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New amputee: 13 year old black retriever mix
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5 January 2018 - 11:56 am
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Hi all, 

First off I need to say what a godsend this website has been. I've been trawling through everything I could find here for the past week and it's been invaluable in helping me prepare both emotionally and practically to welcoming a tripawd into our home!

Our Homer is a new rear legged amputee. He's 13 years old, a black retriever mix, diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right rear leg. He has a bit of arthritis in his remaining left rear leg.

He just came home yesterday evening after a night in the hospital. I was prepared for this to be extremely hard, but the last 20 or so hours since bringing him home from the hospital have seriously kicked both of our asses and I have definitely been struggling with all those 'what have I done?!' feelings and sleep has not really seemed like an option. A few things I could use advice on/that are worrying me:

1) Mobility issues: I know it's still very early days, but he is not interested in using his remaining back leg at all. He tries to get up, but can't seem to figure out or find the strength to pull that other leg back under him. I expect this will get better with time since we're only on day 3 since the surgery. But he's a big boy, and I'm quite petite- 100lbs vs. his 60 lbs. I have a harness and a sling, but even with this it's almost impossible to get him to move without nearly throwing out my back. We haven't managed to make it outside yet before he looses control and pees everywhere. Any tips on how I can manage this?

2) Pain management: Pre-op, he had been on 75 mg Tramadol and 300mg Gabapentin. This time they only sent him home with 300mg of Gabapentin but no Tramadol. By mid-morning, he was panicking, drooling excessively and yelling in pain. I called the vet and they said I could give him our remaining Tramadol, which I did and now he's calmed down. Has anyone ever heard of a dog being sent home with only Gabapentin? Should I insist for a refill of Tramadol? And what are the experiences here of Amantadine?

3) Remaining rear leg: He can't stand or get up on his own at this point, and struggles to use his remaining leg. For this reason he sort of plops down with his leg under him at weird angles, and I'm worried this is going to cause problems in this leg and aggravate his back/hips. I try to straighten him out but he's having none of it. Does anyone have experience with this?

4) Food: He will drink (yay!) but absolutely will not eat. I've offered him everything under the sun, but any clever and creative ideas are much appreciated.

Thank you all so much for reading this far and for this wonderful community!

The Rainbow Bridge

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5 January 2018 - 3:39 pm
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Hi Skylar, welcome. I saw you in the Tripawds Chat room this morning but you didn't say anything. Be sure to bark if you want to chat, I'm often there in the mornings and people stop by throughout the day too.

Sorry to hear about Homer's diagnosis. It's a tough one made even tougher when your pup is just home from the hospital. Rest assured if you visit our Size and Age Matters Forum you'll see that for many senior dogs, recovery can take a bit longer and there's a few more mobility challenges. I also encourage you to download Three Legs and a Spare , our e-book, which has lots of post-op recovery tips. Jerry's Required Reading List does too.

My first question is, why does he have such minimal pain medication? Is he on a Fentanyl patch or did he get an injection of Nocita, a new 3-day pain reliever that's just hit the shelves? If the answer to both is no, I would insist on more pain medication. Anytime your gut feeling tells you that your dog isn't right, let your vet know.

Sometimes tramadol doesn't cut it after surgery (often, really, only vets are just now starting to realize this) and that's when other drugs like Amantadine can help alleviate symptoms associated with phantom leg pain . This first of a two-part article goes into more detail:

Post-Surgery Pain in Tripawd Dogs and Cats, Part 1

Regarding the mobility issues. How often are you assisting him? Are you using a grocery bag sling? Does he have a good harness like the Ruffwear Webmaster that can help you help him stand up? Keep in mind he's also very tired and groggy, and of course doesn't want to move around much right now. Sometimes puppy pads are just what you need to keep your sanity and help him rest. He shouldn't be going outside to potty more than a couple times a day. Don't force him if he doesn't want to, but if he doesn't urinate within 12 hours of his last one, let your vet know. Pooping will come later, he's probably constipated like most post-op Tripawds.

Finally, check out the Tripawds Nutrition blog for lots of appetite tips like these, to get him to eat. Pain meds will diminish his appetite so keep that in mind. Whatever he'll eat right now, run with it, even if it's cat food or stinky canned meats.

Try not to feel down, I know it's hard. But he'll get there! To speed it up, I encourage you to consider making an appointment with a certified canine rehab therapist. They can assess Homer and let you know where his strengths and weaknesses are, and how to help him get strong. The best part is the Tripawds Foundation will pay for your first rehab visit !

Let us know how he's doing OK? We are cheering you on!

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5 January 2018 - 4:50 pm
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Welcome and sorry you have to be here.  Rene gave good advice on the pain medication.  Most dogs come home with tramadol, rimadyl and gabapentin and many with an antibiotic too.  So yes if sweet Homer didn't get that 3 day block or a fentanyl patch he's seriously probably hurting which help explains his not moving much.  So yes be Homers advocate and demand he gets pain relief.  It does indeed take some dogs longer to find their sea legs.  It took our Max about 4 before he could get up on his own......I thought it was never going to happen.  But it did and from then on he was fine.  So I definitely think your #1 & 2 & 3 are all correlated.  We cooked chicken breast, hamburger gave him tuna......any protein we could get down him.  A lot of people say the stinkier the food the more liable they are to eat it.  Cheese, liverwurst give anything a try.  Some people have found success with chicken baby food or smelly cat food.   Hope your boy finds his appetite soon.  Hang in there you're at some of the hardest days right now......but please do address the pain control with your vet asap.  As our Sally would say if it were a person going through this they'd be in the hospital on a morphine drip......so our dogs definitely need help with pain this early on!  Hugs to both of you!!

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5 January 2018 - 4:53 pm
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Hi Jerry! Thanks so much for the helpful and detailed response. I was exploring the chat room earlier, but then got distracted by my tripawd 🙂 I decided it would be easier to post in the forum, as there's so much going on it's hard to sit down and have a chat at the moment!

To answer your questions:

- On pain and medication, I believe he had a fentanyl patch, but it would have only been for 24 hours, as he did not have it when he came home. I called the vet today and had them prescribe more tramadol, which I've now picked up. He seems to be much calmer after this, but it seems he must be having some phantom limb pain (I can't figure out what else it might be) because every now and then he'll try to stand up in a total panic and howl in pain. He's always such a stoic dog and to hear him yelping is truly gut wrenching. The only thing that seems to help when this happens is standing him up- if I get him on his feet he will calm down and just lean against me. I wonder why this might be and if anyone's encountered it before?

-  As for mobility, he has a Help em' Up harness as well as a canvas sling that I made for him. He doesn't tolerate the sling well and refuses to move when it's on, so I've found it's better to take the harness with my left hand and hold his belly up at the bottom of his ribcage with my right (at the expense of my back). But he's much more confident and willing to try this way. And I invested in some puppy pads when I picked up the tramadol, so we are on the same page there!

-On appetite, I managed to get a handful of rice and broth down him but that's about it. I will explore the link you gave and keep trying!

- We will definitely get him into rehab ASAP! I read in another post here that someone found that GlycoFlex really helped for older and more arthritic dogs, particularly for building hind leg strength. Anyone else have experience with this?

Thank you thank you thank you for your support!

Virginia
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5 January 2018 - 9:25 pm
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Okay, deep breaths!!!    B R E A T H E.......B R E A T H E.......This part of the recovery is exhausting and so stressful,  ut you're dping great!  You're asking all the right questions and you are doing an excellent job of monitoring

My first post here was something like: "Day Six and I fear I've made a HORRIBLE decision!!!"   This wonderful community threw me a lifeline and helped me navigate through all the pups and downs of receovery.

Actually, it took me about three weeks before I could finally say I did this FOR my Hzppy Hannah and not TO her!

Yes, it OS MAJOR surgery and it does hurt!  You have a senior who just had major surgery and is trying to learn how to adjust to three legs and apparently wasn't prescribed potent enough pain meds!   As hard as it is, try not to worry too muchhabout the mobility, but do try and keep the pain managed and notnet it get a hard start.

Check with your Vet, but Tramadol can usually be given two or even three times a day, depending on dose amount, weight of dog, etc.  I am not a Vet and not givie Vet advice so check with yiur Vet first.  Also, rather than give the Gabapentin and Tramadol the same rime, maybe space them out an hour or two apart.

It's possible based on what you said that Homer is experiencing phantom limb pain.  The Gabapentin should help that.  Again, check with yiur Vet butnit may be that the Gabapentin needs ro be given every twelve hours, but maybe at a lesser dose.  Again, check with yiur Vet.

Peeing and drinking are important. Being off in his appetite is pretty normal and pooping may not happen for a few days.

Try ANY yummy food he'll eat.  Cheeseburgers, bacon and eggs, stinky liverwurst, warmed chicken, cheese pizza,etc.

My Happy Hannah wouldn't tolerate a sling either.   For now, don't push it as far as potty breaks. Wait until he shows signs he needs ro go pee.  Using the peed pads may be the solution for awhile.

And yes, I know members here use Glycoflex, or Dasequin, Adequan injections, that seem to be helping arthritis.

Try gentle massagekver a warmed towel.  I'm sure Homer's muscle are sore and tight .

As hard as it is, continue to pprtray and strong and confident energy.  This is very, very, very early in recovery and Homer will get past this rough part slooooowly but surely!  Be sure and ccelebrate every LITTLE victory...drinking water, etc.  "Little" victories are HUGE victories during the first couple of weeks.

STAY CONNECTED!!!   We're right by your side!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS.  Some dogs do lay on their amp side right away, most don't because it's usually somsore.  It may be that the amp site itself sn't unbearably painful, like it is in some cases.  Plus he may get some rrelief because of the pressure of laying on it.

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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6 January 2018 - 7:38 pm
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Thanks Sally and Linda for the helpful comments! 

Homer seems to be slowly improving, and with the tramadol his pain seems to be under control (thank goodness). I've been giving him the tramadol and gabapentin every 8 hours or so, spaced out a bit as Sally recommended. I plan to move that to twice a day, every 10-12 hours as we'll be hitting day 4 and I want to try to establish a more regular schedule for him. Right now he's been sleeping most of the day and we've just been going with the flow.

He still won't really eat much, which is concerning me. The only thing he'll go for are the beef jerky dog snacks we have, which I tear up and hand feed him. I've been soaking everything in broth, have cooked him chicken, and even tried the smelly cat food trick Linda mentioned above, but he's just not interested. Maybe his appetite will return once the meds regimen is a bit lighter...

He still can't get up on his own, but is doing better with using his back leg once I hoist him up- I've given up on the sling. He tires quickly though and we still haven't made it outside for a potty break yet. He's drinking a healthy amount of water but he's only peeing once a day, which concerns me. Still no poos, but I'm not worried about that yet. I think it's a combination of being doped up and hating to go in the house on these puppy pads because he can't make it outside yet (when never even had to potty train him as a pup).

I guess I'm just worried that while we're making progress in the form of baby steps and I am throwing a huge party over every little 'win', this is all happening very slowly. I guess I'll probably be quite anxious until I can see he's mobile again.

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6 January 2018 - 8:48 pm
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Hi Skyla and Mum

Sorry that you have to be here, but you’ve come to the right place for helpful tips about welcoming your Tripawd home.

On day four, Stewie, my 100lb Bernese/RottyX, was still on a mix of Gabapentin, Meloxicam for anti-inflammatory, T3’s and Amoxicillin Clan (penicillin).

i kept a daily journal and wrote Stewie’s blog, while I was helping him recuperate and I thought I would include an excerpt from his 1st weeks blog...

I called DR. Laurie @ 7pm. I told her that Stewie is back to being lethargic. He's eating only steak & chicken and not unless he is urged to do so, even then I have to sometimes walk away, as he doesn't trust me anymore. It's the pill thing...

He is far more lethargic this evening. I did convince him to eat summer sausage with chicken. He is exhausted!

I am to call tomorrow (Saturday) at 12:15pm and report in Stewie's progress. I think we will have to go in...

I did end up taking Stewie in, a few times. My vet was brilliant in getting Stewie back on track. His meds were messing with him, he wasn’t eating much, he hadn’t poo’d... we stopped all meds for a day (he spent the day with the vet), he had a enema (poor lad!) and he managed to liven up a wee bit and pop out a very small poo! 

We put him back on his meds, all but the Meloxicam. He had also developed a seroma (a build up of fluid under his skin, which caused him a lot of discomfort) and would lay on his amp side to put pressure on his incision. It wasn’t until the seroma had gone down that he stopped laying on his amp side. (Now he does it all the time, he has no problems getting up anymore.)

Stewie is a front leg amputee, so I’m afraid my experience would be a little different for you, especially as Homer has arthritis issues too. 

I hope this helps along with other people’s suggesrions. Keep at it... you’ve made it halfway through the worst part of it! When Homer naps, I suggest you try to do the same. It is super important to keep calm and give tons of positive reinforcement. Be sure to have rugs for traction wherever Homer walks and he will gain confidence in his new Tripawd legs!

All the very best from Petra, Stewie and his Pride Of kittens

On July 10/17 I became a Super Tripawd! You can find out more about my Pawrents Allensong but first Check out my 🎗 journey Super Stu Remember...“live in the moment!“  

Virginia
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6 January 2018 - 9:13 pm
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Himer's Mom!  A standing ovation to yiu for recognizing ,"baby steps" are HUGE VICTORIES!!!  Good for you for celebrating those wins!   And they are wins

Homer is a....er....hmmmm....a "mature" fella and needs to take things at a slow pace.  Just the fact that he seems to be resting somewhat comfortably is healing and restorative.

In just a matter of a few short days you are seeing him already having more strength in his rear leg. bavy step thsts a HHUGEVICTORY!! Homer is pacir himself auite well. He's a smart boy!       May have already mentioned it, give him gentle massages all up and down his spine, his shoulder and neck area before and after standing.  His muscles are tight and sore while they sre in this intense adjustment  phase.

His appetite should increase now that he seems more comfortable. If necessary, the Vet can give him an appetite stimulate, but he is eating something, so thsts good!    Try "Fresh Pet".  It's in the pet refrigerated section of Whole Foods and Target also. 

You know Homer better than anyone.  It  makes sense that he woukd hold off peeing as long as he can since puppy pads are just not in his view of "appropriate for private  bathroom duties":-) 

Hang in there!   It's so very, very early in recovery!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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7 January 2018 - 3:44 am
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Hello and welcome. I am new to the site as well. My 10 year old golden suddenly fractured her right front leg from a bone tumor and had her amputation on friday. It all happened suddenly and honestly i think she is adjusting better than i am at this point. It is all hard and frustrating but i agree with what everyone has said ..... celebrate the little victories. Abby did not spend the night in the hospital so our first night post op was at home. It was filled with no sleep for me and a lot of crying. I thought i had made the wrong decision and how could i be so selfish to put her thru this. But it got better. She would not eat anything the first night. And for a golden not to eat it is very worrisome. Haha. But she was drinking so i wasnt worried. I had to shove the pills down her throat but the second day was better. I put her pills in hotdogs and she takes them that way. I also gave her some pasta which she loved since she never gets people food. I agree with everyone to just feed him whatever he wants. He is a big dog so he has some “reserve” and wont starve to death but you do want a little something in his belly when he takes the meds. What about a little fast food? Abby loves mcdonalds fries and chicken nuggets. Abby came home on tramadol, gabapentin, rimadyl, tylenol with codeine and an antibiotic. Why did the vet not want to put him on rimadyl. Since it sounds like he has a little arthritis he needs an anti inflammatory. I am having the same potty problem. I tried to get anby to pee on a pad but she has been potty trained since the day i brought her home at 13 weeks so she knows that she doesnt go potty in the house. If he is having accidents i think that is ok for now. Abby isnt peeing a lot either but sometimes they are dehydrated after surgery and do not make a lot of urine right away. Even tho he is drinking his body is absorbing it and not making pee. Mobilty wise i dont have any recommendations. I am having the same problem. I live alone and abby is too heavy for me to pick up especially from a laying down position. She is a front leg so its a little different. I try using the sling but it is her front i need to support not her belly. She is starting to move around on her own. It is hard to watch your baby struggle. Hopefully each day gets easier and easier. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and just breathe. It is frustrating and sometimes you just need to take a break and cry and know that you did the right thing. Your baby is alive and home with you and your love and thats best thing for him. Keep checking in. The forum is a life saver!

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8 January 2018 - 8:02 pm
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Hi again all, just a little update on my Homer. Petra and Amber, thanks so much for sharing your experiences, you have no idea how helpful it is to realise that other dogs have been in similar situations! Amber, how is Abby holding up?

Homer is doing much better- he's eating again (I caved and went for the fast food, as suggested- cheeseburgers immediately did the trick!) although he could still benefit by eating a bit more, and we're managing to use the sling to hop outside to go the potty without it being a big ordeal (still no poopoopicon_png). He's more alert and can manage to get up on his own if he really wants to, but his balance is still totally out of whack. He even managed to hop into the kitchen yesterday like a big black wrecking ball before I could get to him and help stabilise, cheeky dog.

I've order a webmaster plus harness, as the Help em' Up is just not cutting it and we could really use some additional support. Can't wait for that to get here!

However, my main concern at the moment is that about 5-6 hours into his meds (75mg tramadol and 300mg gabapentin) he starts these full body (not just at the amputation site) tremors, that come at regular intervals. It's like all the muscles in his body are just seizing up. They are hard to notice unless you are touching him, but they are certainly there. At first I thought this was because I was trying out moving his meds from every 8 hours to every 10 (I have to get back to work soon) and it just wasn't enough. But now we're back to meds every 8 hours, and this evening he's still started the trembling again. It seems like he's uncomfortable when these tremors start and it makes it hard for him to settle. Last night we were up every 30 minutes until 7am. I plan to call the vet tomorrow as it scares me, but I wanted to see if anyone else had this sort of experience before? Could it actually be the meds messing with him?

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8 January 2018 - 8:06 pm
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Also just to say I've watched the doggy massage video and have been trying it out on him in case this might help and to try to get him to relax a bit- he seems to enjoy it but it doesn't seem to do much for the tremors.

Virginia
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8 January 2018 - 8:38 pm
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YAAAAAAAAAY FOR CHEESEBURGERS!!!! 🙂 🙂  YAAAAAAAAAY FOR BEING ABLE TO GET UP ON HIS OWN SOME!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Regarding the tremors, I just searched here  and found two things thst stood out.  In one case it was discovered that the dog had a fever.  In the other case, the Vet suspected the tremors in that particular dog were related to the medication. And, of course, it can be a sign of pain!   So no definitive answers!

If I recall, he was sleeping "somewhat comfortably" when you were giving the meds every eight hours?  The tremors started when you tried to stretch it to ten hours on day four???  It takes some ti.e to stop the pain once it gets ahead start.  If the tremors started about six hours after the doses, it could be pain related.

CERTAINLY CHECK WITH YIUR VET.  I'M NOT A VET AND NOT GIVING VET ADVICE.  The meds may need some more tweaking.  Oh, and if you can do it yourself, check to make sure he doesn't have a fever.

And mist throwing this out there too!  It's day five?  He just may need a good poop!!!  Have you tried giving him a little  atural pumpkin puree?  No spices, etc added.

Ive forfotten, how much does he weigh?

Soundss like overall you are seeing some really good solid progress!     HOPPING INTO THE KITCHEN!!!  YAAAAAAAAAY!! 🙂    Remember, slooooow and easy.  Patience is hard, but Homer IS improving!!!   He's taking things slowly and that's exactly what he needs to do!

Give that sweet cheeky boy a butt scratch....And a cheeseburger...for me! 🙂

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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9 January 2018 - 12:59 pm
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Our pal Charlie had a front leg amputated due to osteosarcoma.  He was on Gabapentin 300mg, 2 caps 2 to 3x per day.  Metacam 1x/day and tramadol.  The tramadol we gave 2 ea 2x/day for a few days and then backed off to 1 2x/day.  And we still had 2 episodes where he howled in pain as he was trying to move.  

Good luck

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10 January 2018 - 7:59 am
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Hi Homer and Mum

how are you doing? Did you get any answers from your vet regarding Homers tremors? I sure hope he is settling down for you, that wouldn’t be a nice experience for either of you! 

I have experienced the tremors in Stewie, but this was before his amputation (and one episode after). It just suddenly started one day and I didn’t know what to make of it. The tremors are mostly confined to his head and neck. I was able to stop them very quickly by getting him to focus on a treat. This worked for him the last time as well. I asked my vet about it and she said that we could do a whole bunch of tests to try and figure it out..., but for Stewie it hasn’t been an ongoing concern, he does not appear to be in pain for the few seconds that he is shaking, so Paul and I have chosen to not pursue it. 

From what you describe with Homer, it is not quite the same. It sounds more like Sally has suggested, either the medications are having an effect on him, or if he is in pain, his body could show that in many different ways, including tremors. And maybe it is a big 💩 that he needs to take!!! I took Stewie in for an enema at about day four or five. It helped to start moving things... 

Im so glad he got to have a cheeseburger! I mean all dawgs need a cheeseburger during recovery right?! Little nibbles are okay for now, as long as he is getting something in his tummy for the meds. 

Heres to hoping you have had a good 💩 and a better day!

Petra, Stewie and his Pride Of kittens.

On July 10/17 I became a Super Tripawd! You can find out more about my Pawrents Allensong but first Check out my 🎗 journey Super Stu Remember...“live in the moment!“  

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