Woman in dark holding Christmas ornament in hands

Managing Holiday Blues

If you feel unhappy this holiday season, you are not alone. Feelings of sadness and loneliness are common, so don’t feel that something is necessarily wrong just because you are not enjoying yourself as much as others. Remembering happy holiday memories we wish we could go back to or remembering loved ones that have passed can make this season difficult.

The holidays are also a stressful time of year. For example, increased family obligations and social commitments combined with added financial stress may seem overwhelming. Additionally, the darker and colder weather may negatively affect your mood. Some even suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD is a condition in which certain less favorable weather during certain seasons may cause depression. This condition can greatly intensify holiday blues.

Tips for overcoming holiday blues

The first step in beating the holiday blues is to remember to not feel bad for feeling bad. Unnecessary guilt will just make things worse. Even if everyone around you seems to be in the holiday spirit, remember that you are not alone. It is not unusual to feel sad during the holiday season.

Remember to take care of yourself physically as well. Binging or over-indulging may cause you to feel guilty for your choices and increase your unhappiness. Making healthy choices can not only be good for you physically but will help you feel better about yourself and improve your mood too.

Another way to boost your mood while improving your health is to exercise. In some cases, regular exercise is as effective in boosting your mood as prescription antidepressants.

Next, remember to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. An occasional glass of your favorite alcoholic holiday beverages will most likely not harm you. However, keep in mind that alcohol can be a strong depressant.

Consider volunteering as well. Taking some time out to help at a soup kitchen or a food pantry can make you feel thankful and consider the positive parts of your life.

However, in all the hustle and bustle of doing things for others this season, remember to take time for yourself too. If lots of activity has you feeling drained, try to take a day to yourself. Buy yourself something special, get a new piece of clothing that makes you feel good or a piece of art for your home that makes you feel happy.

Don’t feel obligated to buy a lot of gifts for others either. Remember that it truly is the thought that counts. Focus on small but thoughtful items or find enjoyment in creating something instead of trying to purchase many expensive items.

If your holiday blues feel impossible to overcome on your own, please do not delay in reaching out to one of our providers. You can find a list of them here: https://www.ccmhhealth.com/providers/.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site. Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others. While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

Seven Ways to Support a Survivor of Suicide Loss

On November 17th, International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is observed. No one wants to have a connection to this day. Grief and loss are difficult enough to experience without the shock of someone we love taking their own life.

Those that are left behind after suicide have a difficult journey ahead of them. They may also feel a wide variety of emotions. These emotions may include sadness to anger to even unnecessary guilt if suicide loss survivors feel they should have done something to prevent the loss from taking place. They need much support from friends and family. Here are seven tips to show suicide loss survivors you care as they walk their grief journey.

 

Be very careful with your words.

 

Sometimes some of the cliche statements made when someone experiences a loss have the opposite effect of what we intended. Telling someone that their loved one “is in a better place” for example, may be painful even if they believe that statement deep down. Such statements seem dismissive as if suicide loss survivors should just “get over it”.

Also, don’t try to tell a loss survivor that he or she should feel differently. Guilt is a very common feeling with loss, and it will pass although it may take awhile. Statements such as “No one blames you” are better than “You shouldn’t feel guilty.”

You may be tempted to avoid the situation to avoid saying the wrong thing. This can hurt and seem dismissive too. A heartfelt look, hug and an “I’m sorry” can go much further than you realize.

 

Let loss survivors lead the conversations.

 

Allow suicide loss survivors to talk about the deceased person as much as they want. Don’t try to “distract” them when they want to talk about the deceased. It may not be comfortable conversations for you, but remember that the grief they carry is constantly with them. Eventually the conversations will become less frequent, but know they need a listening ear from time to time.


Likewise, don’t force them to talk about it. Grief is a very personal thing. No two people handle it the same. When the loss survivor wants a distraction, allow them that as well. Grief is not over and done. It comes and goes for a long time.


Don’t try to make loss survivors  “feel better.”

 

You can’t make someone feel better when they are grieving as much as you wish you could. Suggesting they should be in a better place when it comes to dealing with their grief suggests that what happened was not a “big deal.”

You cannot force someone through grief faster either. It is a path that in some ways must be walked alone. Survivors of suicide loss as with all survivors of loss, don’t want to feel better when they begin grieving. It may take weeks, months or years before they feel like “themselves” again. A great tragedy has taken place in their lives and in many ways they can never be the same again.


Treat loss survivors as you always have.

 

Even though grief must be walked alone, that does not mean you should leave someone alone completely. Even if the loss survivor says “no” one hundred times, still invite him or her to join you on outings like you always did before. Don’t take a refusal to get out of the house personally. Even though it may seem at the time that your friendship is not important anymore, loss survivors need your friendship more than ever before. Eventually, he or she will accept your invitation again.

 

Check on loss survivors in the evening.

 

Daily routines are filled with needed distractions for loss survivors. Evenings can seem long and difficult because he or she may be alone with nothing to do but think. This is a good time to call or stop by. Small daily tasks and self care can seem overwhelming when you’re struggling with loss.  Stopping by with his or her favorite meal will be very appreciated.

 

Remember that grief doesn’t stop with the funeral.

 

Everyone else seems to “move on” after the funeral. This can make loss more difficult for those who are close to the deceased. Check on loss survivors frequently months down the road. Chances are they are still struggling, but will try to hide their feelings since everyone else is back to their routines.

 

Remember significant dates.   

 

Nothing shows someone you care more than simple acknowledgment. Know the dates that are important to him or her- birthdays, anniversaries and death dates. A simple note or card can mean a lot to him or her. Offer to accompany them to a favorite spot to share memories of their loved one or to the cemetery to place fresh flowers at the gravesite.

If you are struggling with grief, you have our sincerest sympathies. We invite you to take place in our grief education and support services. Learn more by visiting  ccmhhealth.com/pastoral-care/.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

The Toll of Stress: Shocking Effects on the Body

From money, to work issues to family problems, all of us experience stress. In fact, nearly 8 in 10 Americans report feeling significant stress daily. 1 Unless you are feeling especially overwhelmed, you probably don’t think much about it. Stress is something we should be more aware of though. Negative emotions may have many negative, physical effects on the body.

How does stress affect the body?

It may surprise you to know that a little stress can boost the immune system. Although, dealing with chronic stress lowers the immune system allowing illnesses to creep in. 2 Rarely is stress the root cause of diseases, but how it interacts with our genetics and health can accelerate the spread of disease.

Which diseases are caused by stress?

The short answer is, well, all of them! Stress can lead us to bad choices to try to cope. From overindulging in comfort foods to alcohol to smoking- stress is often the root cause of negative behaviors. Hormones increased by stress also lead to various conditions.

How does stress affect heart health?

All of the above mentioned bad coping devices, overindulging in alcohol or food and smoking, can lead to obesity and high blood pressure. These are known factors leading to heart problems including heart attack and stroke. Stress also reduces blood flow to the heart which is a cause of coronary heart disease. 3

How does stress affect the brain?

A staggering 5.5 million Americans struggle with Alzheimer’s disease everyday. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. 4 Studies show that  links between Alzheimer’s and increased stress hormones such as cortisol may exist. High blood pressure may also lead to Alzheimer’s. In Sweden, researchers found high levels of stress hormones in the brains of mice created bigger amounts of beta-amyloid plaques, the proteins believed to cause Alzheimer’s. 5

How does stress affect fertility?

With approximately 1 in 8 couples struggling with infertility, we can’t help but wonder what role stress plays. Research in 2014 stated that high levels of stress may reduce semen and sperm quality. 6 Another study from 2014 found that women with high levels of a alpha-amylase, a stress-related enzyme in the saliva, were 29% less likely to become pregnant. They were also twice as likely to be infertile than women with low levels of the enzyme. 7

Stress plays a role in diabetes?

Most surprising of all is that scientist now believe a link exists between stress and type 2 diabetes. A study published by JAMA found women with post traumatic stress disorder in particular had almost double the risk of developing the disease than women who had not experienced trauma. 8 A possible explanation to this could be because stress increases the production of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol may raise glucose levels.

How do I tackle stress?

To tackle stress, seek support from others and engage in exercise daily. Exercise increases the production of “feel-good” neurotransmitters in the brain known as endorphins. We also posted an article: Managing Mental Health: There’s an App for That which has several apps that contain mood boosting exercises.  If you feel unable to cope with stress, are having suicidal thoughts, or using drugs or alcohol to cope, make an appointment with one of our providers today. You can find a list of them at https://www.ccmhhealth.com/providers/.

Sources

1 Saad, Lydia. Gallup. 20 Dec. 2017.  Eight in 10 Americans Afflicted by Stress.
2 Mohd. Razali Salle. 2008 Oct.  Life Event, Stress and Illness.
3 Nordqvist, Christian. Medical News Today. 19 Jan. 2018.Coronary heart disease: What you need to know.
4 Alzheimer’s Association. 2018. Facts and Figures.

5 Glynn, Sarah. Medical News Today. 19 Mar. 2013. Stress Can Lead To Alzheimer’s Disease.

6 Janevic, Teresa,Ph.D., et al.1 Aug. 2015. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Effects of work and life stress on semen quality.
7 Lynch, C.D., et al. 1 May 2014. Oxford Academic. Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility: results from a couple-based prospective cohort study—the LIFE study.

8 Roberts, Andrea L. PhD., et al. 15 Mar. JAMA Psychiatry.Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in a Sample of Women A 22-Year Longitudinal Study.

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

Managing Mental Health: There’s an App for That

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. struggle daily with at least one mental illness.1 In recent years, with light being shed on such statistics, mental healthcare has emphasized empowering those struggling with mental health to speak up and seek help when needed.

It is important to be especially concerned for mental wellbeing as we go into the fall and holiday season. Even if you do not struggle daily, factors such as changes in your diet or routine, alcohol consumption, the inability to be with friends or family and less sunlight can trigger “holiday blues.”2

How can technology help manage mental health?

Many apps help manage physical health by promoting dieting and exercise, but what about mental health? With more and more individuals being concerned about managing mental health, a growing number of apps can help. Medical research has not been provided for many of these apps specifically, but the basis of many of them including meditation, breathing exercises, sleep, and relaxation, are all proven techniques to help stabilize our moods. Here are 7 apps to help you focus on mental health management. (All apps were free for both Iphone and Android at the time this research was conducted unless otherwise noted.)

Happify

Do you need help to overcome stress, negative thinking and increase resilience? Happify is an app that helps to manage such feelings. According to the app, 86 percent of the users report having an improved outlook in life after two months of use. The app offers activities and games to ward off negative emotions and weekly  it calculates your “happiness” score. The app uses evidence-based techniques such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and positive psychology to help you form better habits.

Calm

In 2017,  Apple named Calm as their “App of the Year.” The goals of this app include reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and increasing feelings of happiness, clarity and peace. These goals are worked toward through meditation, breathing exercises, music and nature sounds.

Moodpath

Moodpath works as a digital mental health companion that provides insights you can discuss with your doctor by generating an electronic document detailing your assessment after two weeks of use. The app helps screen for symptoms of depression by asking you daily questions. It also has the goal of increasing your awareness of your feelings and emotions. Moodpath contains over 150 videos and psychological exercise.

SuperBetter

SuperBetter is a gaming app that focuses on increasing positive feelings and motivation to take on challenges. Research by the University of Pennsylvania found that those that played SuperBetter for 30 days reported better moods, decreased anxiety and depression and increased positive attitudes toward goal achievement.Also, SuperBetter is designed to assist with chronic illnesses, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.

Pacifica

Pacifica combats daily anxiety and stress using methods such as meditation, mood tracking, CBT and relaxation. The app contains audio lessons and activities, and it assists you at tackling anxiety one day at a time by setting daily goals as well as long-term goals.

Moodnotes

Available only for Iphone for $3.99.

Moodnotes helps you learn about your “thinking traps” and how to overcome them through insights gathered from your thought journal and mood diary. Your feelings and thinking habits are assessed and improved through implementing positive psychology and CBT.

Headspace

Headspace has hundreds of themed mindfulness and meditation sessions to assist you in achieving a happier, healthier life. The app emphasizes reducing stress, building healthier relationships and finding a place of calm.

We hope you find this list helpful. However, no app will ever be able to replace medical care when you have a need. If coping seems like a battle that becomes more difficult each day, please reach out for help. You can find a list of our providers at https://www.ccmhhealth.com/providers/.

Sources
1 National Institute of Mental Health. November 2017. Mental Illness.
2 Greenstein, Laura. National Alliance of Mental Illness. 19 November 2015. Tips For Managing The Holiday Blues.
3 Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania. 2015 June. Randomized Controlled Trial of SuperBetter, a Smartphone-Based/Internet-Based Self-Help Tool to Reduce Depressive Symptoms.

Disclaimer
The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.
Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.
While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

Will Elderberry Prevent or Cure a Cold or the Flu?

Elderberry has been popular among natural remedy enthusiasts for centuries. Although, it has generated much conversation on the internet in recent years. As soon as autumn hits, you can find many people mixing up this ancient concoction for daily consumption in hopes of preventing the flu, cold and other ailments. However, as with many popular medications and remedies for cold and flu treatment, you may be skeptical if elderberry really works despite having and friend or two rave about the medicinal berry.

Skepticism of such natural remedies and medications is not unfounded with companies often producing misleading advertising during cold and flu season, a time we all tend to panic a bit and try as best we can to avoid these thriving germs. Airborne, the popular “cold fighting” drug of the early 2000’s, for example, settled a lawsuit over $20 million in 2008 for their false advertising claims as a “miracle cold buster.”1 To this day, you will still see the medication on the shelves now vaguely marketed as an “immune system booster.”

What are the facts about Elderberry?

So to cut through the hype, what are the facts about elderberry? Elderberries are produced by the European elder, a native tree to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. However, it can grow in parts of the United States too. The tree produces a red variety of elderberries and a blue / black variety. Only the blue / black elderberry is used for medicinal purposes. Other parts of the tree including the leaves, bark, fruits, roots, and flowers, are also used in traditional medicine, naming the herb as a “medicine chest” by Hippocrates.2

Elderberry can also be used in wines, pies, teas and jams. When it is used for medicinal purposes, many individuals are making homemade elderberry syrup. The berries are typically boiled with honey and medicinal spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Users can purchase Elderberry in capsules, logenzes, tinctures, and other combination products. No standard dosage of elderberry exists, yet many adults consume a tablespoon or two a day in hopes of preventing a cold or the flu.

Uncooked elderberry can be dangerous, causing severe nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, weakness and need for hospitalization. Older, unverifiable records report childhood deaths from consuming American black elderberry, a related berry to the European variety used medicinally.3 It is unknown exactly how much elderberry is safe for child consumption.

Can Elderberry really prevent or cure a cold or the flu?

Are you considering Elderberry to relieve your cold or flu symptoms? Well, for most people it is probably worth a try. Little is known about how the ancient remedy works, and if it truly works. The berry contains flavonoids, chemicals which are believed to aid in reducing inflammation.

Scientist who are funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) study the antioxidant effects of elderberry. They hope to discover if the plant helps cure infection. Currently, the NCCIH reports, “Although some preliminary research indicates that elderberry may relieve flu symptoms, the evidence is not strong enough to support its use for this purpose.”4

Israeli scientists may disagree. After studying the effects of an elderberry extract that is commercially available known as Sambucol®, Israeli research reported the growth of influenza viruses in lab dishes were suppressed when the elderberry extract was introduced. This research team also reported that patients with confirmed cases of avian flu, H5N1, who were given the extract recovered faster than those in the study’s placebo group.5

An Australian study from 2016 may also suggest that extract from the European elder may shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms. A group of 312 participants was divided into two groups, one taking a placebo and the other taking elderberry extract. The group given elderberry recorded a decrease of symptoms days sooner than the placebo group.6

Although the research presented seems promising, most health authorities will agree that more research is needed to confirm the health benefits of Elderberry. Some studies suggest that combination products consisting of elderflower along with various herbs may be helpful for sinusitis. Due to the usage of multiple ingredients, the role elderflower plays in their effects, if any, is unknown.4

Are there any dangerous interactions between Elderberry and medication?

At this time, there are no negative interactions reported between the usage of elderberry supplements combined with other medications.7 Unknown interactions could exist. You should always discuss the possible risks and benefits of supplemental usage with your doctor.

What are the best ways to avoid a cold or the flu?

To reduce the risk and spread of cold and flu, remember to follow the suggestions reiterated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for decades: avoid contact with those who are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after no longer having a fever controlled by medication, clean surfaces that may be contaminated, wash your hands often, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.8 Also discuss the possibility of receiving a flu shot with your doctor.

Are you experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms and do not have a general practitioner? Visit ccmhhealth.com/providers to search for one of our providers.

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

Sources

1 CNNMoney. 4 March 2008. Airborne settles lawsuit for $23.3 million.
2 Jaret, Peter. 29 February 2016. Health. Immunity Boosters for Cold and Flu Season.
3 Center for Disease Control (CDC). 6 April 1984. Poisoning from Elderberry Juice — California.
4 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). September 2016. European Elder.
5 Blackburn, Nicky.Isreal 21C. 29 January 2006. Study shows Israeli elderberry extract effective against avian flu.
6 Tiralongo, Wee & Lee. 8 April 2016. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.
7 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. 4 June 2016. Elderberry.
8 Center for Disease Control (CDC). 1 August 2018. CDC Says “Take 3” Actions to Fight the Flu.

Is the Keto Diet a Safe Way to Lose Weight?

Every time you turn around, there seems to be a new fad diet that is all the buzz leading Americans to fuel a weight loss industry worth $66 billion.1 With so much for this industry to gain, it is wise  to consider if a fad diet is really in our best interest before beginning on a new path of cutting carbs, eating only raw fruits and vegetables or whatever the diet’s rules may be.

Some of the unsafe methods to weight loss that actually caught on in past decades may shock you. With individuals willing to consume sedatives to sleep more and avoid eating or consuming tapeworm eggs to decrease the amount of calories absorbed by the body, it is obvious that the nearly 3 in 4 overweight American adults1 are desperate for that quick and magical cure to better manage their weight.  Be sure to consult with your physician and ensure the results of a new diet plan do not produce new health concerns.

What is the Ketogenic diet?

If you have enjoyed the bacon loving craze in recent years, you may have been excited to learn of the Ketogenic (Keto) diet. Historically, Keto has been a successful means of controlling drug- resistant epilepsy and seizures in children since the early 20th century. Although, recently it has caught on as a new means to weight loss.

Keto is a high fat and very low carb diet. It encourages its followers to consume fewer than 50 grams of carbs a day (less than four slices of bread). Normally, the body burns carbs to produce energy. Since the body has few carbs available for energy when following a Keto diet, the body is forced into a state called ketosis and burns fat. Using ketosis to amp up weight loss is not a new concept.  Atkins, the popular diet of the early 2000’s, is another method which consists of a period of ketosis.

What are the benefits or side effects of the Keto diet?

As with any popular diet, research of the benefits and side effects of following the Keto diet are sure to continue for years to come. Although, such research is often difficult to conduct since many individuals will not stick to the diet long term. Current research by the Mayo Clinic reports that there is little evidence to show that this type of eating is safe or effective long term unless the benefits of preventing epilepsy or seizures is a factor.2

Patients of kidney disease in particular are discouraged from following this diet as it may worsen their condition. Very low carb diets also have higher rates of side effects such as headaches, constipation and bad breath as well as vomiting, tiredness when beginning the diet, and difficulty sleeping.3 To meet Keto’s requirements, many healthy foods are eliminated such as root vegetables, fruits, and legumes, making it difficult to meet daily nutritional needs.

It will be interesting to see if the ketogenic diet is a common alternative to treat certain medical conditions in the future. Generally, the diet is not recommended by practitioners as it is hard to follow and heavy on notoriously unhealthy foods such as red meat, fatty, processed, and salt-filled foods. Until a quick and magical alternative emerges that is also healthy, the same rules for weight loss apply that practitioners have been recommending for decades. To lose weight, individuals should consume a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water while exercising regularly. This seems to be the best tried and true method to maintain a healthy lifestyle while controlling weight.

If you’re struggling to manage your weight, we want to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle. You can find out more information at mmgbariatrics.com. You may also call Dr. Sawyer’s office at (580) 510-7042 to learn if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery.

 

Sources

1 Time Magazine. 5 June 2017. The Weight Loss Trap: Why Your Diet Isn’t Working.

2 Mayo Clinic. 8 March 2018. The truth behind the most popular diet trends of the moment.

3 Harvard Health Publishing. 6 July 2018. Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you?

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

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