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Fi mum23

Royalty, Wife, Mummy, friend, teacher, student & fitness blogger

Month

January 2017

God doesn’t make mistakes !!

This is a wide open raw post about our journey to accepting that our Master 11 has ADHD.  I have put this diagnosis off for, literally, years, as I didn’t want to ‘label’ my child.  From the time he was 2yrs old, we always have said that he has enough energy for 10 children.  As he grew to be a very full-on, energiser bunny type boy, I strongly resisted even reading about ADHD, let alone considering having him assessed, as I think I really knew he had it.

Of course now, in hindsight, I so wish I’d had him assessed years ago… not for me, but for him.  The biggest thing that finally pushed me to get that referral and make an appointment was one particular day laying turn in our front yard.  I was laying the turf pieces while the 3 kids prepped the area ahead of me.  Pulling out any weeds and moistening the area.  Repeatedly, we would need to question Master 11 on why he was in a different part of the yard.  As you lay turf in lines, it’s very clear where I was going to go next with my turf pieces, however Master 11 was always a good few meters away.  I, and my older 2 kiddos, would explain to him how things were being done and why he needed to be where he needed to be, but he was simply getting frustrated with us.  This is something I had come to recognise in him well.  It wasn’t a defiant, “I want to do my own thing” kind of frustration, but a “Why don’t I understand what you mean?” kind of frustration.

Let’s look at a fairly simple definition of ADHD

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a developmental problem which results in poor concentration and control of impulses. It can affect children’s learning and social skills, and also family functioning. It is not an illness. With medical treatment, understanding and care, a child with ADHD can live a normal life. 

I was not keen to look into ADHD as I pretty much knew, just from what I’d heard from others etc, that Master 11 would tick many of the boxes for diagnosis.

Common signs and symptoms are:

  • Inattention
    Difficulty concentrating, forgetting instructions, moving from one task to another without completing anything.
  • Impulsivity
    Talking over the top of others, losing control of emotions easily, being accident prone.
  • Overactivity
    Constant fidgeting and restlessness.

When I eventually forced myself to do extensive research, I wasn’t at all surprised, but still saddened, to be able to say, “Yes, that’s him to a tea.” to nearly every one.  I wouldn’t say that he is accident prone as such, but sometimes accidents will happen when there isn’t forethought put into actions etc.  (however that in itself is something that goes on in every child & adult if they don’t ‘think ahead’)

Now, while we are still on a steep learning curve with Master 11 and his diagnosis and by no means know anywhere near all we need to know, my first port of call was to get myself educated on the best way to help him.  Of course medication is the first thing everyone thinks, but I was predominantly more concerned with understanding how his brain works.  How do I ‘get in his head more’ so as to make the best decisions in every situation.

I also spoke to every ADHD Mum I knew, so as to get the broadest source of hands on info I could. My biggest concern was how do I deal with behaviour related issues?  A child with ADHD can’t just simply get away with things because they struggle more in these areas.  The general consensus was to have the best understanding of how he thinks and feels, so I can communicate & acknowledge these things with him.   eg.  “I understand that you struggle in this area, but there are still consequences for bad choices.” etc.

Some general info from the The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne that I found very helpful is shown below. What was really interesting was that a lot of the things they suggested were actually already in place in our home as they were part of our parenting journey from early on, having done ‘Growing Kids God’s Way’ with Gary & Ann-Marie Ezzo.

Ways to help children with ADHD

Verbal instructions

  • Keep instructions brief and clear.
  • Say the child’s name or tap them on the shoulder to make and keep eye contact when giving important information.
  • Ask your child to repeat the instruction to make sure they have taken it in and understood.
  • Your child may need prompting, monitoring and encouragement to keep them focused on tasks.

Written work

  • Highlight important points in written information using *asterisks*, CAPITAL LETTERS or bold text.
  • Limit the amount of information that needs to be copied from a black or white board. Instead, give ‘hand out’ sheets with this information.

Other learning strategies

  • Provide one-to-one instruction as often as possible.
  • A class ‘buddy’, who gets along well with the child, can be helpful to reinforce instructions and directions.
  • Make sure activities have plenty of ‘hands on’ involvement.
  • Schedule the most important learning to take place during the child’s best concentration time(s). This is usually in the morning.
  • Give a checklist for what the child needs to do.
  • Physical environment:
    • Sit them near the front of the classroom.
    • Plan seating and furniture carefully to decrease distractions. For example, sit the child near classmates who will be good role models.
    • A quiet place without clutter is important for homework.

Reducing over-activity and fatigue

  • Build rest-breaks into activities. For example, a five minute break for each 30 minutes of activity.
  • Alternate academic tasks with brief physical exercise. For example, the child could do structured tasks or errands such as delivering notes or taking lunch orders.
  • Prepare a number of low-pressure fun activities for when the child needs to spend a few minutes calming down.

Keeping structure

Children with ADHD can struggle with changes to routine and need to know what to expect. The following strategies can help:

  • Have a fixed routine.
  • Keep classroom activities well organised and predictable.
  • Display the daily schedule and classroom rules. For example, attach a flowchart to the inside of the child’s desk or book.
  • Tell the child in advance (whenever possible) of a change in the schedule.
  • Give the child advance warning of changes. For example: ‘in five minutes you will have to put your work away’, and remind them more than once.
  • Keep choices to a minimum.

Self-esteem

  • Encourage the child to take part in activities where they will experience success.
  • Set achievable goals.
  • Acknowledge their achievements by congratulating them verbally and in written ways such as notes or certificates.
  • Focus their attention on the good parts of their written work. For example, use a highlighter pen on the best sections of the child’s work.
  • Help them feel important in the classroom. For example, acknowledging their effort to do a task even if they don’t succeed.
  • Near the end of the day, review with the child their accomplishment/s for that day.
  • Attend to learning difficulties as soon as possible to restore self-confidence.

Social skills

  • Involve the child in smaller groups of no more than two other children, instead of larger groups, whenever possible.
  • Reward appropriate behaviour such as sharing and cooperating.
  • Teach the child appropriate responses when they feel provoked. For example, teach them to walk away or talk to the teacher.
  • Encourage the child to join activities where ‘supervised socialisation’ is available, such as Scouts/Girl Guides or sporting groups.
  • Talk with the child about the consequences of their actions upon themself and upon others.
  • Use visual prompts to remind the child to think before they act. For example, ‘STOP, THINK, DO’.

Communication between home and school

  • Use a school-home daily communication book.
  • Communicate both positive aspects of day and inappropriate behaviour.
  • Teachers – be sensitive to parents’ feelings. They have the difficult task of raising a child with ADHD.
  • Teachers – help parents feel proud of their child. Find positive things to share with them about their child on a regular basis. This can be done in front of the child.

To help to encourage the child to complete homework parents can:

  • Make the work environment attractive but not too distracting.
  • Have regular scheduled time for homework.

Key points to remember

  • Acknowledge and reward achievements and positive behaviour often.
  • Attend to learning difficulties as soon as possible.
  • A quiet place without clutter is important for homework.
  • Talk with the child about the consequences of their actions.
  • Medication, positive parenting strategies, school support and counselling can help most children with ADHD and their families.

With all of this in mind, I need to now tie in with my previous blog post about returning to mainstream school.  (the health issue I spoke of for Master 11).

While all the things about returning to school were going on, I was very aware of two things.

  1.  Master 11 would very much benefit from the routine of school, but also the frequent ‘changes’ going on at school.  Moving from class to class, having different teachers,  having designated break times with others etc etc.
  2. To be able to transition into school easily and for Master 11 to excel in all areas of schooling, both academic and social, I needed to have him assessed/diagnosed in order to go forward in the best emotional state possible.  (I’m talking me as well as him.. ha ha)

Master 11 is crazy smart academically, and I have come to understand why since educating myself on ADHD.  I’m pretty darn excited to see where he can go with this back at school, but also in his life in the future.  I’ve been able to have some great discussions with him about how BLESSED he is to have this disorder.  He can honestly think quicker than anyone I know.  I’m determined that he doesn’t forget that he is MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE !!!  He’s not negatively effected by this !!  God has a crazy awesome job set aside for him and only he can fulfil it !!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

I’m not saying it’s always easy, coz man, it isn’t !!  I will continue to go to The Lord each morning and say “Please keep me teachable”  “Re-parent me in areas you’re not pleased with” “Forgive me for reacting the way I did in this or that situation.”  I also have to go to Master 11 and seek his forgiveness when I haven’t handled a situation as best as I could have.  #parentingwithhumility

This seems like such a short post for such a broad issue, but while I want to understand my son as best as I possibly can, I don’t want this to be perceived as this big daunting problem… coz you know… it’s not !!!  When it comes down to it, it wasn’t a surprise to me, (& as one of my Lioness sisters always says to me), it certainly wasn’t a surprise to our Heavenly Father.    I simply needed to allow The Lord to work within me, to prepare my heart for the journey.  I’m so thankful that he did and continues to do this in me each and every day.

Blessings Peeps !!!!!  xox

Master 11’s Glaucoma surgeries

In the interest of giving fair warning, two things –

  1. This post is about a medical procedure that my 11yr son needed to have in July 2016, and the follow-up surgery in November 2016.  If you don’t like reading about medical procedures, than maybe click out now and wait for the next blog.
  2. While I’ll source some medical details from the internet in places, I’ll also explain things in my own words, so if there are any eye specialist reading and I get it wrong… I apologise in advance.

Ok….  still here, Great !!… don’t say I didn’t warn you.  :0)

For going on 5yrs now, our son has been dealing with high eye pressure (Glaucoma) in his left eye.  To give you some history, Master 11 was born predominantly blind with congenital cataracts.  Our other son, Master 14, was also born with the same condition.  Both boys followed the same treatment plan.  Removal of the natural lens in both eyes, in two different surgeries at 5wks old, and then the fitting of contact lenses by the time they were 8wks old.

Glaucoma is a significant risk for those that have had their natural lens removed, but having said that, I had the same surgery at 18months old, and Master 14 had it, and neither of us have had any Glaucoma issues.  It’s even quite miraculous that Master 11 has only had it effect one of his eyes.  Praise God for this !!

There’s loads of info about Glaucoma online etc but it’s, more often than not, a different type to what Master 11 suffers.  He has what they call Secondary Glaucoma.

  • Secondary glaucomas. These glaucomas can develop as a result of other disorders of the eye such as injuries, cataracts, eye inflammation, the use of steroids (cortisone).

The Eye

The eye works very much like an old-style camera. In the camera, the light comes in through the shutter, is focused by the lens, falls onto the film and them we take it to be processed.

In the eye, light comes in through the cornea and pupil. It is focused by the lens, falling onto the film in the eye (the retina) and then goes, via the optic nerve (the nerve of sight), to the brain (the processor) for developing.

The shape of the eye is achieved through the circulation of a clear fluid (aqueous). It bathes and nourishes the eye, keeps it firm and gives the eye a certain pressure. High pressure left uncontrolled can lead to damage of the optic nerve and result in vision loss.

It must be noted that eye pressure varies from person to person. What is high pressure for one person may not be for another.

Diagram of a normal eye

Normal Eye

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. In most people this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye – a result of blockage of the circulation of aqueous, or its drainage. In other patients the damage may be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibres, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibres themselves.

Diagram of aqueos flows from the Ciliary Body through the Anterior Chamber and out via Meshwork

Our eye pressure ideally should sit between 10-19 but James has more often than not been ‘unreadable’ which means he exceeds the top reading of the machine which is 50.  On a good day, he’d be in the 30s… if he was in the 20s, that was cause for celebration.

After a couple of years of trying to combat the problem with eyedrops, we were referred to a Glaucoma specialist, who was the one to perform my son’s surgeries.  Below is a YouTube video of the procedure… not actually my son’s.. just a video you can source on YouTube of this procedure.  It is full-on graphic, so only watch if you can hack it.  Master 11 waited a few weeks post surgery before he watched it… and loved every minute (weird child.. LOL)

 

For those that don’t want to watch the video…..

What is a glaucoma tube?

Glaucoma tubes are surgical devices used to reduce eye pressure (intraocular pressure) in glaucoma. They do this by allowing fluid (aqueous humour) to drain from inside the eye, through the tube, into a reservoir (or bleb) hidden under the upper eyelid. Aqueous humor is a fluid inside the eye and is not related to the tears. Reducing the pressure on the optic nerve is important to help reduce the risk of further damage to the nerve and to prevent further loss of vision from glaucoma.  Tubes are made from a soft silicone tube (less than 1 mm in diameter) attached to a plate.

The tube is placed inside the front chamber of the eye. This allows fluid to drain out of the eye towards the plate. The plate sits on the white of the eye (the sclera). The plate will not be easily visible as it is buried under the skin of the eye (the conjunctiva).  The Baerveldt tube does not contain a valve to control flow as other Glaucoma tubes do, but has other advantages. As the Baerveldt tube has no valve, it must be temporarily tied off at the time of surgery by placing a stitch around the outside of the tube (ligating stitch). This stitch can prevent the pressure going too low due to fluid draining too quickly. During the first 6 weeks after surgery the eye will begin to heal around the plate and form a reservoir to collect fluid draining from the eye. If the tube were to open too soon, before the reservoir forms, the eye pressure could become too low. At about 6 weeks after surgery the ligature stitch around the tube will dissolve allowing the tube to open. As the tube is tied off it is quite normal for the eye pressure to remain a little high during the first 6 weeks after surgery. To further reduce the risk of eye pressure dropping too low when the stitch dissolves, another stitch (called Supramid) is also put inside the tube at the time of surgery. If the pressure is still high at 6-7 weeks, once the outside stitch has dissolved, it is possible to remove the Supramid stitch to allow even more fluid to drain from the eye. In this way we can gradually adjust the pressure to a safe level while reducing the chance the eye pressure will go too low. The Supramid needs to be adjusted in about 50% of people. Adjustments can be made in clinic using the usual microscope used to examine your eyes but is more commonly done in theatre. Adjustments are not usually done less than 3 months after the original tube surgery. Although glaucoma tubes are covered by the eyelid and skin of the eye (conjunctiva), they also need to be covered with a patch of transplant tissue. This is needed to reduce the chance of the covering over the tube eroding and exposing the tube or plate. The transplant patch is made from either sclera (from an eye bank) or a material called tutoplast (processed pericardium from a commercial source). These tissues come from people who have donated their eyes to benefit others. The transplant material is not like other transplants though as it is dead tissue, with no risk of rejecting. It is simply used to reinforce the surface of the eye. If donor tissue is not used, breakdown of the conjunctival surface of the eye over the implant can occur in 10-14% of cases. When donor tissue is used the risk of breakdown is less than 3%.

 

Master 11 sadly fell into the 50% of patients who needed the stitch adjustment (I don’t know why they say ‘adjustment’.. why don’t they just say ‘removal’ seeing as that’s what is it? Weird. .. anyway, moving on.

The Stitch removal was done in late November, and even though all info you can find on the internet will tell you that the insertion of the shunt won’t improve eyesight, the many prayers for our Master 11 certainly proved that theory wrong as he was in awe of his great vision in that eye post surgery.   That’s even without a contact lens in the left eye, seeing as he couldn’t wear one for about 6wks, until the dissolvable stitches were gone.

We are now nearly 6wks post surgery #2 and Master 11 is only days away from being free of the post surgery eyedrops.  He’ll continue his eye pressure drops until he is seen again in a couple of weeks, and then he’ll hopefully begin to wean off of them also.  He is super excited about this as the lens needs to be removed for him to have his pressure drops each evening.  The idea of not having to take his left contact lens out EVERY night is very appealing to him.  He’s been taking it out every night for a good few years now.  His contact lenses can stay in for a week at a time otherwise.

It’s pretty cool to think on what The Lord has provided for us in these types of situations.  While it’s crazy stressful while going through it, the idea of not having been able to rectify this situation, resulting in my son losing his sight, is amazing !!  There is an unimaginable amount of people in far less fortunate countries that simply lost their sight due to this disease.  We are indeed blessed beyond measure !!!

In tough situations, like after a specialist appointment that involved an ‘unreadable’ pressure check,  I needed to lean heavily on verses like these

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6

So many reasons for thanksgiving !!!!

Blessings Peeps  xox

HS Day 592 – The end of an awesome journey

reading-glasses-cartoon-SmileyReading

& so begins my catch up blogs… I have been very lax in getting my thoughts down ‘on paper’ in the last few months, but in my defence, there has been a lot going on.  Hence the several posts that will follow this one.  So, get a cuppa, find a comfy chair, and put the kids in front of a suitably awesome PG movie so you’ll have a good hour and a half of peace and solitude.

During 2016, I started to have lots of things about a local state high school come across my radar, whether it be in person with a friend, a FaceBook post, something in the local paper etc etc.  I didn’t think too much of these things coming up as we do know quite a few kids that go to this school, so I was really encouraged to hear these positive things about a school that years back had quite a bad rep.  It was encouraging to also find out that young adults from our church were heavily involved in chaplaincy programs there.

As more and more things kept pooping up on my ‘radar’, I began to seek The Lord on these issues, originally simply asking why it kept popping up, and then I began asking what it meant (if anything) for our family.  I strongly felt lead to begin looking into the school itself, made a few calls, met with a few parents of kids there.  (Does this sound at all familiar to the beginning of our HS journey ??  ha ha)

As I have each of the 3yrs we’ve been a HS family, I would ask the kids around the time of the September school hols if they are happy to continue with Distance Education at home, if they’d like to return to mainstream school  (I never wanted to be a HS Mum that MAKES her children stay at home.)  Master 11 had had a particularly rough school year, part of this was because he had some serious eye issues, needing 2 surgeries in July & Nov, but mostly because his older siblings had moved onto online DE curriculum, while he remained on the ACE paces.  Compared to what they were doing, his looked boring, uninteresting and without end.  Now, a quick disclaimer here… I am in no way bagging out the ACE Curriculum as I think it’s great !!  I’m simply relaying HIS feelings about it.  We know a good dozen or so adults who went through their education with predominantly, if not all, ACE curriculum, and they went straight into Uni and onto successful careers.   2 of them are teachers at the local Christian school. So it would seem ridiculous to not see the ACE curriculum for what it is, a full & comprehensive educational material.

So, I wasn’t at all surprised that Master 11 was the first to put his hand up… and rather quickly at that.  There were some health issues to deal with first though, but that’s for another blog post.

Master 14 was quietly interested in the idea, but wasn’t at all committed to the decision until a good two months later.  Miss 15 was barely interested at all.  I was fine with that as I was only going to do what was best for each child.   If that meant one back at school and two still at home, that was fine with me.

We went along to our first meeting with the school guidance counsellor.  DH wasn’t able to attend, so I dear friend of mine came along, which I was very grateful for.  To get her thoughts and opinion on the school, the staff, their practises etc etc was a blessing beyond measure !!  Coz, guess what… sadly, some people are so willing to paint a negative light on a decision you are considering… whether it be to homeschool, return to school, sell your house, have a baby (I’m not), follow the Lord’s leading in changing churches, etc etc etc.  With this in mind, it’s always GREAT to have a good Godly friend to walk alongside you.  Their wisdom will help you through the fog of negativity and/or confusion !! Even better.. (if you’ve read my previous post re getting yourself into a Lioness Pride, you’ll see this coming), have yourself a PRIDE of warrior sisters…. it’ll help you so much in any decision making process, as well as just life in general !!

The-sword-of-the-Spirit

We headed home from the school that day with the enrolment forms (and copious amount of other forms etc) with 2 children completely on board with going back to school.  Master 14 was now quite excited about it, which would end up building up to an almost annoying excitement which involved a comment nearly every day that went something like “Why do we need school holidays? Why can’t we do back to school now?”  I simply said to him that the many students that have been in mainstream school all year would strongly disagree with him.

Miss 15 was getting more and more interested in going back to school, but still had concerns about the distraction element.  She loves that she can work uninterrupted and without having to deal with break time social dramas.    She eventually made the decision to go back to school, knowing that she needs to be very conscious of making good friendship choices and also have good time management skills.  She sadly decided to not continue dance in 2017 in order to be able to knuckle down to her schoolwork.  I’m not really sure how I feel about this decision as for one thing, she’s very good at it, and two, we all need an outlet to keep us balanced.   I’m hoping the walk to and from school each day will be enough physical activity in the beginning, and maybe once she’s found her rhythm, she’ll also find time for another interest etc.  Having said all that, YAY for her commitment to her long-term goal of being a Paediatric Nurse !!

Now, speaking of walking to school… that in itself was another clink in the chain towards going back to school.  To walk to this school from where we live now would be approx 45mins, if not more.  While we do have a school bus stop right at the top of our street, I wasn’t keen on the kids getting the bus.  This is more about me being far away from the school if I was needed for some reason, then me having any issue with them getting the school bus.  So began the more intense hunt for a house close to the school and the shops (for me as I don’t drive, and for the kids to get to work.)  We had already been looking around at houses for months, as well as slowly prepping our house for sale, as we wanted to downsize, so it was simply intensified.

school-bus-driver-clipart-school-bus9

We had almost given up finding anything when this lovely home became available.  It was super close to the shops and school.  We went through the motions, but sadly those motions included finding a nice termite infestation in the walls of this lovely home.  While it was super upsetting at the time, it became apparent that God had His hand over the whole thing all along, as just as this contact went belly up, an even greater house came on the market. It is a little further from the shops and school, but still very walkable, and all in all is a much more suitable home for us.

Our house went on the market as soon as we’d signed on the first home we found (the bug eaten one), but as yet we haven’t had a buyer put in an offer.  Lots of interest though, so that is promising.  I would have loved to have moved by start of school but even if we can’t, we know that God has it all worked out and we trust in His plans !!!!

While all this was going on, we continued with our interviews at the school, as each child needed a seperate enrolment interview with their respective year level HOD.  All 3 of the kids were getting really excited about going back to school, while Mum was a little (ok, a lot) teary at the idea of sending them off each day and not having them at home.  We bought uniforms and ticked all relevant boxes for what needed to be done prior to commencing school. (well, except for stationary supplies… I’m still to do that job.)

Master 11, going into High school, was able to attend a ‘High school for a day’ orientation.  It involved an assembly/sorting of classes and a tour of the school, both of which parents came along to.  Once those were done, the parents headed home and our little grade 7s were left to finish their full day at school.  At the end of the day, there was much excitement about new friends, new teachers and new routines.  He was a little anxious about knowing where he needed to be and when, but I assured him he’ll pick it up in the first week.

Master 14 had been beyond pleased with the subject selection he had access to.  He seriously was blown away by the subjects he had available to him.  (Hence his daily excitement and anticipation to return to school.) Each of the kids know people in their respective year level, so none of them are heading back to school with any nervousness re friendships.  I think this is a HUGE blessing for them heading into a new school !!

Also, personally knowing the President of the P & C has set this Mumma’s concerns to rest.  Being a Christian family heading into a secular school, I have my concerns if I let my mind run away with them… but The Lord has constantly been laying on my heart we are to be Salt & Light to the world.  This has also been a talking point with all 3 kids, that they are going into this school as a follower of Christ. They have a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously.  I’m so pleased to be able to have confidence that all 3 have taken this onboard.

LiKzoyaia

There are such exciting times ahead !!!  Still some uncertainty with our house not being sold etc, but as I’ve already said, we TRUST in the will of The Lord !!!

Here is a  couple of verses that have been particularly helpful to me thoughout this time

Psalm 77:19  – Your road led by a pathway through the sea – a pathway no-one knew was there.

& of course…… Proverbs 3 Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and will make your paths straight. 

And so…..  Day 592 was our last day as a Homeschooling family.  This day was sad in lots of ways, but also very exciting. We have learnt so so much in these 3yrs being together basically full-time !!  We haven’t always gotten it right.. and we still have so much to learn about ourselves and each other, but while our schooling situation may be changing, our TEACHER has not !!!  We continue to lean on HIS teachings, and strive to live by HIS ways.

Blessing Peeps !!  xox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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