My return from maternity leave (from wordpress!!)!!

Hello… I’m trying to get back to normality with my blogging. Sebastian is a dream, sleeping so well most of the time, feeding well (and frequently), so I’m taking advantage!! I probably should be sleeping when he does, but I’m not very good at that! So we will see how things go!
Sadly I haven’t kept up with my food diary over the last few weeks, but I’m getting back to it.
I have had a little flare compared to how good I was feeling pre-partum, part of this will definitely be due to the effort/trauma of the birth (which by the way, was minimally traumatic thankfully!! Everything went really well… but it’s still a pretty big thing for your body to go through!), another reason is likely to be the changes in hormones, and the transition from carrying a little human being, to no longer incubating, plus… as Sebastian decided to come early I hadn’t managed to cook as many mini meals in preparation as I would have liked. So, this meant that I managed to take my own food for the first two days in hospital, but as Sebastian wasn’t feeding well enough (according to the midwifes), they kept me in for another two days, in which I decided to just eat the hospital food. Now I didn’t feel awful straight away, and as I was in hospital I wasn’t doing a huge amount, so I didn’t notice much. But once I got home and had stairs to navigate I realised I was back to going up and down one step at a time. I had severe pain in my ankles, left more than right (which although has settled considerably, hasn’t gone, and has led to a very sore and lumpy left Achilles), knees, and hands.
On my first night back at home I indulged in a take away curry…. Mmmmmmm!! It was soooo good!!
But in the morning I got back onto my clean eating straight away, and even declined helping out with the leftovers . The food just isn’t worth the pain at the moment!! (well, the curry was totally worth it, but I had already broken my clean eating for two days prior…!)
Recovery from this flare is much slower than it was when I started my elimination diet, (I could probably do with doing a bit of a detox fast, but as I’m now breast feeding I don’t think I could cope… I’m always so hungry and thirsty anyway!!) I’m currently left with a sore and lumpy left Achilles, ankles that are ok… but don’t particularly like being taken to end of range, and stiff slightly swollen PIP joints… eases as the day goes on. I also think that I have slipped into the habitat of snacking on fruit which is leading to too much sugar in my diet… so that is my goal over the next fortnight or so!!
I have also developed:
Anterior knee pain from doing so much sit to standing with Seb in my arms!! This is totally due to deconditioning, and I am already working on some simple strength and balance work, with a view to getting back to yoga as soon as my teacher lets me!
Low back pain, and neck pain from the relative inactivity and poor posture that breastfeeding causes… I’m working on my BF technique!! And hoping that as I get better at this, my posture will improve, and also, as I get fitter and stronger my muscles will support me better anyhow!! (I really aught to use my chair that’s in the bedroom, but in the day I tend to use the settee… easier and softer… but likely adding to my aches!! (Bad physio!! Slap on the wrist!!)
And some of my thumb pain I hate to admit is probably from increased internet and Facebook browsing whilst being relatively inactive… as TV is just so rubbish, and there is so much information out there that I want to absorb on hormones, supplements, mineral balancing, essential oils and autoimmunity overall!!

But in general, considering how I was before I started this diet… I am still WAY healthier and in much less pain!! Plus, I don’t like to brag too much… but I was back into my pre-pregnancy jeans after one week, and I’m pretty chuffed with how my figure is coming along already!! (To be honest, its better than it was before I got pregnant!!)

18 Days post partum.

18 Days post partum.

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I plan to continue with all these changes for the rest of my life, it has been such an eye opener! Getting pregnant with Seb could well be the absolute best thing I have ever done for my body and health!! 

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New arrival has halted all efforts at blogging!!

Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted… I had plenty of plans for lots of posts, restaurant/pub reviews etc… But someone had other ideas!! 2 weeks earlier than planned my beautiful baby boy decided he was joining the party, and I couldn’t be happier!!!

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce Sebastian Nicholas!!

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Why I’m not a food blogger…!

Since starting my food exploration I have had to get a bit creative with ideas for dinner/lunch. It’s handy because Andrew really doesn’t mind from Monday to Friday if he just receives protein source and veg… it’s what he grew up with (however the protein sources are VERY different from his childhood… and so are the veg for that matter!! And it’s not now topped up with an enormous portion of potatoes and bisto gravy!! Much to his pleasure thankfully), but for me, my parents were always a little adventurous in their food endeavours, and variation was key… so I do get a bit bored… or if not bored, I just feel the need to create a variety of dinners and food…

Now, I feel that on the days when I try to get creative I have on the whole been quite successful (even if I do say so myself!!), and I have been really quite proud of the taste sensations!! But, before I can show off to anyone about how great meals on this restricted, but gradually increasing elimination diet can be… I’ve eaten it!! Mmmmmm!!

Plus, despite being totally in love with photography… food photography just has never inspired me! Can I really be bothered to get out my lovely camera, just to take a few photos of my dinner… nah!! The light in my kitchen is all wrong, plus it’s October, annd England… there is no natural light at tea time round here!!
So the few… well two things that I have managed to take photos of before they became an empty plate are: A cherry ‘cheese cake’ made for my birthday so that I could enjoy a little (modified) AIP treat:

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And last night’s Prawn and Squid coconut curry:

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As you can see… I’m no food blogger! Things I do wrong:
1) The cake was already half eaten
2) The crockery is OLD!! And chipped!!
3) The background isn’t clear
4) The lighting is all wrong
5) The angles are all wrong
6) The presentation of the food is not considered
7) The photos are taken by my iPhone or iPad.. Not even a compact camera!

To name just a few… but, mmm they didn’t half taste good 🙂

And at the end of a day, that is the main thing I care about! Cooking good healthy food that is helping my body heal itself…

So… what’s for tea tonight?

Elimination Diet… Where I’m up to – A Summary!

My last post Elimination Diet…. What have I been eating?! received so many positive comments from Facebook, and additional questions posted on Facbook groups, that I feel perhaps I ought to expand a little! I am by no means an expert in this… this is a little personal experiment. There are things that I haven’t done perfectly, and there are things that I know in time I will need to adapt and adjust, and also, what works for me won’t be the same for you… that is the point of an Elimination Diet, to find out what is your own personal triggers.

Elimination Diet

I stated in A New Start with the Diet what I had decided to eliminate, this included: gluten, dairy, Sugar, Additives, Legumes, Citrus Fruits, Seeds and Nuts, Nightshade vegetables, Meat (excluding fish and turkey/wild game), Eggs, Most drinks!, Spices and Condiments (due to the inclusion of seeds, sugars, gluten etc. – therefor Himalayan Rock Salt, fresh herbs and dried leaves of herbs allowed). I decided on these things from reading The Paleo Approach, and this website which I found in the files section of the Facebook group Rheumatoid Arthritis Managed Naturally.

Pretty restrictive, but well worth it!!

So what have I learnt so far? Well… Initially I don’t think I ate enough. Now to be honest, it wouldn’t have been a problem, as it probably was enough, just not for a pregnant woman in her third trimester!! But this didn’t last too long, as my midwife noticed a high proportion of ketones in my urine after a fortnight of starting the diet. So how did I rectify this?? I added more starchy vegetables – butternut squash, sweet potato, beetroot… plus exactly what I had been eating on the first week of my elimination diet. The next urine test was spot on.
Other possible reasons that my urine test was slightly off that first week… was my appointment was at 9am on Monday morning, and I probably hadn’t drunk all that much before the test, therefore dehydration can affect ketone levels in urine. And also, along the lines of not eating enough, that weekend I had eaten out on both Saturday and Sunday, and generally been quite active (totally unheard of before when I could hardly move!!!).
Eating out is a bit of a problem, and I don’t mind too much as I had, more recently begun to feel that eating out was becoming too frequent, it was taking away the special-ness of going out for a meal for a special occasion. Plus, not eating out saves money… which can go directly into ensuring that the food I’m buying in for our daily meals is as good as we can afford!!
However, eating is a really social event, and it is nice, when friends are visiting, or there’s a get together that you can go out and still eat within your restrictions. Unfortunately, so far I have found that I tend to get one choice of fish or meat with a plain salad, or a plain portion of vegetables. As I go along with my reintroductions, and my diet 90% of the time is balanced and managing my inflammation, I am sure that I will have to be slightly less restricted in a restaurant, but for now it just isn’t worth it!!
In the meantime, I am going to start a little review of each of the places that I eat out at, looking at their choice, service, and food in general, as it’ll serve as a little reminder for me when it comes to having to pick somewhere to go out for food if the need arises!
Reintroductions
My reintroductions have been slow, and I have intended that because I want to know exactly what I can and can’t eat!! I have also so far only really reintroduced some ‘safe’ foods, with a view to building up my diet to an Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) type diet, trying to follow The Paleo Approach as closely as I can, food sensitivities (if found) allowing. The reason I’m aiming for an AIP diet is because The Paleo Approach book made sense to me, and I do eat meat!! And I like eating meat! A lot of other diets move towards a less ‘meaty’ approach, and I felt, for me, I wanted to try this… if I found that I couldn’t tolerate meat through my Elimination Diet then, of course, I would have addressed this and looked towards getting my nutrients from other sources, but everyone has to have a Plan A!!
So far, meat (grass fed Lamb, and grass fed Beef (as of this weekend), free range chicken, and wild game/duck etc.) has been good… No reactions… YES!! So fingers crossed, I can look to follow an AIP diet fully in time.

Eggs and almonds aren’t really in the AIP remit, but I thought I’d give them a go because of their usefulness in baking, and other cooking… Almonds seem OK (I eat in proportion anyway), eggs however didn’t go so well… but because I was doing a detailed Food diary, I have been able to look at the possibility of other possible reasons for my flare – so I plan on trying again with eggs on a clean day, and if the same reactions occur, then I’ll know!

I had my 30th Birthday in the midst of all this, so I did cheat a little for a few days – keeping within an AIP diet – but I did a bit of baking, and eating out once which meant on that weekend I had lots of new foods, and yes, I did feel a bit rubbish following this weekend… I just don’t know exactly weather it was the flax seeds, or honey, maple syrup in the baking, the extra sugar from the baking and eating lots of fruits rather than keeping a balance, maybe the yeast in a bullion that made a gravy… or any of the other little things that sneaked in over that weekend.
But all in all, it was nice to relax for a couple of days with my family and by eating clean the following week my fatigue and pain ebbed away quickly. And I think this is important!! It is important to be dedicated to your elimination diet to work out what your triggers are, but it mustn’t take over your life so much that it makes food a misery or a chore! Food is delicious, and especially so when you know it is healing your body!!
I look at reintroductions as an exciting time of the week… it’s a day to find out if there is one more food I can eat!! And it’s like an adventure, a discovery!

Supplements

This is my weakness… I’m only just getting my head around the nutrients that I am trying to balance in my whole foods… let alone where I’m deficient, and what will benefit me in long or short term. This is my next goal… I am going to wait until little junior is out of me though first, because even though I’m sure most supplements would only benefit me and the health of my baby, everything says ‘if you are pregnant or breast feeding please consult with your doctor’… and unfortunately when you do this, they have no idea of any impact on me or my baby… so I’m going to wait. This gives me time to continue with my reintroductions and get to grips with that anyway.
I’m excited about the addition of supplements and how it will be another piece to the puzzle, I think I may need a little extra help however, and I plan to speak to a nutritional naturopath when the time is right for guidance.

Support
I have been really lucky that my other half has been supportive of this adventure of mine… but I guess why wouldn’t he be?! He doesn’t need to help me on and off the settee anymore, or get woken up in the night to help me turn over and sort out the covers! I can come out on the dog walks, and I’m 100% happier, which makes the household a happier healthier place! And I’m doing most of the cooking (I’m going to have to try to train him back up to AIP cooking sooner or later though!!). Plus… He is very into his sport and fitness… and although we ate pretty well before, always eating our 5 a day, minimal bread or pastries, rarely potatoes, with fish a regular part of our diet… we weren’t eating CLEAN! So now we are… he can’t stop looking at the results he is seeing in the mirror… which is a constant source of amusement to me!

On wards and upwards!

Elimination diet… what have I been eating…??!

I first toyed with the idea of a diet change back in June in my blog Food Glorious Food, and then finally in September my blog A New Start with the Diet documented my starting process of a strict elimination diet… well, as I stated in the title of that blog, so far so good… I’m here now to provide a little update on how things have been going! I think you can probably tell I’m pretty pleased, I have posted 4 posts since starting the diet, and my mood, and the topics I talk about are far more positive! You can catch up with those here, here, here, and here!! (Isn’t ‘here’ one of those words that when it is written/said/read too many times in a row it just doesn’t look right anymore!!)

I have been keeping a really detailed (well I hope so/think it is) food diary, and I also did a pain chart of my pain on starting the diet back in August. I also started doing a little video diary… but I couldn’t keep that up for long (1- because I never had enough space on my phone or iPad, 2 – because seeing yourself doing a video diary is the most AWFUL experience in the world, perhaps second only to hearing your voice on a recording… I don’t know why that’s worse, but I seem to remember that I was more repulsed by that back when I had to do my French oral exam!!).

So, here it is for your viewing:

Where I started back in August.... :-(

Where I started back in August…. 😦

The details of absolutely EVERYTHING that has passed my lips since the 21st August (well with one or two days where I forgot to document, but they have been very few and far between!):

Food diary

I’d just like to say that the first few days where I hadn’t started the elimination diet, was not really a true representation of what I would have eaten were I say… at work, or not planning the elimination diet!! My excuse? I was starting an elimination diet!!! I might never eat a danish pastry again!! So I didn’t really hold back… mind you, despite eating lovely salads etc for lunch at work, there were always biscuits and delicious homemade bakes brought in by colleagues, so where I would give nourishment with one hand, I expect I took away any benefit by stuffing my face with lovely cakes!!! Not any more!

My pain chart as of today:

A much happier pain chart androgynous being!! And a much happier Nina to boot!

A much happier pain chart androgynous being!! And a much happier Nina to boot!

Now.. I have photos of my hands from back in maybe May/June time, and some I took yesterday… I don’t know how easy to spot the difference it is… But I can 100% assure you that they FEEL very very different! I’ll stick them in anyway and you can see if you can tell… if not, you’ll just have to take my word for it, and the fact that I ran with the dogs on their walk yesterday… and I’m going out with them again in about 30 minutes… because I am not crippled in pain!!! Wooooo Hoooooo!!

Left Hand May/June 2014

Left Hand May/June 2014

Left Hand October 2014

Left Hand October 2014

Right Hand May/June 2014

Right Hand May/June 2014

Right Hand October 2014

Right Hand October 2014

Wow… I usually only look at these on my phone, and I thought it was difficult to see a difference… but I’ve just seen them on my computer screen… It has surprised even me!!

I just wish I’d taken photos of all my swollen joints… It would have helped me remember… instead this is all I have… And I hope never to see that much inflammation in my body again!! I know I’ll have flares, I’m sure… but I will not let myself ever get to this again!!! A corner has been turned.

A lesson in over doing it!

I’m planning a proper blog about how my elimination diet has gone/is going… But for now just a quick note on that. It seems to be going pretty well!! And I couldn’t be more pleased!!

Now… A little reminder to listen to your body!! Yesterday, joints felt good, but generally I woke feeling pretty tired, at 6am and I had had a busy week so far… But once I was up and dressed… I ended up mowing the lawn, doing a big shop (to Costco for baking ingredients, and farm shop for special stuff), then when I got home I spent nearly 3 hours stood in the kitchen preparing lots of fruit and meat for the days ahead… In an attempt to make life easier for the following few days… Forgetting about today!! 17.00 came, and I finally sat down…. Uh oh! Swollen knees, fingers and a very painful right shoulder and neck… Off to bed at 21.00!!

I think my knees were down to 1) being on my feet ALL day! 2) wearing shoes that I’ve not worn for years due to my feet being to swollen!!

My shoulder and neck was due to lifting the mower tub into the compost bin… The lawn seriously needed a mow, so I did this A LOT!! and the grass was a bit damp!

And hands just down to everything, the mowing, the chopping, the kneading etc…

I’m pleased that I felt capable of all the above, but I knew I was tired, and I didn’t rest, I certainly didn’t pace myself… And I paid for it! Today my knees are much easier, but still sore right on my patella’s. Hands gradually easing, shoulder gradually easing….. Today’s to do list….. Well, it’s long, but I will just get what I can do done!

Priorities… Baking (which I am trying as we speak)… As it’s my birthday tomorrow!!! And as much as I’m loving my new diet… I need something delish to celebrate with!!

Things I can do…!

Here’s a little list of things I can do since changing my diet, that 2-3 weeks ago I couldn’t:

Sleep through (despite being 32 weeks pregnant!)

Roll over in bed without yelping/crying

Pull my own covers over me in the night

Get out of bed on my own without help

Sit onto the toilet without ‘dropping’ onto it or using the radiator and bath either side to lower myself

Squeeze toothpaste onto my brush

Stand for the whole time I brush my teeth

Put on my own socks – quickly!!

Do up buttons and zips

Pull up own trousers… Even maternity ones

Put up my own hair

Walk down stairs one foot In front of the other without using the banister

Make breakfast including lifting pans

Open some jars and bottles

Empty the dishwasher

Squeeze pegs enough to hang out the washing

Walk without a waddle or a limp (despite being 32weeks!!)

Walk dogs (2 big ones at that) about 3 miles most days

Get in/out of the car without help

Chop veg, even squash and swede

Spend the day in the Lake District without wanting to go to bed immediately on return home

Mow lawn

Swim 20 lengths plus without repercussions

Get on/off the settee without help, even at the end of the day

Get up stairs one foot in front of the other without the banister

I’m sure there are other little things that I manage and think ‘whoop!!’, but my memory fails me!! I am growing a baby! 🙂

On balance just to add…

I still don’t have any bounce!! So I can’t jog, run up stairs (tried yesterday in a moment of exuberance!), and I can’t squat/crouch, or get on off the floor…. But hey!! I’m working on it!! 😉

Feeling good!!

Just felt the urge to post a little yippee!!

It’s 10pm on Thursday evening, and today I have: fed the house their breakfast (AIP elimination friendly), been swimming (20 lengths plus exercises and stretches), gone shopping (food plus a pair of slippers – essential!), mowed the lawn, done some agility training with the dogs, made tonight’s tea and half of tomorrow’s tea (AIP elimination friendly) done a very small bit of hallway decorating (Andrew has done 95% – but I like to feel I’ve helped!!), had a bath, and still I’m able to walk up the stairs one foot in front of the other… With minimal use of the wall for stability!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means pain free… my main complaint today is a right elbow that won’t straighten! (And sore knees getting off the toilet!!).

But to manage all of the above in one day…?! It certainly wouldn’t have happened two weeks ago… There certainly is something in the water (or should I say food!!).

I’m so glad I took the plunge to eliminate and scrutinise my diet… Here’s to a healthy future!!! 😀

Back to work – day one!

Hooray!! I did my first day back to work yesterday!!

It was non clinical and only 9-3.30, but it was great to be back in the world of the living!!

I love my dogs to pieces, and the conversations I have with them keep me amused and in company all day… But it is quite nice to have conversations with a variety of humans from time to time too!

I’m just doing 2 days a week, with a rest day in between which I am thankful for as today I am struggling to straighten my right elbow. I wonder if this is due to the use of the phone, mouse and pen on that side… I am VERY right handed!

Any hoo… Today the plan is to get a few more bits for tea tonight and tomorrow, to go swimming, and to do a bit of dog training… And maybe a nap!

A new start with the diet…. So far so good!

Something I have been considering for quite some time now is a change in diet in an attempt to reduce my RA symptoms… I wrote about it in Food Glorious Food, I’d been sceptical and also scared… I love food, I also love eating healthy, but I’ve always enjoyed a treat, a beer, a brew, a steak… The list goes on.

But the pain remained and as I draw closer and closer to my due date I worry… Will I be able to function as mum?! How will I cope? So since being off work (sine the 25th July, going back on Wednesday 3rd though!!) I have looked further into this option, I’ve read around quite a few places (by no means all… But I’d still be reading if that were the case!), and I decided to take the plunge. A few weeks back I had swapped from milk to soya for my brews and cereal, and had noticed a bit of an improvement, but after some serious consideration, I decided to go the whole hog and start an elimination diet…!

One of the main reasons I had felt sceptical was that I struggled to find the information I was looking for, but just kept coming back to the Paddison Programme, I’m sure he has a huge amount of information to provide, but I some how feel uneasy about paying online to get advice…. Especially since I couldn’t find anything else… Then one day I was on a RA Facebook group and someone mentioned Rheumatoid Arthritis Managed Naturally, so on I went and found so many answers to so many of my questions. Plus lots of files and resources, and information about where to look. AWSOME!! I straight away bought the Paleo Approach and the cookbook, and The Gerson Therapy book (there are LOADS of other resources out there, not just those two books, it’s just they are the ones I’ve started with!)…. I know… Why am I happy to pay for advice via a book, but not online, well 1) the information in the book is available else where, it’s just easier to read all in one place in a book. 2) I like books, and they are full of references, 3) my studies taught me to be sceptical of web based information! (Despite more and more information these days being web based!). Plus I’ve found some blogs that give me recipe ideas, such as Paleo Mom, and I’ve got myself back onto Pintrest in an attempt to scrap book together recipe ideas and inspiration. Planning planning planning, because it’s going to be so easy to pick up a Danish if I’m out and haven’t planned something ‘elimination’ friendly!

On august 21st I started a brief food diary of what I was eating,with the view to starting my elimination diet on the Tuesday 26th. In the run up to starting my diet I ate RUBBISH!! Not overly intentionally, but I kept thinking if this is the last time I get to eat a Danish pastry, I’m going to have it!! I’m sure that’s human nature….?!

Tuesday 26th came around, and the diet began…. I have eliminated: dairy, gluten, nightshades, legumes, citrus, seeds and nuts, meat (except Turkey, fish and wild game), certain cooking fats (currently using avocado oil, coconut oil and a little olive oil), alcohol (not hard being 7 months preggers!!), caffeine, sugar…. They are the main things I think!

I’m aiming to stick to this for about 3-4 weeks, then start some very gradual re-introductions, with a view to finding out what, if any are triggering my flares and making me feel so rubbish.

When you look at what I’ve cut out, it looks like there’d be nothing left to eat, but… In fact there is plenty to feed a hungry pregnant woman, and thankfully due to the fish and wild game, I don’t feel like I’m depriving ‘bump’! Yes…I have to prepare it ALL, no convenience any more (thank god I’m off work at the moment!), but it feels good to be eating nutritionally!

After my re introductions, I really hope to be able to follow something along the lines of the Paleo Approach, as it makes since to me, and it is pretty much all the foods I love to eat… It’s just I have to make them, rather than buying from a supermarket! Which again, is no bad thing, especially if it means I’m healthy! But I’m willing to accept a more vegetarian diet if needs be to keep me well.

So…. How has the first nearly week gone I hear you ask….? Well, a hell of a lot better than the acupuncture and hydrotherapy!!

In the last 6 days, the swelling in my right knee and left ankle has reduced, including the pain (although not gone!), I am sleeping through the night, maybe waking briefly for the odd position change, pain in my hands and feet is still present in the mornings, but it’s only lasting about an hour, and instead of it taking 4 minutes to put on my socks (yes, I timed it!), it now takes me seconds :-D. my hands look wasted, which they might be… My grip certainly isn’t what it once was, but it could also be they they aren’t fat puffy mits anymore! My fingers still have thick joints, swell a bit and are stiff… But I have had RA for 7 years! This weekend, I have been able to go up and down stairs one foot in front of the other (not every time, but I’m still chuffed!), and I don’t always have to hang on to the banister rail. I’ve been on more dog walks, some even on consecutive days, and yesterday managed a lovely 3+ miles walk in the woods (furthest, and most undulating walk I’ve done since being pregnant!). And I am even able to clean the kitchen whilst the dinner is cooking, including un-stacking and re-stacking the dishwasher!!

Now don’t get me wrong… I still have pain, I still have stiffness, I still feel fatigue… But it is all much less, and considering this is all in 6 days… I’m pretty chuffed!

Of course, I’m aware, it could be many variables leading to these changes…. 1) the rest from work is finally giving me some benefit 2) placebo? Is it the positive mental attitude from the reading around of something I believe should work (only after reading the science!)? 3) maybe baby is finally kicking out some steroids like all my midwives and consultants kept telling me it would…. Or is it the diet?! I guess time will tell!

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