Julie M (Jules), Undiagnosed Bio

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I am here because I believe my 26 year old daughter has cushings.

She went through puberty late, just as it started she had a strange episode where she couldn’t speak, walk and was confused. I took her to the ER, the ran different tests and sent us joke with b vitamins? Since that time (11 years ago) her behaviour has been bazaar, she had put on about 6 stone.

After the birth of her child 3 years ago she had gone a lot worse. Aggressive, numbness in both legs, depression, tingling in fingers, ties and around mouth, exhaustion, insomnia and the buffallo hump which she has had for years. I thought at first she had pernicious anemia but her b12 level is ok.

The haematologist is asking out gp to run tests he mentioned cortisol, I looked it up and couldn’t believe she has exactly the same symptoms, she has constant headaches and her legs are also covered in bruises because when she does eventually go to sleep she wakes up in another part of the house due to sleep walking.

She has just been given anti depressants and sleeping tablets which she does not take. I requested her medical records and went through them found out that she had lesions in her frontal lobe 11 years ago when they ran the tests. I also discovered that she had normal low TSH and very low t4 which points to the pituitary gland

Some days she feels ‘ok’ which is very rare. Most of the time she is suicidal and stressed. I’m waiting for her to be called for her cortisol tests, I just hope they are done at a time that she is going through her cycle.

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Karen K, Undiagnosed Bio

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Hi, I’m Karen 51 yrs old, undiagnosed by a doctor, just realized all my crazy symptoms are related and have made an appointment with my doctor for next week.

I think it started in my Mid 30s with very bad acne, horrible migraines with throwing up, vertigo, high blood sugars, major depression, sleep apnea.

My symptoms over the last 12 years are hair loss on my scalp, weight gain no matter what I eat or how much I exercise all in my torso, buffalo hump and fat pads above clavicles, daytime exhaustion, insomnia, bloated feeling, edema in my legs and feet, tendonitis, arthritis and bone spurs, dehydration daily, sweating a lot during the day and at night, bruise easily, muscle weakness, depression, scary crazy mood swings with lots of screaming, no libido, red and white patchy tongue, high blood pressure and diabetes, my face gets red and hot like I’m blushing or have a bad sunburn, then goes back to normal looking, fat face, really bad heartburn everyday several times a day and before I go to bed I need to take antacids, it’s so bad I feel like I’m going to throw up. then theres the strange boil on my back that comes and goes, and the diverticulitis, and most recently a blocked salivary gland! also some back pain by my hump and side pain next to my left breast, I get so angry and I just want to cry all the time, it’s so frustrating, and I’m so so tired everyday.

I have seen doctors for most of these issues. I never thought they had anything to do with each other, I was sick a lot when I was a kid, I just thought I was someone that got sick a lot. Especially with the diabetes, I just assumed I was getting infections because of my weakened immune system and premature menopause.

I’m not sure when I got the hump but it’s in my wedding photo’s. Our 12 year anniversary is coming in January. My periods stopped right before I got married at 40, that’s also when I was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, over the last 12 years my weight had gone up and down but mostly up 75 lbs. I eat better now than I ever have, plus there’s all the exercise everyday walking 3-5 miles a day on weekdays.

Recently I was switched to the U500 insulin, so my sugar readings have been great, finally after a few years of very high readings and feeling like crap, diarrhea and vomiting.

I’m so glad I found this website!

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Patricia, Adrenal Bio


My adrenal incidentaloma was discovered after an abdominal CT in 2011.  My doctor told me that it was insignificant, and no follow up was needed.

Late 2012 I began having symptoms which led me to believe that something hormonal was going on.  I was having extreme anxiety, headaches, insomnia, new onset hypertension, hair loss, blurred vision, memory problems, dizziness, and extremely heavy menses.  I went to the gynecologist because I thought it might be premenopausal symptoms.  The doctor started me on birth control pills to regulate the periods, which was the only symptom that improved.

My general practitioner sent me to a cardiologist for my blood pressure which was spiking as high as 194/110.  The cardiologist immediately suspected a pheo, and referred me back to the GP with a recommendation for a referral to endocrinology.  The initial round of labs were all within normal limits with the exception of plasma cortisol due to the estrogen pills.  The endocrinologist told me to follow up in one year.

A lot of people started telling me it I was just stressed out, and depressed.  I don’t buy it for a minute.  It feels like something chemically is wrong. It’s hard to explain….I just don’t feel right.  Yes, I have stressful things going on, but not anything that should make me feel like this.  Especially when things are fine, and I am going to meet a friend for coffee why on earth would I almost freak out on the way there? I started feeling better for a couple of months, then the symptoms came back.

I have had 3 near panic attacks in the last 6 months, social withdrawal, rapid abdominal weight gain, hospitalized with 24 hours of amnesia (transient global amnesia…which left lesions on my hippocampus), headaches, hypertension, amenorrhea for 8 months, increased facial hair.

My first lab test was the high dose dexamethasone which I did not supress.  Last week I did the 24 hour urine…a whopping 3650 liters!!  I will get the results on Thursday.  My endo said he will need to do an adrenal vein sampling as part of the diagnosis.

Has anyone else had to do this?  I am in Germany, so maybe it is just different protocol here, but I really don’t want to have to do it.

Thanks for any feedback!

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Helena (hummerbird), Steroid-Induced Bio

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Hi! My name is Helena (hummerbird). I am going to be 60 next week, Nov 16. I have come full circle with this.

I knew I had adrenal problems 12 years ago when I got stuck in the ‘fight or flight reflex’. I paid to have saliva tests done and it showed that I was dumping cortisol into my system early evening with my lowest point being 6am in the morning. I showed my allopathic doctors the tests but none would put any stock into saliva testing and just blew me off (this was 2002).

Some of my first signs were extreme insomnia yet when I did sleep I would still feel extremely fatigued, flushing of the face, neck, chest, and back, weekly migraines and daily headaches which started after I was 45, unexplained weight gain, crazy buzzy internal tremor adrenaline smacking (I could actually taste it!) jitters that would not go away, hypersensory (especially to light and sounds), feeling painfully sunburned even though I had not been out in the sun, pain in my legs going way beyond restless leg syndrome, totally fearful of everything, developing a hump between my shoulders and a host of other symptoms.

I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia 03, then SLE Lupus 09 (positive ANA but no markers).

We moved to Colorado in 2012 and then back to Oregon 2014 and when I saw my rheumatologist again after 2 1/2 years (Oct 2014), he said it looks like you have Cushings? So at the moment I am suspected to have Cushings. I have been reading up on it and I am totally textbook (including the fact that I could literally step into the profile of the picture of the woman with Cushings).

Not sure if this is drug induced or if the prednisone finally brought out the demon that’s been tormenting me. My rheumie wants me to slowly wean off the prednisone. My dosage was 5mgs per day unless I was flaring (dealing with horrible muscular pain and internal tremors) then I was to do a step down starting at 30mgs back to 5mgs. I probably do a step down every other month.

My internist in Colorado wanted me to get off my Percocet 10/325mgs 4 times a day and try to deal with the pain. For the first time in my life I used MJ edibles to get off the Percocet with only a week of hard withdrawals. I was on the MJ edibles for 3 weeks until I realized I was allergic to it! I now take 2 Tramadol 50mgs 3 times a day to control pain. On the negative side this is not working because I have too much breakthrough pain but on the positive side I have a clearer head (I’m able to focus and read again!).

Over the years my days have gone from one ‘down’ day a week to a whole month of down days. I have lost my quality of life and pretty much my social skills. My venturing now is from my bed to the bathroom, kitchen, and possibly my recliner if I’m not feeling too dizzy.

I have three saints in my life, my husband and my two girlfriends who take care of me. I know that God has a plan for my life and I have faith in knowing that I’m going to feel well again some day. It has been a long and expensive road to travel to get to this point. I am not looking to have Cushings but it is a diagnosis that finally fits completely. I’m looking forward to meeting the support group.

Love you all and thanks for taking the time to read my post.

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Michelle (Michelle), Undiagnosed Bio


Hi, I am a Mother of 3 boys, 20, 18 and 13.  My youngest has been steadily gaining weight, has a large round face with red cheecks and large torso.

I’ve been to 3 endocrinologists so far and have not been given a diagnosis of Cushing’s.  All of his cortisol levels were considered normal.  He also had an MRI of his pituitary and adrenals which were also negative.

The last endo diagnosed him with insulin resistance and he was put on Metformin. He has suffered from depression, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, buffalo hump, add gastrointestinal issues etc.  He has all of the symptoms except for the obvious stretch marks.

I believe he has cyclical cushing’s, which my sister found out she has after many years of testing.  A lot of the drs. I spoke to about this said they don’t believe in cyclical cushing’s.

It has been so difficult watching my son suffer and be ridiculed by other children. The doctors tell me to make him exercise and eat healthy (really? No kidding!)

Has anyone else had cushing’s WITHOUT the deep red stretch marks.  He does have stretch marks, but not the typical type you see in cushing’s.

Thanks so much


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Brenda B (BeBop), PCOS Bio

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I recently read an article in the NY Times magazine about Cushings, and a light bulb went off. I have an appt with an endocrinologist in March, but I’ve been to a renowned large clinic near my home in the early 1990s and was diagnosed with PCOS yet had no cysts on ovaries. I had abdominal striae, rapid wt gain in belly only, facial hair. They also found I had hypertriglyceridema – 1000+ when fasting. They could not put me on estrogen for the PCOS because of the lipid disorder, which they figured was genetic tho I never had any tests to find out why. So I went on Lopid, went on to grad school, shaved and plucked, wondered when the period would come.

I’m 53 now, got married in the mid 90s and we tried for years to have children, finally got pregnant in late 1998 and had a son in 99. Then I got hit with a terrible insomnia, sweating and anxiety and was treated for post partum depression. I did not feel depressed, just could not sleep despite my 9.9 baby sleeping through the night almost immediately. Didn’t sleep the two nights I was in the hospital after delivery. I stopped breastfeeding at 3 weeks and began a tragi-comedy of errors of regular health/mental health treatment, finally Zoloft did the trick as well as Valerian root instead of Ambien (which never worked for me) for sleep. The toughest point was when I hadn’t slept at all for 3 days. But that is another story. Anyway to make this already bad story worse, at 4 months postpartum, my mom died of stage 4 leiomyosarcoma, which she’d had in 1995 in her leg and it had metasticized to her lungs. She was a tough old bird and I think maybe had Cushings come to think back. (And thinking of my family history there may be something there with genetics, ie., MEN, with a sister with uterine fibroids, and two brothers with neurofibroma on their foreheads that were removed). Anyway, she refused all medical treatment after the leg surgery and elected to only have radiation in the leg area and never went to get checked out after that.

My son is now 14 and I’m apparently in menopause. I’ve had the return of the awful insomnia and the rapid heart rate at night. So I’m  back on Zoloft and valerian root immediately and made this endo appt today after reading about cushings here for two weeks.  My other conditions are hypertriglyceridemia (never determined if primary or secondary) for which I take Lovaza and Niacin and it’s down to about 300-400, which is not good. I tried Pravastatin but makes my muscle aches and constantnback aches worse.

In 2005 I had a terrible loose cough that the renowned clinic diagnosed as GERD after being misdiagnosed as asthma for 2 years by the community clinic. I can’t tolerate steroids as they make me an angry insomniac but took them as prescribed when they thought it was asthma. The big clinic diagnosed that as GERD (aciphex immediately worked on the cough) and I was also found to have NAFL (fatty liver), an enlarged spleen, and stil the high triglycerides.

In 2011 I had an uterine polyp (removed) and endometrial hyperplasia for which I get checked every year because I don’t want to/can’t take the progesterone. I would really prefer a hysterectomy to end that but obgyn is reluctant.

This year I’ve had a number of new symptoms: lactose intolerance, all over tendinitis (phy ther prescribed), incontinence and needing to go alot, leg and feet cramps, horrible back aches (member at the massage place), super fatique and muscle weakness (couldn’t even snap down the buckle on my ski boots last weekend and only lasted a couple of hours on the hill, and I love to ski) and blurred vision, eipscleris and early cataracts. I also have suffered from what is diagnosed as vasomotor rhinitis for YEARS, I keep lotion tissue companies in business. It’s been so bad this winter that I went to the doctor this week and was prescribed a steroid. Then I didn’t sleep last night. Oh and if I drink alcohol I get the same rapid heart beat and insomnia too, to add insult to injury. I still have the facial hair despite oh maybe a dozen laser treatments.

Oh, and since my 20s when this all started I’ve always considered myself “round shouldered” which looks to be a buffalo hump. :0

In reading all these stories I am worried that I’ve had Cushings my *entire* life not unlike some other folks here. I don’t trust doctors all that much becuase I had so a horrible time with “postpartum depression” treatrment. I was so angry after that that I spent several years on the board of a women’s reproductive mental health organization fighting to get the Melanie Stokes Act passed. I am too old and tired to do advocacy again but thanks for doing it and being here. I am reading about all you folk fighting for a diagnosis and I fear that I’ll be in the same boat. God bless you and hugs for all. Hang in there. I have. Sometimes barely.

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Rashelle, Pituitary Bio

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From 10/11/2010:

My name is Rashelle and here is my success story.

I grew up as a tall, skinny, athletic and active girl. I was one of those girls you envied who could eat what I wanted, when I wanted without having to worry about gaining weight. In fact most my high school life I maintained a steady weight of 118 pounds.

That all changed in the blink of eye during my senior year of high school. At 18 yrs old my once long and skinny face, turned round and moon-like. My stomach, once flat as a board, now looked like the belly of a pregnant woman. I once stood tall but found it difficult to keep my shoulders back with the “buffalo hump” now protruding behind my neck. My nice long legs now were now covered in stretch marks and I started getting unwanted hair in places where hair should not grow on a girl. I stopped getting my period, felt tired all the time and started to get really bad migraines. I suffered insomnia and depression.

I knew there was something wrong but didn’t know what. The worse part was the embarrassment of gaining so much weight, over 50 pounds in a matter of 4 months.  I would run into old classmate and I could tell by the look on their faces what they were thinking. Some would do double takes, not even recognizing me at first glance. Once I ran in to my high school crush, whom I hadn’t seen in years, and he was so confused by my appearance and swollen face that he asked if I had just gotten my wisdom teeth out? I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide.

After being testd for all sorts of thing,  my family doctor (whom I’m sure thought I was a hypochondriac by now) referred me to an Endocrinologist in 1999. Finally I would be getting some answers!

Much to my disappointment the specialist found nothing wrong with me except claiming that I had a bad case of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Regretfully this was a wrong diagnosis that caused me to live with Cushing’s disease 4 years longer than I could have. I was prescribed some medication to help with my facial hair on my chin and upper lip. But that was the least of my worries, the hair was hardly noticeable, it was my weight that I was concerned about. From then on I  became an exercising dieting queen. I was going to Curves and working out at the YMCA and I tried every diet imaginable from Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig, Atkins to Body for Life. But no matter what I did nothing seemed to work. I was so frustrated! My last resort was to lay out the money to see Dr Lefebvre, a weight maintenance control specialist. After a few months of treatment, being told to eat 500 calories a day, and losing a minimal amount of weight, I was questioned about how much was I really eating as to inadvertedly accuse me of being a closet eater.

In the year 2000 I went backpacking through Europe for 2 months. Despite the headaches, fatigue and extra weight I had to carry around I was determined to have a good time. The trip was challenging, after 2 months of walking everywhere with a heavy backpack on my back I still had not lost any weight. During this time I was also earning a Degree in Journalism and working lots of hours. Trying to balance school, work and a social life was a difficult because I was exhausted all the time and had zero energy.

Fast Forward to November 2002, age 23; my mom had been with me through this whole rollercoaster ride and was just as frustrated as I was. One night she was searching the internet for what could possibly be wrong with me when she came across this website on Crushing’s Disease. She called me over and we were amazed to find that I had almost every single symptom listed! So the next day I asked my doctor for if I could get a second opinion from a different Endocrinologist.

This time my new specialist said it was unlikely I had Cushing’s yet sent my to get a 24 hr urine test, something the previous Endo had neglected to do. She said it was the “golden test” that would confirm if I did indeed have it. I remember when the test results came in and I got the news. My cortisol level was unequivocally elevated at 1061.3 nmol/day indicating that I most certainly had Cushing’s disease. I was so scared, yet even more so I was relieved that I had finally been diagnosed. The next step was an MRI to determine whether or not I had a tumor on my pituitary gland or on my adrenal gland. As it turned out the tumor lesion was on my pituitary and measured 0.9 x 0.9 x 1.6 cm in height. It was explained to me that pituitary tumors have a 65% cure rate, but there is a lack of cure with pituitary surgery when the tumor is over 1 cm. So my cure rate goes was only 35%. Even so I was anxious to proceed with the surgery despite these statistics.

On Feb 7, 2003 I had the surgery and was discharged from the hospital 5 days later. The road to recovery was a long one but I had high hopes when I notice that my headaches had disappeared and I got my period again for the first time in 4 years. However, I still appeared quite “cushingoid.” Doctors believed that I had been cured but could not tell for sure as it was hard to distinguish scar tissue from the tumor on the MRI. They warned me that results (losing the weight) could take a while so I went on with my life waiting and watching patiently for any changes.

Later that year on October 2003 I was rushed to that hospital for what appeared to be a really horrific migraine. But it was a lot different then any other headache I had ever had. The pain was so intense and almost intolerable I wanted someone to take a gun a shoot me! I spent 36 hours in Emergency being treated for what the emergency doctors diagnosed as “just a bad migraine.” Finally obtaining a CAT scan showed that it wasn’t a migraine after all, my tumor was still there and had hemorrhaged and bled into my optic nerve. I had right sixth nerve palsy with decreased visual acuity in my right eye. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital and could not see properly out of my one eye for over 5 months. Luckily my vision eventually came back 100%. My specialist and surgeon decided that the hemorrhaging had been a blessing in disguise as it could mean that the tumor could be all gone after the episode but it would be too soon to tell.

Then, March 2004 I awoke in the back of the ambulance to be told that I had had a grand mal seizure. Doctors found this to be a mystery since I had no history of seizures or epilepsy. Tests concluded that the crushing’s was still present and I had another MRI which showed residual tumor still extending into the cavernous sinus which is not approachable surgically. The tumor was now only a dangerous 4 mm from my optic nerve.  So the next option was to be referred to a Radiation Oncologist to discuss the option of radiation.

On Oct 20, 2004 I had stereotactic radio surgery. The following week I felt great until the effects of the radiationg suddenly hit me. The radiation took a toll on me and I could not even find the energy to get myself out of bed. It was by far the sickest I have ever been in my whole entire life. Eventually, after being bed ridden for several months I regained my strength and things got back to normal. I still had not lost any weight and showed most of the signs of crushing’s. It is believed that by doing the radiation, it impacted my pituitary function causing it to lose partial functioning. As a result my adrenal glands started to over react to compensate which was not helping my Crushing’s at all.

So, the next step was for surgeons to perform a bilateral adrenalectomy. In June 2006 what was suppose to be a simple, not so risky surgery turned out the opposite. The procedure should have only consisted of 4 very small incisions done laparoscopy. However, during my surgery they discovered that my liver was too large and had to do a complete incision across my whole stomach in order to proceed. Post surgery my blood pressure was so high I was monitored and not let out of the post opt room for 14 hours. On a side note while going through my medical records I discovered that after they had stitched me up a I had to have an X-ray while still under the anesthetia . Apparently the operation room was missing a pair of scissors and they were thought to have been left inside me! Luckily they were found elsewhere.  My recovery was a long and painful but I kept hoping and praying that this would be the cure, especially after my long history of unsuccessful attempts. First the pituitary surgery, the tumor hemorrhaging, the grand mal seizure, radiation, and then the bilateral adrenalectomy. I couldn’t imagine what I was going to do if this did not work as I knew I was running out of options. My fear of never finding a cure led me to seek further answers.

In January 2007 at the age of 26 and a few months post op my parents took me to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. With all my medical records in hand we met with top of the line doctors and discussed my condition and prior attempts to get cure my crushing’s. The doctors said it was unfortunate and just plain bad luck that I had encountered so many problems on my quest for the cure. As far as the specialist was concerned everything that could be done, had been done. Six months after I got my adrenal glands out I finally noticed that I had started losing weight. At this point I had given up on exercise and eating healthy so found it to be a small miracle. Day by day and month by month the pounds started melting away. I was losing weight as fast as I had put it on and the best part was I wasn’t even putting in any effort to do so. Before I knew it I was down to a healthy 130 pounds and back to myself.

At the age of 27, I had been cured of Crushing’s! I  to had overcome this horrible disease that It had overtaken my life and I\could  begin working on getting my life back. By this point I found it difficult to find a job in the journalism field due to the fact that I had a huge gap in my resume. Having graduated so long ago and not having had any experience made it impossible to even get an interview. Looking back at all I had been through I expected to be happy I had been cured but instead I strangely became depressed.

Once an dedicated Christion, I was now mad at God for making me miss out on so much. I felt like by now I should have been married, had kids, owned a home, been established in my career etc. But I wasn’t. I had lost out on so much precious time. I started to hate the job I once loved, sleep a lot, and do things that were out of character for me. I got involved in a relationship with a married man whom I had met on a plane and that didn’t even live in my city. It had been so long that any one of the opposite sex had even paid attention to me that I thrived on the attention. I latched on and became obsessed and needy (totally not me). I just could not find happiness and had delusions of what my life could be like with this secret love affair. On a whim I decided I was going to move to the same city  as him. So  I packed up all my belongings, ordered a moving truck, gave notice to the place I was renting, got a transfer at my job, and found a new place to live.

Three days before I was suppose to leave I overdosed on some pills. I dont remember the incident, not even taking the pills, just the part of having to drink that disquisting tar stuff. I was admitted to the Psych ward and held against my will. I spent 3 weeks as an inpatient and attended therapy sessions daily. I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and it was explained to me by my psychiatrist that I had been grieving from a sense of loss. Only the loss was not a person, it was a loss of time. While battling cushings I was always concentrating on getting better that I didnt even have time to focus on my life goals. But now that I was better I had time to realize all the I missed out on. After being released as an inpatient I became a mandatory outpatient. For one month I had to attend daily classes at the hospital. The sessions focused on being in the present and included things like art classes, sailing, yoga and medititation as well as daily therapy sessions. I learned all sort of coping mechanisms so now when I am depressed  instead of sleeping to escape the pain, I draw color, write  or make a collage. In the end what could have ended in tragedy, opened my eyes and helped me a great deal. I still battle with depression and at times fall into a deep black hole but I always manage to pull myself out of it.

I honestly believe that since losing my adrenal glands I have become a different person. My emotions are intensified, I get stressed and sick easily and am quick to anger. It has definitely taken some time to get use to. Istill have to see the doctor regularly to monitor my meds and will be on medication for the rest of my life. I have hypoglycemia and Addison’s disease which so far only affects my skin pigmentation and gives me a year round tan. All of that is nothing compared to what I was dealing with when I had cushing’s. Having the disease strangely somehow has made me a better person. I am not quick to judge a book by its cover and really truly care for people. In fact, after all the time i spent in the hospital I am now back in school to become a nurse.

So remember that what ever you are facing, whether you have been diagnosed or are trying to get diagnosed, never give up. Stay strong, keep praying and believing.

Update 11/4/2013

In fact, after having completed my Degree in journalism I am now going back to school to become a nurse. After my experience I want nothing more than to help people who are sick. Just remember that what ever you’re facing, whether you have been diagnosed or are trying to get diagnosed, never give up. Stay strong, keep praying and believe you will be cured.

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