Lady Gaga's tour-busting fibromyalgia disorder: What you need to know

“‘Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels, how it feels.”Lady Gaga

The lyrics from her 2015 song may now have new meaning for superstar singer Lady Gaga, who has postponed a portion of her world tour because of a worsening case of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition she says she has experienced for a while.

Lady Gaga, 31, opened up about her battle with the illness to fans on Twitter last week, which has raised interest in what the disease is and how it is treated.

What is fibromyalgia?

The word “fibromyalgia” comes from Latin and Greek origins: The Latin prefix “fibro” refers to fibrous tissue, while the Greek word “myo” means muscle and “algos” means pain. Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep problems and memory and mood issues.

The condition affects 2 to 8 percent of the general population, according to a 2014 review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, with similar rates across countries and cultures. Women, particularly young ones, are more likely to develop the condition than men.

There is also some association noted with other diseases like tension headaches, anxiety and depression.

The true cause of fibromyalgia is still a mystery but doctors believe it has to do with a combination of three factors. The first of these is your genes. What we do know is that the condition tends to run in families, and researchers now believe that many genes are involved.

The second group of factors that potentially contributes to the condition are things like psychological stress or trauma.

Third, doctors also believe that in many cases, infections can trigger illnesses that, in turn, activate or aggravate fibromyalgia.

As far as where the pain originates, it appears to result from processes in the brain. Because of this, medical professionals also often refer to the condition as a “central sensitization syndrome.”

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress, or they gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

There are no specific tests to diagnose the illness. Doctors often arrive at this diagnosis by first excluding other potential causes, and then verifying whether a set number of symptoms are present.

Some of the common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

• Widespread pain: The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant, dull ache lasting for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.

• Fatigue: People with fibromyalgia often wake up tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

• Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.

The treatment of fibromyalgia can be difficult. The main focus of treatment is symptom relief. Some of the treatment modalities used are:

Medications: Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices include:

• Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be helpful. Your doctor might suggest a prescription pain relievers. Narcotics are not advised, as they can lead to dependence and may even worsen the pain over time.

• Antidepressants: Some antidepressants like duloxetinemay help ease the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Your doctor may also prescribe amitriptyline or the muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine to help promote sleep.

• Anti-seizure drugs. Medications designed to treat epilepsy like gabapentin and pregabalin are often useful in reducing certain types of pain

Therapy: A variety of different therapies can help reduce the effect that fibromyalgia has on your body and your life. Examples include:

• Physical therapy: A physical therapist can teach you exercises that will improve your strength, flexibility and stamina. Water-based exercises might be particularly helpful.

• Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist can help you make adjustments to your work area or the way you perform certain tasks that will cause less stress on your body.

• Counseling: While this is not a therapy intended to directly affect the source of pain, it can help strengthen your belief in your abilities and teach you strategies for dealing with stressful situations.

Also, some complementary and alternative therapies for pain and stress management do appear to safely relieve stress and reduce pain. But make sure to exercise caution while attempting these newer practices since many still remain unproven because of inadequate studies.

Acupuncture: Some studies indicate that acupuncture helps relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, while others show no benefit.

• Massage therapy: It often helps relieve stress and anxiety.

• Yoga and tai chi: Both have been found to be helpful in controlling fibromyalgia symptoms.

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Man Sticks Penis Inside 5.5-Pound Weight Plate: Takes 3 Hours To Remove Weight With Saw And Grinder

Man Sticks Penis Inside 5.5-Pound Weight Plate: Takes 3 Hours To Remove Weight With Saw And Grinder

There is a cautionary tale coming from the Facebook page of Feuerwehr Worms, which is the fire brigade out of Worms, Germany. As seen in the below photo from the fire department, a broken 2.5 kg “dumbbell disc” – better known as a weight plate in the States – was removed from around the penis of an unnamed man. Published to Facebook on Friday, September 15, the photo comes along with a description that the fire brigade received an odd call that Friday morning. After being summoned to the hospital the brigade learned that a man had “a very sensitive part of the body trapped in the hole” of the weight plate. The part that has many people online cringing is the fact that it took three hours for the weight plate to be removed from around the penis – and emergency personnel had to use a grinder, a vibrations saw, and a hydraulic emergency device to cut the weight plate away without harming the man’s penis.

Click here to continue and read more…

The Inquisitr

How 2 surgeons, bomb expert saved a soldier with a grenade in his torso

It was a sunny spring day in eastern Afghanistan on March 16, 2006, when U.S. army soldiers in the Alpha Company headed out on patrol into the heart of Taliban country.

Capt. Billy Mariani, Private Channing Moss and Staff Sgt. Eric Wynn were part of a convoy on the move, with Moss manning a gun in the vehicle. Also on the Humvee with them was an army medic named Jared Angell, whom the men called simply, “Doc.”

Watch the full story on “20/20: The Good Doctors: Brilliance and Bravery,” Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 10 p.m. on ABC.

As the convoy entered a narrow stream bed, surrounded by higher ground, Wynn said suddenly there was a “pop.”

“We’re under attack,” Moss said. “We just got ambushed.”

The men got into position as bullets cut through the air; the bullets then became rocket-propelled grenades. The men said these RPGs were the size of baseball bats with high explosives on one end and tailfins on the other, traveling at incredibly high speeds.

“I saw the first rocket hit a truck in front of me,” Moss said. “[There was] a trail of smoke and fire, and you could hear [the RPGs] just barreling through the air, then you hear the BOOM.”

The convoy was in trouble, and the men quickly realized they need to escape immediately.

“Right when I said, ‘get out,’ is when we got hit,” Wynn said. “I didn’t even finish my sentence.”

Three RPGs had hit their Humvee. Wynn said the impact felt like “one big blow.”

One of the RPGs punched through the windshield. Wynn and Moss tried to fire back at the enemy, but they both took hits. Wynn said his face was hit with shrapnel, but Moss’ situation was more serious.

“I thought I got slammed up against the truck and I went to return fire again,” Moss said. “Then I smelled something smoking and I looked down and I was smoking … I was screaming.”

“Moss … he has a tailfin sticking out of his side,” Wynn added.

Moss had been impaled with a 3-foot rocket designed to explode on impact, killing anyone within 30 feet. Except this RPG didn’t explode when it embedded itself in Moss’ torso.

“I looked at [Angell] straight in his yes,” Moss said. “I was like, ‘Doc, I don’t want to die like this.’”

Angell sprang into action and started making calls for help.

“I said [to Moss], ‘You keep fighting with me and I’ll keep fighting with you,’” Angell said.

A helicopter at a nearby medevac base was alerted, except Mariani said they left out one key piece of information.

“We didn’t tell him that Moss had live ordnance in him because there was that possibility that they might not want to transport him,” Mariani said.

Moss said he thought he was going to die, but then he heard the sound of the rescue helicopter above him. When the transport crew got to Moss, they were shocked to see the tailfin in his abdomen. Army policy states that the crew is not supposed to transport a patient in Moss’ condition because he was a human bomb, but the crew knew that if they left him, he would most certainly die.

“He was possibly bleeding to death internally, he was in shock,” said Sgt. John Collier, a flight medic and member of the transport crew. “We had to get out of that situation and get to a hospital, where they could do surgery on him.”

They decided to take Moss anyway, and very gently they loaded him on to the chopper, airlifting him to the Frontline Army Field Hospital, a rudimentary facility with limited medical resources.

When Moss was taken inside, surgeons Major Kevin Kirk and Major John Oh were joined by explosive expert Sgt. Dan Brown. The men worked side-by-side to save Moss’ life.

“I was like, ‘Is he still alive,’ and the doctor is like, ‘Yeah,’” Brown said.

They decided to X-ray Moss – by this point, the RPG had been inside of him for more than an hour – and the two surgeons and Brown were relieved to see that the deadliest part of the RPG, the explosive charge, was not in him.

“I was like, ‘OK, here, this is a good thing.’ I said, ‘The warhead’s not there,’” Brown said. “They’re like, ‘Good.’ I said, ‘Well, not all the way.’”

What was in Moss’ body was the primer, a smaller explosive used to detonate the grenade. If it went off, it would kill Moss and anyone near him.

“I said, ‘It means, we don’t die, we’ll just lose our hands,’” Brown said. “And they kind of looked at me and they said, ‘You know we’re surgeons, right?’ I was like, ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘I understand that.’”

The surgeons decided to go ahead with attempting to remove the explosive.

“I knew that if we didn’t just get this thing out, he was going to die,” Oh said. “Whether it took fingers off or not, we had to get this thing out.”

Through an incredibly delicate surgery, and knowing they were in uncharted territory, the doctors reached inside Moss and steadied the still-lethal explosive that had lodged itself inches from Moss’ heart.

Using a hacksaw, Brown gently sawed off the tailfin and eased the rocket out. The detonator was aimed at his own body.

“His theory was that if it had detonated, then it would have detonated into his flak vest,” Oh said.

Kirk said once Brown got the explosive into his hands, “he walked out at a smart pace.”

Once outside the medical facility, Brown took the rocket to a bunker and detonated it. Moss’ life was saved.

“It was the loudest sound in my whole life,” Oh said. “And just relief, and Private Moss is alive because of that.”

“He was an American, he was soldier, he was a brother, and he was one of us,” Brown said. “There was nothing going to stop us from doing what we knew he had to do.”

Watch the full story on “20/20: The Good Doctors: Brilliance and Bravery,” Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 10 p.m. on ABC.

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Study prompts call to examine flu vaccine and miscarriage

A puzzling study of U.S. pregnancies found that women who had miscarriages between 2010 and 2012 were more likely to have had back-to-back annual flu shots that included protection against swine flu.

Vaccine experts think the results may reflect the older age and other miscarriage risks for the women, and not the flu shots. Health officials say there is no reason to change the government recommendation that all pregnant women be vaccinated against the flu. They say the flu itself is a much greater danger to women and their fetuses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reached out to a doctor’s group, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, to warn them the study is coming out and help them prepare for a potential wave of worry from expectant moms, CDC officials said.

“I want the CDC and researchers to continue to investigate this,” said Dr. Laura Riley, a Boston-based obstetrician who leads a committee on maternal immunization. “But as an advocate for pregnant women, what I hope doesn’t happen is that people panic and stop getting vaccinated.”

Past studies have found flu vaccines are safe during pregnancy, though there’s been little research on impact of flu vaccinations given in the first three months of pregnancy.

Flu and its complications kill thousands of Americans every year. The elderly, young children and pregnant women are especially at risk. When a new “swine flu” strain emerged in 2009, it killed 56 U.S. pregnant women that year, according to the CDC.

The study’s authors, two of whom are CDC researchers, saw a big difference when they looked at women who had miscarried within 28 days of getting a shot that included protection against swine flu, but it was only when the women also had had a flu shot the previous season.

They found 17 of 485 miscarriages they studied involved women whose vaccinations followed that pattern. Just four of a comparable 485 healthy pregnancies involved women who were vaccinated that way.

The first group also had more women who were at higher risk for miscarriage, like older moms and smokers and those with diabetes. The researchers tried to make statistical adjustments to level out some of those differences but some researchers don’t think they completely succeeded.

Other experts said they don’t believe a shot made from killed flu virus could trigger an immune system response severe enough to prompt a miscarriage. And the authors said they couldn’t rule out the possibility that exposure to swine flu itself was a factor in some miscarriages.

Two other medical journals rejected the article before a third, Vaccine, accepted it. Dr. Gregory Poland, Vaccine’s editor-in-chief, said it was a well-designed study that raised a question that shouldn’t be ignored. But he doesn’t believe flu shots caused the miscarriages. “Not at all,” said Poland, who also is director of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic.

Though this study may cause worry and confusion, it is evidence “of just how rigorous and principled our vaccine safety monitoring system is,” said Jason Schwartz, a Yale University vaccine policy expert.

Some of the same researchers are working on a larger study looking at more recent data to see if a possible link between swine flu vaccine and miscarriage holds up, said James Donahue, a study author from the Wisconsin-based Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. The results aren’t expected until next year at the earliest, he said.

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This story has been corrected to say that Marshfield Clinic Research Institute is based in Wisconsin.

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The US West had a snowy winter, so why the fiery summer?

Acrid yellow smoke clogs the skies of major Western U.S. cities, a human-caused fire in the Columbia River Gorge rains ash on Portland, Oregon, and a century-old backcountry chalet burns to the ground in Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Wildfires are chewing across dried-out Western forests and grassland, putting 2017 on track to be among the worst fire seasons in a decade.

A snowy winter across much of the West raised hopes that 2017 wouldn’t be a dried-out, fire-prone year, but a hot, dry summer spoiled that.

Here’s what happened, and how bad things are:

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HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Heavy snows last winter brought relief from a long, brutal drought across much of the West and produced a lush growth of natural grasses — thicker and taller than many vegetation experts had ever seen. But the weather turned very hot very fast in the spring, and the snow melted much faster than expected.

All the grass that grew high dried out, and so did forests at higher elevations, leaving plenty of fuel for wildfires, said Bryan Henry, a manager at the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates wildfire-fighting.

Summer lightning storms then dumped less rain than usual and weather conditions kept the humidity low, creating a natural tinderbox in many states.

“It was kind of a bad combination of things,” Henry said.

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HOW BIG ARE THE FIRES?

By Thursday, more than 76 large fires were burning in nine Western states — including 21 in Montana and 18 in Oregon, according to the interagency fire center.

So far this year, wildfires have burned more than 12,500 square miles (32,000 square kilometers) nationwide. In the past decade, only two years were worse at this point in the wildfire season: 2015 and 2012.

For all of 2015, a record 15,800 square miles (41,000 square kilometers) burned. In 2012, 14,600 square miles (38,000 square kilometers) were scorched.

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WHAT ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE?

It’s making things worse for fires, said Jonathan Overpeck, dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.

Hotter and drier weather is a symptom of human-caused climate change, and that’s making fires worse by leaving forests and other vegetation more flammable.

“It’s not of course playing the only role,” he said. “There’s natural variability at work.”

“Humans are contributing to an ever-increasing degree to wildfires in the West as they emit greenhouse gases and warm the planet and warm the West,” Overpeck said.

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TREE-EATING BEETLES

Two dozen species of beetles have killed trees on nearly 85,000 square miles (220,000 square kilometers) in the Western U.S. since 2000. They’re responsible for about 20 percent of the 6.3 billion standing dead trees across the West, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Researchers disagree on whether forests with beetle-killed trees are more likely to burn, or if they burn differently, than healthier forests.

Any standing dead tree — whether killed by beetles, drought, lightning or other causes — can crash down, posing hazards for firefighters who must adjust their tactics to avoid them.

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WHO’S FIGHTING THE FIRES?

More than 26,000 people are fighting the fires, backed by more than 200 helicopters, 1,800 trucks and 28 air tankers dropping water and fire-retardant slurry. Three of those tankers are military C-130 planes.

The military has also assigned surveillance aircraft and at least 200 active-duty soldiers to fight fires and the National Guard has been called out in at least four states — California Montana, Oregon and Washington.

“We’re stretched thin,” said Jennifer Jones, a spokeswoman for the interagency fire center.

Sometimes the center gets requests for more crews and equipment than it has, so “fire managers on the ground are adjusting their tactics and strategies to accommodate the resources they can get,” Jones said.

“We don’t pack up our tents and go home.”

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HOW BAD ARE THE LOSSES?

Nine firefighters have died and 35 have been injured this year, according to the national Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. Two of the deaths came during training.

Fires have destroyed an estimated 500 single-family homes and 32 commercial buildings this year, the interagency fire center said.

Janet Ruiz of the Insurance Information Institute sees a hopeful trend in fewer houses lost to wildfires in recent years. Ruiz credits better-equipped firefighters and homeowners who take steps to minimize the danger such as clearing trees away from buildings and installing screens over dwelling openings to keep embers out.

“It’s a better-informed public and fire services better able to fight fire,” she said.

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WHAT ABOUT ALL THE SMOKE?

“It’s unusually bad,” said Henry, of the National Interagency Fire Center.

Smoke is lingering from northern California and central Nevada to Montana. The air over parts of northern California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington is rated very unhealthy on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow website. It was not clear whether sources other than fires were contributing.

The air over the towns of Cottonwood and Porthill, Idaho, were listed as hazardous, the worst of six categories.

Fires spew particulates into the air, which are linked to premature death and cancer and can make asthma and chronic lung disease worse, said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, a senior science adviser to the American Lung Association.

“It certainly is bad enough to cause symptoms in people with chronic lung disease but also normal people,” he said.

A volcanic eruption is probably the only thing that pumps more particulates into the atmosphere at once than a fire, he said.

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HOW MUCH HAS FIREFIGHTING COST?

Federal spending to fight fires appears to be headed for a record.

The two main firefighting agencies, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Interior, report spending of more than $ 2.1 billion so far. That’s about the same as they spent in all of 2015, the most expensive wildfire season on record.

Those figures do not include individual state spending, which no single agency compiles. Montana has spent $ 50 million, exhausting its firefighting reserve fund in just over a month. Oregon has spent $ 28 million, but the state expects to be reimbursed for part of that by the federal government and others.

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WHEN IS IT GOING TO GET BETTER?

The outlook is bleak for Montana, most of the Northwest and much of California through September, according to the interagency fire center. The fire risk is expected to remain very high in Montana and the Southern California coast through October.

Montana is gripped by a long, severe drought. Nearly a quarter of the state, near the northeast corner, is rated as in a state of exceptional drought, the worst of five categories on the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor.

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DON’T SOME FIRES HELP THE ENVIRONMENT?

Yes. Fires can burn away undergrowth, preventing buildups of flammable vegetation that can make big fires even worse. They can also help some forests and grassland rejuvenate.

But very hot fires can damage the soil and make it water-resistant, which produces heavy runoff during rainstorms and snowmelt, which in turn can cause severe erosion, mud slides and floods.

Silt from fire-damaged valleys can clog streams, which kills fish.

The silt can also settle to the bottom of reservoirs, taking up space needed to store drinking water and forcing utilities to spend heavily to dredge it out.

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This story has been corrected to say the Columbia River fire rained ash on Portland, rather than raced toward Portland.

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Associated Press writers Matt Volz in Helena, Montana, and Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, contributed to this report.

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Hurricanes drive addiction issues into public square

In the whirr of preparations for Hurricane Irma, a needle exchange program in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood handed out extra syringes to heroin users. Others trying to break from the drug’s grasp picked up advance medication from methadone clinics.

Disasters cause stress, and stress can cause relapse for people struggling with addiction, whether their problem is alcohol, tobacco, pills or heroin. Authorities planning for the devastating effects of hurricanes now factor in the heightened danger of relapse and overdose.

The problems of alcoholism and addiction become more public in a storm, said researcher Andrew Golub of the National Development and Research Institutes in New York, who studied illicit drug users in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

“During a storm, it becomes harder to hide and cope with one’s addiction in private,” Golub said.

Scientists learned from Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy . Drug users took chances during storms, researchers found, avoiding evacuation to stay near their dealers or sharing needles with strangers putting themselves in danger of HIV and hepatitis. Those in treatment missed doses of medications and went back to street drugs to avoid withdrawal sickness. During Sandy, clinics that lost power measured methadone by candlelight.

“Disasters like this interrupt treatment,” said Enrique Pouget, whose team interviewed 300 injection drug users in New York after the 2012 storm.

Methadone programs, highly regulated by the government, are required to have disaster emergency plans. The state of Florida, in cooperation with federal authorities, granted methadone clinics discretion to provide up to five days of medication ahead of Hurricane Irma.

In Texas and Louisiana, some patients took home advance doses of methadone. Others received it in shelters or from alternative facilities.

Florida’s first needle exchange program — aimed at preventing overdoses and blood-borne infections — faces its biggest challenge yet with Irma. This past week, Dr. Hansel Tookes and his team gave away a week’s supply of clean needles and overdose reversal kits, or Narcan.

“We want to make sure all of our people have Narcan so they can save lives and be first responders in the storm,” Tookes said of the 400 drug users who rely on his program . Drug users equipped with Narcan can save others who overdose.

Mark Kinzly, co-founder of the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative, said his group distributed around 500 kits to clinics along the Texas coast in the midst of Harvey cleanup. Storms can be disastrous for people with addictions because they interrupt routines and schedules, he said.

“There’s people that are going to be without jobs and without homes because of this hurricane,” Kinzly said. “They’re going to be less stable in their overall lives to begin with. That can be dangerous.”

In the aftermath of flooded Houston, Julie Boon oversaw repairs at a sober-living home while giving advice to residents based on her own 30 years of sobriety.

“Have faith in the foundation you’ve built,” said Boon of Eudaimonia Recovery Homes. “If you get into fear, reach out and speak to somebody.”

People in long-term recovery have the ability to cope with disasters, said Julia Negron of Venice, Florida, a former injection drug user and organizer of the Suncoast Harm Reduction Project, a grassroots group working to prevent overdoses.

“You deal with life as it comes. So here you go: Here’s a test,” she said.

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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Naloxone in the name of the group Mark Kinzly co-founded. It had been misspelled Naxolone.

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HURRICANE NEWSLETTER — Get the best of the AP’s all-formats reporting on Irma and Harvey in your inbox: http://apne.ws/ahYQGtb

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Follow AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarlaKJohnson

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