Good Morning

I have approved all pending comments. I will not be making any further comments on the “Effects on Nurses” blog for a couple of days.

I’m really overwhelmed by the amount of attention this post has gotten.

I’ve seen a lot of people tell me to just get another job, like it was easy to switch from being a nurse to being something else. You’re missing the point. The point is that hospitals, nurses, administrations, need to work together to avoid the dread many nurses feel before a shift. We need to ask, what is it about nursing that makes injury seem preferable than going to work.

For those of you unfamiliar with compassion fatigue, I suggest you look it up. It is different than burnout.

For everyone who has told me to get another job. I’m really good at my job. I like the majority of my coworkers. I like my boss. I love my hospital. Just because my job is physically and emotionally stressful doesn’t mean I want to leave it. With my post, I wanted to encourage nurses to support one another and to practice self care.

Going to sleep now. Have a nice day.

About Grimalkin, RN

Trying really hard to be a decent person. Registered Nurse. Intersectional Feminism. Poet. Cat. Political. Original recipes. Original Stories. Occasionally Questionable Judgement. Creator of #cookingwithjoanne and #stopcock. Soulless Unwashed Carrot. This blog is dedicated to my grandmother, my beloved cat Grimalkin, and my patients.

Posted on December 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.

  1. Nursing is a hard job but the good out weights the bad and I would do it a gain. I have been a nurse- bedside for 36 years. God Bless Nurses

  2. I am a C.N.A. I just want to say thank you for all you do. Hugs…

  3. Yeah. As a nurse for 40 years, I *get* what you are saying

  4. for all of the replies that state get another job. Maybe they should walk in the shoes of a nurse. I have worked in Hospitals, nursing homes and I now work in home care. The one common theme to all of these places is mental fatigue. Yes I work one on one with my patient but I am responsible for his overall physical and mental well being by myself when his family is not here. I too have been physically attacked while working not only in the hospital setting but in the home care setting. You can not understand the toll it takes on nurses mentally when you are compared to Florence Nightingale. It is easy to be a hero in a book, real nurse are human. We have had to call family members to give the bad news that their loved one has died. They have had to prepare a kind and gentle soul who has passed away from cancer for the undertaker hours after speaking with this person in an intimate conversation on how they are holding up. They have had family members screaming at them after you have repeatedly paged a doctor to give their loved one pain medication and the patient does not have an order for the medication. They have all worked in toxic environments where you are surrounded by nasty and mentally toxic co-workers who make you feel like shit!

    I love my job some days and others I wish I had never had the job. My job has paid for my mortgage, given my children the opportunity to go to college and gain meaningful employment, allowed my life to have a greater meaning when i really needed it too. To all of the ones who have had a negative reaction to this post all I can say to you is it must be nice to be perfect and never feel mental fatique so heavy you want to run away from everything you love, family, life and most of all your self. Give nurse a break we are human.

  5. Great article, and agree with you assessment Don’t leave, just encourage others to verbalize their opinion

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Grimalkin, I think you’ve achieved your objective, in that you got a whole lot of nurses supporting each other here. It’s been interesting, too, to see the reactions of those who aren’t nurses—-some outraged that nurses would complain about their lot; some offended that nurses seem to think their job is the only hard one in existence; some deeply supportive of what nurses do every day.

    It got a whole lot of people thinking and interacting about this exciting and maddening and rewarding and discouraging and ultimately very useful profession we’re in, and that’s good for all of us. And it also gave us a chance to get some things off our chests that we don’t share very often. Thanks for that!

  7. I’m a nursing student in my final semester of school and an aide at a a nursing home but I also have a background of 7 years in Human Resources. Throughout both careers I have seen so many nurses burnt out but they keep going because of a patient who was so grateful and totally made a difference in their day. I know the career that I’ve chosen is not an easy one and there will be things that I miss, but making a difference in someone’s day and helping them to be a little more comfortable is what it’s all about. I applaud you for calling nurses to support one another because even from the short time I spend on unit during clinical days I can see the toll nursing takes on people. This job definitely isn’t for the weak. I have had wonderful experiences with nurses who are so willing to teach the newer nurses coming in and I’ve had nurses that I have been afraid to approach because it’s easy to tell that they are having the kind of day where they wish they could have stayed home. I think the most important thing I’ve learned from my limited experience is that nursing isn’t a profession that you go into without already loving. I know I don’t have the experience of 20 years to say that I’m burnt out, and hate my job but it’s important to remember too that as nurses we have the incredible gift to be able to move units or make a change when we can’t take it anymore. I am in constant awe of how the nurses I work with cope with the emotional and physical strains of their job and I just hope that one day I’m not the nurse that the nursing students are afraid to talk to.

  8. I am a retired RN with 35 years on the “front lines.” I finally found someone with the guts to speak the truth ! God Bless You !

  9. Hi Grimalkin,
    I just found your blog today via Dr. Grumpy and I wanted to let you know how much your recent posts have resonated with me. I am a veterinarian, not a nurse, but from reading your posts, many of my challenges echo yours. In fact, your post could have BEEN mine. In residency there were times I gave genuine thought to how badly I would have to “accidentally on purpose” hurt myself so I could go home and rest.

    I also had some insensitive people tell me to “just get a different job”. These folks just don’t understand and probably never will. Put them out of your mind.

    Anyway, just wanted to send you a line letting you know I that I get you. Other folks out there feel just the same way (always made me feel better hearing that from others when I was down…).
    You’re in my thoughts.

  10. I am a retired Nurse,therefore, I have walked many miles ,in your shoes, and worked 12 hr.shift…Those of other professions who work 9-5 will never understand how physically and emotionally draining some shifts are. God Bless all Nurses who have chosen to Serve the Sick and Dying.

  11. I am a social worker, and just yesterday, I was talking to my friend (by phone). She is a nurse and was regaling me with the experiences that she has been enduring since graduating (two or three years ago)….and, after hearing about different shifts, I made many of the observations (about the lack of support, appreciation, professionalism, humane treatment of nurses etc.) that you lament about. While expressing my horror, I also told my friend that I was so proud of her courage (finding a new job, in the hopes that the demands (emotional, psychological, professional, physical) would be less). I told her that I so admire her commitment and resilience and that I would not do the job for triple the salary…and that, I couldn’t if I wanted to: I could not hold up under the weight of the anxiety that the job/context engenders. I am going to pass The Effects of Nursing on Nurses to my friend! You and your message are a Godsend. Thank you…thank you for the opportunity, you have given me, to further support my friend; thank you for the support and validation that I know my friend will find in your message, and thank you for contributing to a world where we take the time, and make the effort, to help and love each other. You are amazing!

  12. Just want to say thank you for doing your job. I have vast experience with nurses thru childbirth, childhood illnesses, and now my child’s illness. Mostly good, some bad. Besides that we have several nurses in our family. Without you :nurses: a significant lifeline would be lost to the patient. I understand that although nursing is a job, a career, work, it is mainly a passion to those that continue. And I know many who quit.

  13. I am a 38 year old man who was born with spina bifida (not sure why my spell check doesn’t like the spelling,…I looked it up) I have become very close to some nurses, R.N., L.P.N. and C.N.A. and some of them do go beyond what their job requires…but some people just can’t handle matter what job they have..some my ex-wife..would complain even if they won the I said, I love nurses…most of them..even have former nurses on my Facebook list (currently still nurse but formerly In charge of my care)..and I never hear them whining such as can be difficult no matter who you matter what you do…I am also basically gonna say…pull up your big girl pants ..suck it up…and deal with it…because I’d trade you…at least you have the ability to work…I am only 38..but my 90 year old grandfather has more independence and mobility than I do right now..but…this is the first time in a very long time I have ever said anything like this out loud to anyone…and I will receive negative’s the price you pay for putting things on a PUBLIC social media’s subject to debate and feedback…so…to tell people they don’t know what they’re talking about..or don’t understand you…maybe they do..maybe they just choose to not whine in a public forum

  14. Well I am sure this all was exhausting, but I found your blog because a nurse friend posted it in my Facebook feed, and I like it a lot. I like what you cover and your perspective. So there’s that! 🙂

  15. Thank you, thank you for writing so succinctly about this part of nursing. I’m a new nurse and it’s good to know that I’m not alone.

  16. Oh my! As an RN and CNM reading your post, posted by another nurse on facebook-I thought it was insightful, real and right on! But, alas, when you put yourself out there, some how people can criticize anything they want. The biggest take home message I got from it was..who nurses the nurses? Thanks and please continue to post and ignore the assholes who have never worked 3x12s in a row giving giving giving, holding their pee until after xyz, waiting to pump breast milk until the patient delivers, skipping lunch to sit with a patient, getting out late to finish charting after a really bad day…

  17. Major breakdown in my mental health I’ve been a RN for 25 yes. I’ve never heard this explained so well. combing this with a major depression order caused a major breakdown in my mental health. I am now retired, unable to work. I neverthought I’d come to this.

  18. I’m a teacher and understand how it feels to give give give, but we have built in breaks to help keep us sane. Please take all the vacation you can. My sister is a travel nurse and will take time off between contracts, but I realize that isn’t an option for everyone. Thank you for your hard work. This past summer was my first time having a laparoscopic surgery and I couldn’t believe how lovely the nurses were. It did feel great to actually have someone take care of me for a change. You make a difference, even when you don’t think you do. Thank you!!

  19. I completely agree with you. I am an R.N. in a very busy NICU. Somedays the stress is unbearable but we also see the rewards. I have been a nurse over 30 years and still work weekends and holidays! We get very little for seniority in my hospital. Hopefully someday those of us that have spent their entire careers taking care of others will get the recognition we deserve.

  20. AMEN to that a truer word was never spoken I love my job my patients everything there is about being a nurse but sometimes its near impossible to give anymore than I have already given it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a nurse anymore it just means I need time to regroup. We need to be kinder to ourselves and each other we need to listen to one another and support each other and only then will things get better for us the nurses. At a time when we are afraid of job security stability and uncertain changes we need to be there for one another and for ourselves.
    For you cannot give of yourself if you don’t take care of yourself!!

  21. To whomever is suggesting you get a new job, they need to take a moment to realize they might just be speaking to the person who will be holding their hand or the hand I their loved one tomorrow and giving them whatever peace the world has left to offer. As a nurse, I know life is precious and could end any minute. I have looked into the eyes of mothers and fathers who have suddenly or not so suddenly lost their children. Imagine the conundrum of taking care of others and not yourself and missing out on one more hockey game really knowing it could be your last opportunity because they could die or you may. No one understands this like a nurse because you live it every day. If they really think you should find a new job then they think we all should .. . . and there will be no more nurses.

  22. Seriously? No way in HELL I would want any of you nurses on this forum taking care of me or my family especially to the nurse guy who said to another on here, “You better hope you are never my patient!” Seriously? Can you imagine how he treats his patients whom he does not like? This article is pathetic and gives very good compassionate nurses who actually care about people/ patients a bad REP. We would never speak ill of our patients because they are our Job!! Something’s are better said in private. AND integrity? Where is the Professionalism and integrity of the nurse writing this and some of those ranting like lunatics? Nurses are held to Professional Standard! Behave like it!! The fact of the matter, Patients pay our salary! Without sick people you wouldn’t make a dime!!!

    This Article has brought out a lot hateful nurses that should not be nurses in the first place! I wish these so called nurses on here would post their full names so we can look them up on The Board of Nursing site. Also, Post the Hospital you work with so we can boycott all of them.


    • This blog post had a distinctive intention that keeps getting lost in the comments. My intent for this blog post was to call upon nurses to take better care of their mental health by practicing self-care, and to encourage nurses to look out for each other.

      You are right. There has been a lot of angry discussion in this blog post. I am not surprised, because nurses are all individuals, we have individual opinions, and we have a right to assert them. Many people who are not in healthcare have bought into the media’s representation of the nurse. Nurses on the TV show House famously weren’t even trusted with bedpans. Nurses on Grey’s Anatomy often sleep with doctors. Then we have the strong but flawed nurses with drug and alcohol addiction showcased by Nurse Jackie and Mercy.

      I really want you to know if you were my patient, even if I were having a rough night, I would take excellent care of you. I would manage your pain, try to help you sleep, and give you the care you needed to be back to independence as soon as possible. Not too far on this blog is a post I wrote about why I became a nurse. I became a nurse because a nurse made a medical error and my grandmother died. My passion for healthcare has not waned.

      There are “bad” nurses. Nurses have “bad” days. There are bad cops, firefighters, paramedics, teachers, politicians (a lot of these) and there are good people. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. Even though I know some nurses may complain to each other (such as we have done in these comments), we don’t complain to patients.

      What I wish you would take away from this is that the nursing profession needs change, and I hope you would support change in your area.

    • I’ve been a nurse for 10 years and couldn’t agree with you more. Nobody said this was easy. Don’t buy a stick shift and complain about how hard it is to drive. There is much to be said of character, work ethic and stoicism. These traits are supposed to be baked in to our role. Can’t handle it? Get out.

      • I would love to change careers but a bachelors in nursing… It’s hard to go elsewhere. I am retraining, but it will take me three years and 10k. This is just not possible for some people. I wish we all had the resilience and stoicism some talk off, but people are people. Everyone must understand different values, opinions and thoughts. A study I read yesterday showed 65% of the nurses (out of around 3000 surveyed in US) felt undervalued and depersonalised. There are facts out there resulting in mass nurse breakdown. We, as an international team, need to work together and not against to fight nurse stress and our profession as good as it once was. Happy holidays xx

  23. Having to deal with everyone else’s problems. Having to deal with others tragedy, sorrow, sadness, Illhealth, confusion and uncertainty everyday. And working all hours for minimal reward from some patients or sometimes even staff. It’s an utter heartache. It’s a very stressful, mentally challenging job, the bad outweighs the good these days, unfortunately.

    I think comments like, ‘pull yourself together’ is a Nasty saying, worries and mental health are subject to ones being. Please dont write negitive comments to this RN, like me, we are humans! We are not super heros! We have ill health in terms of our backs, our legs, our digestive system because our body clocks are so messed up, our mental health (equally, if not more, as important as physical health).

    I totally agree with your comment and highly respect you for writing this, I am not afraid to say it.

    I think ways to deal with this are to increase ratio to patient, more nurses should go 0 hours (like me), then you can decide your shifts and get paid more, decrease patient voice. Patients complain about everything, when it’s a free health service here in UK, I find it hard to understand why patients would constantly complain when they are getting world class service! Look after staff with gifts, money, presents, massage treatments, days off, anything! We need to invest more in staff happiness as employers!

    That’s my small take on it,

    RN in ER. Imminant burnout.

  24. I think you did a great thing by stirring all of these emotions up in people. Awareness is the key. Take it all with a grain of salt and be proud of yourself for bringing up so much discussion about a topic that needs to be discussed. You’re amazing!!!

  25. OK, I’ve read all the comments and here is my response;
    1st the negative comments are coming from people who are by and large idiots (you know the 5% of the general population that the rest of us have to tolerate, just ignore them like the other 95% do).
    2nd the gov’ts have money to support “new” programs and to pay off their political pals but do so at the cost of the health care system. The health care management want to put more responsibility on the nurses while cutting back on workers and hours. This puts additional pressure on the nurse as they realize it is only a matter of time before something bad happens and when it does, they will be the ones held responsible (management will toss them under the bus in a second).
    Anyone that is working on the nursing side of health care understands this and knows the risk they are working under on a daily basis, the rest of the people on this blog are ignorant to this fact and I’m guessing if they were in the same situation they would be using their big girl panties to wipe the shit out of their pants.
    Husband of a nurse that just put in her resignation for exactly this reason.

  26. cathy addison lpn

    I have been a nurse for more than 30 years and noe just want to quit nurseing because of the staffing and it seems no one cares about the patient any more they just want money private duty nursing is stressville and we need to support each other no matter what lets all work together

  27. thank you for giving nurses and others in the medical field a chance to express out frustrations. hang in there and it be ok. I had to find my nitch in nursing and this helped immensely to cut back my stress level. to reply to the response we should leave our real names and he or she would boycott the hospital, all I can say is maybe he or she should leave their real name as well and we could be on real terms as well. It is real easy to criticize when you have no idea what you are talking about…

  28. ps happy new year

  29. Meanwhile, what you’ve really done is show people that you’d rather get hit by a car than take care if their incontinent family member. It makes all of nursing look bad. We work 3 days a week, it better be fucking hard. If you’re that miserable and you feel this dread then you chose the wrong career. If you’re taking this much stress home something is wrong. It’s not a 24 hour job. It’s 12 hours 3 days a week. Can’t take it home with you. Just because others feel this way doesn’t mean it’s okay. I know nurses who feel this way and they’re the miserable ones that everybody tends to avoid. The support they really need is help in a career change. You don’t have to quit nursing, but go work in a school, surgery center or doctor’s office. I worked 6 years in the ICU at a huge teaching hospital. It was insanely hard but it was worth it. I enjoyed the challenge and the emotions and all that came with it. If you don’t, change it up. I left because I needed a change, now I work trauma in the ER and it’s a whole new set of fun challenges. You live with your choices but you’re not stuck with them. Don’t give the rest of our profession a black eye.

    • You really didn’t get the point of my post at all. My point was that nurses need to practice better self care and encourage self care among our colleagues. I am certainly not giving the entire nursing profession a “black eye.” I simply picked up a couple of hours at the end of my coworkers shift to make her life easier.

      No one avoids me at work. I’m a resource for many people on my unit, including new graduates. I use my blog as a healthy coping mechanism rather than take my frustrations out on coworkers or have them affect patients.

      I think some people are upset because I am calling the nursing profession out on how we treat each other. The entire “nurses eat their young” mentality. Several experienced nurses have told me to just leave the profession, they don’t want to have someone who will verbalize the frustration many of us feel. With a severe shortage of nurses looming ahead of us, we need all hands on deck, and we need to look into what about our profession makes so many new nurses leave the profession, in spite of tens of thousands of dollars in debt, so soon into their nursing careers. By encouraging self care, which can fall under many levels, we can help each other make it through our toughest shifts.

  30. Hi, I wrote a number of comments but cannot seem to find them.


    I have been an RN for over 15 years, and finally handed in my notice due to the toxic environment, and MAINLY NURSES NOT TAKING CARE OF EACH OTHER. Nursing willing to throw others under the bus so that they will shine. The liability, the red tape, the lack of concern from management.

    I love nursing I love taking care of patients, I love the adrenaline, the critical thinking, holding a dying patient’s hand, bringing someone back from the brink, caring for the dying, caring for the living, helping with pain and suffering and teaching people how to live better lives.

    I went to school to become a nurse because it was the only profession that seemed to combine, love, creativity, compassion, intellect, intense academics, math, chemistry, microbiology, physics, anatomy, physiology, economics, digital and computerized skills, into trying to make this world a better place. Taking care of a patient on a ventilator, w

    ALso the possibilities were endless, but I found myself locked into a dead end job, with a a very toxic coworker, and with the economy going bad, no room to move anywhere else. Finding another job in the organization was impossible. They were always snapped up before you could apply.

    I had been sick this last year with 2 surgeries, and no-one bothered to find out how I was, to greet me when I returned, to make sure I was OK. In fact my absence caused resentment, because other RN’s had to pick up the slack. I was then accused of faking a sick day by a coworker, when I had agonized over calling in sick after returning from surgery.

    I have left the hospital where I was really well paid, in search of a more healing environment. My body was getting sick. I developed IBS, I had multiple UTI’s I had leg pain from standing all day, I hurt my shoulder, my lower back, my neck. I am a young looking 54 year old, slim and physical, but I knew that if I continued at the bedside I would be very very sick indeed. Especially emotionally because of the lack of concern and care by my coworkers the the computerized system has led to micromanagement by mangers, who can’t wait to pull you in and reprimand you if a med is 10 minutes late, while you have 4 other patients crying for help, and you are unable to reach the doctor and there are no nurses aides available to help you because they have to take care of 12 patients each. It has become a sad state of affairs.
    Good luck to you, and your efforts.

    • I have approved almost every comment that was posted. There were some REALLY nasty comments that were personal slurs against me and had no place here, some “naughty nurse” trolls, and others that did not belong. There are now over 2000 comments on this post, so your comments are in there, somewhere.

  31. I just want to say…Kudos to you. I, personally, could never be a nurse. I have tremendous respect for those that can, and do. You are a hero. Thank you for what you do day in and day out.

  32. I just wanted to say thank you for speaking up! I feel like screaming sometimes. I have been a nurse for almost 4 years going on 50 ….well it feels like it. I can tell you I have thought more than 100 times to change careers and it seems on that one day when I’m grabbing papers to start classes I get that one patient that reminds me this is why I became a nurse. I fully feel the people who make decisions for us don’t even work the floor and couldn’t understand what we go through and no we can’t just add that one more stupid form to fill out on every patient because we have enough to do!!!! But enough said because you said it all. It made me feel like I’m not alone. That in itself is enough!! Thank you for getting through working these holidays it was a much needed pick me up.

  33. oh pete ‘s sake you poor kid little did you know….we are outspoken group. Happy New year and ignor all of ignorant it seems group of men*(i could be wrong)but is seems mostly men with the negative comments. It seems some things have not changed do what makes your life work and makes you happy. May be peace be with you

    • I honestly had no idea this was going to happen. I wrote the original post back in August, but I’m not a “poor kid.” I can handle people on the internet making nasty comments because they don’t know me. Additionally, the majority of the comments have been overwhelmingly positive and I feel that while I never intended that blog post to have such a large audience, it has sparked a discussion.

  34. I am so angry about some of the hideous, pathetic comments I saw on your other ‘infamous’ blog post and I was going to reply to them, but I would rather not feed the trolls… I would rather show you support, say I agree with what that post talked about and appreciate that you were honest. As a nurse of 17 years, I have been there… please don’t be discouraged by the haters, their problems are within themselves.

  35. Am I the only RN that loves his job?
    has a great staff – including MDs – to work with???
    Holy Crap….
    I’ve changed positions more than a few times till I found a place that, as above, has staff that cares, works well with each other, and really does look out for each other. No, it’s not perfect !!
    I really believe you need to be happy with what you do for a living and it spreads throughout the rest of your life…..
    Being happy and enjoying my RN position allows me little work stress and that is a Godsend.
    Yes, I do feel blessed.
    I hope in 2014 you can find the same positive work emotions that I have found ….

    • I actually do love my job, but I do not blindly love my job. I realize nursing as a profession needs critique and change. The desire to open discussion and make the public aware of the stresses nurses face doesn’t mean I don’t like my job.

    • joestolfi3,
      I agree that you may have to keep changing until you find a great place to work and awesome co workers. However in the hospital I work In you have to stay for 1 year once you go to another department. The problem is I love my job it’s what I want to do. However, my co workers are not the nicest group of people. So, I would have to leave and go to another level one trauma center which is out of state and hope for the best. So yes I agree if you aren’t happy make a change. But, it isn’t always that cut and dry. I wish that Nurses were just more supportive of each other. I know that’s asking a lot but it would make our jobs tolerable at best!!! Im a new nurse and my experience has been less than welcoming from nurses that have only 1 year experience on me!!!

  36. As a nurse I can relate to your blog post! My nurse friends and I always talk about how no one understands what we go through. No one understands what we see on a daily basis. Sometimes I am too emotionally drained to go to work. I cry for no apparent reason. I feel like I am suffering from PTSD. I work in Emergency and we are so short staffed and we continue to lose staff because of the workload (6 patients) did I mention I work in a level 1 trauma center. There’s lots of lateral violence and cliques. If you are part of the right clique you won’t have to worry about having a bad assignment. I love being a Nurse and caring for people but had I known things would be like this I’m not sure if I would be so willing to do this. Why do I continue being a nurse? Because I feel it’s my calling and I hope things won’t be this way forever! Your blog touched my heart because I know I’m not alone!! Thank You!!!

    • Rose M. Simpkins

      I was a nurse for 35 years & I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I also feel it was my calling but I had to retire early because it was killing me. I feel like I was in a war & I do suffer from PTSD but some people don’t agree. Perhaps they were not on the “front lines” as I was. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else though. I hope I helped a few patients along the way. I have 8 grandchildren & I would never talk them into nursing as a career . I suppose if they were determined, I would not talk them out of it. Someday maybe the big hospital Ceo’s will finally get it through their thick skulls that because of nurses, the patients survive. Also when we are short staffed, there are more deaths & more lawsuits. Even though I am retired, I am & always will be proudly, a nurse ! Hopefully, things will get better.

      • I agree with you. I will never talk anyone into this profession. I am 2 years in and I am looking for a way out. God Bless you for your 35 years of service. I wish I had it in me but if I continue I’m not sure how my life will be affected. I went from happy and bubbly to miserable.

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