Interview KFVS12 on Adult ADD / ADHD

I was interviewed today on KFVS12 regarding adult ADD / ADHD.

You can view the interview at…

http://www.kfvs12.com/story/21539781/add-and-adhd-in-adults

 

 

Puttering, Frittering Away a Lifetime

Although not specifically written for an ADD / ADHD audience, Gary North – http://lewrockwell.com/north/north1170.html – has an interesting article about puttering and frittering away a lifetime of opportunities. Time and project / task management, of course, can be mortal enemies for the person with Attention Deficit. Putting in place a time and task system can be extremely difficult and may require quite a bit of tweaking to make it work. While this is a reality for people with ADHD / ADD, it’s worth considering the consequences of not putting systems in place to get things done – not only the things that need to be done such as paying bills, getting to appointments on time, etc., but also the things you want to do – move to a new city, find a new job, write a book, complete a project, etc. Planning and prioritization are important.

These are skills, again, that are very difficult when you live with Attention Deficit. People with ADHD / ADD are often overwhelmed by all of the external and internal stimuli. The filters that neurotypicals possess to sort out distractions and stay on task don’t work for the person with ADD / ADHD. Everything seems important. Tasks and projects get started, but often aren’t completed. There is a lot of moralizing about people who don’t complete the projects they set out to. People are labeled as lazy, incompetent, daydreamers, etc. Those things aren’t true, of course, but society tends to label people – even if it is unfair to do so. My advice to you if you suffer from ADHD / ADD is to get help. If you suspect you have Attention Deficit, but have never received a diagnosis, find a competent counselor, physician or other experience diagnosing ADD / ADHD. You might have to contact C.H.A.D.D., ADDA, a local support group, the professional association for clinical psychologists, etc., in order to find who has experience diagnosing Attention Deficit.
After years of falling short of expectations and dealing with the judgments of others, counseling can be very helpful. While counseling helps, coaching is also essential. It is, of course, a relief to receive the ADHD / ADD diagnosis and understand that it wasn’t a moral shortcoming that made it so difficult for you to do the things you wanted to do, but that is merely the beginning of a longer journey. A coach can be your guide in putting systems in place to manage time, tasks, your health, help you improve your social skills and personal relationships, and much more. A coach can help you more clearly define your goals, working to create a menu of areas you seek to improve in your life. A coach isn’t there to tell you what to do, or necessarily, what to do. Instead, a good coach will dig deep to find what it is you want and be there to help you achieve the things you want to. If you’re like me, you may be stubborn and want to do things on your own, just to prove you can. But, if things aren’t working out as you had hoped, and you’re progressing too slowly, or feeling stuck, then consider finding a coach. There are many excellent ADHD coaches. Just be sure to check out that your coach has received adequate training. There is no formal restrictions of who can call themselves an ADHD coach, so do some research.

It’s helpful to talk to at lease three different coaches over the course of several days before choosing one. Coaches generally, will allow you to schedule a 15 to 30-minute session to discuss the areas affecting you and can offer you some ideas and suggestions that may help. Not only is it important that your coach have adequate training, but you should also feel comfortable talking to them and have a good rapport with them. You’re going to spend a good deal of time talking to your coach, so it is important that you like and trust them.

With ADHD, it can be too easy to putter and fritter away time and opportunity. Finding out that you have ADHD and that you have a treatable condition can be a huge relief after years of being harshly judged by yourself and others. But, diagnosis is just the beginning of your journey. Working with a coach is another important piece of your journey. A coach can work with you to identify the areas of your life you hope to improve, and then keep you on track as you seek ways that work for you to plan, prioritize and organize.

Photos of Support Group Meeting Setup

Here are the photos promised showing the meeting room setup from this past Saturday – June 16th.

We currently have the Geraldine F. Hirsch Room reserved for the rest of the year. As you can see it is a very nice space. It has projector capability and access to the community kitchen.

Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting Room

Table meeting setup for Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting

There is some really nice artwork on the walls – nicely lit as well. On the table below we had a wide variety of materials available at no cost, including the What We Know about ADHD handouts, pamphlets from MPACT regarding their Parent Mentor program (a program that assists parents with educational issues in the school system, including IEPs, etc.), our support group library of books and other materials available to be borrowed, and more.

Side view of Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting Room

We had a wide range of ADHD materials available including the What We Know about ADHD series, our support group library of books and materials available for reading, pamphlets available from the Parent Mentor program from MPACT, etc.

Below is a close-up of one of the tables with the What We Know About ADHD materials available. There are well over twenty different handouts with information ranging from adult ADHD, diagnosis, managing medications in children, parenting and more.

Some of the many materials available at the Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting

Some of the many materials available at the Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting

The Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group has a small, but growing lending library of books available. There are books covering ADHD from childhood, teens, and adults. Some books are practical and relate to educating children with ADHD. There are books for parents, teachers, spouses and family members and people with ADHD.

Books and other materials available from the Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Lending Library

Books and other materials available from the Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Lending Library

Another view of the support group meeting room from the back facing toward the entry door. Notice the plate of cookies – gluten free…

Another view of the Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group meeting room

Another view of the Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group meeting room

I wonder who ate those cookies?

Who ate the cookies?

Who ate the cookies?

It must have been the Cookie Monster! OK, it was me and boy was I happy. Mmm…guten free cookies.

Too happy. I must have eaten too many cookies!

Too happy. I must have eaten too many cookies!

There was some beautiful and interesting artwork on the walls. I particularly liked the bottom part of this three-piece art which read, “Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where others see nothing”.

I liked this piece of art in particular...

It says, “Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where others see nothing”.

Here is a picture of the full piece:

One of my favorite pieces of artwork hung on the meeting room wall.

One of my favorite pieces of artwork hung on the meeting room wall.

Sometimes we go on what seems a wild goose chase. Maybe we’re meant to catch them or maybe we aren’t.

Wild Goose Chase. A metaphor perhaps?

Wild Goose Chase. A metaphor perhaps?

Some days are meant for daydreaming. This past Saturday may have been just such a day.

Daydreaming on a beautiful day

Daydreaming on a beautiful day

While we normally wouldn’t take pictures of a support group meeting, due to confidentiality concerns, I made an exception since I was the only one in attendance. Our next meeting is scheduled for July 21st from 1-3 p.m. at the Cape Girardeau Public Library.

Hope to see you at our next Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting!

Hope to see you at our next Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting!

Our meeting dates and times may change to be a set week and day of the month. For example – third Wednesday of the month. If you have any suggestions on meeting  schedule please leave a comment.

Hope to see you at our next Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting!

De-Cluttering my Basement and Mind

It has been an interesting day, and it’s not over yet. Had a scheduled Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting. I was the only one in attendance. I think that a few factors may have come into play:

1) It was a beautiful Saturday and being outside was more appealing than being inside a meeting room – no matter how nice the room

2) Did not get out the word wide enough and with enough frequency to get people to show up

3) Meeting dates too random – need to build in a set week and day of the month – something like tIn he third Thursday of the month, or something similar

4) Need to get feedback on future meetings and make sure they provide something valuable for those in attendance

I’m willing to learn, and not made of glass, so if anyone has a suggestion, opinion, idea, feedback, criticism, rotten tomato (I hope not), etc., don’t hesitate to share.

In a separate post, I will share some pictures of the meeting space, literature table layout, ADHD books and resources available to check out from the small but growing group library, some of my favorite art pictures hung on the meeting room walls, plus some silly pictures of me making goofy faces. No, I don’t have ADHD (sarcasm). OK, yes I do.

Don’t you love tangents? Back to the subject at hand – de-cluttering. The past few days I have been reading David Giwerc’s excellent book, “Permission to Proceed” and have found it very inspirational. It got me thinking about what I really want out of life and having the courage, passion and belief to do it. One of the tough things about living with ADHD is that it can batter your self-esteem. You can get so low you don’t believe that you can reach your dreams, or even believe you deserve to have them. The clutter can begin to feel like a bad TV episode where hoarders are being buried alive. Sometimes the external criticism becomes an internalized self-loathing. It can be a vicious cycle. But, it doesn’t have to be.

We have a choice in life. Not you. Not me. We. We have a choice. We can continue living a life that falls short of our dreams, goals and expectations. We can settle for less – next to nothing because we have convinced ourselves that we deserve no better. Or, we can choose, like David Giwerc would say, to give ourselves permission to proceed. Permission to dream. Permission to dare. Permission to hope. Permission to care. Permission to succeed. Permission to be brave.

We may have dug a hole for ourselves, but we don’t have to shovel the dirt back on ourselves and call it quits. We can climb out of the hole, brush ourselves off, soak up the glorious sunlight and declare that today is a new day. It doesn’t matter if things don’t go as planned. The day may work out or it may not. We are not our failures or successes. Yes, we may be judged by them, but who we are is distinct. Failure that teaches us something is more valuable than success that teaches us the wrong lessons.

De-cluttering is as much about de-cluttering our own minds as it is about clearing physical space. It’s about clearing all the negative crap out of our minds. It’s about believing it’s possible to have a space where we can breathe and dream. It has been a long time since I de-cluttered much of anything. It has been fits and starts. Personally, I have reached the point where I am willing to accept baby steps. It doesn’t have to be done all at once – just a chunk at a time. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just better. Forward progress is good. Even a step back is OK as long as that step backward provides the proper perspective to see more clearly where I am headed.

So, I’m not just re-arranging a basement room – I’m re-arranging my life. I’m not just de-cluttering a physical space – I’m de-cluttering my mind. I could look at having a support group meeting where no one but me attended as a failure, but that’s not how I choose to see it. It taught me something. I have some ideas how to improve. I had time to think and plan. I ate some cookies. They were delicious by the way – sorry you missed them! I’m willing to accept the day and not take it personally. It wasn’t personal – it just was. In the past I might have moped around with my lower lip dragging on the ground. I would have beat myself up about things not going as planned. That is not who I want to be. That is not who I am. I have come to the realization that the universe pays back your kindness double. Do the right thing and it is its own reward. You may not receive the reward right away, but one day your kind act will come back to you. It’s paradoxical – we receive the greatest rewards for the most unselfish deeds. I cleared away a little more clutter from the basement, and from the remote corners of my mind and I feel better, lighter, less burdened, and more hopeful for what tomorrow will bring.

I’m Here Dancing

Well, I’m here at the Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meeting at the Cape Girardeau Public Library.

Doing a little dance hoping someone wanders in. It’s a beautiful day outside so everyone may well have other plans.

Either way, I will be here until 3pm today if anyone wants to stop in and say hi!

Basement Archaelogy

The past few weeks I have been digging out from the years of paperwork piled downstairs on a basement shelf. In the process, I have felt a bit like an archaeologist sifting through the life of a stranger. There is a lot of shame and embarrassment associated with ADHD. Having mounds of unsorted paperwork, old bills, notices of old, unpaid (now paid, but not then) bills, overdraft charge statements, notices from bill collectors, etc., on top of having a huge hidden mess, is not a source of pride. It’s almost indescribable.

Sifting through the piles of paper has been interesting and horrifying at the same time. I encountered copious notes, scribbled ideas, to-do-lists, resolutions, business ideas, political ramblings, and more. All of these notes, piles of papers, unpaid bills, etc. originated before receiving my ADHD diagnosis. Many of the ideas scribbled on paper appear ridiculous to me now. Others are merely uninspiring. I had hundreds of schemes for generating money, but, oddly, none of them in areas I felt any passion for. It was as if the mere act of getting money was going to resolve all of my problems. Looking back, I now realize that even had I miraculously come up with a million dollar idea, I likely would have found a way to blow it up and end up with nothing.

At times I feel as if I am dealing with a stranger – someone unknown to me who came in and turned my life upside down. Sometimes I am angry, others sad, at times amused, and yet other times dumbfounded by the things I encounter. I saved nearly everything. Old reports done for a graduate class in public administration, hundreds of pages of reports and product information from a series of unrewarding marketing/merchandising jobs I convinced myself would be the answer to my economic difficulties, stacks and stacks of paid (and unpaid at the time) bills, a shocking number of unopened bills (as if avoiding them would make them go away). It has been its own little “shop of horrors”.

One of the difficult aspects of ADHD after the diagnosis is dealing with the consequences. Not only financial, but physical, emotional, mental, and the toll it takes on your personal relationships. It is really tough to face. Despite the difficulty, I have been doing my best lately to look the past square in the eye and deal with it. It feels good, liberating to clear away those past physical reminders of a life before knowing I had ADHD. It was extremely frustrating starting and stopping, achieving a degree of success both personally and financially only to fail again and again. The harsh judgment of others was terrible. I remember one Christmas receiving one of those self-help books as a gift and feeling that the giver of the gift should have just told me I was a failure. The gift was well-intentioned, and I definitely needed help, just not the help to be found within the pages of that book.

I’ve almost lost track of how many times in my life I have had to start over financially. I’ll accumulate a nest egg, only to get in trouble and have to break open the piggy bank to pay the bills. There have been so many seemingly brilliant business ideas, but with undiagnosed ADHD at the time, I was the last person who should have been in charge of a business or responsible for handling finances. My wife has endured many fits and starts – sometimes patiently, sometimes not.

Despite it all, one of my saving graces has been a very optimistic (perhaps at times overly optimistic) outlook. No matter what body blows life delivers, I – more often than not – seem to bounce back from them fairly quickly. There have been plenty of body blows, that’s for sure.

One thing that has helped has been reading about ADHD, understanding what it is and how it affects me, and trying to deal with it more effectively. I have been reading Russell Barkley‘s Taking Charge of Adult ADHD and Melissa Orlov’s The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps. They are both wonderful books, but in different ways.

Barkley’s book explains what ADHD from a more clinical and scientific point of view, and then offers suggestions on how to effectively deal with it. Orlov’s book is written with both the ADHD spouse and non-ADHD spouse in mind and has a wealth of ideas, based on her personal experience rebuilding her marriage to a husband with ADHD, on how couples can go about the process of overcoming the anger, fear, etc. that ADHD wreaks on a marriage.

I highly recommend reading both of the above books. I haven’t finished them yet, but am over half-way through both thus far. Digging out from the effects of ADHD can be hard. It’s not something you want to do alone. It takes time and patience. Not only do you need the patience and support of loved ones, but you need to exercise patience with them and yourself. Facing up to the past and digging out – both literally and figuratively – present challenges. It helps if you can simply shake your head and laugh it off. Who is that person who made a mess? If I ever find him, I’ll have a word with him. It’s important to remember too that you’re not that mess you’re digging out from. You’re not ADHD either – you have it, but it doesn’t have you. As you learn more about ADHD and how it affects you and others, you will develop strategies to overcome the challenges you face. It gets better. Just go easy on yourself. Learn to let go. Forgive. Underneath it all you’re a wonderful person. Like the archaeologist, you may have to dig a little, but in time you’ll find the person you know you are – the person you were meant to be.

ADHD: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light

I have had something akin to an out-of-body experience these past few days. Well, perhaps not an out-of-body experience, but the strange feeling of my present self being somehow disconnected from my past self. It’s as if some stranger walked into my life and made a mess of it and then walked back out again. But, the stranger is me. I messed up my life in so many ways, and now I am fixing it.

It’s been a couple of years now, at 40-plus years of age, that I was diagnosed with ADHD. It explained a lot of the “weirdness” I felt. It was always as if I was different, but could never put my finger on exactly why. I was always told how bright I was, but always had difficulty translating intelligence into action. I have always been good at doing things “on the fly” but never very successful at organizing in advance. For years I had wondered if my difficulties owed to some abnormality in my brain – perhaps related to seizures I had as an infant.

English: Diet Coke

English: Diet Coke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, my diagnosis a few years ago with ADHD – inattentive type – was both a confirmation of my sense of being somehow off or different, as well as a relief. After my initial diagnosis, I resisted going on medication to treat my ADHD. However, after some time passed, and not altogether satisfied with my progress, I obtained a prescription for Adderall XR. Adderall XR was amazing. For the first time in a long time I felt focused and could muster up enough concentration to get things done. However, after some time I began to feel like I was having heart palpitations. I had the feeling of being too aware of my own heartbeat. This may have owed to drinking too much caffeine. I still haven’t managed to wean myself from Diet Coke.

Not caring much for the palpitations, I asked to be put on another medication. My doctor switched me to Strattera. I have heard it said that Strattera often doesn’t work for many with ADHD, but I have been very happy with it thus far. I feel that my concentration – while not always exceptional – is much improved. I also feel that my mood is better with it than without it. My patience level is definitely much higher taking Strattera. Without it I am very impatient and my emotions – especially getting overly upset by very small things – tend to get the better of me.

While medication definitely has improved my life living with ADHD, it has only been part of a process. Sometimes the medication really seems to help, and other times not as much. Recently, I have been trying to utilize some other tools and strategies to improve my ADHD symptoms. One of my strategies has been to lose weight and watch what I eat more carefully. Admittedly, my diet is still not optimal – too much sugar (I love ice cream), but it is much improved and I have lost over 30 pounds from my not-so-distant heaviest weight in recent years.

Image representing Lumosity as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Brain exercises have been an important tool in improving my ADHD symptoms as well. I have a subscription to Lumosity and try to do my brain exercises as often as possible. The effect of regularly training my brain has been astounding. The exercises cover everything from speed to attention, and from problem solving to flexibility and more. One of the more impressive results from the exercises has been a marked improvement in my motor skills. At work I drive a fork lift and do quite a few tasks that require a degree of bodily coordination. Normally, I have a tendency to be a little clumsy – some of that clumsiness owing to not always paying attention to my surrounding environment. However, with the brain exercises, I am much less clumsy and have less difficulty with motor skills.

Recently, I began to work on cleaning out my office area which is located in laundry room / unfinished part of my basement. I have been chipping away at this area off and on (mostly off) for quite some time. The past few days I have been working on small piles of paper a chunk at a time. I work 30 minutes going through a pile of paper – setting aside items to file and putting old bills, correspondence, etc. in a garbage bag to be shredded. It’s sorting through all of these papers that I begin to feel like I am outside of my own body. Mind you, there are papers from 5, 6, and 7 years ago. I think to myself, “Was I crazy letting all this crap pile up?” The answer is no. I wasn’t crazy – I just had undiagnosed ADHD.

The process of moving from undiagnosed ADHD, to receiving the diagnosis, going through the various stages (much like the grieving process), and finally to adopting strategies to help deal with my ADHD has been like going from darkness to light. There were so many areas in my life where I was blind to reality. Looking back at how I spent my time, effort, money, and focus I feel a little sorry for the old me. I also just want to slap the old me.

There is still lots of work to do – not only the cleaning up the piles of paper kind, but also working on improving my relationship with my wife. I did lots of stupid things in the past and violated her trust and confidence. It will take time to heal some of those old wounds, but I am intent on binding them. It has been a long and interesting journey so far. It isn’t always pleasant – facing up to the past wrongs is not fun. But there are moments when the light shines and pushes out the darkness. It’s those moments that all the struggles seem worth it.

Next Monthly Meeting: 6-16-12

The next meeting of the Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group will be June 16, from 1-3pm at the Cape Girardeau Public Library – G.F. Hirsch Room.

Amongst other items, hope to share information from the MPACT training received at the IDEA Boot Camp.

Informational handouts will be available, as well as information on Children and Adults with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a list of available ADHD resources, and books that you can check out from the group lending library.

We had an excellent first meeting, and look forward to having another great meeting. We strive to provide the opportunity for people with ADHD, and others affected by it, to meet, share information and resources, all within a mutually supportive, non-judgemental environment.

If you have any questions about the group, or would like to volunteer, please contact us:

Phone: 573-200-6585

email: capeadhd@gmail.com

We need volunteers for the following:

  • Greeters: Make meeting newcomers feel welcome
  • Set up / Take down: Help set up and take down chairs, tables, etc. each meeting
  • Sign-in: Make sure that meeting attendees fill out the sign-in sheet for each meeting
  • Co-Coordinator: Please contact for additional information about this position

In between Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group Meetings we also have a groupspaces site available where you can keep up-to-date on the latest news, events, participate in forums, share photos, and access ADHD-related information through our files.

We look forward to seeing you at our next monthly meeting.

 

Whew, We Did It!

Well, we did it! The Cape Girardeau ADHD Support Group held its first meeting at the Cape Girardeau Public Library. There were just a few of us in attendance for the first meeting, but there is something positive to be said for growing slowly, but steadily, getting our feet wet, etc.

I would like to thank everyone who attended. You know who you are. It’s already apparent that there are diverse needs for support within our local ADHD community – from issues relating to children and education, to Adult ADHD. It will be exciting, challenging and rewarding for all of us to work together to support each other and make a positive difference in the lives of those with ADHD, their families, loved ones and community.

Even with so many excellent books, web sites, videos, and other educational materials available, there are many who do not yet know much about ADHD. To a degree, that is not surprising since, for some, if you haven’t had it touch your life in some way, there isn’t necessarily an incentive or reason to learn about it.

On the other hand, I have heard of instances, both through online forums, and the local community, that while some schools are doing an excellent job educating students with ADHD, others are struggling.

There is definitely a role for our support group in educating the educators and educational administrators about ADHD. Judge Admire has made the connection between early childhood education, ADHD, and the criminal justice system.

ADHD, like many things in life, isn’t all good or all bad. But undiagnosed ADHD, and untreated ADHD, can result in real loss and tragedy – from addiction, to crime, to broken marriages and more.

As someone diagnosed with ADHD after the age of 40, I know how damaging it can be. Not only can it set a person back years in their career – assuming a person has some kind of career, it also can negatively affect personal finances, personal relationships, self-esteem, etc.

Maintaining a healthy relationship requires a certain amount of stability and a degree of consistency. In fact, a degree of stability and consistency is important in education as well. Up and down, up and down, up and down is a hard way to live.

It is my sincere hope that our support group can provide education and support, not only to those who have ADHD, but the many others affected by it. The consequences of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD are so great, it is really hard to put a value on them. The lost opportunity, reduced income for too many, cost of addiction, cost of imprisonment for those with ADHD convicted of crimes is extremely high.

These aren’t issues that can be resolved all at once. They take time. If you’re like me, you may have been waiting until you thought you were “better,” “fixed,” or “ready.” Personally (and I am only speaking for myself), I couldn’t wait any longer. I’m not perfect and make mistakes, but part of the whole process of having a support group is that we can all benefit from it, learn something from each other, and – in turn – help make our community a better place. We’re learning together and helping each other. That’s a good thing. I hope more of you will come and join our group. It won’t always be easy, but in the end it will be worth it.

 

 

 

 

All Natural – Not Always Safe or Effective

I’m a big natural supplement kind of guy. If there is a natural solution that works, I am willing to try it.

However, Rick of TotallyADD has a good point in the video below. Ditch water is all natural too, but you probably won’t be swilling any as part of your health regimen.

A tool I have been using lately is Google search. If you type in WebMD (it can be in all lower case letters) and the name of the supplement you wish to find more information on – for example DHEA – you will get a list of results.

Look for the result that says:

DHEA: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings – WebMD

The URL listed at the bottom of the search result will include “ingredientmono” without the quotation marks – this stands for ingredient monograph.

You get a nice listing that includes an overview, what the purported uses are, what it may or may not actually help with and the side effects, a list of drug interactions, and the proper dosing, if any is known.

While I am a sceptical person, willing to do my own research, I also respect and value the opinion of the medical community. When researching prescription medicine or natural supplements, I try to keep in mind that it is best to search for unbiased information. A company selling natural supplements has just as much of an interest in selling you their product as a pharmaceutical company does. I’m not saying one is better than another. I am saying that you should do your own research and find a trusted source of information, based on science that will give you an idea whether the supplement (or prescription drug for that matter) is safe and effective.

Nobody wants to pay for something that doesn’t work, and certainly no one want to take something with the hope that it helps, only to find out it has harmed their health instead. Always remember caveat emptor – buyer beware.

 

 

 

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