Finding a Different Way - Perth, AU

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After many years of trying different ways to lose...

After many years of trying different ways to lose weight and keep the lost weight off, I decided that it was time to take a different step. A friend had band surgery and that got me doing a lot of research. For me the best option seemed to be the sleeve, while drastic, I felt this would be the best way for me to go.

Photo dump.

These are a series of photos of my journey.
Over time I will upload my experience of the Sleeve, if anyone is interested.

Before the surgery

Tale of the tape
Weight - ~115kg
Height - 1.75 (5'9")
Waist - 106.5cm
Bust - 123cm
Hips - 127cm
BMI - 36

Weight has always been a battle that I have generally lost during my entire life. I seem to recall the only time that I didn't have a weight issue is when, as a young girl, I had to ride 20km from where I lived to ride my horse. For my wedding I worked hard to drop down in weight, reaching 64 kg. After my child was born, there are only a few times that I have managed to work really really hard to shed the weight. Months of living on Chicken and Broccoli and walking many many kilometres.

I am now at the age where my body aches and walking is becoming more and more difficult. So far, in the last two years, I have had to have two operations on my one ankle and my hip is starting to ache all the time.

After meeting a woman who had band surgery on her stomach, I decided to start investigations. I wouldn't say I am a control nut, but with certain things it's always good to understand what is happening. Many, many hours of Internet research, speaking to people, I had decided that the Sleeve option was the better option for me. The band surgery seemed to create a side effect that I really didn't enjoy, vomiting under certain circumstances, and the thought of having the port under a flap of skin just freaked me out.
More research and I had a surgeon, Dr Watson, who I was comfortable with. Reviews were excellent and it was time to make an appointment. I got a referral from my GP and made an appointment with Dr Watson's rooms. The first meeting in June was with the Surgeon's GP. He was the man who had all the answers, all the knowledge but didn't seem to be an actual knife man. After he agreed that the Sleeve was my better option and that I was comfortable with my understanding of the procedure, a date had been set.

Yikes, now there was no turning back. At the end of August I would only have a sliver of a stomach and it would be like that for the rest of my life.

Day of the operation

Date: 24 August 2015

Weight - 112kg

We arrived at St John of God Murdoch at 6am. I was first off the rank. They gave me my gown to change into and put my pressure stockings on, put all my own clothes in my bag and it was labeled and would be waiting for me in my room when I came out of theatre. Now I wait... At about 7.30am they came to collect me and took me down to the pre-theatre room, where I met the assisting anaethetist and then the actual anaethitist. Then I was wheeled into theatre, canula inserted and mask fitted to my face and told to count down and off to slumberland I went.

Recovery and hospital stay

Date: 24 - 27 August 2015

Originally the plan was for me to be in for two nights, but due to the pain from the gas, which then switched to nausea and vomiting. It happened again in the morning after my operation the surgeon said I should stay another night just to make sure I was okay. I was also running a slight temperature and my blood pressure was sky high. It was interesting to note that whilst in hospital the "Bariatric Diet" that is prescribed for you consisted of the following; chicken/beef/veg broth, jelly, ice cream and this awful recovery drink (which Dr Watson said I didn't have to drink if I didn't want to), and apple juice.

I was amazed that I could go shower myself the morning after my op, just had to get the nurse to unhook me from my drip. And I was able to get up and go to the loo and walk around as often as I wanted. I had read on the support pages that I am a member of that walking helps to get rid of the gas pain faster, not sure it worked very well.

By the third day the nausea had stopped and the temperature had finally broken.

To be honest, considering this has been captured in Feb 2016, the days after the surgery were a blur. Hubby was off work to look after me, but aside from that it was bed rest, sleeping and more bed rest.

Month 1

Date: end September 2015

Tale of the tape
Weight - 101.5kg
Waist - 100cm
Bust - 117cm
Hips - 121.5cm
BMI - 32

The first month was terrible, after a meeting with a dietian, I knew that there was going to be a period of pure liquid diet and then followed by pureed food. Admittedly times have changed and there is a huge array of better foods on the market from when my daughter was a baby, but it still tastes disgusting, and after one mouthful of baby food I decided I needed to find something else to eat. So we bought a Ninja bullet and I decided to puree chicken and broccoli, wasn't to bad and actually tasted like chicken. The one night we decided on Indian food. Naturally the meat and rice were considered still to "solid" for me, so out came the liquidiser, in when my small portion of the Indian and before I knew it, I had this sludge of puke that actually smelt and tasted like Indian food.

To be honest, this is the period of recovery where a blind fold is a good idea. Don't look at the sludge you're eating, just go with the smells that drift up through the nostrils and imagine it's real food and not some form of punishment.

One of the best products that I purchased was a plate and bowl that was clearly illustrated on the amount of food I'm permitted to eat. Visually it's not a lot, visually it causes the stomach to gasp and growl in protest, but in reality the portions are precisely what my stomach can manage. It's definitely a mindset situation. A new way of thinking, actually it's not a new way of thinking, the paleo diet was a new way of thinking, this is a radical change that you need to accept and understand and embrace. Life altering surgery has happened and if you're not in the right mindset to work with your limitations then it's definitely going to be a rough road. I suppose it's similar to having a limb amputated. Thankfully I have never been in that situation, but I can understand the difference. You no longer have a limb to do things for you and you have to change the way things are done. To be "normal" you have to get a prosthetic to assist - my new plate and bowl - and you need to speak to experts to get the guidance to take on this new way of life. It's definitely not like a broken limb, there is no uncomforable period where a cast will inhibit you to live a "normal" life, the cast will come off and things will go back to normal.

I would say the thing I am looking forward to the most is the ability to have real food again. The slowly chewed sensation and texture of meat or even vegetables is something that I would've never believed a person could miss, but it is something that I will be looking forward to the most.

Month 2

Date: end October 2015

Tale of the tape
Weight - 96.8kg
Waist - 98cm
Bust - 113cm
Hips - 117cm
BMI - 31

Goodness Gracious me... double figures. Wait, let's stop there and let this sink in. Double figures.

Oh and the second best thing, real food, well sort of, soft foods for two weeks and then I can start eating real food again. There is a way to eat real food too. My dietician said I mustn't focus on calorie counting, but rather focus on eating my 60 - 80gms of protein per day, this can be in the form of meat or vegetables, the reason for this is that Protein takes longer to digest therefore it keeps you fuller for longer and it is also very important for healing and cell repair. Only eat carbohydrates in the smallest amounts if you are going to eat them at all, they are loaded with hidden sugars and are the things that made us fat in the first place as they form a large portion of 'comfort' foods. The same goes for alcohol, it not encouraged in the first year after surgery, however if you are going to indulge try find a drink that isn't high in sugar, if possible, if it is fizzy add lots of ice and let it stand for a while so the gas doesn't expand your stomach, and I believe it can cause your stomach to stretch, that's what they say anyway. Vitamins.... can't stress enough that these are extremely important and something you will need to take for the rest of your life.... also you will need to have annual blood tests to check your levels. I currently take a woman's multi-vitamin gummy, fibre gummy, hair and nails gummy, and I top it up with iron melts, Vit B12 spray and Vit D liquid. The reason I take my tablets in gummy format and liquid is because I really struggle to take tablets without being able to swallow a lot of water. Apparently a person who has had the operation should expect to lose 80% of their weight during the 6-12 month period.

Another thing that you need to do a lot of is drink as much water as you can in between meals, as with this operation you CAN NOT drink whilst eating and for at least half an hour after eating. If you do drink during or straight after, you will firstly cause yourself some pain, but you will also wash your food straight through your sleeve, which means you will end up not absorbing any of the nutrients from the food, but you will become hungry very quickly, with the result being you will start to eat more and therefore you will impact on your weight loss or even cause weight gain. Avoid accidentally drinking whilst eating by removing your glass from the table, because it is a unconscious habit that we have always done before.

Ah, double figures. Wait, with the centimetres I have lost, I will have to do some shopping. Cheap clothing, nothing too extreme because I know that I will continue to lose weight. Both my surgeon and the dietician have said that I should be comfortable with the target weight that I would aim for. Bloody heck, everyone else's dietician and surgeon has given them a target, but I need to aim for my own.

Three down

Date: End November 2015

Tale of the tape
Weight - 91kg
Waist - 92.5cm
Bust - 110cm
Hips - 111cm
BMI - 29

Not only have I reached double figures in my weight, but I have stayed there constantly. Heck I am about to blow through the ninety mark, something I haven't been able to do for a very long time. Of course hubby has set a "what would you like" when you break through the nineties. Something important, something to always remember the occasion. I had no idea what I wanted, so I had my nails done and we went on an "early" anniversary cruise from Perth to Sydney. I think this was the first time that I would be testing myself, over a period of time, where I have a limited eating capability and being away from home. Eating solid food at home is great, challenging, but great. A few things have come to light that I am not totally happy with, milk is seemingly affecting my stomach and forcing me to rush to the toilet. At least, under those eeky circumstances, I am losing weight. I now have a fitbit scale that records my daily weight - much to the amusement of hubby - and stores it with my fitbit account. Oh and I managed to lose 1.5kg whilst on the cruise!!

A few other things that I have noticed is that is annoying and something to get to grips with. Meat that is "dry" is difficult to swallow. A few times I have experienced a strong sensation of pain, discomfort and eventually vomiting. From this I have learnt a few things. Remembering as my dietician said, between each mouthful of food, put down your knife and fork, chew slowly and well (almost to a pulp) and savour the taste of the food. This is important as heck, eating too fast is uncomfortable and painful. Secondly understanding when your body signals that you are full. To start with, this wasn't easy, there would still be food on the plate, not a lot, but my brain simply assumed that I wasn't full. Again this causes discomfort and agony. Over time I am learning to listen to my body, listening to when I am full. The other thing - which was a bad habit anyway - sit at the dining room table and eat, that way you can concentrate on your food and not get side-tracked, which might make you swallow too soon or eat too fast. Sitting up straight helps a lot and also allows you to slowly work your way through your meal.

Certainly there are one or two things I am now staying away from and one or two things that I will "miss", but it's a mindset with the operation. What is the big picture, what is small and trivial. Oh sure, pork might be a tasty meal, sure there are methods of cooking pork that I will miss, but dammit, the pain and discomfort is not worth it. Everyday we need to learn new things, we move into a new house and have to remember where the light switches are, learn a new route to get to work, or school, learn what we like about a new car, or learn to accept that the world is just a mean place, a place that hates me, a place that doesn't take people like me into consideration.

Two things, why do women tend to lose weight on their bust first and why, oh why, do shops just assume because I am a certain chest size that my cup size has to be large too!!

Breasts, where art thou

Date: End 2015

Tale of the tape
Weight - 86kg
Waist - 88.5cm
Bust - 108cm
Hips - 109cm
BMI - 28

Target weight, still no guidance aside from what I am comfortable with. I am starting to lose faith with the whole BMI system of calculations, I am sure that they are good in a way, but for me, personally, I have no desire to follow this any more. The spreadsheet that hubby has modified for me calculates this out naturally, so I will watch this, but an article I read said that a much better method is to take your overall height in centimetres and subtract the hundred. Right, 175 in height, subtract the hundred and my target is 75. It feels right, 75 is a good weight for me to focus on. At the end of December it's 11kg's to go and looking at myself in the mirror I feel different.

One of the first places that hubby noticed the difference was in my face, and looking at photos I can see how my face is changing from the weight shedding off me. The second place in my boobs, I have never been a really big girl in that department, although I have been happy with what I had. Now I have lost a large chunk of centimetres from my boobs. My dress size has dropped, which now means I have to look for either an Australian size eighteen B. And what do you know, it's automatically assumed that someone of a size eighteen will be a C or larger. For heavens sake, my boobs float around like an astronaut in space in a C cup. Zero support and zero comfort from the current bras. A good thing though, a while ago I purchased a bra that was a decent fit but too small. I hunted high and low for a bra strap extension and I am now in the place where I don't need the extension any more.

On the eating side of things, I have definitely discovered a few meats that I need to stay away from. Even with a gravy, the meat can be extremely dry and, yes, I am looking at you pork. Pork Belly, which seems to be cooked in a specific manner affects me in the worst possible way. I had some bad experiences on the cruise and now after the cruise I have experimented some more, and moved Pork Belly to my ignore list.

Actually while on the subject of food, here's a little something that I never knew. There are many restaurants that you go in and after eating what you can, now listening to the body, I ask for a "doggy bag". Who would've thought that there are so many restaurants that don't do this. Hygiene, no take away packets and a large number of other reasons. They really don't understand, I like their food, I want to eat their food, but I have a tiny little stomach and their portions are way too large for me. Hubby will scoff a full meal, while eating out, but for me that is easily turned into two or three meals for me. To overcome this, I now have a plastic container where I can put the remaining meal into, to take home. Oh sure, let's not focus on the fact that we always leave the containers at home and never remember to take them with us. Except once, once I had the container with me, but it was a work day and it had been used for my lunch. I know of some people who make themselves a little business card that states that they have had the Sleeve operation and that they are not able to eat that much. Personally I haven't found a reason for it, while some use it to purchase from the kids menu, I haven't really found the kids menu in any restaurant to be that fantastic that I want to order from it. None the less, hubby keeps reminding me that all I have to do is say the word and he will gladly create a little card for me.

A new year, a new me

Date: January 2016

Tale of the tape
Weight - 83kg
Waist - 86cm
Bust - 106cm
Hips - 106cm
BMI - 27

Things between hubby and I are not going well (metaphorically not actually). Perth, if you don't already know, is a city and part of Australia that has hot days during summer, especially through January and February. Now with all the weight I have lost, I have noticed I don't have fat to keep me warm any more. Twice hubby has offered to go to a clothing store and buy me cardigan's so that I am not freezing when we are out for the evening. I am even remembering to keep them in the car, so I can wear them again.

Hubby, bless his heart, hates the heat. When it's a hot day, he needs to soak in the cold air from the air conditioner, a fan and anything cold that he can lay his hands on. Although being a coffee addict, he still manages to drink hot coffee without complaining. I know, right? So he will be sitting in the lounge, shirtless, shorts and blubbering about the heat. Me, on the other hand, I am freaking freezing. Not just cold, but freezing. Some nights I have to switch the air conditioner off, waiting to see how long it takes him before he realises and says something, and I need to put on a cardigan. When I tell him how cold I am, he just blankly stares at me, sweat dripping off his face as if I am some kind of weird monster.

Going to bed is just as interesting, I have additional single blankets on my side of the bed, sometimes sleepwear and he lays on the top of the bed with a fan going on his side.

Speaking of clothing, I am now finding it pleasant to go and buy clothes. New Year sales were a pleasure because there are a lot of clothing shops that don't really cater for the larger woman and now I can now go into a "normal" store and buy "normal" sized clothing. The feeling of pulling a size sixteen off the rail and trying it on and discovering that it's a little too lose is one of the most brilliant rushes I have ever had. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that people who take drugs or alcohol experience the same rush.

Another side of the new me, is things I have noticed that have changed on my body - aside from the boobs. I now don't have the rubbing sensation of my thighs when I walk. The pain in my hip had diminished to the point where it's not annoying me so much. Hubby still believes I am a candidate for hip replacement. Now another thing that I have noticed, that is not all that fantastic is my butt or rather the lack of cushioning. I can feel things through my butt that I couldn't before, the car seat becomes uncomfortable after a while. Certainly this is not a bad thing, as I would rather go and buy a cushion than gain fat around the underneath of my butt. Another is the compliments. People that I know are really noticing the changes with my body, and complimenting me. It strokes the ego, when I walk past a large pane of glass at work, I used to hate the reflection of the person that was walking where I was. Not any more, I like what I see, both in public and in the privacy of home.

An interesting fact, one thing I was told is not to drink while eating, or within half an hour of eating. I discovered a video - on Youtube - that explains the reason. Please note this is not my video, but it's still informative.

Understanding the mindset

Tale of the tape
Weight - 78.5kg
Waist - 84cm
Bust - 103cm
Hips - 103.5cm
BMI - 25

So this is a breakdown to date:
Weight -33.2Kg

Waist -22.00 cm
Bust -20.00 cm
Hips -23.50 cm
Thighs -25.00 cm

Total -89.50 cm

I am not what is called a secret sleever, I just haven't told people openly that I have had the operation. If people ask, then I gladly explain to them what I have had done to me. Reactions range from "wow, amazing" right through to "that's a little drastic, don't you think?" or "isn't that the easy way out." One of the things that hubby has always said is that if I go through with the operation, its because it's for me and no one else. If people think I am fat and that makes me have the operation, then I would be in the wrong mindset. And he's right, the "easy way out" comments are annoying as hell. This is not the easy way out, this is a drastic lifestyle change that I researched for a very long time. I have tried almost every diet that's come around to varying degrees of success, but at the end of the day if I start to relax and live a little then the weight comes straight back onto me again. Sure, there are people who work hard for what they have, they enjoy the gym, they enjoy eating salads and there is nothing wrong with that. There are people who enjoy scuba diving in an ocean with sharks and I don't berate them for that. I mean, really, dressing up like a seal and then diving down, like a seal, into an environment where there are really big fish with really sharp teeth that love to eat seals. It's fine, they can do it, but it's not for me. If I were to follow the same gym and eating regime that they followed, I would have to work damn hard at it. I would have to live at the gym, I would need to plant a farm of salads outside my door so that I could follow that style of living. But I don't. Financially gym contracts are difficult. Certainly we've purchased a swath of gym equipment that either make good clothing horses or don't. For me, this is my style of doing things. Now that I am at a comfortable weight and way of living, I can go to the gym and work on the flabby skin to tighten the muscle, but again in my mindset it's a totally different way than to losing weight. Admittedly I am not a psychiatrist that can explain how this works, but it's what works for me and it's what I can do.

Another thing I have noticed from other people who have had the sleeve operation is the starting and continuing mindset. Mindset is very important, when we saw the surgeon's gatekeeper, he could see I had done my research and I was clear on which procedure I wanted and why I didn't want the band or bypass, so he felt I didn't need to see a psychiatrist. Hubby agreed, because we had done so much research and understood what was going to happen for the rest of my life. Thankfully I have never been the type of person that uses food as a form of comfort and I had never had an eating disorder. When chocolate is in the house, hubby would easily scoff two rows of a slab and I would slowly suck on a single row. Okay, I do hate Easter, not because of the chocolates but because of M&M speckled eggs. It's a candy shell with a thin layer of chocolate and then a crispy centre. It's also hubby's favourite and he keeps bringing them into the house. Don't get me wrong, I don't eat them by the handful, but I know that they are not healthy and can effect my weight loss. I went through a stage of eating a certain type of crisps that effected the weight loss process. I saw this and realised. So now I don't buy them. It's as easy as that - realising that hubby is currently munching on speckled eggs as his breakfast. Yet I have noticed that people seem to believe if they have the operation, it's the answer for them. They can continue to eat what they want, when they want and as much as they want and the operation will slice the weight off their body. Unfortunately it's not like that. Like the person who thrives on the gym, the Sleeve is a way of life and is a mindset that a person needs to accept and work with it.

Overall I am very happy with what I have become through the assistance of the operation. I have little way left to go to get to goal, but I will get there, after six months I have understood the mindset and can live within that mindset no matter where I go, be it to the beach, restaurant or even a set menu at a function. I have support around me all the time, a hubby that understands what I am going through and works to make sure I am okay. The other night I think I ate too quickly and the pain and discomfort were immediate. He can see this happening as soon as the pain and discomfort starts and is willing to do anything for me. In the early stages, he was even willing to take me to hospital late at night, thankfully the pain doesn't tend to last too long.

If you are thinking of doing this, please realise that it's a way of life, it's a style of life that once you start on, you can't change, not if you want it to be successful. Your way of eating will change, not necessarily the what, but it should, but definitely the way in which you eat. Do your research, do your due diligence and make sure that you understand what you're getting yourself in for. I have heard people who are depressed after they have had the operation and I (my thoughts) believe that they are not in the right mindset. Perhaps the surgeon (or his gatekeeper) should've insisted on discussions with a psychiatrist. If it's a long time after the operation, and you are feeling seriously depressed, then perhaps it's time to discuss this with your doctor. And, let's be honest, there seems to be a lot of doctors out there that seem to be more focussed on getting patients through the door rather than spending time listening to them. If you have a doctor like that, I would suggest looking for another one, one that has the time to listen, one that cares about their patients.

Now, as I look at my reflection, I am realising that's its time for another change. Well not time for a change, but time to start my research. Hubby has agreed that if I would feel more comfortable with better looking breasts, then perhaps I should research this, determine the best surgeon to see, determine the cost. But that's another adventure for a little later in the year. At the moment I have 4.1kg's to go before I hit my target. I had hoped to reach the goal by the end of February, but c'est la vie , things don't always go according to plan. I am still tracking well and I will simply move my target date out by a month. I always knew that there would come a time when the weight would start to shed more slowly. It's okay, my weight is still shedding and I am not going to get stressed out by the fact that I didn't reach a certain target by a certain day. There is no penalty for me not reaching it. It's really not a big deal, it simply means I need to re-evaluate the goals and move forward accordingly. If you look at the graph of my weight loss, over this journey, there are times where I actually didn't lose weight over a week or even put on a little weight. Sure, it's crushing to be there, but you look at what the cause could've been and then modify your behaviour to move forward. Don't get me wrong, I would love for a packet of those dumb crisps in my pantry, but even though I love the taste and the texture, it's really no skin off my nose if I don't have them. It's simply a case of onwards and upward... um... actually that should be, onwards and downwards.

New dress and only 3kg to goal

So close, can feel the difference

Only 200g to target weight!
Hubby can't believe how much clothes shopping I HAVE to do :)

Next Stage of my journey - Plastics!!

So whilst I don't have a lot of loose skin, I also don't have much of a bust anymore, barely filling a B cup anymore. I decided to investigate having a breast lift/breast augmentation (BL/BA) back in Feb/March 2016, after watching Beauty and the Beach on TV.

I started researching Perth based Australian Plastic Surgeons, however as I don't qualify for a Medicare rebate (don't have a child under the age of 7, don't have rashes or infections, etc.), and the fact that I want implants means my medical insurance won't cover me either, and a price tag of around $20K, meant Australia was not an option. So I started looking at Thailand for surgeons.

I found Destination Beauty, filled in the query form and got an email back almost straight away from my consultant called Mary. I had to fill in a form with all my info, medical history, and what procedure I wanted, and had to attach photos. Off went all the information and about two days later my first quote came back, roughly $8,300, not including flights or fly back insurance. What it did include was airport/hospital transfers, Surgeon's costs, anaethetist costs, 3 night hospital stay and 8 nights (incl breakfast) in a 4 star hotel, visits from the nurse every second day and afternoon tea get together's with others having procedures who are also staying in the hotel on a Tuesday and Thursday. Quite impressive, when you think in Australia I will be lucky to even stay one night in a hospital if at all!

I did get a quote from another company that is run by a lady who lives in Rockingham and who has also had the sleeve, but it did come out a bit more expensive.

I attended a seminar run by Destination Beauty in Perth and got to meet my surgeon, Mr Kasemsak. They took more photos and then we listened to the talk, and got to hear from one of their patients about their experience. I was sold, and quite happy to now pay my deposit and start planning for the new me.

Fast forward to July 2016 and now I am thinking I might add a tummy tuck to my procedure, which is called a Mummy Makeover, to save having to pay all over again at a later stage. Like I said I don't have a lot of loose skin, however when I bend over it does hang and looks horrible..... but who is going to see me bending over naked right??? Meeeeee and of course hubby.... not a good look. I know he loves me regardless of what I look like, but for my own self esteem he said I could do it.

So another lot of photos and off the email goes to Destination Beauty. Yes, I can have a mini tummy tuck along with my BL/BA, or Mummy Makeover as it is called, and all for just another $4k.

So along with flights, fly back insurance and the cost of the Mummy Makeover, all up around the $15K mark. Thank goodness for tax returns :)

I also attended another seminar in Perth earlier this month and saw my surgeon again, just to make sure that my expectations for my tummy tuck will be achieved. After seeing him and discussing it I am very confident that I am going to be extremely happy with the outcome.

So I am booked in for 3rd October to have my surgery. We fly out of Perth on Sunday 2nd October.

Below are some photos of the hotel we get to stay in whilst we recover. Looks awesome!

A year post-op.... Love my Sleeve

Dr Stephen Watson

Absolutely the best thing that has happened to me, his team made me feel comfortable and informed the whole time.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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