3.02.2009

Grown up stuff

Here comes a random vent, so get ready:

Sometimes it sucks to be an adult. Did I miss the memo as a kid? The one where they tell you that life only gets more complicated with time and you better live up your glory days on the playground? I remember when life was so easy and at the time I thought it was SO HARD.

Remember high school? Yeah, I do. I was constantly stressed over stupid teenage relationships with dumb boys, I was stressed about grades, stressed about basketball and volleyball, about which college I'd attend.

In college there was that struggle with my identity away from my parents, discovering the real me, making new friends, deciding on a career, etc. Boy, that was a total walk in the park compared to this 'adult stuff.' I'm sure when I'm 40, I'll look back on my mid-twenties and say, "I really had it good, what was I complaining about?" But I'm not there yet, so bear with me.

I'm not saying my life is particularly hard and nothing really monumental has happened. In fact I am fully aware that I have been incredibly blessed in life and I'm grateful for everything I have. But this post is about those crappy parts of being an adult, the awkward transitions from a kid to a grown up. I hope you can empathize.

I was off work today because I worked on Sunday. What would normally be a very free and liberating day off became filled with two appointments that threw this adulthood thing into my face.

First, I had to go to the dentist to have two 'very small' cavities filled. Besides the fact that jamming ginormous needles into my jaw sucks in itself, the whole time I was thinking, " I wonder what my dental insurance will cover today? How ridiculous will this bill be when it arrives at my doorstep? I can't wait." Back in the day, I never had to worry about dental or medical bills....my parents did all of that for me. Again, it sometimes sucks to be an adult.

Don't even get me started on how awful it is to rollover previous employers' retirement accounts into my current 403b. I can't even talk about the burden of choosing which medical insurance option will be best for the upcoming year. Organizing our various life insurance policies and deciding how much my spouse would get if I died, doing taxes, monitoring bank accounts, and paying tuition all qualify as 'sucky adult responsibilities.'

Then, Henry had his annual check up at the vet. No big deal, right? Wrong. Stressful and headache-inducing.
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You see, when you completely overhaul your life and bust free of your comfort zone with a move to a different state, you force yourself to find new trusted businesses. A new general doctor, a new OB-GYN, a new dentist, a new hairdresser, a new vet, a new place for fabulous pedicures [still haven't found that one!]....the list goes on.

We found our current vet simply because it was the closest to our home and seemed to be popular online. We've gone a total of three times now and every time we walk out feeling a little slighted. Perhaps it was because our St. Louis vet was insanely awesome and we loved her with all our hearts--but this Wisconsin one is quite dissatisfying to us. And by 'us' I mostly mean Nate, because he is more worked up than his neurotic wife--which is saying a lot, no?

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At his 6 month check up as a puppy, our fabulous St. Louis vet told us that Henry had a very slight heart murmur. She said it was nothing to fret over and it was barely detectable...but it was just something to watch over time. Okay, fine--our baby isn't perfect. We can live with that.

Then last year, this new WI vet agreed that the heart murmur was very slight but he 'recommended' we consider a full cardiac work up just to be sure that this murmur did not equate heart disease. We asked a few questions and decided that since Henry was not showing any symptoms of heart disease [ie exercise intolerance, coughing, fatigue, etc] we would pass on the expensive work up. After all, he was only two years old.

So today, another vet at the same clinic saw Henry. She said that now his heart murmur has progressed from a Stage I to a Stage III out of a possible VI stages. [insert my own heart stopping here]. She suggested that we consider the full cardiac workup to rule out heart disease. If this murmur is due to disease he would need medications to prevent it's progression. If it's just a valvular disorder there isn't much they can do, and it's really not as serious.

Great, wonderful, right? Wanna know how much this proposed work up will cost? $530. Gulp.

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My instant reaction was, "If my baby needs these tests then I'll plunk down my hard-earned money right this second." But Nate saw it all differently: he felt like the vet was trying to scare us while preying on our obvious love for Henry. He doesn't deny the need for investigating the murmur but he thinks this particular vet is vastly overpriced [after googling and asking around about other vet prices] and he's not pleased about her explanation of the tests.

I guess when he inquired about these tests she didn't really give a straight answer....I'm not sure because all I heard were sirens going off in my brain, "Something might be wrong with Henry, he's not going to live forever, and someday you will have to deal with his death." Those sirens drowned out any babbling by the vet. And they made me feel completely nauseated while stimulating my tear ducts. I know, it's dramatic but I'm a little emotional today, okay? I'm sure it has something to do with the residual Novocaine coarsing through my veins. :)

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This vet also suggested we get Henry's teeth cleaned because his back molars are a bit plaque-y. Apparently this procedure involves general anesthesia and another $340....gulp, again. My brain completely shut down at this point because spending 1k on anything makes me hyperventilate. But again, if it's something my furbaby needs then I'm all for it. I'm just not sure we are getting the best care or the best price with this particular vet--and Nate is convinced we aren't at the right place. We both agree that if Henry needs these procedures we'll do it but right now we need to do a little more research and possibly get a second opinion. In the mean time I'll be snuggling extra-tight with this loverboy:
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I have no doubt that we'll figure this whole thing out and we will do what is best for our boy. But it's just one of those big decisions that adults have to make; one of those unexpected expenses that creep up on us all and deserve significant attention, even if we'd like to push it away. And of course, it hit me like a ton of bricks today: "You think a dog is expensive, just wait until you have kids."

I realize that an aging pup incurs some unplanned costs and I signed up for this one when I got Henry---I do not regret it for a second. I'd gladly spend every cent of our savings on the little guy. But if a yearly vet visit can throw us for this loop I can only imagine what a Pediatrician visit will do someday. I shudder at the thought of THOSE emotions. I'm just not ready. It makes me reach for one of these bad boys:
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After all the vet drama, Nate grabbed his stethoscope and promptly examined Henry's ticker. As if he really learned about doggy heartbeats in PT school....please! But then again, I wanted to inspect this so-called murmur myself. So sue us--we are controlling medical people. We can't help it.
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So yeah, that's what I'm feeling right now: contempt for adulthood and all the tough choices it brings. Anyone else understand my thoughts on this one?

On a completely unrelated note, the world might be coming to an end.

Something freaky happened in Milwaukee today
. No, my dream of 60 degree temperatures did not come true much to my dismay. Instead, we experienced 'Lake Effect Snow' which in laymens terms means "Totally crazy and mind boggling snowfall in some parts of the city but not others."

Right next to Lake Michigan and especially south of the city, they got hit with 18 inches of snow within a 24 hour period of time. Big whoop, right? The really freaky part is that any area of the city that is NOT right next to the lake got nothing. We live less than 10 miles from the Lake and it was sunny and barely boasted a few flakes today. It was like a whole different planet, a different climate, and a different atmosphere just a few short miles away from us. Does anyone else find that really messed up besides me?

They were showing videos of people shoveling out of snow over a foot deep while I stared out my window in disbelief. Is that really just an 8 minute drive from my house? How can this be?

My only rationalization is that Lake Michigan pretends to be the ocean sometimes. It thinks pretty highly of itself....creating it's own little snowstorm and calling it 'Lake Effect Snow', just to boost it's ego. I've heard rumors that the Lake makes it's beaches warmer in the winter and colder in the summer but I never really believed in the power of the Great Lake.

Part of me is SO glad we moved a bit west from our old Lakefront apartment, because 18 inches of snow would definitely do me in right now.

Instead, I'll let vet bills, dental bills, and reality do me in while I drink my beer.

Vent over. You may now resume your internet browsing.

30 comments:

  1. I know exactly where you're coming from - dealing with furbaby stuff. We started dealing with Jesse and his sickness the minute we got home from VA for Christmas. We had him at the vet every day from then until he passed, Jan. 1. Getting him checked out, pumped full of fluids, taking him to the animal hospital to spend the night to find out what was going on with him - which is where he finally gave up. We dropped a lot of money, but it was all for him, because we loved him so much.

    Keep your chin up. It is rough, I know it!

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  2. I'll start out with the lighthearted stuff...Jim and I were the recipients of 10+ inches of snow today! It was unreal. He had to drive me to the bus stop in his truck because the roads were so bad. On my way to school I had my head buried in a book...when I looked up and realized we were past downtown, I saw NO SNOW! Talk about bizarre!!!!

    As weird as this sounds, I feel every ounce of your pain/fear/frustrations regarding Henry and his vet. I'd say check out another vet if you're not happy with your current one.

    And I'm 10000% with you on spending whatever amount of money on your furbaby. I'd do the same thing in a heartbeat.

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  3. I'm so sorry! I dread every vet visit, I'm so afraid of bad news. However, I'm going to insert my two cents here. I'm all for spending money on the health of your baby, I'd do the exact same thing, but I think you're being charged a bit much. Maybe it's because of where we live, or some other reason, but that price for the teeth cleaning seems a BIT STEEP.

    Consider the following, precious Dudley was chewing on a stick in my parents backyard while they were puppy sitting. I'm at school, and get a call from my SIL saying she needs permission to take him to the vet to be treated. The vet won't treat him without my permission and he looks like he's choking and won't stop (I'm now on high mom alert). Of course! Take him! Keep me updated on the progress. The next call I get is asking me to give permission to give him general anesthesia because he has a stick stuck between his back two teeth and he won't let them in his mouth to get it out. I feel immense relief and give immediate permission. Of course! It's totally fixable! I get a bill in the mail a couple of weeks later. It was $60.50 for the entire visit, including the anesthesia. Now, I'm thinking $340 for teeth cleaning is a bit much... I'd get a second opinion.

    Also, Dudley swallowed a nipple off a pacifier when he was wee pup (ahhh... my baby...) and it blocked his intestines. If he didn't pass it naturally they were going to do exploratory surgery. This was estimated at no more than $600. I don't know if a cardiac work up involves surgery, or general anesthesia, but I just wanted to give you a little comparison. Again, we are in completely different places and things may be way different up there, but I still think it's high!

    Sorry that was so long, I just felt the need to share! Good Luck! Growing up sucks!!!

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  4. Ugh. I totally hear you about growing up and feeling the stresses that go along with it. Lately, it is all I think about: buying a house, getting new cars, having kids - and how we are going to be able to handle all of it! Everyone seems to do it somehow though, right? That's what I keep telling myself.

    and about Henry, I'm sorry to hear all that sucky news! I would definitely get a second opinion.

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  5. I would get a second opinion too... trust your instincts. I'm sure that you'll find a vet who you trust and get on with more than this current one.

    Good luck and love to your gorgeous Henry x

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  6. That snow was crazy! I turned on the news and I couldn't believe it was snowing somewhere in the immediate area.

    Next, based on the price of said procedures, I think that I know where you go to the vet, because I think that I go to the same place. I'm gonna guess you go to Wauwatosa Vet on 76th across from the Cemetery, but I'll let you tell me. And if you DON'T go there, don't bother. They are just as pricey. And tell me where you go, so I don't bother to go there myself. :)

    I vote that we BOTH go somewhere different. I just had to spend $1000 on the cats for their teeth cleaning! It was both painful and grotesque. If I could have had a beer that day, I would have.

    In conclusion, I also hate being an adult some days. Especially when I have to go to work. :)

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  7. I don't have any advice on pet things but I understand your emotions. It makes me so sad to think about pet illness. On a side note, last night at dinner, Mike tells me that he mentions that he loves your pictures of Henry. Um...this is huge...he checks your blog while he is at work. He then goes on to say that he thinks Henry is cuter than my parents Cockapoo, Zoe (insert gasps here). I tell him, yes, Henry is cute but no one is cuter than my Zoe. He continues to tell me that he prefers Henry's white, straighter hair and pink nose. I agree, Henry is adorable...but is this possibly grounds for divorce?

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  8. First off, thanks for posting about this today Julia. I know how blessed I am in this life, but I get SO frustrated with these damn adult responsibilities that I just want to scream. But then I remember how good I really have it, and don't feel like I deserve the scream. But in reality, we all do. I think we should invent a day, just ONE day, where adults are free of their responsbility and just get to be those little kids, hanging out at the playground again- where the biggest daily decisions are chocolate or vanilla. Until then, we can just dream about it. :)

    And secondly, poor Henry! I totally feel for you guys!!! We have struggled to find a decent vent in the town we have lived in our whole lives and we still aren't completely satisfied- our last bill was $500 because of a skin problem that they can't figure out. It is the most confusing and traumatizing thing to experience because I know how much you love Henry and I am the same with G and you want to do everything in your power to make them better- but at the same time you don't want to get screwed!! It's a good thing that men aren't as emotional about it because at least they can rationally think it out. Getting a second opinion is defintely the best thing to do for everyone- and I truly hope that it's not that serious!!! I will be thinking of you and Henry! And also, Spotted Cow is one of my all-time favorite beers. YUM!!!

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  9. I feel your pain on the vet bills. When we got Tupelo as a puppy, we had no idea she had PARVO! So the day after we picked her up from the shelter, we shelled out $800 to make sure we got rid of that evil puppy disease. And that was only after knowing her for a day and a half!! So even though she was a "free" shelter mut, we call her our purebred since we basically ended up paying for one anyway. I'm with you, I would spend everything I own on her, but it doesn't make the reality of adult expenses any easier!

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  10. Ok that first part [before all the Henry stuff]--it's like you are reading my mind. That's how I feel word for word. It's not like anything tragic is going on and I should be thankful for the good things in life and I am! But this whole adult thing blows. Matt and I were just discussing this same thing on Sunday morning, how stupid we were to think we had such big problems in the past! Please!

    As for Henry--that poor little guy. Make sure you keep us updated!

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  11. I'm soooo with you! We're trying to figure out buying a house, this stupid tax credit with income limits, paying taxes, filing extensions... ridiculous.

    The other day I was watching a show on boxers that said they had an extremely high risk of cancer. Now everytime she throws up her food, I think stomach cancer. I know if I took her in the vet would say she was fine and here's your $200 bill to prove it :( Life is rough as an adult.

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  12. I think it's a great idea to get a second opinion--you're obviously not comfortable with your current vet, and that is reason enough.

    Being an adult does suck! At least some of the time. There are perks, of course. :)

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  13. I vote for finding a new vet. Not because you don't like the diagnosis you were given, but because you don't trust them.
    When my horse injured herself I went with the closest vet because I didn't know anyone else. I didn't trust him, but I went along for a few weeks anyways. I ended up taking her somewhere else and found a vet that I LOVE and trust COMPLETELY even though she couldn't be saved by that point.
    Definitely look around for someone you trust. It can make all the difference in the world.

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  14. I completely understand, I really feel you on this one. I'll be thinking of you guys.

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  15. I'm so sorry that all of this is piling up at once! It's hard enough to deal with one or two of these things let alone all of it.

    I'll put in a vet recommendation here though--we take Libby to Center for Animal Health on 68th and State. They're reasonably priced and Dr. Zaeske is a fantastic guy. My only gripe is the clinic's hours and appointment availability. Since it's just the one vet, it can sometimes be tricky, but I've never had too much of a problem.

    One comment about the teeth cleaning--my parent's 15 year old dog has never gotten her teeth cleaned and they are all still there! I think teeth cleaning for dogs is just a huge racket to rake in more money for the vets.

    Oh, and the snow? I grew up (and my parents still live) 2 blocks from the lake in Bay View. They got 14 inches of snow yesterday. I got zero. Definitely don't miss that part of it.

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  16. I can completely understand where you are coming from regarding sucky adult crap (um, $700 mechanic bill? Yep, paid that one last week.). Sometimes it all just gets the best of me and I wanna crawl under the covers for a year.

    In regards to Henry, get a second opinion, no doubt. If you aren't happy with the service, I wouldn't think twice about trying someone else out. And personally, I think teeth cleaning is a load of crap - no way will I plop down money for that!

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  17. What a hellish day, Julia!! I'm so sorry about your scare with Henry, but I 100% agree with getting a second opinion. If I was unsure about the cardiac work-up the ridiculously over-priced teeth cleaning put me over the edge. WTF!?! Hugs for Henry.

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  18. Ugh I feel ya with the adult stuff. I just moved Saturday to St Louis, and have to find all new doctors too..including a pediatrician for my kid. My dog was already up here with his daddy and he already had the vet lined up (with doggie insurance). Maybe you should look into doggie insurance...it may help with the costs. We are freaks too when it comes to our furbaby, so we knew this was a must, because we will fork over whatever it costs to save the little girl! Good luck and I hope it all gets better.

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  19. Being an adult definitely sucks sometimes! I dread those vet visits because they always seem to add up so quickly. Maybe pet insurance isn't such a bad idea after all... I hope you find a new vet and the Henry is ok!

    Oh, and Spotted Cow = YUM :)

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  20. Thanks for all the kind comments, ladies. It definitely makes me feel better to hear we aren't crazy for questioning these prices/need for it all.

    I especially like to hear that some of you think the teeth cleaning is bogus. That was my gut reaction, too. And I know for a fact that Nate's Mom gets their dog's teeth cleaned for about half of this price at their vet. It does involved putting them under, but still.

    The heart work up does not involve anesthesia: just an EKG, Chest xray, and an ultrasound. Ridiculous, right?

    We are definitely going to look elsewhere, thanks for the support!

    And to make these adult matters worse, I woke up at 3 am this morning puking my guts out. I tried to get ready for work this morning but the nausea and fever won...and I've been home sleeping all day. Not fun at all..I guess there is a bug going around and I get the honor of dealing with it today!

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  21. I hear you on sometimes feeling "beaten down" by being an adult. It's so crazy. I often wonder how I got to this point--it seems like just yesterday that I was a kid. Weird.

    Re: Henry's teeth. I brush Indy's teeth every day. Our vet thinks she has great teeth (granted, she's only one). Not sure if that's the reason, but I'd try that first were it me. A tube of poultry flavored toothpaste is about $3.

    And, as a person with a heart murmur, I vote Henry will live. He might have to take some antibiotics when he does go in for his teeth cleanings though. If you are really concerned, get a second opinion from a different vet.

    The snow was crazy. I had no idea there wasn't snow in other parts of the city. I dealt with lots of it at home and on the way to work. Weird.

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  22. I can totally relate! Sometimes being a grown up really does stink. And as far as the vet bills go, we end up with some unexpected expense every time we go. With two cats and a large dog, that can really add up. But it's worth it to keep them healthy!

    I'm sure Henry will be OK. Just try not to be too worried (easier said than done, I know) and maybe see what another vet has to say.

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  23. So I'm going to put my 2 cents in...
    First off, his teeth can probably be fixed with you trying to chip off some of the tartar on them. Give him a raw hide and let him chew that, it should help loosen it up. I'm a vet tech and I have never had my dog's teeth cleaned! It's honestly a rip off unless they have some gum disease or something.
    The heart issues could be totally different. Since he doesn't have any clinic signs of heart disease, it wouldn't be something to freak out about. But preventative care is easier and cheaper than emergency treatment. I would get other price quotes for the cardiac work up. We see these often, sometimes animals live 20 years and have no problems!
    Hope I've helped!

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  24. Being an adult is not all its cracked up to be. I agree completely! But beer definitely makes everything better...atleast for a little while. Hope everything works out with Henry and that you don't have to spend a million dollars before it does!

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  25. Seeking medical advice for a beloved pet is a difficult process. It's kind of like taking your car in for an inspection. You expect everything to be fine, but then they tell you there is something wrong and it's going to cost a fortune to fix it. What do you do? It's not like you're a mechanic, so you just take their word for it. Obviously with pets the decisions are even more difficult because you love them.

    I agree that getting a second opinion is the right thing to do. You are rightly concerned about putting Henry through a battery of scary tests that he might not even need. I hope everything works out. Keep us posted.

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  26. Wow, Julia~I have no idea what you mean....stress, anxiety, bills, what are those? :) Seriously though, yes, I can so relate to all of it. I have medical insurance, but unfortunately, John does not. His accident this weekend (ER treatment, in particular) is going to cost us more than I even want to know.
    As far as Henry is concerned, I would absolutely get a second opinion. As much as we may not want to believe it, there are doctors who do take advantage of their patients. It's sick, it's wrong, it's unethical, but it happens. btw, how old is Henry? I'm just wondering why the teeth cleaning is so expensive? If he is 8 or older, blood panels need to be performed before the procedure, and they can be costly. Even so, both of my dogs had their teeth cleaned and needed blood panels performed, and the bill was only $450. Again, that was for 2 dogs!

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  27. I totally know what you are talking about. it is my first year on my own, and I am nervous the whole time at the dentist, I need to go to the dermatologist but i don't because I am scared of the bill. An my little dog, who is the love of my life, could put me in debt super fast. but as you said, I can't imagine when we have kids, 5 mouths of teeth to clean, and an aged dog who will probably be on some expensive pills by then!

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  28. Hi Julia - as a fellow Shorewooder who's looking for a vet, I'm curious which one is so high priced. I was looking at Bayshore Clinic and Shorewood Clinic, but haven't made my first appointment yet. Of course, like you, I would do anything for my furbaby, but some of those vets really want to take you for all you're worth. I'll be thinking of your little guy : )

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  29. ::butting in::
    Amy, we live in Shorewood as well and take Indy to the Shorewood Animal Hospital on Capitol. We like it and don't think it's wildly expensive (they ask what your limits are, how involved you want to be in the treatment of your pets, etc.), but also don't have much to compare it to. Indy LOVES it. Everyone is so nice and they all love her. She gets some of her favorite treats when we go and it's one of her favorite places, oddly enough. Hope that helps!

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  30. I'm not in Shorewood, but in Wauwatosa. I hesitate to put the vet's name out there but anyone can email me personally and I'll tell you.

    jules5.27.07 at gmail.

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