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Gone: A Memoir of Love, Body, and Taking Back My Life

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Linda Olson and her husband, Dave Hodgens, were young doctors whose story had all the makings of a fairy tale. But then, while they were vacationing in Germany, a train hit their van, shattering their lives—and Linda’s body. When Linda saw Dave for the first time after losing her right arm and both of her legs, she told him she would understand if he left. His response: “I Linda Olson and her husband, Dave Hodgens, were young doctors whose story had all the makings of a fairy tale. But then, while they were vacationing in Germany, a train hit their van, shattering their lives—and Linda’s body. When Linda saw Dave for the first time after losing her right arm and both of her legs, she told him she would understand if he left. His response: “I didn’t marry your arms or your legs. If you can do it, I can do it.” In order to protect their loved ones, they decided to hide the truth about what really happened on those train tracks, and they kept their secret for thirty-five years. As a triple amputee, Linda learned to walk with prostheses and change diapers and insert IVs with one hand. She finished her residency while pregnant and living on her own. And she and Dave went on to pursue their dream careers, raise two children, and travel the world. Inspiring and deeply moving, Gone asks readers to find not only courage but also laughter in the unexpected challenges we all face. The day of the accident, no one envied Linda and Dave. Today, many do.


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Linda Olson and her husband, Dave Hodgens, were young doctors whose story had all the makings of a fairy tale. But then, while they were vacationing in Germany, a train hit their van, shattering their lives—and Linda’s body. When Linda saw Dave for the first time after losing her right arm and both of her legs, she told him she would understand if he left. His response: “I Linda Olson and her husband, Dave Hodgens, were young doctors whose story had all the makings of a fairy tale. But then, while they were vacationing in Germany, a train hit their van, shattering their lives—and Linda’s body. When Linda saw Dave for the first time after losing her right arm and both of her legs, she told him she would understand if he left. His response: “I didn’t marry your arms or your legs. If you can do it, I can do it.” In order to protect their loved ones, they decided to hide the truth about what really happened on those train tracks, and they kept their secret for thirty-five years. As a triple amputee, Linda learned to walk with prostheses and change diapers and insert IVs with one hand. She finished her residency while pregnant and living on her own. And she and Dave went on to pursue their dream careers, raise two children, and travel the world. Inspiring and deeply moving, Gone asks readers to find not only courage but also laughter in the unexpected challenges we all face. The day of the accident, no one envied Linda and Dave. Today, many do.

30 review for Gone: A Memoir of Love, Body, and Taking Back My Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tilly

    4 stars What an outstanding memoir about such a unique and tough situation. Gone had me gripped and I feel honoured to read Linda's story. In 1979, Linda Olsen was involved in an accident wherea train ploughed into the car she was next to and subsequently was trapped under. She lost both her legs from above the knee and her right (dominant) arm. "Gone" is the story of her life and how this accident shaped the rest of her life in both positive and negative ways. The story also focuses on disability 4 stars What an outstanding memoir about such a unique and tough situation. Gone had me gripped and I feel honoured to read Linda's story. In 1979, Linda Olsen was involved in an accident wherea train ploughed into the car she was next to and subsequently was trapped under. She lost both her legs from above the knee and her right (dominant) arm. "Gone" is the story of her life and how this accident shaped the rest of her life in both positive and negative ways. The story also focuses on disability in the 80s and how little technology there was to help amputees, let alone triple amputees. Gone also looks into a beautiful love story of Linda with her husband Dave who stuck with her, was her support when she needed help but also her lover, best friend and husband who pushed her to do her best and never let her feel that anything was impossible. It is a sad story but also a beautiful and uplifting tale of survival, love and success. As a disabled person who has all of her limbs, I felt really inspired by Linda and her strength and bravery. In a time when she could have been swept aside, she never gave up on her goals and pursued her dreams with a smile on her face and always making others laugh. I would find what she accomplished amazing for an able bodied person let alone a triple amputee. I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to read an incredibly brave and beautiful story. I am so glad that I have read this story. Please note that I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Reader Views

    “Gone: A Memoir of Love, Body, and Taking Back My Life” by Linda K. Olson is Linda’s story of past and present and when she lost her legs. Back in the 1970s, she had graduated from medical school, was a happy newlywed, athletic and adventurous, and had everything going for her. While in Germany with her husband, friends, and family, she lost her legs and an arm involving a train wreck. Always the one with a smile on her face, she was determined to pull through this situation and make the most of “Gone: A Memoir of Love, Body, and Taking Back My Life” by Linda K. Olson is Linda’s story of past and present and when she lost her legs. Back in the 1970s, she had graduated from medical school, was a happy newlywed, athletic and adventurous, and had everything going for her. While in Germany with her husband, friends, and family, she lost her legs and an arm involving a train wreck. Always the one with a smile on her face, she was determined to pull through this situation and make the most of it. Still human though, she worried that her husband wouldn’t see things as optimistically as herself and leave. Thankfully, she didn’t have to suffer through that trauma as well and had married a good one. The rest of the book includes stories of her life as a physically “disabled” person who was and is still mentally together. Linda has achieved so much in her life, more than most other people have or will. She has beaten the odds and remains optimistic throughout her trials. Her story is an inspiration to everyone if only to follow your dreams. If you find yourself in a tough spot, think of what Linda would do and go from there. Her story flows so smoothly that you feel like you’re flipping pages back to back. Even if you’ve never been handicapped, we’ve all found ourselves in difficult situations; her story is relatable to everyone out there. Linda writes with such a description that you feel that you are in the room with her everywhere she goes. It is amazing to read the amount of pride that her children have in her; this speaks volumes about her personality and workmanship. Within the pages of her story, you will find comedy, drama, happiness, sadness, confusion, and all of the feels. Her story is about family as much as it is about herself because it’s hard to differentiate the two for many people. So of course, if you enjoy memoirs, you are sure to enjoy this one as well. If you don’t, then maybe you should give this one a try and see what kind of impact it has on you. I highly recommend “Gone: A Memoir of Love, Body, and Taking Back My Life” by Linda K. Olson.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mom_Loves_Reading

    'Gone' is a fantastic & incredibly inspiring story of one woman's unbelievable journey & the challenges she has faced in life as a woman with only one remaining limb: her left arm. Linda & Dave's love for one another was another highlight of this memoir. Dave's love for Linda never faltered & if anything, it grew stronger. I feel like my husband would be just like Dave & stick by me no matter what body parts I lost, because our love for one another goes much deeper than physicality. According to 'Gone' is a fantastic & incredibly inspiring story of one woman's unbelievable journey & the challenges she has faced in life as a woman with only one remaining limb: her left arm. Linda & Dave's love for one another was another highlight of this memoir. Dave's love for Linda never faltered & if anything, it grew stronger. I feel like my husband would be just like Dave & stick by me no matter what body parts I lost, because our love for one another goes much deeper than physicality. According to the book, Dave is also the serious & intense half of their relationship & Linda is the energetic & positive, & that is pretty much my husband & me as well. One quote from the book that I loved was: 'We were strong. We were a team. He was my partner. I knew we could do anything if we did it together." 'Gone' is heartbreaking, yes, but mostly it is uplifting, filled with positivity, & ultimately life affirming. One of my motto's in life is: No matter how bad of a day I think I am having, there is always someone who is having a way worse day and someone who won't get a tomorrow. Deep & dark...maybe; but think about that. It's true. Linda Olsen lost 3 of her limbs in a devastating accident, yet she went on to become a mother (twice!), became a doctor, & has lived a happy, fulfilling, (mostly) normal life against all odds. So, if the pandemic has you feeling sorry for yourself because you can't go do all the things you used to be able to do & you're mad because you have to wear a mask, seriously...READ this book. You will have a whole new outlook on life & see everything w/ a whole new perspective.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Ferguson

    I read this book in just a few sittings, completely in awe of the author's story and spirit. Reading this book had given me a renewed sense of perspective and gratitude for the things I all too often take for granted. As a memoirist myself, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to read about Olson's journey from inciting incident to positive outlook and finally to publication. I read this book in just a few sittings, completely in awe of the author's story and spirit. Reading this book had given me a renewed sense of perspective and gratitude for the things I all too often take for granted. As a memoirist myself, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to read about Olson's journey from inciting incident to positive outlook and finally to publication.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Gone is a book by a life long friend of mine, Linda Olson. We were close as kids, calling each other cousins, a tenuous connection by marriage. She had an infectious giggle and a great sense of humor. She was a talented pianist, was very bright and so much fun. I stayed with Linda who was a few years ahead of me in medical school, in Los Angeles where I did a Radiology elective, while she was a resident in training. I watched her with her cute petite figure, as she cheerfully and energetically w Gone is a book by a life long friend of mine, Linda Olson. We were close as kids, calling each other cousins, a tenuous connection by marriage. She had an infectious giggle and a great sense of humor. She was a talented pianist, was very bright and so much fun. I stayed with Linda who was a few years ahead of me in medical school, in Los Angeles where I did a Radiology elective, while she was a resident in training. I watched her with her cute petite figure, as she cheerfully and energetically walked around the department at work in her tall boots, a fashion trend I could never quite pull off. Near the end of my elective, Linda's Mom Mabel picked us up with her younger sister Janice, and we all rode together to her wedding shower. Although we ended up at opposite sides of the country, we have continued to make occasional contact throughout our lives. I’ve enjoyed seeing her kids grow up and become adults on the Christmas photo cards she sends out each year. Linda once told me she has the gift of the “happiness gene” and I truly believe this to be true. Her subtitle of the book addresses “taking back her life.” It is a powerful image. Reading the book was an intense, moving and riveting experience for me: I thought I knew that Linda was a strong person, but I really had no idea how strong. I found out about her accident suddenly while at work, as a colleague talked about it in reference to her husband, Dave. I immediately asked, “Who are you talking about, Linda Olson?” and the answer sent shock waves through me. I ran to a phone, with weak knees, called my Mom and asked her to call “Grandma Dupree” or “Aunt Lenna” to find out if it was really true. They confirmed that it was true, and that the entire family was en route to Linda’s bedside in Europe, where they joined her support team. I never knew until reading the book what actually caused this horrible accident; she never previously disclosed it to anyone, because she wanted to have a happy family and a happy life. This kind of selflessness is rare, as is Linda’s amazing strength of character and her determination. The book follows the difficult scenes of Linda’s initial recovery, her rehabilitation, their return to San Diego, where Dave was a Medical Naval Officer, and Linda’s ongoing rehabilitation there. The difficulties of going about doing what we all think of as daily activities that we take for granted were tremendous hurdles for Linda. It was not easy, but she worked through these activities with the help of her husband and an awesome team of people they found to help make her life more livable. Amazingly, Linda finished her radiology residency while pregnant and living alone in Los Angeles, learned to drive, and and went on with living her life, having and raising two children and overall, accomplishing more than most people do who don’t have such a crushing injury. She and Dave were a devoted couple. She was never bitter or blaming, and her life long optimism and resilience enabled her to overcome and triumph after an accident most would have considered life and career ending. Instead, she is an inspiration to all who know her, and to many others who have learned about her through her memoir. The family traveled and went on outings like a normal family. She worked in a challenging career that requires tenacity and expertise, winning teaching awards. Her children and Dave describe their lives in chapters leading and scattered though the book. So much of this story seems normal, but Linda has lived a heroic life, in that she has overcome incredible adversity, not just surviving, but excelling with a positive attitude as well as bravery, humor (I can hear Linda’s giggling in some of the scenes) and the power of love. It’s an exhilarating read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a great story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Rozier

    This book is meaningful to me because in the last year or so I have really become interested in memoirs and this one is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time! Before last year, I thought memoirs were stuffy old men describing their privileged lives but with books such as Gone; memoirs have opened a door to so many interesting and different perspectives and experiences. Synopsis- Linda loses both her legs and right arm when the van she is riding in is hit by a train in Germany in 1979 when This book is meaningful to me because in the last year or so I have really become interested in memoirs and this one is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time! Before last year, I thought memoirs were stuffy old men describing their privileged lives but with books such as Gone; memoirs have opened a door to so many interesting and different perspectives and experiences. Synopsis- Linda loses both her legs and right arm when the van she is riding in is hit by a train in Germany in 1979 when she is 29 years old. The memoir covers Linda’s healing and recuperation process and her fierce determination as she passes her boards to become a radiologist, has children, and even goes camping and canoeing in Yellowstone National Park. My Takeaways- This was such an amazing memoir! Anyone can benefit from reading this one. Want to model a great marriage, read about Linda and Dave’s relationship and partnership. Need inspiration to overcome adversity, read Linda’s determination as she rehabs from her injuries sustained during her accident and completes her residency while pregnant with her first child! Need a sense of adventure, follow Linda and her friends and family on their camping trip. I loved the pictures in the memoir as well, visuals always help me connect the written word!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Reilly

    Book review: GONE a memoir of love, body and taking back my life by @lindakolson This was an incredible read. I couldn’t put it down and read it in one 24 hour period while it snowed outside. Linda Olson is a 29 year old radiology resident when, on a vacation with her husband and in laws in Germany, their van is hit by a train and she loses both of her legs and her right arm in the accident. What follows is an engaging tale of resilience, courage and survival while Linda works very hard to live Book review: GONE a memoir of love, body and taking back my life by @lindakolson This was an incredible read. I couldn’t put it down and read it in one 24 hour period while it snowed outside. Linda Olson is a 29 year old radiology resident when, on a vacation with her husband and in laws in Germany, their van is hit by a train and she loses both of her legs and her right arm in the accident. What follows is an engaging tale of resilience, courage and survival while Linda works very hard to live her best life. She learns to walk again, parent, change diapers, cook with one hand, insert IVs with one hand and travels the world. I highly recommend picking up this book. Publication day is October 27, 2020. Thank you @booksparks @shewritespress and @lindakolson for sending me this amazing book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    I met Linda when she visited me in the hospital after I had lost my legs. I knew right away that meeting her was a game changer and I, like her, would be able to live a full life! I highly recommend GONE! It is a powerful memoir filled with strength, dignity and courage and sprinkled with humor. The Olson and Hodgens family invite you into their world as they navigate marriage, careers, family and the uncharted territory of being disabled in an able-bodied world. GONE is a must read! You will lau I met Linda when she visited me in the hospital after I had lost my legs. I knew right away that meeting her was a game changer and I, like her, would be able to live a full life! I highly recommend GONE! It is a powerful memoir filled with strength, dignity and courage and sprinkled with humor. The Olson and Hodgens family invite you into their world as they navigate marriage, careers, family and the uncharted territory of being disabled in an able-bodied world. GONE is a must read! You will laugh and cry but most of all you will be inspired! And you will fall in love with Linda and her family! Thank you Linda for sharing your journey and encouraging me once again. You truly are amazing and an example to me with every step I take!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Shepherd

    This is a powerful memoir written by Dr. Linda K. Olson. The author begins her story, in the prime of her young adult life, when a terrible tragedy changes her world in every possible way. She must reinvent her life from the ground up. However, it is not a sad story, but one of inspiration and love. This book will make you cry, laugh out loud, and cheer for this dynamic and strong woman. She reveals her pin-point focus to heal physically and create a life full of love, one chapter at a time. Yes This is a powerful memoir written by Dr. Linda K. Olson. The author begins her story, in the prime of her young adult life, when a terrible tragedy changes her world in every possible way. She must reinvent her life from the ground up. However, it is not a sad story, but one of inspiration and love. This book will make you cry, laugh out loud, and cheer for this dynamic and strong woman. She reveals her pin-point focus to heal physically and create a life full of love, one chapter at a time. Yes, this book is a love story of a man and a woman who face one of the worst challenges that you can imagine and they come out victorious. It is a book of inspiration for everyone. I strongly recommend this as one of the best memoirs of the year!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This is the true story of a 29 y/o newly married woman, who is in an accident that sees her losing both her legs & 1 arm. What a story of positivity & determination! It's really as much a story about her husband too.....positivity & determination from both of them. An honest & open account of many of the challenges they faced.....financial, social, sexual, physical & mental. She did a good job of putting the story together in a real interesting, readable form. I found it easy to stay up late at This is the true story of a 29 y/o newly married woman, who is in an accident that sees her losing both her legs & 1 arm. What a story of positivity & determination! It's really as much a story about her husband too.....positivity & determination from both of them. An honest & open account of many of the challenges they faced.....financial, social, sexual, physical & mental. She did a good job of putting the story together in a real interesting, readable form. I found it easy to stay up late at night reading it. I received an e-ARC from She Writes Press via NetGalley, with the understanding that I'd read it & post my own fair/honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Cameron

    I could relate to this book quite a bit. A dear friend gave it to me. The author was a professor of her daughter's in medical school. As a person with a disability myself, the struggles with moving from independence to dependence and ultimately interdependence is familiar. Wanting to be a strong woman and be accomplished has additional challenges when someone else has to help you go to the bathroom. I appreciated the realness of this story as well as the exceptionally deep romance that is obviou I could relate to this book quite a bit. A dear friend gave it to me. The author was a professor of her daughter's in medical school. As a person with a disability myself, the struggles with moving from independence to dependence and ultimately interdependence is familiar. Wanting to be a strong woman and be accomplished has additional challenges when someone else has to help you go to the bathroom. I appreciated the realness of this story as well as the exceptionally deep romance that is obvious between the author and her husband. Their love compels them and others around them. Ultimately, the book reminds me that life is hard but worth it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

    An inspiring story recommended for everyone! Thanks to BookSparks for sending me a copy. “Linda Olson and her husband, Dave Hodgens, were young doctors whose story had all the makings of a fairy tale. But then, while they were vacationing in Germany, a train hit their van, shattering their lives―and Linda’s body. When Linda saw Dave for the first time after losing her right arm and both of her legs, she told him she would understand if he left. His response: “I didn’t marry your arms or your leg An inspiring story recommended for everyone! Thanks to BookSparks for sending me a copy. “Linda Olson and her husband, Dave Hodgens, were young doctors whose story had all the makings of a fairy tale. But then, while they were vacationing in Germany, a train hit their van, shattering their lives―and Linda’s body. When Linda saw Dave for the first time after losing her right arm and both of her legs, she told him she would understand if he left. His response: “I didn’t marry your arms or your legs. If you can do it, I can do it.”

  13. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    3.5 star rating. In 1979, newly married Linda and Dave were involved in a horrific accident leaving her with just one remaining limb. This is her memoir of how literally she got back on her feet again. No self pity here, just an absolute determination to claw back her life, which she managed, in spades! Dave and Linda are a team in every way and he played a huge part in her struggles for “normality”. Anyone reading this with their own adversities will gain strength from it. I was given this ARC 3.5 star rating. In 1979, newly married Linda and Dave were involved in a horrific accident leaving her with just one remaining limb. This is her memoir of how literally she got back on her feet again. No self pity here, just an absolute determination to claw back her life, which she managed, in spades! Dave and Linda are a team in every way and he played a huge part in her struggles for “normality”. Anyone reading this with their own adversities will gain strength from it. I was given this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Linda's is a life filled with extraordinary strength and self-awareness. She tells her story with unflinching candor and honesty. Read GONE to gain perspective, and like me, be filled with respect for Dr. Olson. I feel honored to have been gifted a copy of this memoir, and wish Linda and her family nothing but the best! Linda's is a life filled with extraordinary strength and self-awareness. She tells her story with unflinching candor and honesty. Read GONE to gain perspective, and like me, be filled with respect for Dr. Olson. I feel honored to have been gifted a copy of this memoir, and wish Linda and her family nothing but the best!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maura Muller

    Linda Olson is one persistent, scrappy woman! Her memoir/ love story of overcoming a horrific train accident while on vacation was gripping and inspiring. It was very uplifting to read about such a determined woman surrounded by so much love and support as she stubbornly pursued her dreams.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kayo

    Inspirational. Lovely read. Puts things into perspective for sure. Well written book! Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    This story really makes you realize that the human mind can overcome unbelievable circumstances and not only endure, but thrive in while in pain and under stress. Optimism, persistence, fortitude, love, dedication and joy are the how and what of this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Jordan

    I couldn't put Linda Olson's book down and was so sad when it was over, I want an encore! "GONE" is a read that will touch your heart and make your life better. If you feel like being inspired in living life with more love, grit, and gusto, get out and go grab yourself a copy now!! I couldn't put Linda Olson's book down and was so sad when it was over, I want an encore! "GONE" is a read that will touch your heart and make your life better. If you feel like being inspired in living life with more love, grit, and gusto, get out and go grab yourself a copy now!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Liralen

    Olson’s life changed in a matter of moments: when a train hit the van she was travelling in, she lost both of her legs above the knee and her right arm at the shoulder. She’d nearly completed her own medical training as a doctor, but the accident meant that she had to relearn the most basic of tasks, from writing with her non-dominant hand to walking.As the doctors moved on to the next room, I tried to imagine myself with fake legs. Will I ever really walk again? I’ve since learned, from various Olson’s life changed in a matter of moments: when a train hit the van she was travelling in, she lost both of her legs above the knee and her right arm at the shoulder. She’d nearly completed her own medical training as a doctor, but the accident meant that she had to relearn the most basic of tasks, from writing with her non-dominant hand to walking.As the doctors moved on to the next room, I tried to imagine myself with fake legs. Will I ever really walk again? I’ve since learned, from various doctors and medical journals, that it takes 280 percent more energy for a bilateral above-knee amputee to walk with prosthetics than a person with normal legs. According to a 2007 article in inMotion called “Stepping Up to Health, Using a pedometer for amputee fitness,” if you were to follow the recommendation to walk 10,000 steps per day, I would expend the same energy after only 2,500 steps. Only 20 percent of bilateral above-knee amputees become successful prosthetic users. I can’t even find any numbers for the success rate of triple amputees. (54)Olson was in a better position than many to bounce back: because she was so far along in her medical training, there were fewer gatekeepers who could say ‘a disabled woman? She can’t do it’; she also had a supportive family, including a husband who survived the same accident with much less serious injuries. But even though medical technology for amputees has come a long way since Olson’s accident (spurred on, in large part, by war—as battlefield medicine has improved, more soldiers have come home as amputees rather than bodies, and because of this the options for amputees have expanded greatly), there was never going to be an easy fix for traumatic triple amputation. The title is somewhat misleading, I think. It’s not inaccurate—her limbs were there, and then three of them were gone. But I don’t think it really captures the I can do this spirit of the book, or Olson’s determination not to let the accident hold her back—from working as a doctor, from walking, from camping, from carrying on with life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    CJ

    Awesome tale of survival, adaptation, optimism and love. The only reason it isn't 5 stars for me I'd I felt that the ending came a little abruptly.... although I'm not really sure I could say how else I would want it to end. Awesome tale of survival, adaptation, optimism and love. The only reason it isn't 5 stars for me I'd I felt that the ending came a little abruptly.... although I'm not really sure I could say how else I would want it to end.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elsie

    Review held pending Maxy Awards.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Broderick

    Fantastic and true story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    M.

    It was a good read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    A beautiful memoir written after a tragic accident where Linda became a triple amputee. Her strength and courage as she was healing and learning to get back a normal life, is inspirational! A great read! Don’t miss it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vickie

  26. 5 out of 5

    Keagan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen Martin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan

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