Friday, August 5, 2016

Pillow Problems

Well hello there! I seem to have disappeared for a month or so. Things have been a bit, um... busy here at chez kitty.

Long story short, the beetle battle continues, but one of my websites got hacked and that threw me back into dealing with that horrible thing called work. I'll tell you more about the above later, but today, I want to whine about pillows.


So, during my purge, I got rid of no less than two dozen pillows. Not kidding. As I was washing and donating and tossing and otherwise dealing with them all, I just kept thinking: What's wrong with me? Why do I have sooo many pillows?




Let's just say that I now remember why.

For the past 6 months or so I've had real problems sleeping. I had been sleeping on a microbead pillow that I used to love, but recently I've spent more time at night battling with the thing than sleeping. I just couldn't get it into a comfortable position anymore.

Finally, after several weeks of intense neck pain - so bad that I could hardly move - I decided perhaps after 4 years, my wonderful pillow had finally just worn out. A bit of internet research confirmed that yes indeed, not only do the stretchy covers wear out, but the beads themselves get squashed down and no longer provide meaningful support.

Great, I thought... problem solved, I'll just replace the pillow with an identical one and all will be good.

Well... unfortunately they no longer make that brand of pillow. UG.



So began Pillow-Quest 2016.

Well folks, I've tried five different pillows, and still haven't found anything I can live with. I think the main problem is my sleeping position.

This is pretty close to the way I sleep...

...but with my arm under or beside my pillow sorta like this...

I sleep sort of half on my side, half on my belly, on a very soft waterbed - it's the only sleeping surface/position that both allows me to breathe (sinus issues) and doesn't cause intense shoulder pain. But all of that necessitates a very soft, mold-able and thin-ish pillow. Apparently a short pillow is a tall order, so to speak.

So I figured I'd give you a run down of what I've tried so far, both in the hopes that it might help someone somewhere suffering from similar issues (I can't be the only one, can I?) and maybe one of you will have a brilliant suggestion for me to try.

So first up is the Remedy Microbead Pillow.
On the surface, this looked the most like the microbead pillow I was trying to replace. Unfortunately, the darned thing is just way too big for me, and I just couldn't find a comfortable position on it. I might try opening it up and taking out some of the beads, but reports are that this is a dicey proposition because once open, the beads tend to go everywhere and make a mess. Hmmm...

So my next try was the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow, another in the microbead category.
This was definitely better than the Remedy pillow, but still too big and made my neck hurt after a few hours. This one does have both a stretchy inner covering as well as an outer covering. So I might try removing the outer covering in hopes that this will allow the thing to spread out a bit more. I think I'll try that tonight...

Anyhow, since my attempts to replace the microbead pillow were unsuccessful, my next attempt was to go back to the "down alternative" kind of pillow I had before I got the microbead one.

Enter the Allerease Down Alternative Pillow.


Now, this one is the least offensive pillow I've found so far. I have to beat the sucker down 3-4 times throughout the night and shake most of the stuffing to one side to make it small enough, but I have been able to get some sleep on this pillow. The problem is, it really makes my ear hurt, and while it is mold-able, it tends to go flat after a few hours. I may try taking some of the stuffing out of this one and see if that makes it any better.

So, since the common thread here is that all of the pillows are just too big, I decided that perhaps I should try a really cheap, thin pillow and see if that was any better. So I ran over to Target and bought a Room Essentials (Target house brand) el-cheapo pillow for $4.


Alas, while this one was the thinnest I've tried so far, it's not at all mold-able, and I couldn't even get comfortable enough on it to fall asleep. I might try some sort of surgery on it as well, though I'm not sure if taking out some of the stuffing would make it mold-able or not, but hey, it only cost $4, so there's not much to lose.

And finally, after all of the above failed, I fell victim to TV marketing and decided to try the famous MyPillow.


They come in four different sizes and I ordered the smallest one (yellow), but the thing is still HUGE. It's filled with some sort of shredded foam, though it's not a traditional memory foam, it's much lighter and doesn't seem to "deflate" the way memory foam does. It is completely mold-able, but even if I shook all of the filling to one side, I still couldn't get it small enough, and after about three hours I woke up with intense neck pain. Plus, the chunks of foam sort of give the thing a lumpy feel.

Photo from Sleepopolis.com - this is apparently what the filling looks like.
It wasn't exactly cheap, $62 with taxes and shipping, even after the "discount". I haven't decided if I'm going to see if the guarantee is for real and send it back, or open it up and take out half of the stuffing (which I'm sure would void the warranty) and see if that makes it any better.

At this point I'm even half considering trying a down pillow, because I've had some luck with them in the past, but honestly, with the combination of allergies and carpet beetles (who LOVE to feed on any sort of feathers) it sorta seems like a bad idea - plus the suckers ain't cheap.



Sigh. It really doesn't seem that finding a comfortable pillow should be soooo difficult, but as the dozens of pillows I encountered in my purge would attest, for me, it really seems to be. It's enough to make a girl crazy!


So I'm curious, are there any other thin, mold-able pillow enthusiasts out there, or am I a complete aberration? I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on this topic.


40 comments :

  1. So glad to see you back, and sorry to hear about your pillow troubles. I too am definitely a pillow fanatic - I'm with you on the moldable capability! I've always found 100% down is the way to go. Could you maybe get a hypo-allergenic cover to put over a down pillow? Yes, they are expensive but they can last for years. Good luck. I hope you can find something and get a good night's sleep :-)

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    1. Now that's a thought. I think I actually do have one of those covers, though I may have donated it in the purge. I'll have to check. Hmmmm....

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  2. Not sure I am much help in the pillow department, but I have one of these (or similar) http://www.greenfibres.com/product/317/60024/organic-spelt-pillow.html
    Wondering if something similar would work for you? It's pretty thin and I crumple it up so it's fatter, which suits me, but it also spreads out really thinly. Not sure it's mouldable though (as that sounds like a memory foam thing!)

    If the worst came to the worst, I reckon you could copy the construction of your old pillow, but just add new filling...

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    1. That looks very similar to the buckwheat hull pillows that I've seen. I think it's the same concept as the microbeads, only more natural. Honestly, I do have some fear of bugs with anything like that, but it is worth considering.

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  3. A nice pillow really is one of the small luxuries that matters a lot. FWIW, this is the one Mrs. Done by Forty & I use:

    https://www.amazon.com/Zoned-Memory-Pillow-Velour-Removeable/dp/B00551J0QY

    We sure like them, and they do get thin when you put your head down.

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    1. Interesting... I like that it comes in different varieties - choice of both loft and firmness. Honestly, I've never had much luck with those formed sorts of pillows, as I like to scrunch it up while I sleep, but it might be worth a shot.

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  4. I, too, am trying to break in a new pillow. I like them thin, but not flat. I bought a cheap pillow, so it's not too fluffy and am using it every night knowing that soon it will flatten and be just right. Could you take one of those thicker pillows and use it outside of sleeping, like sitting on it during the day, and get it down to where it's comfortable? At least you can try this without any more sunk cost.

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    1. Actually, that's a really good idea. The Allerease pillow is pretty close to good, it's just too poofy, but it does seem to be flattening out a bit as I use it. Perhaps I just need to sit on it a bunch!

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  5. I agree with a couple of the comments made above...try a feather pillow with one of the hypoallergenic covers that completely encase it to keep it from dust mites. It should prevent the carpet beetles from making it a home. I have had good luck finding high quality allergy pillow covers at discount stores like TJMaxx, Ross, Marshalls and Tuesday Morning.

    If that doesn't work then consider making a pillow to fit your specifications. Perhaps you can repurpose some of the microbeads? I'd create your new small pillow case first and then do the actual transfer of the beads in a trash bag. Hard to describe but open a large bag and get all your supplies in it plus have a dryer sheet or microfiber cloth nearby to "wipe" beads off your hands before they come out of the bag. It will still be messy but maybe manageable? Good luck!


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    1. I think I get what you're saying with the trash bag, and crafting my own pillow is an interesting idea - though honestly, I'm not entirely sure I know exactly what my specifications are until I sleep on it for a few hours. Even with the old microbead pillow, I had to use it in a specific pillow case which allowed it to flatten just enough, but not too much. Still, it might be worth a try - I don't have much to lose other than time and a bit of emotional energy expended yelling at the sewing machine! :-)

      And the allergy cover on a down pillow is worth considering - my step-mom (the allergist) doesn't think they're good enough to keep the allergens out, but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!

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  6. I totally agree with you that it is nearly impossible to find the right pillow. I sleep in that same position as you do and am consistently hunting for a good pillow. I have had some luck with the Holiday Inn Express soft pillows (as opposed to the firm) I also ran across a cheap pillow at the Tuesday Morning called a Sleep Profile pillow that is considered standard size but a nice cross between firm and malleable. It is manufactured by American Textile under the brand RestRight.

    http://www.americantextile.com/index.php

    Supposedly these pillows are carried by a lot of retailers. When this one wears out, I guess I will try to hunt a replacement down as it seems to work for me.

    Hope you find a perfect pillow for you.

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    1. I have to say that it is validating to hear that I'm not the only one who has "pillow issues!" I'm sorta finding it amusing that everyone knows EXACTLY what pillow they use.

      I looked at that link and they list Allerease as one of their brands, so I'm wondering if the RestRight is the same as the one I've got - which is actually the best I've found so far. I think I'm gonna try June's (Live and Learn) suggestion and try to break it in a bit before I give up on it.

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  7. I'm afraid I don't have any pillow recommendations. But I'm thinking about your idea to modify your new microbead pillow.

    I don't know how much space there is inside it, but maybe you could move some beads out of the way to sew a seam in it to make it the new size without cutting it open first. Then sew another seam maybe an inch or two further out. Now when you cut it between the two seams (over a trash can), you have a lot fewer beads flying around everywhere.

    I don't know how big microbeads are. Maybe you would have to sew it by hand to keep from smashing them or something.

    Good luck!

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    1. That's actually a very interesting idea. I tried taking the outer cover off of the Sobakawa pillow last night and it was much better - but almost too squishy that way. I might try to modify it's outer cover to give it more room to spread out, but not so much as without the cover altogether.

      The other microbead pillow could definitely use fewer beads, and your method could work. I'd absolutely have to do it by hand, and even there, it could be a challenge, but it might work...

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  8. Oh. Pillows. The bane of my existence. I'm not sure what my husband does to his two pillows at night, but I think it involves some sort of karate or judo chopping technique. His pillows desperately need to be replaced, but with what? Who wants to spend $$ on his nighttime martial arts target??

    As for me, I bought a feather (not down) pillow from Target several years ago and I haven't found anything I like better. I hate firm pillows that jam my neck up in some weird position. To complicate matters, I also sleep on a wedge pillow due to my reflux (yes, I've read about putting the head of the bed up on blocks to raise it ... we tried this with my parent's bed and were rolling with laughter at the thought of them sledding down their bed in the middle of the night. So, no.). My pillow can't be thick or firm but I don't want it to be TOO flat, either ... hence the continuing feather pillow saga.

    For what it's worth, I'm with Team Down in an allergenic cover. Here's an option that gets good ratings: http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-2357043/columbia-performance-down-alternative-pillow.jsp?ci_mcc=ci&utm_campaign=PILLOWS%20%26%20PADS&utm_medium=CSE&utm_source=google&utm_product=77481531&CID=shopping15&gclid=CMKm6amLrs4CFQQIaQodi0ELNg&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CLHr-amLrs4CFVQxaQodNOsJQQ

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    1. A friend of mine suffers from reflux and they tried raising the whole head of the bed by putting that end on bricks, but his wife kept ending up in a heap at the foot of the bed by morning! Oh my! :-)

      Thanks for the link - I never thought to try Kohls - I've never actually been to that store so I didn't realize they had things like pillows, but I think there's one around here somewhere. I did give in (at 5am when I couldn't sleep) and ordered another down alternative pillow on Amazon - the only complaints on this one were from people who thought it was too soft and thin... so I'm hopeful! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017TF6B0Q/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      In the meantime, I'm trying June's (Live and Learn) suggestion and trying to "break in" the Allerease down alternative pillow to make it a little less poofy. I've been sitting on it all day and smooshing it en every way I can think of. Perhaps I'll have to try some Karate chops! The image of your husband attacking his pillows at night is making me chuckle...

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    2. I'll send him right over! ;)

      Amazing how many of us are frustrated with what's available out there for pillows. Smart pillow manufacturers should take note--there's a whole market waiting out there! I was interested in your take on the MyPillow--I've been eyeing up the ads, hoping for a solution, but after reading your review, I'm thinking it's a "no".

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    3. Well, this might be "reverse sexism" on my part, but my take is that MyPillow is made by a man for men. By that I mean that it's probably good for a large person who likes a big pillow with a very high loft - and that seems to be mostly men.

      I really think the only way to salvage it would be to open it up, take out half of the stuffing, and then chop up the remaining bits of stuffing into much smaller pieces. I'm not currently desperate enough to try that, but we'll see...

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    4. Nope, not reverse sexism--as an aside, I hate it when people want to slap labels ("sexism", for example) on a very viable observation--most men are taller, heavier, and muscular than women, so I think you are absolutely right--made by a man, for a man.

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  9. Down has another downside I'm afraid. The feathers are harvested by being ripped from living, conscious birds. Beyond wicked.
    As someone who suffers a similar (although not as intractable) problem, I really sympathise. I found a sculpted memory foam pillow at a boot sale (like a public yard sale)and that is officially now the only way I can sleep. I hope you find your answer.

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    1. OMG! I had no idea that was how down was "harvested." that's horrifying! I always assumed it was from birds who were otherwise dead - like birds who were dead anyway for food or something. That's a pretty big vote against down in my view...

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  10. My wife has had microbead pillows for many years. She gets the neck pillow size and it wears out after three years or so. We call it the "Moshi" because that was the brand name on the original.

    I go through phases with pillows. We have three foam ones of three different densities, and those Target medium density el-cheapo pillows. I rotate between the thinnest and medium foam ones, and a regular one.

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    1. Hmmm... neck pillow size - I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps worth a try. Thanks for the tip!

      And for some reason it's oddly comforting to learn that I'm not the only person with a whole pile of pillows! :-)

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  11. I'm so sorry you were hacked. I know first hand what a pain that is. Hope you were able to get everything back in your control.

    As for your pillow situation, not sure if I can help. I sleep just like you do but because of a back injury the only pillow I found that works is the side sleeper Ikea pillow. My son swears by the stomach sleeper Ikea pillow that costs about $2. I've been toying around with the idea of buying one stuffed with Kapok so I could form it any way I like but not sure how that would feel. Here's a link if you want to check it out, you can buy them lots of places including Amazon. http://www.kapok.com.au/ Good luck.

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    1. Thanks Lois - I've never heard of Kapok... I see some Googling in my future. And perhaps I'll have to check out Ikea - this is one of those stores that I've heard a lot about, but never actually been to. I did manage to get some sleep last night by stretching out one of the microbead pillows, so I'm hopeful. But my bed is just hilarious right now. Seriously, there are so many pillows piled everywhere that I think I'm in danger of being buried! Oh well... something to keep me occupied during the next purge... :-)

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  12. Try a Core D pillow. My husband and I both use them. You can find on Amazon. Ranee (MN)

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    1. Hmm... looks interesting, but I'm not sure it would work for me. I sorta sleep on the edge of the pillow with my face tilted downward, so I can't quite picture that working on this pillow... maybe if it didn't have the bulky parts on the side. Sigh.

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  13. How about CatMan comes over and watches you sleep so you two can brainstorm why these pillows aren't working? :)

    I'm a stomach sleeper but for a short while when I was pregnant, I slept half on my belly and half on my side like you said you sleep. (Of course I had to eventually switch to being completely on my side, which was a bummer.) I used this giant body pillow from amazon (search for "Petite Comfort U Total Body Support Pillow (Petite)") - but upside down, so the open part of the horseshoe is at my head. Then I used my regular pillow for my head.

    Another idea - do you have a fabric or crafting store nearby? My mom used to make pillows and we'd go to Jo-Ann Fabrics and buy stuffing, down pillow inserts, or foam depending on the type of pillow. They might have something you'd like!

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    1. Ha! We actually tried sleeping in the same bed back at the beginning of our relationship and let's just say it made the both of us very grumpy!

      And I remember that giant body pillow. I actually have a whole collection of pillows that I use between my knees and to "hug" so the up-facing arm doesn't fall asleep. Can't imagine putting my head on that giant thing though!

      Anyhow, making something has crossed my mind, but I haven't yet reached the point where I'm ready to brave the sewing machine! We'll see. I'm starting to make friends with a few of the one's I've got after flattening them out a bit, and I've got another down alternative one in the mail. Perhaps I should start a new blog devoted entirely to pillow reviews! :)

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  14. Does it matter what your pillow looks like? I sleep on "Disney's cars" microbead pillow from Amazon, it's 13"x13", and it's hidden in my pillow case. They also have a solid purple microbead pillow that's 10'x10". Just thought that if microbeads did the job for you all those years , perhaps they are worth another try. Good luck with all your endeavors. Mira

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    1. Ha! I could care less what the thing looks like, so it might be worth it. I've actually been having some luck with the first microbead pillow - the Remedy pillow - if I really stretch it out and smoosh it I can make the loft small enough to work - but it takes a great deal of adjusting - so I'm sorta thinking of trying to remove some of the beads from that one, but I'm just a bit afraid. However, the pain in my shoulder and neck might just be the motivation I need to bet over my fear! :-)

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  15. I'm so glad to see you're back. That's very frustrating that you were hacked...spooky, like someone breaking into your house but in a lot of ways, far more time-consuming and difficult to put right than a physical break-in.

    I'm sorry but I have no suggestions about the pillows. I think mine's a cheap Target one, thin, well-worn in like a good pair of shoes. I don't like breaking in new shoes, pillows, belts - all kinds of things.

    An aside but I am fascinated to read your comment above that you have never been to an Ikea store! I think that's a really masterful avoidance of consumerism and its absolute peak. I would love to read your reactions if you do go pillow-hunting in a real (not online) Ikea store! I go there every few years and it is an assault to the senses!

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    1. Ha! Well, I can't claim any moral superiority for my shunning of Ikea - it basically comes down to laziness. Seriously, they only have giant stores like that out nearer in the suburbs, and that would require, gasp, driving! And not only driving, but driving on the interstate, which involves, you know, merging, and driving at speeds of 65mph, all of which scares the begeezus out of me!

      Don't know if you have Costco there, but one year my parents bought me a membership for my birthday - and I HATED it! I had to drive 20 minutes to get there and then once inside it was a totally overwhelming experience - like wandering around in a giant warehouse. After your description, I'm sorta thinking Ikea might be a similar experience - which makes me not really all that excited about trying it out! :-)

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    2. "out nearer in the suburbs" Oh my - the dangers of editing one's comment! I trust you know what I meant!

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    3. Ikea gives me major claustrophobia:( I will
      go there with my daughter but it is huge. It seems like one way in and one way out. I am sure there are more ways around but.... I think it is a marketing thing. I would suggest order online. Unless you enjoy
      crowds. It always amused me it seems like a date spot for young couples and the meat balls are good.
      Patti

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    4. Meat balls? I thought they sold furniture...

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  16. I'm glad you talked about the My Pillow. I've wondered about that one, but based on what you had to say, I don't think I'd like it.

    I like a really thin pillow, but I don't care about being able to mold it. I usually just buy the cheapest (thinnest) one I can find at someplace like Wal-Mart or Target.

    Have you tried sleeping on a throw pillow, or some sort of decorative pillow? Or maybe a child size or travel pillow? It just seems like those might be smaller since that seems to be the harder problem to solve.

    Good luck!

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    1. Interesting thoughts. I'm actually having a bit of success with the two microbead pillows - they're not perfect, but they're working.

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  17. I use a feather pillow sorry. I had to scroll past that other comment really fast. I think it is down.
    When we had carpet bugs at at a different house we never had a problem with them bothering the pillows or the sofas. I must be a horrible person I own feather couches too. Oh my! But I love the down pillows and we have major allergies we just wash and dry them. It sounds like you have your pillow problem worked out good for you.
    Patti

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    1. I do think I'm finally there in the pillow department - ironically, the pillow that's working is the very first one I bought! I just needed to stretch it out a bit and now it's perfect - so I bought 3 more to have in reserve so I NEVER have to go through this again! Perhaps there's a lesson in there about patience... hmmm...

      Actually, I think that microbead pillows have a somewhat similar feel to feather pillows - at least how I remember the feather pillows feeling - they squish, but then hold their shape and aren't quite as "spongy" as the other varieties.

      BTW - nobody's perfect - I own several down jackets and I love them! I think it's interesting that the down pillows don't bother your allergies - my allergist was concerned that I was allergic to the down itself, but I'm not entirely sure that was the issue since switching didn't exactly solve my nighttime sinus issues. But at this point, I'm just happy that I've found something that's working for me! If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I say! :-)

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