30 Jul 2011

Post 299: More self indulgence, only complain with a good reason

A slight supplemental (ok, so a pretty long one) to my last post because I have managed to miss yet more things that I would have given my collection of Hens teeth (whatever they are – apparently they're rare but they sound worthless) to go to but being honest I don't think I'm fully past the pain my operation wounds have been giving me so I didn't want to 'shoot myself in the foot to spite my face' [Thankyou Lizzie Catt for that GEM] One-day, I really must compile these few mixed metaphors to produce something genuinely amusing. It may yet be a triumph among dogturds.
Anyway, moving on, I managed to miss (on Saturday) the engagement drinks of close college friend Mel who seems to have got engaged to Lucas the Canadian male development equivalent of her and he's 'pretty hot (according to her although objectively I think I can see where she's coming from) ( to the layman development is saving the world and asks difficult questions like 'after the wars how on earth are we going to rebuild Iraq and Afganistan? Neo-conservatives would presumably say 'who cares, we won, yee-haa?' but I am glad that there are people who think about it. The world is surely advanced enough to stop people suffering and dying from preventable diseases, violence and hunger. I know my suffering is nothing like this but when you struggle to survive you feel an affinity with other people who suffer, I'm pretty sure this a post stroke thing – I still take the p*ss out of idealists and people who complain 'the world's just not fair' too right, that's just the way it is – it is worth trying to make things fairer but not by being aggressive,violent and angry, usually at this stage someone chips in sarcastically with 'that's right Dom, everyone should just be happy in their place', my answer is mixed, firstly I believe strongly in social mobility and betterment but I am also very Darwinian in my view that people deserve to be treated as equals but we are not equals. I believe strongly in what neuroscientist Jill Bolte-Taylor

says -'we are all just brothers and Sisters on this planet, here to make the world a better place' – this may sound a bit hippy for me but it was so well put by her, someone who survived a (very different but very serious) stroke, it's a phrase I now fully subscribe to. I subscribe to a very realistic, empirical, liberal, compassionate, evidence – based, view of the world – what I – slighy cockilly call – 'the non-dicks view of the world, it dovetails nicely with my 'Don't be a dick' philosophy
-this is also a time when I am going to bring up something which'll make you brand me a hypocrite, one of the things I try my hardest to avoid. Why do people get so hacked off by Bono or the song 'Another day in Paradise' by Phil Collins. Because aside from the fact that it's Bono and Phil Collins, they're both millionaires that think they can tell anyone anything about poverty and homelessness, it's like Jeremy Kyle telling a crackhead single mum that he's 'been there'.It's not on. I will just say that I get wound up by people who complain, but I complain all the time, but I can put up with myself because I've got GOOD REASON to complain. I've been brought up never to 'cry wolf' for instance I get furious with the 8 year old next door when he screams and shouts for no reason. Not only is it the worst noise in the world but it means in future if he screams if something serious happens people are likely to ignore him and it'll be too late. The same is true of 1930s Man Ron in Draper's ward at Putney ( towards the end of the post) feb2008, those posts are emotionally dylan, apart from his tendecy to 'cry wolf' Other than that he's a great kid. Polite, Helpful, interested in everything are just a few of the things that spring to mind. I think most people would be happy if they had a kid of his age turn out like Dylan. So complaining, I complain about feeling ill and tired a lot because these were among some of the more unfortunate and debilitating effects of my brain injury alongside not just being able to walk around, talk properly and have the normal use of ANY of my muscles or eyesight. I can tell I'm no picnic of a human and so I won't try and promise too much of myself but I will spend a disproportionate amount of my time looking for a significant other although it seems like a lost cause a lot of the time. I have listened to enough autobiographies and without exception married men talk about how important their wive's are at being the most important thing in the world. I WANT TO FEEL THIS! I know the girl will have to be unusually special and finding her will be much harder but once she is found she will be treated like the most valuable thing in he world if we click (whatever that means). I hate publishing these on here but it seems to make sense. Simply put it is my latest dating profile that I use on a few sites: Maybe you'll be able to see more clearly than me why I get so much of that most delightful of sounds, silence:
I have been doing this for three years as it is the only way I have of meeting new people, and if that doesn't put you off read on, the rest probably will! I was lucky to live after a major stroke changed my life completely on Christmas bloody day 2005. Since that day life hasn't really been 'sunshine and lollipops'. I have adapted(ish) but there has always been somebody missing and this sort of dating has been a teensy bit demoralising if I'm honest.. I probably used to be a 'catch'(tall, pretty good looking, intelligent, independent, financially self sufficient, positive, good friends, great family .I had hoped to be a buyer, now I hope to be a writer someday. Write to me, I'll make it worth your while. Any of those 'timesaver' template messages, sounding like you haven't read this or if you haven't got a pic will be automatically deleted, please don't take the p*ss. When I look past the pitch black hilarity of all this, I appreciate I have been lucky to live, to have kept most of my mind, loads of great mates, such a supportive family, a place to live almost independently (Oxshott nr Epsom) and the sort of pension most people dream about – it's not riches but it gets me by and keeps me in important stuff. I would hazard it's enough to keep a family on.
I'm looking for a beautiful, educated Angel to make laugh (I'm afraid it has to be someone I fancy, if I don't reply I probably just don't fancy the sound or look of you plus typing anything much these days is a huge undertaking), I'm looking for someone to share decent red wine and conversation with, who has a can-do attitude to life, loves live concerts and feels that their life will be completed by helping someone who has really suffered. I have fairly strong morals but am a pretty radical atheist and Empiricist, some might say I'm a bit cynical, but I'm no fool. If you write to me looking like you've read this and it sounds like you're up for this, I will reply. You'll have to be able to drive and not mind coming here for tea to meet me, because I can't travel. I will also send you a link to something that will prove my story beyond all doubt because the lengths wrong'uns will go shocks me Well, I know I'm not always right but I'm no wrong'un.
I have tried so hard to be normal again but six years of trying doesn't seem to me to have yielded genuine tangible improvements to my fatigue or physical independence. I am allowed to complain about this, I've earnt it, because I have a legitimate reason but the world hate's complainers particularly those with no reason to complain and those who don't even try to do anything about it i.e. people who complain about being tired and ill and do nothing about their diet or exercise routine, I only say this because I was able to lose 2.5 stone between summer 2010 and summer 2008 by changing my diet and physio regime and I can't even exercise properly, surely if a sedentary person who's a bit fed up can do that a normal person could do it , and an equivalent of all that weight would be ridding yourself of depression or illness. This is just my opinion of course, sadly it is the unyielding nature of my brain injury that keeps that weight loss as just weight loss, it doesn't translate into improved fatigue, better balance or more independence at least it hasn't yet -although hopefully over the next couple of weeks I am going for the 3rd option I've taken with medication for fatigue. Ritalin was a disaster, Keppra did nothing.Let's see what Fampridine does? I'm only a little nervous. One of the big points of this post has been lost and haven't I gone on?! Back in April I was rightly very rude about the Penultimate Harry Potter, so earlier in the week my good mate Will Dugdale, pictured here at his amazing wedding last year that I couldn't get too because of the snow , well I think they look amazing, and the album from the wedding shows that the weather didn't spoil it. Far from it, but thankyou Will for taking me out last week. This last Harry Potter was 1000 times better than the one before. Sorry for going on and all the self indulgent crap.

24 Jul 2011

Post 298:Fed up with missing out on plans and some stroke FACTs

My little brush with Appendicitis has been such a pain (unfunny pun sort of intended) Even though I was only in hospital for just over a week I missed so much! Most important was the celebration of Karen and Toby's wedding. Luckily I had seen them a couple of weeks before when we had had the most glorious afternoon/evening seeing Bon Jovi in Hyde Park, it was supposed to be their wedding present but Kazza insisted on paying – not the same as getting to see them and everyone all in one place in the beautiful surroundings of Wallingford,
but as Anna (who was supposed to be taking me to the celebration) and I would say 'SH*T HAPPENS' (it's our motto, we said it a lot when she came to see me in intensive care!) . I also managed to miss out on Take That at Wembley after being so pleased to get tickets and a couple of smaller comedy gigs which I'll struggle to replicate. Mark Watson in Epsom and the brilliant drunken Irishman Dylan Moran at the Hammersmith Apollo. I have seen both of them a couple of times before but there's just something that feels criminal about missing these things although I suppose unlike Karen's wedding reception there's an outside chance they'll happen again. I know it's that dreadful feeling of letting yourself and others down again. Some people seem to be able to do this all the time. I can barely live with it when it's not my fault, I don't understand how people can live with it if it is their fault
Despite feeling like I've let people down and that I must be no fun people have still found the time to visit the pathetic lump of tearful unhappiness that I am. As someone now completely dedicated to meeting new friends and keeping old ones I am ashamed of this attitude. I hope that somewhere this blog persuades you that's the Dom that a lot of people know. Where was I? Yes people who have made the effort to come and see me this week. Today (Sunday 24th ) My folks took me out for a five star roast at the Bear – it's amazing they(my parents) still put up with me given what a needy human I've become. At their stage in life (they're doing great for their 70s). Also big thanks to Olly and his lovely girlfriend Lucy who dropped in in the afternoon (On thesaturday My best friend Tony popped in and immediately did the background web research on organising a Centreparks style holiday for a big group for next year – it would have taken me days and off the scale fatigue to have a chance of doing anything like that. Tony just can't help himself. I had also better not forget my friends Richard (the vicar) and Simon who came to see me on Tuesday - it's always a pleasure, they're great mates for such different reasons!
On Friday Jose (my friend and trainer) let me off my session (saying my wound needs a few weeks to heal) and took me to lunch at the Bear. Bloody good of him. On Tuesday my mate Richard . (the legend and vicar) popped in. I love these visits but always find myself apologising at the end because I must be such hard work to deal with and they always tell me not to be stupid. If there's melodrama to be had, I'll find it. My point that I had started with was how fed up with having to miss plans. On friday evening, I had tickets to my first Prom of this year with my parents and strictly speaking although I should have stayed in bed, missing something else wasn't bloody good enough! Which is probably an apt description of my post-stroke life.
As it was it's always worth going to the Albert Hall. Despite the ehos being 'a bit posh', it's an amazing place especially from the wheelchair platform a few yardss from the stage .Mum even whispered to me at one point ' you should see the conducters face – he's so flamboyant and expressive'. I used to get impressed by this – I now find myself saying 'He's a conducter for chrissakes, it's the very least he should be, and this was the kind of guy if you saw him on the street you'd tap him on the shoulder and say 'you must be a conducter' You know, portly, thinning collar length hair, keeps Brylcreem in business – looks more at home in a tailcoat than your average bridegroom.
Thanks are especially due to my housekeepers/carers ( Hassan, Agnieska and Abir) who have had to work so much harder because of my little visit to Kingston hospital. Despite this they say they're pleased to see me back
Before I started this morning I got a message from my friend Jo who was there when I woke up from the operation telling me to remember to thank Marshall, a Zimbabwean intensive Care nurse who had been brilliant at keeping Jo and my parents informed about my tricky waking from the operation(which made it more than routine). The other thing I wanted to add on the day that Amy Winehouse being found dead is the subject of much media speculation, I thought I'd include some facts about stroke that have been sent to me by an American organisation who have unbelievably been reading my blog and finding it quite interesting, hard to imagine but FACT.

Strokes: Fact vs. Fiction
Strokes are serious medical issues, and millions of people live with their effects every day. Yet despite the damage they can cause to a person’s body, many people still don’t know a great deal about strokes. Public awareness is growing, but additional education sorting fact from fiction will certainly help clarify the condition even more.
Where do strokes occur?
Some people mistakenly believe strokes take place in the heart, but most actually happen in the brain when a vessel becomes blocked. Sometimes, this is called a “brain attack” because the brain does experience some damage from oxygen loss.
Are they preventable?
To a large degree, strokes can be prevented. Certain health conditions and lifestyle choices, for instance, may leave a person more susceptible to strokes than others. High blood pressure, atrial fibrillation in the heart, high cholesterol, and even diabetes all raise a person’s risk of having a stroke. Couple these conditions with alcohol use, smoking, or obesity, and a person could eventually face a serious problem. A healthy diet and avoidance of harmful substances will help alleviate some of these concerns.
How long is stroke recovery?
Some people believe recovery takes a few months, but it is likely that a person will spend the rest of his or her life working to overcome the issues caused by a stroke. Statistics have shown that 35 percent of stroke victims recover almost completely, or live with minor impairments. Another 40 percent experience more severe difficulties and will need special care. A primary stroke center is well-equipped to help improve patient outcomes for stroke victims.
Is treatment possible?
Yes. Strokes can be treated, but they must absolutely be addressed as soon as possible. This means it is crucial to understand the signs and symptoms of a stroke if you notice them in yourself or someone around you. If you see someone exhibiting any of these behaviors, note when the symptoms start, as the amount of time that elapses can influence the choices medical professionals make:
· Trouble walking, stumbling, or sudden loss of balance or coordination
· Difficulty speaking, understanding, or finding the right words
· A sudden headache
· Problems seeing with one or both eyes, including blurry vision or seeing double
Leaving a stroke untreated only increases the potential for greater injury to the brain. The best treatment options come within one hour of the appearance of the first symptoms.
Who do strokes affect?
The elderly are often viewed as the most likely stroke victims, but strokes can happen to anyone. All age groups would be well-served to learn to recognize the signs of a stroke should this happen to you or a loved one.

17 Jul 2011

More drama that I could have done without

Sadly for a change (!) this is not going to be the most uplifting entry because I have just spent the last week in the earthbound equivalent of hell, an NHS hospital, Kingston to be precise. And this has made me think of one or two ironical observations. Firstly, Surely, if there's one man who's had enough of the inside of hospitals -it's me? Oh that's right -life isn't f*cking fair! My second observation is much more important, it is why these places, remember imo, some of the worst in the world are almost always staffed by angels. I was in and out of consciousness last week after what I thought was a routine procedure to remove a gangrenous appendix but somewhere along the way I ended up in intensive care where a bodybag is a popular way out. The reason I'd ended up there was I failed to wake up properly from the operation and got another nasty lung infection – it ended up being pretty far from routine, it's probably put me back a year and I'm in constant pain. The people who work in intensive care I reckon are among the most incredible people in the world. Most of us are unfit to breathe the same air as them. So that means Jo and student Nurse Ellen plus Oscar, Bev, Sue and Sanjay. I am in awe. I also feel an apology is due, on Sunday night I was in too much pain to sleep and Oscar kept coming in when I groaned and would say words to the effect of 'it's 3am – go to sleep!' I was relaying this story the next day to Jo and Bev saying that this bloke Oscar had similar features/mannerisms to the killer in 'No Country for old men' 30 seconds later Jo revealed to me that Bev was actually married to Oscar!Luckily she saw the funny side! The time I spent in intensive care was the most excrutiatingly painful hospital time I've ever done. Minutes were hours, I couldn't move, there was nothing I could do. The only thing that saved me was a surprise visit from my friend Anna on the Monday who is one of the nicest people in the world whilst gently trying to talk with Jo and Ellen. It's so hard in this situation to try and find anything to remotely lift your spirits because everything that makes who you are is gone. So I can only conclude it is the people around you who help raise your spirits at all, in this case the remarkable good humour of the nurses and people who turned up as if by magic. Seriously, I know I've said it before, but visiting someone in hospital who's not expecting you will make both your years, the converse is if you say you're going to visit and then don't. It is devastating, this is based on bitter, bitter experience, no names will ever be mentioned but I'm hoping that a few people feel a chill. That's the extent of any retribution I have. I know, it's rubbish. And finally special thanks are due to my friend Jo who was there when I woke up. I do apologise for being a bit tearful, but I couldn't ever forget the lovely Astor ward nurses, Soph and Abby plus I'm also incredibly grateful to my best friends from University Vicky and Tony for seemingly dropping what they were doing and coming to see me, the same can be said of my parents. Feeling that you're trying to cope alone is terrible. There must be plenty of people who do, I don't even know How it could be done. Now, it's time to completely change the subject. There seem to be people who are determined to hate me because I'm a bit posh. Apparently this marks you out as someone out of touch and therefore disqualified from discussing certain things. I don't care what anyone says, it's often how I've been made to feel. This video will make them hate me more, you can go f*ck yourselves, I'm no 'Tim, nice but Dim'. It was video taken in 2004 at one of my favourite places in the world – Royal St Georges in Sandwich in Kent where this years British Open Golf Champioship is being played for the first time since 2003. Tony and Vicky (who came to see me in hospital and set up my TV in hospital so I could watch bits of it -they're also in that golf video along with my legend of a friend Richard. Seeing me *rse around and speak and stand normally has fair made me cry. The last thing I want to bluster about is the brilliance of the Surgeons. While I'm on the subject of Posh these guys had just the correct amount of British Airways airline pilot swagger to leave you in no doubt that plunging a knife into you was just the right (no, the ONLY) thing to be doing, so thanks James Kirkby-Bott who must have been around my age. These people are amazing. Finally, a friend of mine found this clip of me being set-up back in 2004 – I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, although I will apologise for the language.All of that said, I have just bode farewell to the whole Denning Clan (Vicky,PJ, Milly and Gemima) who came round for an English PicNic (ie an indoor one). I feel unworthy of having such great friends, and guess what? I don't give a sh*t how posh they are - all I know is that they give a sh*t

3 Jul 2011

Post 296: Replacing a cliché with a tautology: a sort of change in strategy

Apologies if there are (more than average) errors or omissions in this, a badly timed computer crash (are there well timed ones?) conspired to make things a barely averted Disaster! I finally hit the publish button through exhausted eyes well after midnight on Sunday 3rd. Now it's the 4th July, and the fist order of business is it's my stateside Sister Susan's birthday, she's looking good for whatever age she is Sometimes I wonder if it's worthwhile. Comments (good or bad are always welcome) and help me maintain the illusio that someone reads this effluent
It's been no secret I've been a bit fed up – groping around in the dark for the next move and a move I could actually be sure about, not having a clue what to do but always trying to keep the interests of those who put up with me at the top of the list. Recently I have done a lot of thinking about a particularly boring cliché that gets spouted at a lot of Stroke Survivors and even used by one or two, it is the particularly nauseating 'No pain, no gain', which is used by sado-masochists up and down the country.The other thing was that stroke survivors only ever have this attitude if they recover. It's very much if in this situationUp until recently I would just nod my head in cowed bland acceptance when people said it, perhaps thinking that saying this to someone with Chronic fatigue is as annoying as a woodpecker mistaking your neck for a tree, in that category is this little gem that if I'd had a quid for each time I'd heard it I'd be a rich man. Prepare to be annoyed 'Concentrate on what you can do, not what you can't' F*ck that, stroke is all about you being prevented from doing things that you used to be able to do (usually easily). It stops you feeling (and being) normal – the best people I know are the ones who treat me as if nothing's different but the minute I look like I'm struggling and need help they instantly realise what allowances to make. It's such a talent, well I think it's basic common sense actually but it can be acquired, it can also be absent or ignored and called 'tough love', this is b*llocks when life is already tough. I'll be honest, nothing feels like it's got any easier despite exhaustive therapy and one or two ill thought out initiatives because nothing gets any easier if your fatigue never changes. When quality of life is the #1 plan, those bloody awful clichés get replaced by the simple tautology, 'no pain, no pain'. I already have enough pain thanks and so I do everything I can in the circumstances to make life bearable. I've tried everything else and guess what cliché spouters? I can't do it and I won't. This is not giving up - this is accepting reality and deliverance from torture.
This week my keeping sane has involved being taken out and taking people out. After my exhausting 3 days on the trot in Hyde Park with perhaps a slight lack of forethought, rather than plan to rest I'd booked tickets for a 'Great Classics' concert at the Albert Hall. I had been concerned that I'd sleep through most of it but luckily the third piece was the third time I'd seen the awe-inspiring Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. Think old spice advert or more recently the music they use to fabricate tension on the x-factor. I have a t-shirt that captures my feelings on this because of course like Americans with bumper stickers my most profound (profane?) thoughts are on t-shirts.
Back to the concert, my parents loved it and we got a bit of a thrill when the Pianist came and sat in our section (who'd just brilliantly played Griegs very recognisable Piano Concerto. I didn't recognise the opening piece by Smetana but I've now got to the stage where I can appreciate those sort of things and scratch my chin quite convincingly. Speaking of which, I went back to Hyde Park (last night – it's Friday today) to see Arcade Fire – a Canadian Band who's latest album won a Brit, Olly (who took me) had highly recommended them saying their sound was 'expansive'. To me this means good and the weather forecast looked pretty good too and Hyde Park is a glorious place, we had a great evening although the Lead Singer looks to have gone to similar overzealous barber as Brandon Flowers (see last post), so good in fact that we're going back for the Chemical Brothers there on Saturday -I've seen them a couple of times but Ol saw them at Glastonbury last week. It was a pretty busy and convoluted Saturday (It's now Sunday) and if I'm honest by the time I was on my way
to Hyde Park (5ish) I wasn't sure I'd have enough left in the tank. From a fatigue perspective it was tough but I'm damned if I'm going to let it defeat me doing the activities that I find worthwhile and I CAN do. There you go cliché spouters are you slightly placated? I can do this but not in the way I'd like too. That barely counts as a can!
Anyway, the thing that had tired me out is the something I can do which is the most important thing to me in the post-stroke world, and that is keeping up with my mates.
The Dennings and the Walmsleys had arranged lunch for me at the Walmsleys house in St Margarets nr Richmond. The only trouble was from the step at their front door to the narrowness of their hall, my wheelchair was never going to fit so we'd deliberately set this up to get me out of my (dis)comfort zone to see if with Nick and PJ's help I could walk through the house (thankfully they're both big lads) although Nick has gone from me calling him 'fat boy' to him looking great in the last few years. His wife Sally must be chuffed, her Pelvis has got better prospects! They are now (including Vicky and PJ all part of the 'self-confessed' professional suburban South London 30s Middle Classes who recognise the irony of having wooden Salad Bowls. They have 2 kids apiece (Oscar and Chloe for Nick and Sal and Gemima and Amelia for Vicky and PJ, Michael McIntyre would have a field day) – seeing as they are my very best friends who make so much effort for me, it's the least I can do to let them know how grateful I am. As it was with PJ in front and the Walm holding onto me behind I managed the walk from the front of Nick and Sals house to the lunch table out the back where I was greeted by Sal's delicious lasagne and three boisterous kids enjoying the British Summer. Having sat me down in a chair with arms, I was able to do my best at being a normal human although keeping ones head up is devilishly hard
, the only sligt hiccup was we had neglected to think through a strategy if I needed the loo, so the lads helped me slowly walk to the ground floor toilet where it is pretty demeaning but necessary that I had my trousers removed before occupying the throne. Not exactly a problem you want age 34. Anyway mission accomplished, Nick gave me a quick lift down to Epsom to wish good friend Jim farewell at a farewell BBQ at his folks house before he heads off to Australia for several years. I was a bit disparaging about his beard, probably because I couldn't grow one if I tried. After eating some rather delicious BBQ food, Ol and I headed off for Hyde Park getting there in time to catch most of Chase and Status, two electronic music producers who smash out Drum and Bass and Dubstep alongside a few other choice morsels, I've never really got dubstep till yesterday but have to report that on a massive soundsystem to a massive crowd, it is amazing, just watching the crowd leaping into the air as one – it's an awesome sight. The Chemical Brothers are two techno producers whose music just makes crowds just go mental, the generation above us just don't get saying that it just sounds like some sort of electrical fault. It can sometimes But they are masters at building up the intensity and then dropping back into a huge beat.
I also can't believe the expense that goes on facilities for the disabled at Hyde Park -I can imagine a management insultant looking at the numbers with incredulity, half the revenue per head and all this cost – extra staff, a dedicated platform, special portaloos (they still stink unfortunately), special parking – I'm glad it's legally protected because to me this is realistically the only benefit I get to being disabled. Disability living allowance is barely worth much, although my dad (quite rightly resents filling in a 60+ page form to qualify for it. I am lucky to have a father who does this. There must be people out there who don't stand a chance!
One of the many good reasons for going back to Hyde Park was to see the lovely girl who I could have sworn blind sounded like she was from Leeds but was actually from Manchester – the lovely Charisse, I'm a sucker for a pretty face, especially someone who seemed so genuinely pleased to see me everyday. She is lovely, I am also grateful to all the Showsec staff who were kind and chatty everyday I was there.
That might have seemed a natural place to end but no – Final thanks go to my friend Rachel who is moving to St Albans . She's a good friend – our red wine drinking evenings have been such a rare highlight. Anyone who fancies their chances filling Dr Oz's shoes?
Finally, on Monday -the Tonbridge guys took me out to dinner, this was when they first took me to dinner . Dave sadly couldn't make it but it was seriously good of the other three to make time for me particularly as Jim's wife is expecting twins.



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