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Can't play the guitar anymore

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BlueJay 11 Mar 12 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,Guest Tim 11 Mar 12 - 06:21 AM
Bert 11 Mar 12 - 06:27 AM
GUEST,999 11 Mar 12 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,999 11 Mar 12 - 06:37 AM
Richard Bridge 11 Mar 12 - 06:56 AM
Jack Campin 11 Mar 12 - 07:24 AM
Bobert 11 Mar 12 - 09:52 AM
Silas 11 Mar 12 - 10:09 AM
gnu 11 Mar 12 - 10:21 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 11 Mar 12 - 01:24 PM
BlueJay 11 Mar 12 - 03:43 PM
Bert 11 Mar 12 - 04:24 PM
EBarnacle 11 Mar 12 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,kendall 11 Mar 12 - 04:35 PM
BlueJay 11 Mar 12 - 05:54 PM
Tangledwood 11 Mar 12 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,olddude 11 Mar 12 - 06:20 PM
Bounty Hound 11 Mar 12 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,Anonymous 11 Mar 12 - 06:37 PM
Jack Campin 11 Mar 12 - 06:38 PM
Genie 11 Mar 12 - 06:47 PM
banjoman 12 Mar 12 - 07:53 AM
Mark Clark 12 Mar 12 - 12:25 PM
BlueJay 12 Mar 12 - 02:59 PM
kendall 12 Mar 12 - 07:31 PM
BlueJay 12 Mar 12 - 08:56 PM
GUEST,josepp 12 Mar 12 - 09:11 PM
Jack Campin 12 Mar 12 - 09:34 PM
Jack Campin 13 Mar 12 - 06:33 AM
Ross Campbell 13 Mar 12 - 10:37 AM
Ross Campbell 13 Mar 12 - 10:44 AM
BlueJay 15 Mar 12 - 11:59 PM
Ole Juul 16 Mar 12 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,Dharmabum 16 Mar 12 - 09:32 PM
kendall 02 Jan 18 - 07:54 PM
banjoman 03 Jan 18 - 05:35 AM
Jack Campin 03 Jan 18 - 07:22 AM
wysiwyg 03 Jan 18 - 12:39 PM
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Subject: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: BlueJay
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:09 AM

I have developed a disease called Scleroderma, which in my case includes an unfortunate condition known as Raysnaud's disease, or poor circulation to the fingers. As a result, I can no longer play the guitar. It is too painful to press on the strings. Having played for most of my life, I never considered the possibility that I could no longer play the guitar, but that is now the case.

For the last few years, I played the bass in our band, (easier, because it was one note at a time, rather than full chords). Now, I cannot do even that. I'm down to the 4th and 5th fingers on my left hand, and my right hand the usable fingers vary. Now, I can only use my right thumb. Also, all the fingers are getting stiff, and inflexible.

Needless to say, this is disheartening to me. I have played guitar for most of my life, and had never considered a time when I could no longer play. This is really heartbreaking to me.

I have tried various medical treatments to no avail, including different drugs with no success. I am currently in treatment with an autoimmune specialist at National Jewish Hospital in Denver, and so far it has not affected my heart or lungs. It seems that scleroderma is one of those conditions that "Is thought to be" an autoimmune disease, which tells me that no one really knows what the fuck it is.

Still can't play the guitar. Be thankful for what you have. If anyone has any ideas, I'd be grateful.

Thanks, BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: GUEST,Guest Tim
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:21 AM

Have a look at this guy. Tom had a major accident as a young man , and his hands were badly injured. He is confined to a wheelchair as well. Tom Doughty Might it be possible to rig things so you can play with a slide? Tom uses all sorts of adapted slides and picks.
Best wishes, and I hope you find a way to keep the music flowing.
Tim


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Bert
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:27 AM

Would something like this help?


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: GUEST,999
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:33 AM

That is saddening.

Look, there's a fellow named Don Meixner who posts from time to time to Mudcat. He is adept at helping people who have physical impairments that affect their playing. He might have some suggestions. He faced his own challenges in that regard. Good man to message.

One possibility that comes to mind is slide guitar and open tunings. It won't be the same but it'll keep you in the game. It may require prosthetic 'devices' that would have to be made for your situation, but it's better than saying goodbye to making music. Another alternative is autoharp which gets ya back to one finger (or two used as one) on the chord hand. The strum hand may have to stay stiff so the arm does the work. Please give it some thought. It IS devastating, but it ain't final!


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: GUEST,999
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:37 AM

Sorry, Tim and Bert. I was writing that while you were posting.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:56 AM

Raynauds does not normally impair mobility unless the limb is damaged as a result of the inability to regulate temperature that is characteristic of Raynauds.

Scleroderma however is rather nasty. Great sympathy.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 07:24 AM

I have the mildest form of scleroderma - morphoea, which just causes patches of inflammation and scarring on the skin and can respond to treatment (though it takes a ferocious amount of medication to get what seems like a small improvement on a condition that doesn't look serious). So I spent a while looking at internet resources. There is a LOT of stuff on the web out there - in particular, some very helpful support forums. (The most useful tip I got for myself from there was using turmeric orally, which I found multiplied the effect of the conventional stuff like steroid and immunosuppressant ointments).

If you can rig up some heated fingerless gloves you might find that brings some of the circulation back.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Bobert
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 09:52 AM

Try lap geetar with a slide and open tunings...

I've been workin' on lap myself since my left thumb is shot...

It is doable...

B~


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Silas
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 10:09 AM

Yep, Slide blues should be good for you - don't give up!


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: gnu
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 10:21 AM

9... "That is saddening."

Times ten. So sorry to hear of your problems. I hope, somehow, things get better for you.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 01:24 PM

Get hold of a hammered dulcimer.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: BlueJay
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 03:43 PM

Thanks, all Yeah, I've played a bit of slide, but it's tough as I can't fingerpick like I used to. I also have an autoharp, but same problem there. It really is the TIPS of my fingers which are exqisitely sensitive, so it's tough to push the autoharp buttons, and the piano is definitely out. What makes it more maddening is that the symptoms temporarilyy resolve, only to reappear on different digits. I never have the use of all of my fingers. So far, my thumbs are unaffected.

Bert, that EZ-chord is interesting. Almost like a cross between a guitar and an autoharp. Pretty limited with just four chords, but maybe I'll buy one to try. I CAN still flatpick!

Guest 999, thanks. I'll PM Don. I think he might still remember me from when I used to post all the time years ago. Thanks all! You are right, the music must continue! Thanks, BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Bert
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 04:24 PM

Hi BlueJay, There are several similar devices out there. Here's one that is moveable.

and here's another one with raised buttons that you wouldn't have to use your fingertips with.

Best of luck.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: EBarnacle
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 04:34 PM

The brother of a friend of mine has had Scleraderma for at least 35 years. Initially it forced him to retire from his career. Now, he is in remission and has been able to resume his original level of function. Hang in there.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 04:35 PM

It really is a bitch to lose what you have had all these years. As you know, I lost my voice and it's permanent. Now, I'm having tremors so picking is problematic.

Bluejay, I don't know if this would help you, but I play so seldom these days that I have no calluses and pressing the strings is painful. Someone suggested super glue and it works. Instant calluses, but don't get it too thick.

I'm really sorry to hear this.I hope you find something that helps.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: BlueJay
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 05:54 PM

Thanks Bert, I'll take a look at those. Kendall, I have even tried putting those rubber finger things used to count money. Still too painful, as the pressure is very concentrated. And EBarnacle, all of you folks have given me some hope! Thanks, BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Tangledwood
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:12 PM

Would a ukulele be more finger-friendly? Skilled musicians, which I assume you would be after a lifetime of playing, produce some beautiful music from a good uke.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: GUEST,olddude
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:20 PM

don't be so sure my dear friend. I was told that and did not play for 15+ years. Lost all feeling in my fingers from a broken neck and they will never come back. Took a lot of work for me, but I play again and finger pick again. It is different then it use to be. I can't do what I once could on a guitar, but I play. You may find that it will just take a lot of modifications and rethinking but you have the strength I know you do. If you need to talk just PM me

always
Dan


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:35 PM

Sympathies to you BlueJay,

Mrs Hound has problems with arthritis caused by long term diabetes, and has recently had a finger joint replaced on her left hand. She was a competent guitarist, but now finds it very difficult.

She has, however, recently started pinching my bouzouki, which with simpler chord shapes, she is able to cope with. Might be someting worth looking at.

Just a thought for you.

John


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: GUEST,Anonymous
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:37 PM

Get a bottleneck guitar!
Best of Luck


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:38 PM

Google for

heated gloves raynaud's

You will get a lot of suggestions. How useful they are depends on the stage and location of the disease process, of course (scleroderma is just about the least predictable disease there is).


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Genie
Date: 11 Mar 12 - 06:47 PM

Bert, thanks for the link to that E-Z Chord attachment. It basically makes a guitar work like an autoharp, but probably easier for a guitarist to pick up than an autoharp would be.
If it can easily be put on and taken off like a capo, I might look into one.

Blue Jay, I really sympathize, and empathize with you.   I don't have scleroderma, and I'm especially sad to hear you are afflicted with that.   But I've had Reynaud's disease since I was a teenager.    When I used to ice skate, I would have to use a lace hook to tighten my laces and if the rink was very cold or I was outdoors, I couldn't even tie my own laces. Not surprisingly, if I had to play guitar outside when it was cold, like at a camp in the woods, I couldn't make my left hand fingers go to the right places without looking at them, because the tactile feedback wasn't there.   If you Reynaud's is so bad that you can't make your fingers work at room temperature, that is really sad and I know how frustrating it can be.

I don't know if any of the rest of my recent history will be of any help to you, but just in case, I'll share it. I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my chording hand about 25 years ago, but it didn't get really bad until about 2 years ago.   Then, after developing some skill in doing some barre chords (e.g. the movable "F"), suddenly I couldn't do any barres except for a barred Fmin - especially if I wasn't looking at my hand, and sometimes not even if I spent minutes trying to put my fingers into position in practice.   I also found that I had to change finger positions to do a D chord and often found my fingers slightly out of position on a Bmin or Cmin or F chord even if it wasn't barred.   
But a couple months ago I began to do systematic hand exercises for strength and flexibility, even if it hurt to do them.    I found that my fingers began to get less stiff, probably as the exercises increased blood flow (which heat will also do).   And a couple weeks ago I gave up alcohol (for Lent) and, maybe it's coincidence, but my fingers have been much more flexible and agile and in less pain since then.   
I am also going to try to get a paraffin bath thingy for my left hand, because I've read that it can be very helpful with arthritis, and I would think it would help Reynaud's, because Reynaud's has to do with blood not flowing freely to the extremities.

Again, I don't know if any of that is helpful, but as someone who has been self-employed doing music as entertainment and a therapy for about 15 years, I certainly do empathize with the frustration and grief that comes with finding you can't play anymore or at least can't play as well as you used to.

I certainly hope you and find either relief from your Reynaud's an Scleroderma and/or find adaptive gadgets or techniques so that you can play again.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: banjoman
Date: 12 Mar 12 - 07:53 AM

I really do hope you find some way to keep playing. Perhaps try a different instrument.
I have been experiencing increasingly painful wrists and fingers for some time now and have adopted various new ways to accomodate. These mean that I now play banjo/guitar using ony thumb & one finger. Took a bit of doing but its acceptable.
Best of luck


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Mar 12 - 12:25 PM

BluJay, I'm certainly no expert and like most everyone here my medical information is spotty and comes from those occasional sources I choose to read. But let me share some information that could be helpful to you and others.

You are probably familiar with TED - Ideas Worth Spreading and have watched inspiring speeches from the TED conferences. Last year in Iowa City, IA, they held the first annual TEDx conference and one of the speakers was MS victim Dr. Terry Wahls speaking on Minding Your Mitochondria. Since Scleroderma and Multiple Sclerosis are both considered autoimmune diseases and since there is evidently some rarely-observed overlap between the two, you might find Dr. Wahls' experience and research useful. At any rate, following Dr. Wahls' plan—in addition to recommended medical treatment—isn't risky or harmful to anyone so it can't hurt.

I realize that Dr. Wahls' thesis may contain a bit of "woo" or pseudoscience. I'm not competent to sort that out I'm afraid. She doesn't claim it's a cure, merely the focus of her own research. Here is an opinion piece from last year on the death of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber from brain cancer. Dr. Servan-Schreiber, you'll remember, became quite famous as the author of the best-selling book Anticancer: A New Way of Life in which he related his own battles with cancer and the nutritional regimen he adopted to aid his doctors in the fight to prolong his life.

Anyway, check it out and see what you think.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: BlueJay
Date: 12 Mar 12 - 02:59 PM

Thanks, Mark. I'll take a look. I don't mind a little woo-woo. Banjoman, is that using the thumb and one finger on the picking hand, or the fretting hand. I'll tell you, it's pretty hard to play an open C when you don't have use of the index and middle fingers, as is my case right now.

Ukuleles are only slightly less painful. Mandolins are worse. Actally, any stringed instrument is impossible right now, except maybe slide. I'm experimenting with the autoharp, but it still requires pressure on the fingertips. Same with the piano.

Thanks, all. BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: kendall
Date: 12 Mar 12 - 07:31 PM

Would thimbles help?


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: BlueJay
Date: 12 Mar 12 - 08:56 PM

Probably not, Kendall.It would be painful, I think, to push my sore fingers into them. Might make for some interesting sounds, though!


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 12 Mar 12 - 09:11 PM

A diddly-bow, perhaps?


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Mar 12 - 09:34 PM

An autoharp could probably be adapted so the bars were depressed by something like a gearshift lever, swung from side to side using the whole hand (maybe a roller on top of the bars pressing them down).

If you're willing to get into electronica, the Tenorion and its lookalikes require no more than a touch on the screen to control.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 06:33 AM

It just occurred to me that you could redesign the autoharp to do the same thing with less mechanics: mount the felts on a cylindrical surface that rolls along the strings, shifted by a lever. This could end up lighter and more reliable than the conventional design, as well as being easier on the fingers.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 10:37 AM

Guest Tim (second post) mentioned Tom Doughty. His accident left him unable to play regular guitar which had been his passion, and it was some time before he found he could get somewhere with the slide guitar. His left hand only just has strength enough to operate a bottleneck or steel slide, while his right hand is limited to a claw formation with little flexibility. Yet he manages to produce beautiful music. As well as the range of blues you might expect from a slide guitar player, he plays slow airs and tunes from the Celtic tradition, and tunes and songs of his own composition - so there is a whole range of material beyond the usual slide guitar stuff. As Tim mentioned, Tom came up with various devices to help him get the sounds he wanted. Definitely worth a listen.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 10:44 AM

Just ordered this:-
Tom Doughty - The Bell New/Sealed CD Album


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: BlueJay
Date: 15 Mar 12 - 11:59 PM

Ross--yeah, thanks to this thread I've seen some of Tom Doughty's videos. Shared to Facebook in fact. Pretty inspiring.

Jack Campin--Amazing. You must be a mechanical wizard. Sounds like some patentable ideas you have. I couldn't make the modifications to my autoharp that you suggest, but someone should try. Still messing around with the harp anyway.

Bert--I ordered one of the chord things. I'm skeptical--seems very limiting. But I suppose not playing at all is even more limiting.

You have all had so many positive suggestions, it's going to take a while to work through them Thank you all SO MUCH! BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Ole Juul
Date: 16 Mar 12 - 06:39 AM

I used to work in a music store, and one of my costumers was a clarinet player. Until he had a freak accident and fell, subsequently loosing most of the facility in his fingers. For a serious musician this, as you know, is extremely depressing. I nearly had tears in my eyes when I showed up at a local session - and there he was. He had taken up the trombone because it didn't require the finger control. Yes, it takes a little rethinking of what riffs work for you, but it is really a wonderful instrument.

PS: I have played my flute in many non-conventional situations, even a loud rock band, so I strongly believe that any instrument can be used anywhere. Playing is just like talking, how to fit in is up to you.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: GUEST,Dharmabum
Date: 16 Mar 12 - 09:32 PM

Over the years,MS has caused me to make compensations & re-adapt my guitar playing style,due to a loss of feeling & strength in my hands.
One thing I've tried with some success,is switching to nylon strings.
I've also found that playing electric guitar with light guage strings allows me to accomplish certain things that I was no longer able to do on acoustic.
I'm presently experimenting with a nylon/steel acoustic combination,though, I've yet to find the formula to get the sound I'm looking for.

Like you,I couldn't imagine not being able to play on some level.
I suppose when the time comes,And my hands will no longer make a chord, I'll concentrate on slide guitar.

I'm sorry that your condition is causing you so much pain.
I wish you the best of luck in finding a way through this.

DB.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: kendall
Date: 02 Jan 18 - 07:54 PM

I even resorted to light strings and tuning the guitar down to D, but very little difference. Hell, I even forgot how to play. too long without playing. Anyway, I'm old, tired and not well, plus I was never a threat to Segovia anyway.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: banjoman
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 05:35 AM

I had carpal tunnel surgery on my left wrist about 3 weeks ago (2nd time) and although still a bit tender near the scar, the playing is coming back slowly. Its always possible to make adaptions, especially to bar chords. (I never was happy with these ) Best wishes to all experiencing problems with fingers and wrists. There's always a way


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 07:22 AM

One thing that hasn't been mentioned: plectrums. I play the oud and cumbus a bit, and the plectrums you use for those put WAY less stress on the right hand fingers while being just as effective as a normal Western guitar/mando/uke pick.


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Subject: RE: Can't play the guitar anymore
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 12:39 PM

Jack, can you post a link to a picture of what you're describing? Might help a frI end resume playing but US/UK lingo seems not to line up for me here ....

~S~


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