Posts Tagged ‘Hissues’

Petri Dish Pregnant-ish?

PetriDishI remember after I’d gotten married, how many of us who were over the hurdle of wedding planning would jump into ANY conversation we overheard from other people who were planning their own.  We’d found our way through battles of chicken or fish, and we’d managed to find a safe seating chart where our divorced aunts and uncles weren’t forced to sit within each other’s eyeline.  We were vets basically, and could solve whatever little issue the newly fianceed would possibly face. (whether they wanted our advice or not)

Infertility feels like it should fit in that vein, but it is not one of those situations for me.

I don’t believe, outside of just continuing to encourage people, that I’ll feel like much of an expert after this.  It has moved so fast and so…seamlessly, that it freaks me out a bit.  Like I’ve said before, I’m so used to this NOT moving smoothly, that the idea that it has, is uncomfortable for me to say the least.  Every phone call, I’ve expected or at least prepared myself for bad or disappointing news.  Every visit, I’ve been expecting my blood pressure to be high, or my uterus to have decided suddenly that she’s had enough and would like a divorce.  Every time, they say, “Nope, everything looks great!” or they give me instructions for the next step.

I’m constantly wondering why then, if this is all so simple now, was it so horribly NOT simple before.  The only answer I can surmise is that it’s simple now, because now is the time.

So Thursday was our egg retrieval.  To prepare for that procedure, you have to take what is called an HCG Trigger shot about 36 hours before.  So remember when I said I had to take Ganirelix, the medicine that tells your ovaries to tighten their grip on those eggs?  Well, the HCG shot is what tells them, “It’s cool now, I got it, go ahead and let em go.”

The problem with the trigger shot?  It has to be taken at PRECISELY the time they tell you. And of course, on the day I receive mine, I’m scheduled to work until closing.  Because of course.

In a sheer stroke of ingenuity and spinning plates, I found myself asking someone to man my desk at work for ten minutes while I ran out to my car, had my husband drive us around to a side-street off the path and give me a shot from the front seat of the car while I sat in the back.  I am absolutely CERTAIN that anyone who just happened to have the misfortune of laying eyes on our ridiculous ordeal believed wholeheartedly that their friendly, neighborhood librarian was on the side of the alley shooting heroine.  I’m convinced there are rumors.  I’m certain I don’t care.

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The next day, nothing really felt much different, and I was convinced that we’d done it wrong and the whole cycle would be cancelled.  Because that’s how my brain deals with things not being chaotic.  My husband rolled his eyes at me, and proceeded to plan for the retrieval as though I was speaking gibberish.  He’s smart like that.

Thursday morning, we flew down the highway to office, and things moved really fast from there.  A really nice anesthesiologist gave me some really nice happy juice through an IV, and a really nice nurse came in to talk me through everything that was about to happen.  My doctor sat with me for a sec just to explain why the timeline had moved when it did.  My body, as predicted, had gotten seriously excited about the meds and was very close to hyperstimulating.  For my safety, and to save the cycle, it was best to move now.

Egg Retrieval Day

The face of someone who could use a nap, and is waiting for the IV to provide one.

So what is involved in egg retrieval?

The procedure involves using a needle to extract the eggs directly from the follicles.  Yes, ANOTHER needle.  Hence, the need for light anesthesia.  You aren’t completely asleep, or at least I wasn’t, but you’re out of it enough to not freak out about that.  Overall, I think most of mine was spent yammering on about whatever came to my brain. Nervous tick.

On the way out of the room, and back to recovery, my doc stopped my chair and showed me the lab techs already at work cleaning and counting the eggs.  I told her, “You do realize the blogger in me wants to take a picture of this whole situation, right?”  She said, “I know,…but no.” LOL

Back in recovery, or just across the hall, I was finally allowed to have something to eat and drink.  The most delicious saltine crackers and apple juice I may ever have, to be exact.  And then, I was allowed to just chill for a bit and get my bearings while the nurse came in to talk to me about what was going to happen next. Basically, once those eggs are extracted from the follicles, the follicles tend to fill back up with liquid.  This is what causes much of the discomfort people feel after retrieval.

While I don’t really make much of a fuss about discomfort or even pain sometimes, I have to admit that it isn’t the most comfortable of feelings to basically have saddlebags inside of your hips filling with fluid. And that’s generally what’s going on in there, I’ve decided.  Also, I’d suggest getting your hair done sometime before this.  You feel really yucky and hideous, but if you can look in the mirror and say, “Oh, but no, my hair is laid.”, it helps. I promise.

Once the techs have counted and cleaned the eggs, they immediately collect the sperm as well so as to move forward with fertilization.  It still amazes me, that people get pregnant unexpectedly, when I look at all of this really intense biological precision.

Anywhoo, our final egg count at the end of the day….TWENTY.  The average?  Eight.

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Come on, overachieving ovaries!

Now, after retrieval, most people are highly uncomfortable.  You should really go home and lie down if possible.  So of course I instead went to the Goodwill for a few minutes, and then went to look at an apartment that we’re interested in.  Because I’m hardheaded.

Fast forward to the next morning.

Do you ever get annoyed at your phone ringing because it isn’t who you’re expecting to call? That was my Friday.  It just kept on ringing, and none of the numbers belonged to my doctor OR her office.  I told you, I tend to expect the worst, (I’m working on it), so I was curious about whether any had fertilized at all, let alone if anything had gone wrong overnight.

Finally, a little after 2, my phone rang with the right numbers.

Call #1, was the lab, to process payment on that embryo storage fee.  They’re serious about that. Thank you to EVERYONE who has bought a shirt from our shop, or attended our fun-raisers. You helped pay them!

But call #2, was finally my doctor, to let me know how things were looking.

In the follow-up call, we talked a bit about just what has been the problem all these years, and it was explained in what I have to say is the best way I’ve ever had it explained.  Looking at the full picture now, she was able to see CLEARLY what had been our issues.

Basically, my PCOS and Hypothyroid have been BFF’s for years.  Together, they decided that they ain’t have no time for no stupid ovulation.  Add to that a pair of blocked tubes and what you have is great eggs, that have been all dressed up with nowhere to go, for decades. Then, on my husband’s side, you have diabetes and a childhood hernia surgery that made breaking through all my barriers basically impossible.  IVF was and is the only route to getting around our unique and numerous hurdles.  Through ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), the magicians of the lab were able to further get around the foolishness of our bodies by taking one individual sperm and implanting it directly into one individual egg.

So,  what’s the final count?

Of the 20 eggs collected, only about 13 of them were mature.  This is fine.  Again, remember the average is eight.  Of that 13, one presented with an extra set of DNA and was therefore abnormal.  Also fine and common.  Of those 12 left, NINE fertilized and were growing as of the next day.  She said, “everything looks PERFECT. IVF was the only way we were going to get around this stuff and it worked.”

So, those nine are being housed in what is called a MINC Incubator. Now, according to the manufacturer of the incubator’s website, (Yes, I looked it up, because I am a librarian and a thug), the MINC is described as such: “the MINC holds a constant temperature, provides rapid pH recovery and helps the embryo maintain homeostasis to reduce embryonic stress.” All of that to say, this thing is a pretty big deal and the BEST possible place for them to be.

In traditional IVF, this is where my doctor would let us know if she wanted to let them grow for 3 days or 5, and when the transfer would be.  However, a TON of research has suggested that a better route is to get to day 3 or 5 and then freeze the embryos.  Freezing them, allows for the woman’s body to take a little time to decompress from all those medications and stresses of the stim phase.  It will allow for my ovaries to calm down, and my body to get back to pre-meds status.  As my nurse described it, “it took two weeks to get up, now you take two weeks to get yourself back down”.  After that time has passed, then we’ll move to the transfer. (and then wait another painfully slow two weeks to see if any of this worked).

So we’re giving those little guys a five day, all expenses paid (by the sheer grace of God), vacation in the MINC.  On Tuesday, we’ll find out how many of the 9 have continued to grow and will be frozen.  Also on Tuesday, we’ll decide a transfer date.

And that, my friends, is how you work around a lazy Stork and get pregnant in 9 petri-dishes…kinda.

Next up…seeing if any of this works.

It’s So Loud Inside My Head

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So, we’re stiiiiiiill waiting.

Since learning about our male factor issues, we’ve kind of been on hold.  The preliminary moves in the urology department have basically just included a repeat of all the tests that were required from the original visits to the fertility center.  The fertility center can’t move forward until we have clear answers from urology on the issues they determine, and the urologist can’t move forward until our insurance approves everything.  There is a lot of back and forth, (and copays), between primary care doctors, specialists, and test centers.

And I’m annoyed.  For a few reasons.

An Ass Out of U & ME

I’m irked that we fell for the okey doke and relied soo heavily on the issues we knew I had, rather than looking into the male factor issues sooner.  The sheer intensity of my PCOS and thyroid complications led us all, (doctors included), to assume that it just had to be only me at the root of this crap.  I’m annoyed at myself for not “going wit my first mind”, and being thorough.

My Timeline is Askew

I’m irritated that there really is nothing I can do right now but wait.  Again.  I’m non-essential personnel at the urologist.  If I want to know what step we’re on, I have to pry the information out of the spouse’s one-word answers.  LOL  Not that he’s being a jerk about anything, but I’ve been the captain of this ship for oh, about six, seven years now…so to not know our itinerary, is eating me alive.  Like for real, can I at LEAST be in charge of the drinks on the lido deck or something?

No, Really. My Timeline is Jacked Up.

It’s March, people.  MARCH.  aka Third month of the year.  aka, even if I do get pregnant this year, I still might don’t have a kid until 2015.  So in my mind, it’s March, and I’ve lost yet another year.  Go me.  Cue the band.

It’s Exhausting.

It is extremely tiring to go to work every day, or do assignments, or just “be”, when you really want to wrap yourself up in a warm blanket, grab a trashy novel and a glass of wine, and just stop being an adult for like 45 minutes.  I’m kind of over adulthood lately.  It is NOT keeping up its end of the bargain.  Or at least not from what I saw when I was watching television and reading books as a young girl.  I mean, we should be living in a hip urban brownstone, working freelance jobs at swanky companies, hosting dinner parties, and on our second “accidental” pregnancy right now, right?  I mean, at least that’s what Thursday night lineups of years gone by said.  It’s literally exhausting trying to keep the thoughts of your real mind, from seeping out.  I don’t want people to know how much of my day is in this mental place, but should the opportunity to speak my truth come about in everyday conversation, I can’t really lie and say I’d know how to stop myself.

So as usual, I’ve just decided to stay busy, busy, busy. All this noise and thought running rampant in my head, has to come out sometime, and hopefully it may benefit you. Stay tuned for more info, including some very special events/blog posts for National Infertility Awareness Week 2014!

In the meantime, check out this month’s Sister2Sister Magazine for an article on Egg Freezing, The Egg has a brief mention.  Thank you Shahida Muhammad for thinking of me!

March 2014 Sister 2 Sister

 

Featured image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Long Pause…

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So, last month, I returned to the hospital for another hysteroscopy.  YAY!

I get to the post-op appointment two weeks later…Gyne says there was no polyp that she saw. Just my uterine lining stocking up for the apocalypse again.

So this giant lapse (a month and a half, which feels like eternity), was for nothing.  Or at least that’s how I felt instantly.  I know it wasn’t really, and that it was good to make sure everything was clear anyhow, but damn if it didn’t feel like a waste of time.  A painful waste of time at that.

But whatever, it was what needed to be done.

So the next move was to return to the RE for our IVF consult.  This meeting is where we sign all the legal paperwork regarding cryo-preservation, legal intent, and consent forms.  This is also the meeting where most people learn of their IVF protocol.  Meaning, what medicines their RE has determined will be best for them, and some start dates.

Notice how I said, “most people”.

Because as I told yall before, “if I haven’t learned anything in this infertility battle, I’ve learned that NOTHING on this journey can be simple for me. NOTHING.”

So, after we came in, she got right to it and said, “You’ve got three things working against you right now that we have to fight.”

I took a deep breath, and she continued.

  1. Your thyroid.  We have to get it down because it’s too high.  We prefer it to be >2.5, yours was at three.
  2. Your PCOS.  Which is apparently a ROUGH case.

At this, I cringed.  I have done my reading.  I know that with PCOS and IVF there are risks of hyperstimulation, and even an increased risk of miscarriage.  PCOS is a jerk.  A hairy, fat, jerk.  So I held my breath as she told me that my particular case of PCOS has already acted a complete ass.

The normal range of follicles a woman with normal or average egg quality has, is around twelve. 6 on one ovary, and 6 on the other.  But Regina?  Regina has Thirty-flippin-one.  13 on one ovary, and 18 on the other.

AMH stands for Anti Mullerian Hormone. This hormone gives doctors an indication of the estimated number of eggs a woman has left.  It gives the RE an idea of how many eggs they can expect to retrieve from you.  The normal AMH levels of women my age, are between 1.0 and 3.0.  In PCOS patients, AMH levels can run high.  My doctor has NEVER SEEN A PERSON WITH AS HIGH AMH LEVELS AS ME.  My AMH was 21.  Not 2.1, TWENTY ONE.

So do I have a great possibility for egg retrieval?  On the surface, yes.  But having done the research, I knew what that really translated to: I am at high risk for hyperstimulation during IVF.

In other words, my follicles may get a taste of those sweet hormone meds and go “fat kid at the buffet”, and my cycle could be cancelled.  She even mentioned that she may have to cut my doses in half just because of my risks.  WTF, lady bits?  What are you doing?!!

My body’s a damned overachiever in every area except weight loss.

But remember, she said there were three issues.

After all this time, the next blow, is that we now have male factor infertility also! YAY!!!  We won!

We have been referred to urology now.  To which we won’t get in until next year.  Depending on what is required, that pushes the IVF process to at least February.

So, all the craptastic news out of the way, we continued with the other parts of the consult and learned all about the risks of IVF, had the painful discussions about things like selective reduction, and even what to do with our embryos if we divorce or one of us passes away. Then came the great layout of costs for preserving embryos, $1100 up front and $450/year after, and the cost of preserving “backup” sperm for retrieval day, $350.

Fun, right?

And then to add insult to emotional injury, I got some yucky news about the little one who we were planning to adopt earlier this year.  She’s fine!  But the info was yucky nonetheless.

I got in my feelings for a hot second.  Mostly angry, not sad.  Angry that we’d waited before following up with the male factor information.  Angry at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, yet again.  Angry to be on hold yet again.

Then I just stopped.  I reminded myself to calm down.  I reminded myself that now was the time to focus on others and not myself.  Prayers for that precious baby girl, and love to my husband who got his own bad news today.

That being said, I’m giving myself permission to be a tad p’d off today.  And prescribing my OWN meds for a change.  Thanks to my sorority sister for the appropriately named gift.

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Featured image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Out My Mind, Just in Time…

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The great Erykah Badu has a song called “Out My Mind, Just In Time”, where she laments, for close to eleven minutes about losing herself in a man she thought she loved, and how she gave more of herself to him, than she even gave to herself.  It’s a beautiful song, really, that drifts in and out of changes that reflect the growth and depth of this over-thought and overwrought relationship.

And while she is clearly talking about a man who wasn’t worth the stress, this is a feeling I had about my own damn self recently.  That I had been in a relationship with myself and my feelings about infertility for some time now, at the expense of my husband’s feelings.  A relationship that it was clearly time to move on from.

There are things that you get to be selfish about in this journey.

You get to be frustrated when the medicines don’t work.

You get to be annoyed when you have to have a painful procedure that no one else could possibly understand.

You get to be angry when you’ve spent six months losing weight to prepare for IVF, only for the hormones to put the weight back on.

You get that.

But,…

You don’t get to be so wrapped up in those feelings, that you forget to think about your actual wellbeing and progress, OR that you forget to think about any person who is on the journey with you.

It is very easy to assume, after going through so very much, that you are the only one who gets this. You and the other women who have had the pleasure of enduring shots, and invasive procedures, are the ONLY ones who can truly understand your particular pain.  Your loving, but clueless partner has no idea what you really feel like.

He is not hurting in the way that you are.  How could he be?  The most he had to do was get friendly with himself.

And can he rattle off the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the doctors, nurses, and phlebotomists?
I didn’t think so.
That means he doesn’t give a damn about it.

Can he quote you the appointment dates for the next three appointments?
I knew it.
He’s practically not even in the game.

But, as we start to think those thoughts, here’s the thing though…

Did we ASK?

Did we ASK him how he felt about everything?

Have you ever really thought about how it feels to him that he can’t make you know how sufficient you are to him, when you’re basing every piece of your worth on this?

Or how hard it must be for him to not know what to say when you’re gushing the details of how you feel, out of fear that you’ll only tell him he doesn’t understand, or that you won’t listen when he tells his own feelings?

Or how terribly, terribly embarrassing and uncomfortable it is to do something so private and intimate, and know that everyone in that clinic/office knows what you’re doing?

Granted, most of what we do as women in this area, is invasive and humiliating.  Just getting through the preliminary workups, our pocketbook, as my grandmother would call it, is known from here to West Leviticus, and has made happy times with many an ultrasound wand or speculum.  But to be honest, as women, we are somewhat familiar with the stirrups.  For a man, so much of this has to be new and fast, and terrifying.

The more I started to think about that, the worse I felt.

I had made this entire thing, about me. I want this so badly, and I am so very tired of waiting, that I have become incredibly sad but ridiculously headstrong.  I will not waiver, because I feel like I cannot, even if it is just to stop and acknowledge that he’s lost his footing.  I will drag us both over the finish line before I stop at this point.

And worse still, I’ve been so very tight-lipped about my feelings with everyone else, that he was catching ALL of it.  All the frustration, and the angst, and the polarizing aggression.  I was pouring everything onto him and leaving absolutely no room for him to feel anything of his own.

I was ashamed.

And as usual these days, that emotion led right back to anger.

I was angry that this stupid, stupid thing had once again made me a monster.  It had made me cold, and irrational, and impatient, and…

Wait.

I was doing it again.

I was back in my head, making everything about me.  Making every emotion I was feeling, the fault of something or someone else.  It was my pity party, and I wanted to just cry and cry.

I couldn’t let myself off that easy.  I was wrong.  Point blank and the period.

I was wrong for being in my head.  I was wrong for internalizing everything to the point of insanity.  I was wrong for stealing his voice and swallowing it into my own.

So I apologized.

So why am I telling you this?  You’re a perfectly respectable infertile, right?  You handle your stresses far better than I do, and would never dream of making your partner feel isolated and forgotten. Right?

I know.

But just in case you ever find yourself being the raging lunatic I discovered I was capable of being, remember these words I said to myself:

GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD

The worst battles we will ever fight, take place in our minds.  We play the hero and the villain.  We project words and actions and even thoughts onto those around us, based on our own insecurities and fears.  We lose sight of reality, and sometimes our partners pay the price.

This path is exhausting, and scary, and rough, and a whole heap of other adjectives I could throw in.  I am grateful that I don’t have to move down it by myself.  I have to remember to appreciate and acknowledge that, before I ostracize the person who is walking beside me.

Get out of your head.  Quickly.  See things for what they actually are.

If he honestly isn’t doing everything in his power to really be on the journey with you, then say so. Don’t yell it or accuse it.  Address it.

If you discover, however, that you just weren’t seeing the full picture, because you were too busy writing a new script in your head, then address that too.  Apologize, and move on.

I know, I know.

This is just me.  You are perfectly clear-headed, and in control of your thoughts and emotions these days, right?  You would absolutely, positively just never, ever, be this person.  I know.

Right?

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Featured image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Giveaway: Win a Free Spermcheck Fertility Monitor

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While much of a woman’s journey into fertility treatments is invasive and frustrating, there has to be something said for the guys who have to endure their own little corner of TMI. Aside from the stereotypical machismo and pride associated with men having their fertility checked, there is also the embarrassing and intrusive aspect of having to visit a doctor’s office to have their sperm collected and checked.  Fear of the results themselves, and the actions necessary to receive them, could leave some couples waiting much longer than they need to.

So I am super excited to offer a way around that.  The SpermCheck Fertility Monitor is a private, easy, and convenient home sperm count test, and I’m pleased to announce that the good people at Fairhaven health have given me a free one to pass along to one of you!

The test is super easy to take.  Here’s the quick rundown:

  • Collect a sample in the cup provided, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
  • Using the transfer device(syringe) provided, stir the sample 10 times, pull the plunger back and collect the sample till you get to the black line on the tube.
  • Transfer the sample into the solution provided.
  • Let sit for 2 minutes
  • Open the testing tray, drop 6 drops onto the opening marked with “S”
  • Wait 7 minutes and read your results!

That’s it.  A positive result indicates that the sperm count is above 20 million sperm per milliliter, while a negative result signifies that the count is under the 20 million sperm per milliliter threshold, and you may want to schedule a follow-up test with your doctor.  Don’t panic!  The doctors will do that same thing even if you’d have taken their test first and gotten similar results.

Today is my birthday, but I feel like giving presents rather than receiving them, so get in on this giveaway!  I want to help you break down another barrier to your success.

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The Best of Times…The Worst of Times

I warn you, not to watch this.
And yet I have to share it.
A father breaks down while explaining one of the hardest points in his life. Attending to the very real pain of grief during the day, and wading through a career as a comedian at night.
It is a heart-wrenching story.
But I have to share it.
Because this is the EXACT feeling I have been trying to convey for months now.  This feeling that everything is going swell, and yet going horribly all at once.
The feeling of knowing that although something is dying in our lives, we still have to go to work.
Even as something is passing away in us, we still have to communicate.
All the while something is breaking us down,  we have to express joy in the “good” things that have come our way in the meantime.
And nobody knows what is really happening underneath.
When this video ended, I was in tears.
Not just for HIS pain.
But because he understood mine.

For the past 9 months, EVERY DAY has been an up and down roller-coaster of feelings.
I go into the doctor’s office in the morning and hear no good news, I get to work in the afternoon and get praised for something.
I excel in my social obligations on the weekends, I spend the weeknights curled in my bed.
I am kicking life’s ass personally and professionally, and it is kicking mine emotionally and physically.

And no one gets it!  You can write it out,  talk until you’re blue, draw a diagram, and people will still want you at work in the morning, at church on Sunday, and at their party/babyshower/ladies night on Saturday.  They placate you with soft “Oh, you poor thing”‘s and emoticon you with (((hugs))), but they don’t actually get it.

All they know is that you’re in a pissy mood.  All they see is that you didn’t show up to that thingamajig.  All they know is that you aren’t yourself.

There is an INCREDIBLE isolation felt.  A dynamic feeling that life is interfering with life.  That you can’t be YOU.  That life will NOT slow down and let you get your breath because you aren’t entitled to that.  You just keep riding downhill in this car, even-though you know the brakes are out, and you can only pray that there is a gentle tree to stop the incline.

I finally reached a break in my menorrhagia last week.  I had my body to myself for about four days and then promptly got food poisoning.  LOL  Because that’s how fly I am.   But overall, I’m in somewhat of a better place.  I’m a little less snarky this week.  I feel a tiny piece of joy returning to my workday.   I don’t want to retreat from human contact nearly as much.

And I’m grateful for that.

But I know that it’s only a matter of time before things start rolling down that hill again.  And I’m going to have to get up and come to work, and make teenagers happy (oh, the horror), and care about eating food during the day, and make myself respond to phone calls and text messages, and make myself smile at photos, and encourage myself to listen when people talk to me.

Only this time, this video will be in my head.  And I’ll be trying to make myself also remember that while I’m dying, so is the person in front of me.  The cashier at the grocery store.  The attendant at the gas station.  That friend of mine.  And yes, even the comedian on my television screen.

You NEVER know what someone is going through.

So treat EVERYONE with the same care and compassion that YOU need.

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