Two years later…

I’m really bad at this blogging thing, apparently. I let two years pass since my last post. (well.. two years less 5 days)

Well, I still have diabetes. Big surprise, right? I’m also still not a perfect pancreas. Still on insulin, and I still have my handy-dandy-super-duper-insulin pump in my pocket. But It’s going well. I forget a lot of things though. Like the fact that I have diabetes. Like the fact that I have to bolus for my meals. Like the fact that I have to check my blood sugar. You get busy in life. It’s natural, considering I’m working full time as a pancreas, a full time student (more on that later), have a part-time job, have obligations to my amazing lover (more on her later) and, well, only human, to forget about the little details like some finger pricks and correction boluses. My control has suffered and I want to make a better effort. But that will come. 

So whats new? 

I dropped out of Georgian College. It wasn’t working for me. Not hands on. But as i said before, I’m a full time student. I’m currently enrolled in Aircraft Maintenance Technician at Centennial College. I’m not upset about not being able to fly anymore. I’m going to fly but it won’t be my career. My career will be fixing those airplanes. I love getting my hands dirty. I’m working on airplanes, electrical systems, hydraulics, flight controls, avionics. And it is AWESOME! I absolutely love it. I love it so much that I’ve completely disregarded the fact that I have 9 classes per week. I’ll be graduating in May 2015 and then I’ll be starting a two year apprenticeship towards my licence. Its exciting. I could be working anywhere in the country (technically the continent, but I want to work in Canada). I can’t wait. Not only that, I’m among the top students in my class.

I read in my last post that I was talking to Jess again. Screw her. I found out she cheated on me, allegedly, with my best friend. Screw them both. I have no thoughts about him or her anymore. That was two years ago. I’d like to share with you a story of what happened in the months after my last posts:

I was heart broken. I started to move on, and started dating again. Forward to July, my best friend from Barrie came to New Brunswick to visit me. And it was amazing. Have you ever been a tourist in your own state or province? I never had. If I went into everything we did, I would probably crash WordPress servers. What comes to mind is the whale watching on a tall ship and the search for sea glass in the Atlantic ocean. Needless to say, though neither of us would admit it at the time, we were together. After a short two weeks, she was on a plane for Ontario. I decided to give up on policing and go back to Georgian. By the time I got to Barrie, she already had a boyfriend. This would not do. I wanted this girl. So I got a hotel room in Barrie, called her mother, and arranged a plan to win her over. She worked at subway at the time. And the day after I got to Barrie, she had to work. I went to her parent’s place, made them dinner, and took the spare set of keys for her car. I then went to a flower shop and bought some flowers to surprise her with in her car once she would have finished work. My car was still packed with all of my belongings including my guitar.. and cowboy hat. So I had her car lights flashing and I stood outside that Subway playing guitar for her. She noticed. The little old Chinese man who ran the convenience store in the same plaza was cheering “say yes! say yes!” and then she came out, wrapped me in a hug, and kissed me… on the cheek. Yes, on the cheeks. Miss faithful wouldn’t kiss me like she did in the summer because of her boyfriend. This would not do. He thought what I did was odd, but nonetheless he invited me over to his place for drinks and poker. It got late, I stayed over in a guest room, and he had to work in the morning. Her and I made out on his bed. I had her. Fast forward to now, and we are still together. Living together, in fact. I couldn’t be happier. We couldn’t be happier. I foresee a long future together. Her name? Sarah. 

 

So that’s where I’m at two years later. I still have diabetes; I finally found what i want to do; I live with the love of my life. 

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My life as a Pancreas.

Life is Complicated.

Society is always trying set standards. Even more so when you are unfortunate enough to have a Chronic Illness/Disease. God. Why do they have to call it a Disease? It just makes us easier to target. As if we’re disabled or handicapped or something. Prejudice.

I can’t stand it.

I’m living with a Chronic Condition called diabetes. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not incapable of doing anything and everything a non-diabetic can do. The only thing I do differently is that I have to think for my pancreas which is out of commission. I’m not on any medication (Besides insulin; However by medication I mean drugs. Insulin, in my opinion, is NOT a drug. It’s a natural substance secreted from the pancreas to maintain blood glucose, and we as diabetics do our best to simulate that process with our pens, needles, and pumps).

I’m not a perfect pancreas.

I have my days; keeping up, shuffling everything else going on in life. I am a college student, after all. But the point is: if I want to run a marathon, what’s stopping me?

Nothing.

Because I, the pancreas, am prepared to handle the demands of running said marathon. Unfortunately though, I can only speak for myself.

That fact alone isn’t enough to get the Canadian Forces to accept my application for the Air Force–let alone the flight line.

That fact alone isn’t enough to get Transport Canada to re-validate my Category 1 Commercial Aviation Medical.

That fact alone isn’t going to put my life back on the track it was before my diagnosis last February.

I’ve got to make myself stand out. I’ve got to convince the CF, RCAF, TC and EVERYONE else, that I am doing a great job as a pancreas.

So there’s my answer. Cucumbers aren’t going to solve my problems, and neither is stealing @__Kerri’s pancreas on the Chronic Road Trip tour (any suggestions for a name??) (Shout Out to Kerri, @_misscarrielynn, @Inkstain_d, and @Maindog101 about the cucumber cure). My Goal is to change automatic disqualification due to Insulin Treated Diabetes Mellitus to atleast consideration on a case-to-case basis. (note it’s only ITDMs being discriminated in my situation).

Here’s my plan. It’s gonna take a while, but I refuse to give up.

  1. First and foremost, get my feet planted firmly on the ground, get myself emotionally stable.
  2. Keep up with the latest advancement in diabetes management technologies. Keeping with the latest tech gives me my best chance at proving my point. If the technology is available, then there is no real basis for disqualification.
  3. EDUCATION. I’m technically currently dropping out of my program. I can’t stand this program (aside from the aviation specific part). But today I finished an application for St. Thomas University Bachelor of Arts. If I take that route as opposed to Policing, I’m going to do a History Major, and Minor in International Politics. I’ve also completed an application for Holland College at the Atlantic Police Academy. Also in the policing direction, I’m applying for the RCMP, and Police Foundations at the local Community College (NBCC). I’ll also be applying to Mechanical Engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and it’s french counterpart: Génie Méchanique à l’Université de Moncton. I also plan on getting my recreational permit here in Canada, and a private pilot licence in the United States. Last but not least, I will be applying to the Canadian Forces non-stop until I am given consideration. Persistence is key. I may have found a loop hole, I’ll keep you posted.
  4. Work=Money. The above list doesn’t leave much time for work, let alone free time, though.
  5. Strictly maintain diet, exercise, and blood glucose. Becoming a “perfect case” even further enforces my point.

I’m doing so much better now than I was a couple weeks ago. I’m talking to Jess again. I got back up. I’m feeling great. I’m doing great.

Jamie pointed out to Carrie, Kerri, and I last night on Oovoo that we in the DOC and other communities like ours stand out. We are the anomaly, not sitting back, forfeiting to the social and political prejudice towards the lives of people with chronic conditions. We are the ones that stand up and stand out, for change, to bring people together for a cause.

And that’s what I’ll do.

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My Relationship with Doctors (and their Daughters) (its a long one)

As a pilot, and now a diabetic, I have had quite my share of experiences with Doctors. In this post I will be keeping their anonymity, because i’m not exactly clear on protocols for situations like I’ve had.  Note, This post is a long one (long story, remember?)

My Endocrinologist is/was Dr. B. He had some sort of accent that I am not familiar with. Perhaps he was Polish? Well. Who am I to speculate? He’s a very kind man, very understanding, but at the same time, hard to talk to, because I feel there is a language barrier. The CDE does most of the talking, and Dr. B hands out the prescriptions/lab orders. He really does want to see me get up in the air.

My CDE, I LOVE HER. She’s amazing!.. but she doesn’t return my calls nor emails anymore. I still have so many questions. I remember the week after I got on the pump, I was going on a hiking/kayaking trip in Fundy National Park, where, on the second say, we would put our kayaks in the water in the worlds highest high-tide. She was freaking out! It was part of an amazing outdoorsmanship class, which featured ropes courses, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, snow shoeing. so she had me use 50% temp basal and half the recommended bolus for my meals, as well as drink a half-bottle of gatorade (unbolused) once every hour. she also told me to keep snacking, and if i was high, to change my temp basal to 70%. Her advice works perfectly. I had not dropped below 4.5, nor went above 9.5 on my second weekend with the pump. She is still amazing, even though I’m considering breaking up with her.

As a pilot, I deal with a doctor most PWDs would never need to deal with because of the restrictions of flying on insulin. It’s an Aviation Medical Examiner. My AME, Dr. Z kind of reminds me of a crazed scientist. That was my first impression, you know with his long, untamed, grey hair in somewhat of an “Einstein” style. His hand are cold, and he is very critical about how I managed my outbreak of body-acne (which I’ve finally tamed). But need him. He’s essential to me completing my goal of becoming a pilot. I’ve already seen him on 3 occasions. One was for a general question, and two were for my Category IV aviation medical (which is due for renew). My aviation medical I had to deal with all sorts of Doctors. A cardiologist, a Hearing test, blood work, urine test, and of course a check up from my Physician, Dr. R.

Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for! 

Dr. R is a very nice man. He is kind hearted, and sometimes I even want to give him a hug. His office is shared, and his office administrator is his wife. He’s been part of the family for a long time (professionally, obviously), and although my mother has her doubts about the accuracy of his diagnoses, it must be pointed out that my mother is a very stubborn woman. Dr. R is a pilot. He doesn’t fly anymore, but I say once a pilot, always a pilot. It’s so great how much he supports my cause, and how highly he thinks of me, especially considering the circumstances. 

So my story begins. I was 14, in tenth grade, and I had a broken leg due to a horse related incident (you can skype me about that later if you wish). Two years before my Dx, and I wasn’t even a pilot yet. As i was hobbling around on my crutches, a girl a year younger than me, Kay, befriended me, and eventually became my best friend. Now i knew her last name, I just never made the connection in my head that Dr. R was her father. After healing, I got into biking.i would often bike to Newcastle from my home in Blackville (a distance of about 50 km) and back. I would sometimes go to the park, but one day, Kay invited me over. She lived about a 5 minute walk from my high school, and we met up at her place, hung out, watched some TV. That’s when i found out i was at my doctor’s home. well that’s alright. they are very welcoming people. Kay was just my best friend, and I eventually got a girlfriend. My girlfriend was one of Kay’s friends though, so a big group of us would hang out. we all even went to Kay’s birthday party (where for some reason I didn’t eat the cake…but that’s not important). my girlfriend and I eventually broke up, but Kay and I remained friends. One day, I biked to her place to hang out. she had other ideas, and we ended up making out on her sofa while home alone. This continued, until one time we were in her basement “home theatre” , in a compromising position (we were both clothed, mostly) and her mother walked in on us. but she didn’t seem to notice, she went to her bedroom to grab some paints. so we just sat on the couch, bullshitting a conversation in whispers. Her mom then said “Thomas, I think you should head home” then proceeded up stairs. Kay and I instantly knew we had been caught. I was stunned. I went upstairs (i made sure to button up my shirt first), and i had to walk past this furious mother and my Dr. R.. in a panick, and I flew home on my bicycle. Kay told her parents the full details, and they asked if we were having sex, and she told the truth. We were not having sex. They then Forbade her from talking to me, though still for the next little while i would pick her up at her place and walk with her to school.

I can’t remember what it was about, but i needed to see Dr. R in his office. Still every time i go in there, Mrs. R glares at me as if she is trying to burn my soul. this makes me feel so guilty… about getting caught. i can’t honestly say i’m guilty about anything that happened.. just that i had been caught.. Dr. R calls my name, and we talk in his office as if nothing happened. i think he understands that we were just a couple teenagers fooling around. that experience still goes unspoken in his office, and even when i run into them in the grocery store. Mrs. R still gives me that Evil Glare, but Dr. R talks to me as if we were friends. he still thinks highly of me, which is surprising. maybe he thinks he can guilt me for the rest of my life?

As for Kay, i think she’s proved that it was always her to initiate everything. Kay and I eventually stopped talking, and she went after my best friend, and they had sex pretty much every day. never caught, but they did find out she was sneaking out. she’s an honest girl, so she told the truth that she was having sex with my best friend. Last year, she got pregnant. not with my best friend, but with someone who annoys the hell out of me. she was trying to hide it, and once called me on my cellphone while i was at work to ask if i would drive her and her boyfriend to an abortion clinic. she eventually told her parents, and i have no idea what has become of her since. 

 

That’s my story! My advice is to stay away from the doctor’s daughter; their mothers are vicious. 

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Chronic Road Trip

Its amazing how quick ideas start moving in the right direction. One night on twitter, myself, Carrie (@_misscarrielynn), Kerri (@__Kerri), Jamie and Larry (@Inkstain_D & @Maindog101) started talking about how amazing it would be to do a road trip across Canada. The focus then moved to actually planning it. We determined that we could probably even use it to create a community for young adolescents living with Chronic Illnesses like Diabetes (Jamie, Carrie, and I), Asthma (Kerri), and Blindness (Larry), because though online communities and organisations (such as the DOC, CDA, and JDRF) exist, most of it’s users are of an older age group–mid twenties and up. In fact, many of these users are not only Diabetics, the Blind, and Asthmatics, the Deaf, but the parents of younger children. I can’t speak for the blind or people with asthma, but I know as a person with type one diabetes, that finding people my age to connect with is hard to do. DSMA chats, every wednesday night (#DSMA), are almost entirely Adult. It’s tough to find younger people in there. (if any young PWDs are reading this, follow me and introduce yourself!!!!! @TomSaul7).

 

Down to business. Chronic Road Trip is the working name for our project. Absolutely no details are clear yet. The general idea is to travel across the country reaching out to young people with chronic illnesses, and building our own youth communities online and in person, just as the DOC does for diabetic, only for younger people. It could be broadcast on Television, but considering the age group, it may just be better to stick to facebook, youtube, twitter, blogging, and maybe a website to help us reach out. This is where things are starting to get fuzzy. How do we find other youth with Chronic Illness?? How to we convince them to come out and join a community? We can certainly relate to their personal experiences. 

This will probably be one of the first communities of a variety of people with a variety of Chronic illnesses. That’s one of the troubles that we would have. Information given in this community would have to involve a variety of different chronic illnesses. Perhaps i’m a bit biased though. As a diabetic, the only chronic illness I can understand is Diabetes (if it’s actually possible to truely “understand” diabetes, that is), and if it wasn’t for Kerri and Larry, I’m sure the social struggles of Asthmatics and Blind people would go unnoticed in my eyes.

I am excited for this. I’m so glad I can be part of this planning process. I am sure that this CAN happen if we put the effort in to make it happen. With support from NPOs, (Non-Profit Organisations) and perhaps our own NPO status, and various potential sponsors, we could be successful. But first we must figure out what we’re doing.

I am a college student, I’m going home to NB, I’ll be without insurance (that’s scary) so I’ll need a job or two while I’m home. I’m still trying to figure myself out. I’m applying to the Atlantic Police Academy and the RCMP. I’m trying to get my pilot license, I’m in quite a bit of loan debt. it’s impossible for me to go at this project 100%. I’m still with it though, until it happens or it becomes a “could have been” idea. (the first one i hope!). 

If even part of our travels is by RV or Coach, I volunteer my mother to drive it (because she is a bus driver).

 

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Driving with Diabetes

Its been quite a while since my last post. Too long. But when i designed this blog, I made it so I could post whenever I had something to say. And today I do! Rather.. I did last night, but I was too tired to blog after my conversation via twitter/texting with Katrina D (@katrinaa06). Katrina is a type 1 diabetic feeling how we all do when someone stands in your way and says “You can not do this because you are a diabetic; because you are on insulin; because diabetes is too unstable.” She was given a handout from a nurse that essentially said she could be pulled over, arrested, charged, and licence taken away while driving with diabetes. That is preposterous! No way that’s true!

Since Katrina and I are both in Ontario, I decided to checkout the Ministry of Transport of Ontario (MTO for future reference) website, search terms “Diabetes”. only two results in the driver’s license section. One said that a Doctor has a right to notify MTO if he feels the driver is unable to properly manage his/her diabetes or if there are reported Diabetes related complications which may influence the ability to drive. Diabetics in Ontario, by MTO, are categorized into two categories: High Risk and Low Risk. I’ve noticed the exact same thing in pilot licencing in Canada and the USA, ICAO regulations, and essentially all other licencing authorities world wide. You are high risk according to MTO if you do not manage your diabetes properly. Constant lows and life threatening Highs. To be honest I don’t want to be on the road with someone at that type of risk. My mother always told me that no matter how great of a driver i might be, its the other drivers on the road that bother her. Low risk is just the opposite. We who care about our diabetes management. We who put effort into staying healthy. For us, there’s no difference than the other drivers on the road. We live the same, work the same jobs, and follow the same rules of the road. 

The trouble is those pesky lows!!

I used to always drive myself and my little sister to school, but once in a blue moon, I would have a low after over-bolusing for my breakfast. I pulled over, tested, drank the juice packed in my lunch, and carried on my way. My advice would be to be smart, and carry the necessary supplies with you. Keep some Dex 4 in the glove box and a Glucometer in your handbag/backpack/briefcase.

I’ve never been pulled over, but i know of people who have. a slight hypo-unawareness and all of a sudden you find yourself seemingly intoxicated (though you’re not) and just as you look to your right hand mirror to pull over to treat your low you see police sirens and they are pulling you over. That police officer has no idea what diabetes does. No idea of it’s effect on the body. and no idea how simple it is to get back to normal given the availability of carbohydrates. That, is unfortunately a reality. 

 

Shout out to Katrina, and any other diabetics looking to hit the roads soon:

Be smart about your diabetes, and you’ll never have any problems as a driver. 

And keep in mind that “Diabetes” on a medical for higher classes of licences (ie Taxi/bus/commercial) is no longer a disqualifying factor. 

~The World Shall Change In Our Favor~

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Support-Who do I go to for help?

Support

Where do I find it? I’m 18, I moved out. A full day’s drive away from home. Pursuing a field I’m too stubborn to give up on. Either way, my parents only understand a little bit. I’ve only lived at home as a diabetic for February thru June 2011. My graduation present was diabetes. And now I’m out in the real world, managing college life, paying rent among other bills on top of pump supplies.

It’s lonely out there. I don’t have many friends in the first place. Luckily I have a great best friend who just takes things as they are, and a loving girlfriend who is still learning what it’s all about.

But I don’t have any diabetic friends.

That I know of, I graduated with two of them. Two pumpers. But we were acquaintances, and could be used as a quick resource for a question. We weren’t friends, no matter how friendly I was.

It’s just that though. Diabetics are just like any other person. Some of us Get along great, and others don’t. Just because someone has a pump doesn’t mean we’re gonna be hanging out like old friends.

But I wish I had a diabetic friend.

Someone I could be open with, who knew me well. Who could see when I was happy, sad, high, low, and understand why i’m feeling this way.

They exist.

They are all over the web. The Diabetes Online Community. Tudiabetes. Twitter. Those people I could be friend’s with are everywhere on the Internet, with plenty of stories to tell and sympathy to give.

But no one close by….

…Well…

..there is one girl.

I haven’t met her yet. We have so many mutual interests. I read about her in an Animas publication. Her name comes up everywhere I go. She’s a pilot-in-training at the local flight school. She went to the same catholic school as my cousin. She’s active in the outdoor world.

She hasn’t let diabetes stop her.

She would understand the effort I have to go through to get my pilot license again.

She would understand my need to be in the air, at the controls of an airplane, soaring through the skies.

That’s all I ask.

As I was writing this post, I was tweeting with Carrie, (@_MissCarrieLynn) a girl my age, dealing with diabetes. I originally tweeted that I wish I had a diabetic friend who understood, and then I got five or six tweets from other members of the DOC telling me they were there for me. It’s so great to know that there is such a strong support system out there. It made me realize that I couldn’t be the only one without a physical support system for my diabetes related issues, needing to rely on this social media for people who understand an genuinely care about what’s going. But it works. Carrie made me feel better. So much better, that I forgot the sad story why I was feeling down.

Thank you so much Carrie and the DOC! You are the support I need!

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Late night diabetic google searches

The Internet is a dangerous place for people like me. It keeps us up all night. But for me it’s always the same thing. One night I spent hours researching why Medtronic is the only company in Canada to have a CGM. To no avail, mind you. It’s late at night that I start thinking of myself as different. It’s when I think about what is diabetes stopping me from doing? Because like it or not, we have to face facts.
Lately I’ve been having second thoughts about my field of study. The reason I’m where I am at this moment in time is absolutely 80% because of my diabetes. The other 20% is my interest in aviations and all things that help me defy gravity.
For years I’ve been dead set on being a pilot, in the Canadian Forces, in Nova Scotia, for a Specialized Unit called SARTech (search and rescue technicians), flying coastal search aircraft, helicopters like the Commorant, diving, then climbing mountains, and rigorous hiking trips. And it wasn’t until the start of the second half of my senior year in high school that I was diagnosed with diabetes. So what, right? Diabetics are all around us, doing the exact same things as everyone else! If only that were true. No one can tell me that I can do anything I put my mind to, because sometimes my best friend my insulin pump is also a ball and chain reminder that I can’t do anything.
Back to the senior year part.. I’m envious of people like Carrie in the DOC, and of Cody and Stephanie who I graduated with. Cody and Stephanie are both pumpers, and both in their own way were a huge help to me in my initial stages of my diagnosis. Both of them were diagnosed much younger, and had time to form their adolescence around their diabetes. Carrie wasn’t diagnosed as early as them, but now a senior in high school, she has a grip on her diabetes. By February 2011, I had already applied to 4 different educational institutions. Two of which were degrees in science and business (respectfully) with concentrations in aviation, where the end result was a commercial pilot license, and a good start into the world of civil aviation. The other two were engineering programs, one in Newfoundland, and the other an all French university in New Brunswick.
And then, I find out I’m a diabetic.

I didn’t think it would mean anything until I found myself in April, being asked for a letter from my physician saying that as a diabetic I’m still okay to fly. Transport Canada then found out of my diagnosis with diabetes, and revoked my medical, grounding me.

ICAO (international civil aviation organization) set a standard back in the early 90s about the medical standards concerning the use of insulin by diabetic pilots. Insulin-dependent diabetics were restricted to recreational pilot permits only, with very strict glucose management requirements to maintain medical standards. As a signatory of ICAO (whose HQ is in Montreal) Canada must follow these crew licensing guidelines. So my heart was broken a month and a half before graduating high school, when I discovered that until there’s a cure, I’m grounded for life.Okay, back to my point. I CAN’T fly. By law. I accept that. But why can’t I join the army instead? Serve my time as SARTech? The welfare of insulin dependent diabetics Is a liability. To pass medical qualifications, you have to be fit enough for combat duty. And because I’m on insulin, an ‘unpredictable’ substance to treat an ‘unpredictable’ disease (<—-I hate being referred to as ‘diseased’) I can’t pass basic military medical exams, no matter how many push-ups I can do.
So that’s why I was driven to this program, it’s called aviation management. It’s a great program, I applied in April, got an acceptance letter by may, took off to work for the summer in June, and moved to Ontario in August. But it’s not SARTech. I’m not helping people. I’m not doing a public service. It’s just like any other corporate business course, I’m learning to be a backstabbing CEO of a highly competitive commercial airline business, where everyone involved has managed to screw everyone including themselves, making billions of dollars in gross revenue, but barely making gross profit.
Tonight, I googled RCMP medical requirements, instead, I found an article from the CDA about how in 2006, the RCMP finally allowed diabetics to enter service. But I was unable to find any specific details.. Like a publication of RCMP medical standards, the CF has one, why not the RCMP?
According to the Canadian Human Rights act, the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and the individual provincial anti-discrimination codes, no person can be denied employment die to a physical disadvantage, which includes diabetes.
Final thoughts, I still don’t know what I want to do. I’m a strong person. I took what diabetes had to throw at me, and I stand tall and strong, proud of who I’ve become. But sometimes, on nights like this one, diabeteswins. It leaves me broken and defeated and unsure of myself.But it doesn’t own me.

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