A Much-Needed Update

Hello All!

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve gotten around here to post any updates. It seems as if more and more people around me are getting into the blog-posting scene so I thought I’d post an update to try to stay competitive!

Most people reading this know this, but I started this website as a way to relay my life experiences both pre-and post-cochlear implant activation. As I was beginning to make the decision to get the implant, I realized that there was little-to-no information on the subject of cochlear implantation from a personal perspective. Getting an implant was the biggest decision I have ever had to make and I felt that I had a difficult time getting reliable information.

This blog has several posts that span several years. If you are a recipient contemplating an implant or a parent pondering what your child will be experiencing, I created this website for you. I hope that you choose to navigate over the many previous posts that I’ve written over time to help bring comfort to this major decision that you and your family are making.

This website has received much more attention then I ever could have imagined so I thank you very much!

If you haven’t yet seen it, I’ve also got a video that corresponds with this website. The video was recorded during my activation and provides a first-hand account of what I was experiencing. We’ve all seen the many activation videos-I thought I’d add mine!

I’m nearing the completion of my Bachelor’s of Science degree. I will be finishing in December. I will begin the process of applying to graduate schools so that I can begin pursuing a Doctorate in Audiology. My hope is to become an audiologist so that I can help others who are going through the same life experiences that I’ve been through.

In my senior year, I’ve received more experience granting work then I ever thought would be imaginable for an undergraduate. Currently, I am working on some research on Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome. Not only is this significant because it’s largely under-researched, but it’s a disorder that is very close to me. I’m very excited for this opportunity because this is the same syndrome that has afflicted me since birth.

Through the research opportunities, I’ve gotten to go to Orlando to present a case study. I’ve also gotten the amazing opportunity to present internationally in Milan, Italy. I’m very excited because through these presentations, we’ve found that the need for more research for Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome is ever prevalent.


 

I share all of this because of a few reasons. When I was in grade school, I began (like everybody else) to wonder what my purpose in life was. I wondered why I was put on this Earth. I knew that I always wanted to help and serve others. I also knew that I wanted to make a big impact on this world. I feel that with the cochlear implant that I was finally given the tools to thrive and be able to help others. Many people tell me all the time that they forget that I’m even deaf. I take that as a complement because that means that I have established an identity for myself that doesn’t include the word “hearing loss”, “disabled”, or “deaf”.

Although I’ve somewhat let my deafness lead my career path (I know, easiest choice ever), I don’t ever let my deafness define me.

Everybody has what one affliction that they could let define them, I encourage you not not let what ever yours may be not define you.

Again, I thank you for reading this, and I hope that you have a great afternoon!

-Connor

 

 

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Research Update

Hey guys!

I know it’s been a while, but I wanted to update you on how everything is going! Life has definately been changing and evolving for me as it does for everybody. I’m finishing up my schooling at The University of Oklahoma as a senior as well as beginning my studies at The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. I’m hoping to go into the field of audiology. Things are going great!

As part of this experience, I’m undergoing participation in an independent study with the chair of the department, which has afforded me the opportunity to initiate some research on Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome, which is the type of disorder that I have. This has been an amazing opportunity that has not only helped me understand more about the disorder I have, but helped others around me learn as well. 

As part of this research, I get to go on some amazing trips to present our findings. In two weeks, I’ll get to go to AudiologyNOW! which is a conference for audiologists and students alike. Through this conference I will get to show working professionals what we’ve learned at The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. 

In June, I get to go on a trip to Milan, Italy as well for what is called a HEAL conference. This conference will be an opportunity to give a oral presentation about the findings we have discovered about Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome. 

As always, I hold that the cochlear implant changed my life in ways I will never be able to measure. I have been afforded opportunities that I never had been thought possible and for that I feel truly blessed. I have a large group of people supporting me, and hopefully with a few years left of schooling, I will be able to accomplish my dream of becoming an audiologist. 

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message or comment. I always appreciate nice comments and hope you are all doing well!

 

Thanks again, and God bless!

 

-Connor

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Changing Environment

Illustration of internal parts of a cochlear i...

Hey Guys!

I know it has been a very long time since I’ve updated, and I really appreciate all of the nice comments and feedback left on my old posts. I still check them every couple of days and I always enjoy what people have to say.

I haven’t updated in a while due to the fact that I had nothing new to tell, but as of yesterday there is some new news and information!

I’ll start in the beginning. I’ve reciently taken on a new job as a Holistic Reader for my university. I’m loving the change of jobs and the semester is going very well. I’m still on track to become an audiologist, hopefully I’ll see that dream come true within the next few years!

I’ve recently been experiencing difficulty with comprehension on both my implant side and my hearing aid side. Both my comprehension and sound recognition have gotten more difficult to work with the past few months. I’ve been putting off going to the audiologist because my insurance doesn’t cover appointments but the difficulties finally became severe enough that I went.

I spent two hours getting mapped (new programming for the implant), and my audiologist decided to start a new stimulation style for my implant. If you would have asked me two days ago if I knew about alternative stimulations on the implant, I would have had no idea what you were talking about. Basically getting the new stimulation means that the way the implant stimulates my nerve is different than before. We decided to try this alternative mapping because the old one was over-stimulating my nerves in my neck and face and causing a shocking sensation down my neck and shoulders. I’m not exactly sure on the science behind it, but I can certainly tell you about how the patient handles the new stimulation.

It seems as if I have just been activated for the first time all over again.

Unfamiliar sounds are all around me, I can clearly hear people on the telephone again. Everything is different and it is definately a learning experience. People’s voices are unfamiliar and my car makes noises that I’ve never noticed before. The toilet is loud and one of my co-workers sounds like Mickey Mouse. The rain was loud last night and I’m still unfamiliar with what a blizzard sounds like. Music for me has changed and my keyboard sounds very loud. All of this is another whole new experience for me.

To some people that sounds horrible and scary, but to me it is one of the best sensations in the world. My old mapping was starting to become ineffective and I was starting to miss out on key things throughout my environment. Although I’m facing a learning curve ahead of me, I can tell that this alternative stimulation style will help me in the long run. As my audiologist put it, “I’m taking one step backwards to go three steps forward”.

After discussion with my audiologist, we are going to start looking into getting another implant on my left side. My audiologist would like to see me wait until the fall to get implanted for newer technology, but it is definately news that we are looking into getting another one. I’ll definately keep this page updated with additional news as it unfolds.

I hope you have a great afternoon and please feel free to comment in the section below, I love reading feedback!

-Connor

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Long Time Coming

Amish Buggy

Hey guys! It has been quite a bit since I’ve last updated, but rest assured I regularly check both this website and my YouTube video for questions and comments. It is always very uplifting to read the nice comments of support and care! Thank you!

Living as a junior in college now, I’m feeling as if life is really starting to take direction for me and the people around me. It is impossible to believe that it has been over a year and a half, almost two years, since I got my cochlear implant activated. It is crazy to think of how much life has changed; reading old posts on my blog really turn the clock back so far it feels as if somebody else wrote those updates!

Since I’ve posted, I’ve gotten an amazing opportunity to work for Hearts for Hearing as a hearing screener to the Head Start programs in the metro area. This is a great opportunity for me to work in the field I wish to make a career out of, it is going great so far!

I’m thankful everyday for the changes that have occurred in my life. I can’t help but wonder how life would have been should I have not gotten my cochlear implant. I have become so reliant on this amazing technology, it has completely changed me for the better. Even in the mornings, when I have yet to put on the implant, I feel as if I am missing a major part of myself.

That thought of reliance can tend to be scary for some to understand, but once you become so accustomed to something in your life, you cannot imagine life without it. Maybe you can understand if I switch out the cochlear implant technology for something more common like a cell phone, or something even more basic like electricity? Life didn’t always have those technologies, but I’m sure you can admit that life is definitely better since they arrived. I’m sure that will help bridge the understanding.

Of course, you always have people that break the norm and completely disagree with people using the more modern technology. You have the Amish that object to electricity, and really old people objecting to cell phones. Like those technologies, the cochlear implant isn’t immune to controversy. There is sector of deaf people that object to cochlear implants. One of the many reasons for this blog is to help people understand cochlear implants aren’t as evil as they can be made out to be.

Oftentimes people, when they learn of my story, ask how I ever managed before I got my implant. They oftentimes ask how I ever became acclimated and so well adjusted to such technology. They wonder how I manage. People oftentimes ask what things sound like through a cochlear implant. I’ve even had some blonde girl ask if she could put it on….

Yes, I let her try…

For reference, this video is what a cochlear implant sounds like, I think it is at 29 seconds, but look for the one that displays listening through 20 channels.

Many don’t believe me, or they give me an astonished look when they learn of what I experience. Oftentimes people don’t understand why that technology is so “outdated” or “old”.

Everybody admits that this technology isn’t perfect, but for specific degrees of hearing loss it is the best available.

People ask how I manage to hear like that. Honestly, it is all I’ve ever known or remember. The technology isn’t perfect, but it has changed my life and my quality of life for the better.

Learning to use technology like the cochlear implant is a very personal experience, but it requires a vast amount of support from the people around you. My family, my best friend, my girlfriend, and other close people in my life have been a tremendous support structure for me.

I write this blog not to brag or solicit sympathy, but to inform. Before I got my implant, I was completely unaware of the fact that there was a whole range of experiences that my friends with implants were experiencing that I had yet to understand.

This experience opened me to the idea that everybody has personal experiences that aren’t out in the open. My personal belief is that everything in life happens for a reason, and that everything happens as a form of a lesson to build on.

I feel that if I am able to help inform one person about a part of society that they didn’t know about, it was worth it to write this blog. I always strive to not fit into typical stereotypes concerning people born deaf. I have also always tried to change other people’s opinion about others who have implants and hearing aids. I hope this blog did it for somebody out there!

I hope you guys have a great week! Thank you for reading!

-Connor

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Life Changes

I hope this post catches everybody doing well, I’ve been really working on my writing skills! I’m in three writing classes, and I’m working at my school paper as a reporter. I’m really loving it!

I’m doing really well, and my cochlear implant is working as good as usual. I’m still thankful everyday when I get up and put my implant on. It’s like being reintroduced to hearing every morning. I am still amazed every day that I am able to hear something new, it truly is a blessing to have gotten the cochlear implant.

I’m starting to experience the telltale signs that my hearing on my left side is really starting to deteriorate. My hearing has really been loosing it’s foothold on the left side since about the beginning of the year.

It’s really hard to explain to people what the feeling is like to not be able to hear, many can’t grasp the situation. Most don’t understand the social strongholds that being deaf can bring. I think that’s a good thing, I wouldn’t really want people to fully understand what it’s like!

Some key things that I’ve been feeling is that my clarity and understanding of speech has really taken a turn for the worse. It seems as if my own speech has been affected by my sudden loss of hearing on the left as well.

This loss can be really exhausting, I’m feeling like I’m relying on my implant and lip reading skills to get through the day. This is really something different than I’ve ever been used too.

Sure, life throws you curve balls, and things get difficult, but the thing to remember is that the crappy situation doesn’t last forever. It will eventually get better, patience is just needed.

Another thing to remember is that everything happens for a reason, I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be in life. This time last year I was struggling to understand all of the constant new noises and voices around me. Getting the cochlear implant is still a constant daily journey that I face, learning all of the new sounds doesn’t happen overnight, and I’m still repeatedly asking complete strangers what certain sounds are.

I could get discouraged that I’m not understanding everything, or that people get so frustrated with me for not catching everything the first time. I could let it get to me that I’m not like everybody around me when it comes to hearing, but what good would it do?

I know everybody has their differences and there specific situations that may seem to suck, but why should we let that get us down? I was born unable to hear, and I didn’t get any hearing aids until I was four. That is really late! There is absolutely nothing I can do to change being deaf, and being different than everybody else.

But one thing I can do is try to make a positive difference in somebodies life. It doesn’t do anybody any good to sit and mope about what I don’t have, but it does everybody some good to take what I do have and make a difference for the better in the world.

I hope you have a good week!

-Connor

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Deaf Reporter

Hey guys! I hope this post finds you well. I always enjoy finding that my writing makes a positive impact on somebody, so please read on!

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new semester and I always get really nervous about a new set of professors. Not because I’m nervous about school, but I go through the jitters of finding that I need to acclimate myself in a new environment.

I’m more nervous about little questions like, “Are you going to be able to hear the people?” and “Is the room going to be really noisy when I walk in?” Ever since the cochlear implant, I’m finding that those worries are quickly dissipated when I arrive to my classes.

I’m sure tomorrow will go well, life has been a drastic improvement since activation. Sure, there have been little bumps along the road and there have been some struggles. I’ve found that anything worth having in life though is worth fighting for, both with my cochlear implant and in other aspects of life.

I’ve recently taken on the job as a reporter and a writer for my campus’ paper. I’m thrilled that I may be able to write and recieve pay (miniscule but rewarding) for it!

I’ve quit my serving job so that I may be able to focus more on school. Every day I see ways that my becoming an audiologist will help benefit others, and it gets me excited.

Every single day before I leave the house, I always pray that “God helps me to make a positive impact on others as he does for me.” Every day that I pray that prayer, I find that almost instantly after I leave, I’ve been able to make that impact that I hope for.

I’ve always aspired to be a role model for both deaf and non deaf people alike. I don’t take that lightly. When people walk up to me and talk about the cochlear implant, most times it is because they are thinking of getting one or are just amazed that I am able to talk clearly. Although my rapid success rate with the cochlear implant is rare, success with the cochlear implant is almost always prevalent.

It has officially been a full year since I’ve had my cochlear implant. My life has had a complete turnaround since activation. If anybody is ever considering getting one, if your a parent reading for your child, if your studying them in school, or if you are just curious, always remember what you’ve read here and remember my story, it may help down the road.

I try to write so that my post’s may be understandable to everybody. I hope to say something that may strike the reader personally.

Although you may not be deaf, you can always still strive to make a positive impact on others. You may not know what it’s like to have that awkward feeling in the classroom when you are the only deaf person, but everybody understands isolation.

Always remember that somebody else out there is able to sympathize with your situation, just open up and let them in!

God made us social beings for a reason, use it and do something to benefit others!

Good luck this semester and have a good week!

Connor

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Coming of Age

Starbucks ubicado en el Distrito de San Miguel...

So this is it… as of today I’m 20!

I’m not really noticing much of a difference yet. Oh well, maybe tomorrow. Anyways, I got asked a really interesting question today that made me think of yet another blog entry!

The person at Starbucks (a favorite place of mine) asked me if I was able to change everything, meaning changing my life to where I would’ve been born with hearing instead of being born deaf, would I do it?

That is such an interesting question, and I’m sure many of you would think I would literally jump with excitement at a “yes”. But in reality I didn’t even hesitate to answer “no”. There would be no way that I would ever wish that I could go back and change to being born with hearing. I’m sure that sounds very hypocritical that I say that because I have gotten a cochlear implant and all, but please allow me to explain.

You see, by being born deaf, I was exposed to different life situations and feelings that had I been predisposed otherwise, I would’ve never come to know some of the emotions that I am so common with everyday.

Think about it, if you are able to hear right now, do you know what it truely feels like to have somebody talk to you like you are mentally challenged because you have something on your ear?

Do you understand what it feels like to not have the same chance at a job simply because of a hearing loss?

Do you understand the fears of going to sleep at night, not knowing if somebody is going to attempt to break in your house and you might not hear it?

Do you understand the feelings of rejection because of something out of your control?

Are you able to comprehend the feeling of not being able to dance to the same music as everybody else but you have to fake it just because you want to fit in?

Do you know what it feels like to be doing bad in a class, not because you don’t know the material, but because you didn’t hear the teacher say the big assignment was due that day?

Do you know what it’s like to have somebody never consider you as a potential boyfriend/girlfriend because of something you can’t control, such as being deaf and have them tell you that is the reason?

I don’t type these things to complain about being deaf. You will never catch me complain about it. Instead, I use these experiences that I have been through to benefit others. I feel like God put me exactly where I need to be so that I may experience everything I need to so that I may use those lessons to help others.

I don’t feel that by having these lessons, that they put me above somebody else on the “feeling meter” or the “lesson graph”. Because somebody else may have certain life experiences that I may have never learned that could help benefit and teach me about life.

Everybody takes life and their current situation so seriously. I used to do that, than I realized how much life changes in such a short period of time. What is so important and serious today may seem small and stupid tomorrow. I feel like the most important things in life are your faith, family, friends, and career.

People please relax, nobody makes it out of this life alive anyways. Enjoy it and be happy please. It’s my birthday.

Have a good week guys!

Connor

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My Last Deaf Birthday

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

It’s crazy how much life can change in the period of a year. I have recently resolved to believing that although my life may be one way this year, it probably won’t be this way next year.

So much has changed since last year. As I look back, today is the day before my birthday. I remember this being a really important day for me last year. Last year I was going to get my cochlear implant 8 days after my birthday. You can look back on the blogs and read, I was nervous as heck. I distinctly remember feeling uneasy about my decision to get the implant and thinking that that my 19th birthday was going to be my last birthday where I was going to “hear normally”. That was a really big bite for me to swallow.

I look back on it now and laugh, but back then that was a serious thought. I was really nervous. Getting a cochlear implant was really difficult for me. It’s hard for somebody to completely change everything they’ve known for 19 years with the flip of a switch not knowing what the outcome is going to be. Not only did the cochlear implant change the way I was supposed to hear, but it was also cosmetically different. I really had a difficult time accepting the fact that I was “deaf enough” for a cochlear implant. It was hard because once you get one, there is no going back. There were a million thoughts going through my head thinking it was the wrong decision to make.

A year later, I’m glad I made that decision. Nothing in life worth having is easy. You have to take a little risk to get the big reward, and that applies to everywhere in life. I’ve had nothing but huge success with the cochlear implant. Sure, I’ve been chastised for being so vocal about my successes and people aren’t happy that I encourage others to get one, but I’m happy and I want others to be happy as well!

I look back on how I had been living my life for the past 19 years and that was freaking HARD. I was angry, I was depressed, I was frustrated. I don’t know how I did it. The cochlear implant really is a benefit for the right people.

Am I going to rush into another one? Nope. What I have right now is working, why fix what isn’t broken?

I always live by the motto (I probably made it up myself): “Make somebodies life better today.” That’s what I try to do with the blog, the video, and the teaching people about cochlear implants. I’ve always tried to be a good role model for those around me. Sure life wasn’t always the easiest on me, but I don’t take it out on others. I do everything I can do make other people’s lives better.

Have a good week guys!

Connor

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Covering From Different Angles

News Reporter 1

Hey guys, I hope this posting finds you well. It has been quite awhile since I’ve posted on this blog. I’ve been super busy with college life, it turns out studying to be an audiologist can be pretty time consuming. Many things have changed but I’m definitely doing well!

I just recently did an interview for a deaf documentary educating people about the benefits of getting a cochlear implant. That always excites me to be able to teach those who don’t know about the amazing benefits of cochlear implants, I’m excited about that!

I got asked an interesting question during my interview the other day. The interviewers gave me the questions before, obviously, but I scanned them, not really thinking they were gonna be that tough. I was more concerned about talking to the interviewers. But one question I missed was a question that I have never even heard before, “Do you consider yourself deaf or hearing?” That one was interesting. I wish that I could go back and re-answer it because I feel I didn’t answer it as smoothly as I had hoped.

If I could go back, I would say deaf. I’m sure that is shocking a few reading this now. Please continue reading. I was born with a hearing impairment. Many people tell me daily that they forget that I am even deaf, which is a great complement that I love to hear. Every night when I take the implant off I do not hear a sound. That is what makes me deaf. Every time a battery goes dead, I’m deaf again. Every time a coil goes bad, I’m deaf. I’m at the mercy of a machine to keep me hearing. I’ve never once said that a cochlear implant fixes hearing, I was born with a hearing impairment and I will always have one. But I’m okay with that!

To the natural next question that would arise, “Am I happy with getting the cochlear implant, even if it was so much work and it doesn’t fix everything?” Absolutely, I may be at the mercy of an implant to give me hearing, but if it was my heart that was bad instead of my ears, there would be no question of getting a pacemaker put in. I’m the happiest I have ever been with the cochlear implant.

Back to the point that I made that people oftentimes forget that I’m deaf. I think that is one of the greatest complements that I could ever receive. (Offended people please keep reading). It’s not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed with my hearing loss, it’s because I work VERY hard, every day to be mainstreamed and as normal as possible. It makes me happy that people don’t even have to think about how hard I work. It may be the harder route for me to listen and talk when I’m at a severe disadvantage on the listening part of that whole routine, but in order to reach the level of success that I wish to achieve in life, I have to work at it.

Of course I get discouraged every once in awhile, that is what makes me human. But I keep thinking about how lucky I am to even have the remote ability to do what I can do. To even be able to go to school with the type of hearing loss I have is amazing. 50 years ago that would have been impossible. I consider it a blessing everyday and I thank God.

I hope everybody has a great week!

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What a Week!

Hey guys, I hope you had a good week!

It is really weeks like this that really put things into perspective for you. I had a really rough one for sure. My mom was rushed to the hospital and I was thrown into the reality that I could’ve lost her forever on Monday night. It wasn’t fun, but thankfully she is at home and okay now.

I had a good friend of mine’s cochlear implant actually go out like the recall predicted. She’s got the exact same model as mine and she’s gonna have to go to the hospital and receive another surgery to get another internal piece. I feel awful for her because she’s literally sitting in silence right now while mine still works, and the outage could’ve just as easily been mine as it was hers.

I had somebody in the class above me from high school die mysteriously right by my house in Edmond, she had a terrible car accident and passed away.

It was hard this week, but I had to keep looking at the positives that are given to me within my daily life. Yes, there is a risk that my cochlear implant will go out just like my friends, but that is no reason to get upset or to be upset with Cochlear about it. I’m really thankful that my cochlear implant has lent me the ability to hear for the time that it has and I’m thankful for the ability to hear while I have it. If it does decide to go out, I’ll get another one!

I’m even more thankful for my family now that I’ve been shown how easy it would be for one of my family members to be jerked from my life. It was that coupled with a friend from high school dying that really freaked me out. It really taught me the lesson that life is short and I need to appreciate every little thing I have because I never know when my situation will change. I try to treat every person I come across in life with the most respect I can. If they are rude, I pray for them, even if it is sarcastic. I’m hoping God gets some kind of humor from my prayers. It seems to work.

I try not to hold grudges about things. Because more than likely, the grudge is stupid. Life is so short and we all have such short times with each other. It is so stupid to spend our time with each other angry and rude. Frustrations only make our attitudes negative instead of positive. Even if I feel like my anger or frustrations are valid, I try to just overcome them so that I may be able to preserve a friendship with the other person.

A good example was the other day, somebody grabbed my cochlear implant off of my ear and hid it from me. I believe I had every right to be angry and tell them off, but what good would that do? I got it back, it was fine, the worst thing that happened was that I was deaf for 2 minutes.

Well… I was deaf for 19 years before I got the implant, so big deal.

My point that I’m trying to make is that I try to calm down before I speak so that I don’t do something I’ll regret. Many people don’t understand deaf people or cochlear implants. By getting angry and throwing a fit, that doesn’t benefit anybody. They will immediately shut off anything I say. By staying calm, maybe somebody will actually learn something. I try and educate people everyday, because as anybody that knows me should understand, there is more to deaf people than sign language and interpreters.

I hope that somebody gained a lesson as I have from this hellish week, I’m hoping next week is a little bit calmer. My Youtube video has gained tremendous popularity since about two weeks ago, which is awesome! I think it is great that people are interested and are learning about cochlear implant activations.

Have a good weekend guys!

Connor

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