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Poll
Question: Over time, how has your reaction to stings changed?
No change - always minor reaction
No change - always major reaction
Reactions have decreased in severity over time
Reactions have worsened in severity over time


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Author Topic: Poll - Stings and building up immunity  (Read 3986 times)
tlynn
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« on: May 05, 2009, 04:57:49 PM »

I am curious to know how peoples' immunities have changed with bee stings over time.  I have been working bees a little over a year and get Popeye arm every 3rd or 4th inspection and it doesn't seem to be getting any better each time.  Someone suggested voluntary stingings on a consistent basis to build up immunity.  I tried it a couple times but became discouraged because of all the pain and swelling.  Just curious if it might be worth putting up with to reduce the reaction.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2009, 05:58:09 PM by tlynn » Logged
doak
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2009, 06:38:32 PM »

Every person is subject to have a different reaction. You cannot and (should not) consider trying to
compare the results. If the swelling continues to be large try not to get stung as much.
Another thing make sure you are using the proper procedure for removing the stinger.
Can some one post that pic for those who don't know.
Get it out as quick as possible and use the hive tool or if working with out gloves the finger nail.
dig it out from the skin and not the poison sac.   :)doak
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2009, 06:45:59 PM »

I hate to say it but some times you just got to back away, for some it seems it just isn't worth it.

Two bee clubs in the area have had a large increase in membership, people are going to save the world by raiseing bees. Supriseingly a number of them, after being stung a few times, and have sold out at a loss in a very short time.

A durn shame but it's happening, perhaps its one of those fad things.

Some time you just have to say this isn't my cup of tea.

The worst thing I see and hear is other people saying, just ignore it it will get better ! Maybe it will, but that just ain't necessarly so.

Go ahead " experts ", lay it to me, I'm ready
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2009, 06:50:15 PM »

I cant disagree with you Bee, but as a general rule I try to take 5 to 10 stings a day in my hands early in the spring for about a week and after that I have very little swelling or itching.   Just a thought!
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2009, 08:03:12 PM »

i swell like crazy with almost every sting.  depends some on where i am stung.  when i do cutouts our swarm catching, i carry a bottle of liquid benadryl.  i have a bottle at home in the barn.  when i get stung, i take a swig and it helps.

any time you are stung you run a risk of having a bad reaction.  if you are already having bad reactions, you should take precautions against being stung.  some people do seem to develop a sort of immunity, but some also develop a fatal allergy. 
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tlynn
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2009, 08:39:52 PM »

Another thing make sure you are using the proper procedure for removing the stinger.
Can some one post that pic for those who don't know.
Get it out as quick as possible and use the hive tool or if working with out gloves the finger nail.
dig it out from the skin and not the poison sac.   :)doak

I'll have to say this thread was prompted by a sting to the arm that I ignored as I was busy working the hives and remembered it probably 10 minutes later before I scraped out the stinger.  Major Popeye arm.

Beekeeping isn't something I'm willing to give up because of this discomfort.  I fully well realize different people react differently.  I am just curious about trends.
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2009, 08:46:01 PM »

By now my blood has to be part bee venom. I don't react to stings from wasps or bees like I used to before I started keeping bees. My reactions are just a little pain, not much swelling at all.


...JP
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2009, 09:08:33 PM »

Repeated stings are more likely to build a sensitivity as opposed to a resistance to bee venom. I know there are those that will swear to the contrary, but people with a proclivity to a reaction will most often not get better with stings.  They get worse.  It is best to simply protect against stings if you are prone to a reaction.  Full suit, every time.
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2009, 09:31:23 PM »

I have heard that the average beekeeper should be able to withstand around 400 stings with no problems. I get stung and no more reactions.
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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2009, 09:37:17 PM »

I have heard that the average beekeeper should be able to withstand around 400 stings with no problems. I get stung and no more reactions.

Well, heck, I should be dead by now, then D! grin


...JP
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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2009, 10:02:52 PM »

i'm no expert beekeeper, but as a construction worker/ farmer i can tell you a few things about pain. number one is, you don't have to go looking for it ,it'll find you. to each their own. i wear my veil and gloves.
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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2009, 10:14:08 PM »

it depends, I get a little swelling on the first dozen stings every year but then no reaction at all, you dont keep the immunity unless you are being stung year round, I get very few if any during the winter month's because I leave my hives alone except just to check on them on warm days, I do wear a veil but some times forget to zip it up  Wink (has happened more than once  grin ) , I very seldom wear gloves though working hive except doing removals.
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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2009, 10:28:04 PM »

It used to take 3 days for the swelling to go down and the site would itch for days. For a time I used to take an antihistamine if I was stung but over the past while I now only get very mild swelling, a bit of pain for a short while and then a bit of an itch for a few hours even on sensitive places such as the pad of the fingers.

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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2009, 11:21:08 PM »

tlynn, That was part of the point I was trying to get across.
The sooner you get the poison sac out the less venom will go in. The sac pulsates. Pumping it in.
I think any one planing on going into beekeeping should read at least one book, At least three times before starting. :)doak
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2009, 04:07:20 AM »

I agree, Doak. Getting the sting out quickly without squeezing the poison sack is the secret

Mick
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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2009, 07:26:58 AM »

I've read studies that show that the key is getting the stinger out quickly -- scraping is not necessary, and takes more time, and during that time that little poison sac is pumping away on its own. I just feel for it if I can't see it (like on my face) and pull it out.
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2009, 08:50:10 AM »

Here's a short course;

http://bees.ucr.edu/stings.html

Only thing is they don't say is how to do this in 8 seconds or less while, holding up a brood frame covered with bees while searching for eggs, much less finding something to scrape or pinch with. No need to mention hive tool or fingers, they are generaly covered with wax,honey or proplis.

Bee-Bop
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« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2009, 11:10:12 AM »

If the swelling continues to be large try not to get stung as much.


Thank you captain obvious grin grin
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tlynn
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« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2009, 06:32:15 PM »

Here's a short course;

http://bees.ucr.edu/stings.html

Only thing is they don't say is how to do this in 8 seconds or less while, holding up a brood frame covered with bees while searching for eggs, much less finding something to scrape or pinch with. No need to mention hive tool or fingers, they are generaly covered with wax,honey or proplis.

Bee-Bop


Bee-Bop, thanks for that link.  Pretty cool how the 2 sides of the stinger ratchet themselves to work it deeper.  A well-designed continuous delivery system!
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tlynn
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2009, 06:42:24 PM »

After researching further some of the thoughts in the posts, I found the immune system can go either way after repeated exposures.  One can't assume the reactions will decrease with more exposure.  It depends on a couple different types of immune cells and which one decides to react more.  One poster mentioned that more stings are more likely to build more sensitivity, and that isn't supported by the literature, if the meaning was more than 50% as being more likely, although there is a small percentage who do become highly allergic over time.
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« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2009, 06:52:29 PM »

My experience with stings is limited. When I first got started, the stings would swell up, cause a little pain for a short period of time and turn red.
The redness would last for about 2-3 days.  Now, I feel a little pain for just a short period of time after the sting and experience very little redness or swelling.

Last week I got stung on the very tip of my rather large nose (think easy target)   ......... and thought, boy and I going to look stupid. Nothing really happened, I just had a little dark pin size mark on the end of my nose. You had to look hard to find it. I guess, I getting use to it.  I do know that I'm not nearly as concerned about getting stung. I just try to move slowly and carefully.

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« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2009, 06:58:12 PM »

None of the choices match my experience.  They got worse over time until they dropped to almost nothing after my worst reaction.
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« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2009, 02:15:28 AM »

I have heard that the average beekeeper should be able to withstand around 400 stings with no problems. I get stung and no more reactions.

I've personally withstood 379 stings but I wouldn't say it was without problems, I got pretty wozzy.  After I was stung that bad I swelled a bit for about 10 years and then things went back to normal, no swelling.

Resistance to bees stings can vary by quantity, location on the body, and other factors.  I still swell if stung near an eye, nose, ear, or lip; otherwise I don't swell at all anymore.
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« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2009, 08:47:02 PM »

After about 20 stings this year my reactions were getting less severe. Until today, that is! I got stung on the tip of the nose and my whole eye is almost swollen shut and boy did it hurt. Man this is the worst sting ever! Taught me to wear a veil!
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« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2009, 08:53:23 PM »

After about 20 stings this year my reactions were getting less severe. Until today, that is! I got stung on the tip of the nose and my whole eye is almost swollen shut and boy did it hurt. Man this is the worst sting ever! Taught me to wear a veil!

Uggh.  Sorry to hear that.  Benadryl and lots of ice is the winning combo for me.  I got it on the nose last week when I wasn't working them and I must have knocked out the stinger immediately and hardly a lump.  The swat reaction kicked in and it had to be milliseconds between sting and removal.  I now appreciate how important it is to get the stingers out fast.
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« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2009, 10:01:37 PM »

 Sad I can't answer the poll (so I can't see the results) I haven't been stung - I'm not sure a honeybee has ever stung me. - It's because they love me, I know it is. 
(tomorrows headline: 'man attacked by all three of his own hives plus swarms from several neighboring states for lying.')
..the 'they love me' part.
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« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2009, 06:00:47 PM »

Here's a short course;

http://bees.ucr.edu/stings.html

Only thing is they don't say is how to do this in 8 seconds or less while, holding up a brood frame covered with bees while searching for eggs, much less finding something to scrape or pinch with. No need to mention hive tool or fingers, they are generaly covered with wax,honey or proplis.

Bee-Bop

Bee-Bop, thanks for that link.  Pretty cool how the 2 sides of the stinger ratchet themselves to work it deeper.  a well-designed continuous delivery system!


& I can testify that the ratcheting system works really well - especially in soft tissue - like one's tongue!   I've seen my reactions, which were never very severe/allergic, diminish with time/stings.   That being the case I still can't recommend eating live bees.  About an hour ago I had my first café au lait, miel et l'abeille (a cappuccino with enough honey to, apparently, entice a live bee to take a swim).  Tasty, but painful!  shocked  I thought I had a piece of wax in there and rolled the bee around for a good while, even got the taste of pollen (could of had full baskets as they're really bringing it in atm) before I get enough textural feedback to cause me to closer examine just what it was I was about to eat!  Lips Sealed  lol!   Stinger right in the center of the tongue and so deep it almost disappeared.  <8s removal didn't work out.  Hurt so bad for a few minutes that even my inner ears felt pain.   Now my tongue just aches a bit at the base.  tongue ouch.   Wink

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« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2009, 06:50:27 PM »

OH my gosh Dane, You ate the bee?  That is some funny story there, but that must be a first here getting stung on the tongue.  Not to often we show our tongues to the bees for them to get at us there. Ouch, can't even think about it.

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« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2009, 07:00:16 PM »

OH my gosh Dane, You ate the bee?  That is some funny story there, but that must be a first here getting stung on the tongue.  Not to often we show our tongues to the bees for them to get at us there. Ouch, can't even think about it.

Annette

I took it out before I ate (most of) it.   embarassed  My first sting there.  It's not pleasant, let me assure you!
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« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2009, 08:43:59 PM »

My reaction from a sting varies from almost nothing to some pretty good swelling.
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« Reply #30 on: May 08, 2009, 09:08:16 PM »

 With me, it depends on where I'm stung. I took one to the upper eyelid a couple of weeks ago and it hurt like the devil and was swollen for two days (I was not working any hives, just an overzealous guard bee 30 yrds away). I got my right wrist ate up moving hives and no reaction the week before. This week I took one to the top of my index finger and did not realize I didn't get the stinger out till the next day , It was swollen for a day.   
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« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2009, 09:46:13 PM »

I got stung about 70 or 75 times about 2 weeks ago when I knocked a hive over in the bed of my pickup truck by accident. I tried to set it backup straight without thinking with no gloves and a t- shirt on, however I did have a veil. I tried to go to a resturant about 35 minutes later and almost fell out in line when I got to the point I could not breath (My wife sat me down at a table and got me some water). I had taken some benadyrl earlier and it kicked in about 45 minutes after the stings. I have never had a reaction like this, but because of the amount of stings, I felt this caused alot of internal swelling. The next day I had no red marks or itching. I keep and epie pen at the house for safe measure, but its a last resort. I can handle about 20 to 25 stings at once and after that I get woozy, and get down right sick. If you spread out the stings to all day like during inspection time or harvest time I can take alot more, I just can't handle them all at once.
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« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2009, 10:01:09 PM »

grab some liquid benadryl and carry it.  it kicks in a little faster than the tabs.  it's low dose, so i just take a swig when i get stung.  keeps me from blowing up like a balloon!
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« Reply #33 on: May 09, 2009, 08:32:47 PM »

Good one Dane! grin
 Well,...This might sound wierd.....But, I miss the pics of me getting stung!..Now, not much happens except for the initial burn..then in 10 minutes its gone...However........The other day I finally got a sting up in my nose!!..YOWWWWww!!!!!! My nose snotted, and my eye cried!!! Then my nose got stuffy!..but, after a litlle while, I was all cool again!
Paul, my buddy, just gave me his empty hive box...and stand.....He just couldnt take the stings anymore and he was afraid to tend to his bees! grin
I find this funny as he thinks he's really tuff and can handle pain...after all, he did break his neck on a 4 wheeler before I met him. But, when bees come near him, he FREAKS!!! He runs, and cusses, and swats!! and he smokes anything that a bee touches!!
To me now, bee stings feel sort of like a hot ash landing on me from a campfire...But, occasionally, there are instances that "Too many ashes" make me run into the house!! grin

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« Reply #34 on: May 10, 2009, 04:07:10 PM »

If the swelling continues to be large try not to get stung as much.


Thank you captain obvious grin grin
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« Reply #35 on: May 10, 2009, 04:11:14 PM »

After about 20 stings this year my reactions were getting less severe. Until today, that is! I got stung on the tip of the nose and my whole eye is almost swollen shut and boy did it hurt. Man this is the worst sting ever! Taught me to wear a veil!
Well let's a picture grin
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« Reply #36 on: May 10, 2009, 06:35:28 PM »

I'm pretty lucky as I don't react to bee stings except a little bit the next day (no swelling at all day 1, day 2 I get some swelling).

Last weekend a bee got inside my veil and stupidly, I took off the veil while at ground zero and got stung about a dozen times in the face and neck and head. Slight amount of swelling the next day.

Now, my son, who was also there videoing (we have a video of this incident) wasn't wearing anything and doesn't normally react at all. A bee flew inside his nose and stung him. But he had no reaction whatsoever despite the stinger (and icky the bee) being stuck in there until I took him outside, got the bee and stinger out of his nose (Very disgusting).

I don't know how most people react to this kind of thing.  Being stung in the face, neck and head a dozen times was less annoying than 1 sting on my finger the week before.  So location seems to matter a lot and not intuitively.
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« Reply #37 on: May 10, 2009, 09:59:32 PM »

I'm pretty lucky as I don't react to bee stings except a little bit the next day (no swelling at all day 1, day 2 I get some swelling).

Last weekend a bee got inside my veil and stupidly, I took off the veil while at ground zero and got stung about a dozen times in the face and neck and head. Slight amount of swelling the next day.

Now, my son, who was also there videoing (we have a video of this incident) wasn't wearing anything and doesn't normally react at all. a bee flew inside his nose and stung him. But he had no reaction whatsoever despite the stinger (and icky the bee) being stuck in there until I took him outside, got the bee and stinger out of his nose (Very disgusting).

I don't know how most people react to this kind of thing.  Being stung in the face, neck and head a dozen times was less annoying than 1 sting on my finger the week before.  So location seems to matter a lot and not intuitively.

Where's the video??!!  cool
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« Reply #38 on: June 15, 2009, 09:00:38 AM »

Here's something that I'd like to know: Could reaction to a sting be aggravated by a reaction to something else that the bee is carrying?

Ordinarily I get only a very mild reaction to a sting. But sometimes I'll get swelling and itchiness. I know that I have some allergies: eg to ragweed, goldenrod, and some types of grasses. My theory is that when I react strongly to a sting, it's because the bees have been foraging on some plant to which I have an allergic reaction.

Does anybody know if this theory holds water?
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« Reply #39 on: June 15, 2009, 10:53:59 AM »

Here's something that I'd like to know: Could reaction to a sting be aggravated by a reaction to something else that the bee is carrying?

Ordinarily I get only a very mild reaction to a sting. But sometimes I'll get swelling and itchiness. I know that I have some allergies: eg to ragweed, goldenrod, and some types of grasses. My theory is that when I react strongly to a sting, it's because the bees have been foraging on some plant to which I have an allergic reaction.

Does anybody know if this theory holds water?

I think this is true, I know when my bee's are working privet and I get stung sometime the sting will fester like a fire ant bite, I have always believed this. that time of year it seems to always happen, I have heard of others seeing the same thing during privet bloom!
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alflyguy
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« Reply #40 on: June 15, 2009, 12:30:19 PM »

Until a few weeks ago I was one of those rare beekeepers who had never been stung. About three weeks ago I took two on the ankle. It was not nearly as bad as the anticipation. It did Itch the next two days. Then a week ago I did my first cut out. I got stung through my gloves four or five times, on the ankles several times and after I was finished and over a hundred yards away with my Vail off I got one on the ear. The first couple hurt a little. After that I barely noticed them. I would not have even realized I got one on the ear except she kept buzzing in my ear until I looked in the truck mirror and saw her stuck there by the stinger. The next couple of days I had a lot of itching and my hands were stiff but overall not bad.
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luvin honey
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« Reply #41 on: June 16, 2009, 01:15:08 AM »

I WISH I was one of those beeks that never gets stung  rolleyes Unfortunately, I've gotten 12 in 6 weeks. Might have something to do with not really smoking and never wearing gloves.

The one on my face I expected to be really bad but it did not swell at all. Two on my thighs got hugely swollen, while another 2 on my legs did not. Most of those on my hands swell enormously (think bear paw), but occasionally they have not. Very hard to understand the differences in reactions. I always immediately scrape the stingers out with my fillet knife that I use for cutting off attachments.
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sc-bee
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« Reply #42 on: June 16, 2009, 02:26:48 PM »

Decrease --- at least I think. Sometimes depends on number of times and location shocked!

The worst so far was 21 times on one hand. Hard headed Wink! I did get stung on the tounge as a teenager, drinking a coke. They taste awful --- not like chocolate cover ants--- I guess (never had those either) grin!

I know a beekeeper who has been stung hundreds of times over the years. About two years ago he received the one that put him over the top. Basically woke up at hospital. You can not show a reaction for years and all of a sudden have one.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2009, 02:39:47 PM by sc-bee » Logged

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« Reply #43 on: June 16, 2009, 09:53:06 PM »

You know, Ive heard of the part about being stung lots of times for years, then one sting screws you up......I wonder if this means that every sting from then on is a dangerous one too?

your friend,
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sc-bee
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« Reply #44 on: June 17, 2009, 12:11:22 AM »

Well his doctor said don't chance it. I think he had a choice of going through the detox program Wink
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