to be expected. I remember trying to calm her down enough to let them do the tests they needed to do. I remember succeeding too.

I remember sitting in the hallway at midnight, outside the room they had put in her. I remember that room, all the black and green from the monitors. I remember the nurse’s station in the room. The room had to have its own nurse because of the nature of everyone’s injuries. I remember my wife in traction, the slightest shift of the bed causing her agony. I remember the nurses “scolding me” because I still had not had my arm stitched up. I remember getting back upstairs at about 3 AM and having the nurses tell me that she was looking for me because she woke up in the middle of the night scared and disoriented.

I remember her surgeries and waiting for her. I remember arguing with her that she had to get a blood transfusion during the surgery because of her blood count. I remember her getting mad at me for ’emotionally blackmailing’ her into getting it. I tried everything to get her to agree to it because she was scared and stubborn. If she had not had to transfusion they could not have done the surgery and she would have been in traction for months in New Jersey, alone. I remember her saying if I did it again she would never speak to me again. I remember knowing that I was doing what I felt was best for her and if she hated me for it, that I would have to live with it, but I would know it was in her best interest.

I remember the month she was in the hospital and sleeping there with her in a chair for the whole time. I remember my dad being there every day. I remember a few of my friends and family members stopping by to check up on us. I remember the first time I had to leave the hospital to take care of some business, getting pictures of the scene, getting pictures of the cars, getting our stuff from the car, and looking for a new car. I remember how terrified I was to even be in a car. I remember clutching the door handle  so hard that my knuckles turned white.

I remember the months at the rehab center with her, sleeping on an air mattress next to her, then doing the same thing at her condo before we moved in together.

I remember how the event set me back years of a therapy. It took me over two years to get back to where I was before the accident, that two and half years started last year. Even now, almost four years later I still have trouble with coping with this event. I still cry at times over it. When I first started writing this entry two weeks ago, I wound up crying one of my contacts out on the metro heading to work. I have been afraid to touch this entry until today.

It has to be one of the worst and hardest days in my life so far.

Edited: May 13th, 2013

Major Stressor and Anxiety

Right now I am facing a big challenge. Recent events at my apartment complex have left new feeling threatened, unsafe, victimized and like my wife and I have no right to privacy.

The place we thought and wanted as our home for the foreseeable future no longer feels welcoming to me. The complex instead fills me with hatred, rage, disgust and contempt. Other than one person in the office, my feelings about the complex extend to the staff.

It seems that we have no right to expect privacy. Not only do we not have that right, but people who are looking into our apartment from outside can dictate what we do in our home. We are the ones who get yelled at, not the people looking into out apartment. When I went to check the mail on Monday there was a note from complex on my door. When I opened it said we were in violation of our lease and if we didn’t fix the problem they would evict us. This upset me a lot since it had some generic reason with no details of what we needed to fix. This was the first I had ever heard of a problem.

I talked to the office yesterday and found out what it was and was once more told if it happens again we would be thrown out. They also allege that they sent out two prior warning. Two warnings I never saw. They of course say they have copies of the notices. I should have asked for copies then to make sure they really had them. By now they have had plenty of time to put something together and back date it. I am on my way home and dreading checking the mail. I am so worked up over it that I am having chest pains and an upset stomach.

Edited: February 6th, 2013

Non-Traditional Sources of Help

When we think about various sources of information that can help us and inspire us, we typically think of the more obvious sources, for example, we think about sources like therapists, psychology texts and journals, and things like faith and prayer. While those are definitely good sources, they are not the only places we can find help, inspiration and inspiration.

 

In this article, I will briefly talk about a few non-traditional sources. I am planning to talk about the various items in more detail over the next few months, as well as a few others not talked about in this article.

One non-traditional area is ethics.

Currently, I am re-reading a book by Dr. Rushworth Kidder, which I first read in 2008, titled How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living. As I read the book, it reminds me of how many things I found valuable for improving my mental health.

Using this book add an example, it explores the concept of how to deal with situations that are not cases of right vs. wrong, but rather cases of right vs. right. The very concept of there exist situations where both choices are ‘right’. The basic concepts within the book can be expanded, with some thought, to apply to other areas in life. Even beyond that though, the book itself does help with how to resolve ethical dilemmas. Figuring out how to resolve any kind of dilemma makes our lives easier, it removes a stress point.

I plan to write more about this book, as well as Dr. Kidder’s book Moral Courage in the coming months.

We can also find help by identifying our personal strengths and talents. When we come to understand what our strengths are, we can look for ways to use those strengths. This is very different from finding out our weaknesses are, and more uplifting. I can think of hundreds, literarily, of things, I am not good at, but that only helps a little and looking at the list can be depressing. However, if I find the things that I am the strongest in, it is by its very nature positive rather than negative. It also lets me look for things that I can excel in rather than telling me things to avoid because I might fail at them. It sets me up to succeed and thrive as opposed to preventing me from falling. There is a significant difference between succeeding and not failing.

The difference between succeeding and not failing will be a topic of a future entry as well.

One last area that I am going to touch on is learning to read body language. I know that this sounds like one that is way out there, but learning to read body language can be a very useful tool for us. A person’s body language can tell us a lot about a person’s feelings about a situation, whether they are being open and honest, closed off, angry, etc. I personally think this is a very important to learn about and master. While we may be better than the other groups at telling when a person is expressing negative emotional facial expressions, we do not do so well with identifying neutral or positive expressions. Being able to read body language, including facial expressions, can help evaluate any given situation.

Understanding body language also allows us to be aware of the image we are projecting. In either case, reading other people’s body language and being aware of what our own body language is saying, allows us to reduce confrontation with other people and lower our stress. It can help make life easier.

Below are a few books that I have found useful over the years.

  • Moral Courage –   Kidder, Rushworth
  • How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living – Kidder, Rushworth
  • Strength Finder 2.0 –  Rath, Tom
  • Now, Discover Your Strengths – Buckingham, Marcus and Clifton, Donald O.
  • The Definitive Book of Body Language – Pease, Barbara and Pease, Allan
  • Enhanced Detection of Emotional Facial Expressions in Borderline Personality Disorder – Schulze L. · Domes G. · Köppen D. · Herpertz S.C.  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23006779)

 

 

Edited: February 2nd, 2013

January – Long and Cold

This past month has been a long and cold month in several ways. There has been a lot going on here for both my wife and I which has consumed a lot of my time and energy. A lot of the stress that has cropped up this past month has been related to money. I am looking for a new project within my company to reduce this stress by allowing to have more financial growth.

This is very unfortunate because I love the project I am on and hate to leave it; especially, since I have been on the same project for over seven years. The system I work on has become like my kid. When I started at my job it was about 1/4 the size it is now. I have been involved in the development and refinement of just about every single area of the system.  However, when I made the decision to look for another project, I knew it was the right choice. I thought it out before I made the decision and weighed the pros and cons of it. When the time came, I was at peace with it.

Adding to the stress has been the fact that one item I have been working on at the office has not gone as smoothly as I would like. There is really nothing more I can say about that.

There are other things I could go on about, but I see no reason to go into more detail. I will just say that overall January has just been rough for me. It has been the roughest month in the last year for me. There have been a couple of episodes and an increase in stress levels; however, I have been able to avoid self-harm.

Actually, as I write this and think back, the month has had several rough patches, but as a whole it was not as bad as I first thought.

This was really meant as a fast update so that people know I am alive and well. I plan to put up a new entry and get back on track this weekend.

Edited: January 30th, 2013

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