Pinching, sharp pain after blood drawn

by Sally

About two weeks ago I had a routine blood draw.

Now, whenever I straighten my arm or attempt to lift something slightly heavy (i.e. gallon of milk) I get a sharp pinching pain on my inner elbow, to the left of the injection site. Some of your other posts suggested checking for a pea-shaped lump in the area, but i don't feel anything like that.

Is it possible that the nurse hit a tendon with the needle when drawing my blood? What can I do to lesson the pain and regain mobility? I've been icing and taking Advil regularly.

Thank you


Joshua Answers:

Hi Sally.

It's possible the needle hit a tendon, but incredibly unlikely.

Blood draws happen very shallow. So unless the nurse was stabbing that needle deep into your forearm....

-Probably- your body decided that it was under attack, kicked in a Pain Causing Dynamic which includes firing up a Process of Inflammation.

Needle inserts, pain is felt, nervous system freaks out, muscles tighten up, pain levels increase due to build up of pain enhancing chemical from the inflammation process, etc.

It's not Tendonitis, but that doesn't mean that there's no pain on movement, muscle contraction, etc.

See: What Is Tendonitis?

Were I you I would learn How To Reduce Inflammation, start
doing that a bunch, and then get back to me and give me an update.

Also, see this page: Help Identifying Inner Elbow Pain Can't Straighten Arm

Along those lines, I just looked to see when you submitted this.

I imagine that this has resolved by now....definitely not a timely response.

If it had been, I suspect that an appropriate amount of ice dipping would have reduced the pain levels and gotten the nervous system to settle things out.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Apr 09, 2014
Can a corticosteroid injection hit tendon?
by: BB

I have a similar question. I had a steroid injection in my knee 3 weeks ago.

Since then I've had horrible pain when walking, climbing stairs and even getting in bed or in and out the shower. I touch the injection site and get the worst pain on the other side, but its numb when I touch that side.

Could my Dr have hit a tendon? Same thing happen a yr back when I had blood drawn at an emergency room. I told the nurse I had lots of tendons in my right arm but she still drew blood from my right hand. It hurt so bad I screamed.

Now the area is numb as well.

Any suggestions?? Thanks in advance.


Joshua Comments:

Hi BB.

Could have hit a tendon, could have hit a nerve. Depends on where 'in the knee' the needle went.

Could be you're just super sensitive to the 'stress' of needles and/or injection. Some bodies are.

Then again, you could be nutritionally insufficient such that your body can't appropriately respond to the 'stress' (which requires adequate nutrition for a body to deal with any stressor) of a needle/injection.

I have no idea about your specific scenario as I don't know anything about it, I'm just throwing out some options.

Jun 30, 2016
had same exact issue
by: ba tabnabber

Exactly 2 weeks after a blood draw I had the exact same symptoms, sharp pain inner elbow, couldn't lift anything or straighten my arm.

Unfortunately the worst was yet to come. Over the next few days the muscles in my legs and then arms became unexplainably sore, as if I'd run a marathon the day before despite doing nothing.

This continued along with overall weakness, fatigue for almost a week before I felt normal again. I discussed my symptoms with my brother, an anesthesiologist, who thought the blood draw was unrelated.

His guess was some mosquito transmitted virus that affects muscles, possibly west Nile.


Joshua Comments:

Possibly West Nile? That's a mighty random guess.

This might be semantics probably wasn't the blood draw itself (unless you were infected by a dirty needle and your body was fighting it off, which is incredibly unlikely in a hospital setting).

Probably, the loss of blood either:

A. weakened your system, and that set off a chain reaction throwing your body out of whack and it tried to right itself and/or

B. you were fighting something off at the time (happens all the time and we're not aware of it) and the loss of blood allowed the something to take a hold a little more and the body was fighting it off.

Neither of those necessarily explain the arm symptoms....but it's kind of in the same ball park.

My best guess.

The good news is, you're all better now(?).

Jul 01, 2016
all better
by: ba tabnabber

Thanks Joshua, I am fully recovered now (started improving after 4 days and was fully recovered in about a week). What was odd was that they didn't take much blood at the blood draw and my arm didn't hurt at the time or even for two weeks after (though I did have some bruising for a few days)...then out of nowhere... BAM! Terrible pain right at the exact site of where the needle went in.

Unfortunately I'm more needle averse now then I've ever been, which I didn't think possible. And I must admit I'm glad I waited it out and didn't go to another doc for my symptoms. The human body has remarkable abilities to heal itself and the health care industry (here in the US) is far too profitable. Thankfully we have sites like yours that help us reduce the cost of health care by simply sharing information.

Your site was one of the only ones where I found someone describing my situation, so I thank you! It gave me reassurance that I wasn't a complete freak or had contracted some horrible and previously unknown disease. Well maybe I did, but at least it was recoverable.


Joshua Comments:

Well, the body does weird things sometimes....and who knows what was going on there.

And brains are funny too. Sometimes a brain notices a bit of pain (pin prick) and a loss of blood volume (even a litte bit) and goes WAY overboard in response (which can be noticeable immediately, or weeks later).

Some symptom scenarios are obvious. Some are head scratchers where we just smile and heave a sigh of relief when the symptoms go away.

We'll call this one a win!

Sep 06, 2016
Problems after blood draw
by: Anonymous

I had my blood taken 2.5 months ago and it was abnormally painful. After the draw I felt fine and didn't show any swelling or bruising or redness.

Next day I had a tender pain in the back of my elbow. For the next 5 weeks I had a minor ache in my arm where the blood was drawn but kept working my strenuous work.

After these 5 weeks all "hell broke loose"-- my forearm tightened and cramped up. Next day whole arm was on fire and spent the next 3 weeks in a splint. I figured after reading that I had a nerve injury so I thought I just had to lay off the arm.

Pain got a little better but hand swelled up and wrist was hurting. Just had a nerve test done and they say I have slight carpel tunnel syndrome but have NO idea why the rest of my arm aches and feels fatigued. My arm feels like I'm constantly lifting heavy weights. What could this be? Could I have a muscle or tendon injury??


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymous.

The body does weird things sometimes for no reason. But usually there's a reason.

-Probably- you're experiencing a stress response do to being short on magnesium (and other related nutrients).

Stresors of any kind (like pain, like a needle stick, like the mental activity that goes on during such) eats up magnesium.

If you don't have enough magnesium, your body literally can't handle the stress and various bad things can result (from your body not being able to maintain normal operation and/or keep what should be a momentary defensive mechanism momentary).

It sounds like things tightened up, and you were stuck in a downward spiral of increasing tightness and tightness mechanism (pain signals to the brain, inflammation process kicking in, etc).

Tightness and fatigue are symptoms of lack of magnesium.

It could be other (weird, random) things, but this is the most likely scenario.

If you'd been given a vaccination there would be a different conversation. But a blood draw isn't going to injure you (unless it went horribly horribly wrong and you'd have known it went wrong initially).

Potentially if they couldn't find a vein and were poking around, they could have hit a nerve or something, and that would be problematic.

Did they?

Sep 09, 2016
Thank you.
by: Anonymous

Thank you, I actually did just start taking magnesium supplements last week after reading about nerve damage and repair.

I don't know for sure if they hit a nerve but it sure has felt like it. The blood draw was definitely painful and I was tense and nervous to begin with.

She didn't poke me more than once and didn't seem to "fish around" for a vein but it hurt and I felt a ton of pressure. I figured she definitely hit my median nerve, especially when my thumb, index and middle finger blew up weeks later and had some numbness-- but now I'm more confused since I had a nerve test done and it showed NO nerve damage at the injection site (elbow) but some at my wrist showing the carpel tunnel syndrome (which I never had before-- no pain there either).

I had also written you explaining that I've also had tense cramps and some twitching in my right leg (same side of injection). What the heck is going on?? I'm so confused with my body right now. Not sure if I need an MRI....

But then everyone tells me that my body just needs to heal.... Even if it is median nerve damage. I had also had a huge dizzy spell shortly after the blood draw but didn't connect the dots back then... But now I think it was another side effect.

Sounds crazy right? Right now, my hand and wrist is healing but still tender and sore in my arm and elbow area.


Joshua Comments:

Overall, it sounds like your body was tense (low magnesium) and didn't respond well/over reacted with more tenseness (lack of magnesium).

Without enough of the right nutrition, the body can't work right/respond optimally to stressors.

Maybe something worse happened like hit a nerve, but without any injury, the body can go haywire....and then it's a matter of bringing it back inline/online.

Lots of water.
Get your Vit D level to between 60-80ng/ml.
Keep with the magnesium, and more of it.
Good sleep and lots of it.

Oct 21, 2016
feeling of shooting electricity after a blood drawn.
by: Barbara

When the needle went in I experience a shooting electricity down my arm to my thumb.

The next day I was unable to move my arm as my elbow was swollen, red and very painful to the touch.

It has now been 3 days and I still am experiencing the electrical shooting pain to my thumb and elbow still very tender, I can't put any pressure on the area, still swollen and red and warm to the touch.

Should I see a doctor.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Barbara.

You could see a doctor, but there's nothing a doctor can do for you.

And they may not even believe you that your symptoms are from the blood draw.

Having said that, it may be worthwhile to go see a doctor just to get your symptoms and history documented, in case there are any future medical issues/legal issues it would be good to have 'evidence'.

Jan 19, 2017
Pain in arm 2 months after blood draw
by: Marco*

Simple 2 vial blood draw with a thin butterfly needle 2 months ago, and I still usually have to pour a gallon of water with my other hand.

There are no marks or sores or bumps. Yes, they hit something. NO, nobody's heard of this from my doc to yesterday's useless neurologist, and like you said, given that they've "never heard of such a thing" most likely think I'm making it up, mistaken, or drug shopping.

This is not my mind overreacting to a needle prick. And, though some days its better than others, if I use my arm much, the next day often I cannot even drive with that arm.

For all my research, I have yet to find any solutions to share with others. Apparently it either goes away after a LONG time OR gets worse leaving one's arm/hand debilitated - shame, as I'm rather fond of them.

Joshua, the NY Times has a great article from 2006 you should read as a lot of people ask you about this. It's called:
'A Little Sting' Can Become a Debilitating Injury

Thanks, Marco


Joshua Comments:

Thanks Marco.

Link to the article is HERE.

That surgery sounds terrible...and surgery can't 'repair' an injured nerve, so I'd advise folks to be careful of the claims and be REALLY sure what exactly A. the problem is and B. the surgeon is going to cut on.

Feb 27, 2017
Pain on inner forearm from multiple attempts to draw blood
by: Missy

Today is Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.. Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.. I had blood work done due to testing positive on being pregnant.

First needle stuck in my right arm (dominant side) straight up missed the blood vein. The phlebotomist attempted, not once but three times to get the vein by maneuvering the needle around under my skin, causing excruciating lightening shocks of pain throughout my arm.. finally she gave up and a different nurse took over, and drew blood from my left arm with ease,no pain, nothing. I am not one that has ever had problems with needles and getting blood drawn, or getting a shot, or an IV.

It is now 3 days later and the shocking pain is still shooting up my right arm, usually when flexing to pick up something or if I stretch the wrong way. This is by far the worst pain I have ever experienced in the past by needles and/or blood work. This is also my third pregnancy and by far normal pain.

My body is well nurished, well taken care of and very healthy.

My arm is bruised a bit and a little swollen, where the needle entered my skin, approximately 2 centimeters long, half centimeter wide.

Any suggestions?


Joshua Comments:

Hi Missy.

1. Get your Vit D level to between 60-80ng/ml (and keep it there).

2. See Magnesium For Tendonitis

Stressors of all kinds eat up magnesium. Magnesium is required for the body to deal with stressors of all kinds.

Not enough, and weird stuff happens. Maybe the needle sticks pricked/damaged something they shouldn't have....and/or maybe your body is overreacting (basically) to the shock of the pain/insult because it doesn't have what it needs to respond appropriately.

There's other nutrition involved there, but those two are the big ones.

3. Ice dip the entire lower arm as described on the How To Reduce Inflammation page.

A lot for several days.

Feb 28, 2017
Reply: Pain on inner forearm
by: Missy


If this pain were caused by my body "overreacting" wouldn't I have the same pain and tenderness in my other arm considering they were both punctured with a needle, mere minutes apart from each other?

My body, vitamin levels, and magnesium levels are right where they should be. Considering in the fact that I am 9wks pregnant, on prenatal vitamins and have never had a problem with my vitamin levels or magnesium levels (or a bad "stress" related incident, due to medical syringe needles). If this were a overreaction from my body, why is my other arm perfectly normal? As in no bruising, no tenderness, no swollen areas, and definitely no painful sharp shock when I move it?

Your explanation/conclusion contradicts what I've already stated. Thanks for your quick response, but I'm now thinking I've wasted my time as your response was/is basically the same as you've diagnosed everyone else's.

Going to seek actual professional medical advise.

Again, thanks!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Missy.

1. "If this pain were caused by my body "overreacting" wouldn't I have the same pain and tenderness in my other arm considering they were both punctured with a needle,"

No/not necessarily. There is absolutely no correlation between 'overreaction' (or inability to respond appropriately) and one side/both sides.

If the needle hit something unhappily on the one side (lymph anything, nerve anything, valve parts in vein, etc) then that damage would/could be triggering a local overresponse/inability to respond and the other side would be just fine.

Some people get systemic issue/response. Some small local, some large area local. Both arms because of a one side damage/tweak...sure why not, but there's no rule that that's how it is/will/should go.

The body's funny like that.

2. "My body, vitamin levels, and magnesium levels are right where they should be."

Great. I certainly hope so. And you may or may not be surprised how many people think that that eat terribly, and/or are actively exhibiting insufficiency/deficiency symptoms, were misinformed by doctors in a variety of ways, etc.

I'm not saying you are or aren't, I'm just saying that there's always more to the story.

For instance...

3. "Your explanation/conclusion contradicts what I've already stated."


4. "never had a problem with my vitamin levels or magnesium levels "

I don't know what your levels are, obviously, but
A. what is your Vit D level?
B. It's a safe bet that your magnesium levels have been blood serum levels, which is a pretty worthless measure as compared to intra-cellular magnesium levels (where they take a cheek swab sample).

I'm not trying to get into a nutrition argument with you or tell you you're wrong, as that's entirely not what I'm trying to say.

5. What I was trying to say in my previous response was that some/all of what you're experiencing could be from your body not responding well to the trauma of the needle sticks. Some amount of damage was done, hopefully nothing like actually piercing lymph node/little nerve/etc.

What I didn't expand on well enough was where I said to ice dip a lot, I should have said that you have a lot of pain etc from damage the needle sticks did and a big inflammation response, which releases pain enhancing chemical which sets your nerve receptors on you flex your muscles and it long story results in shooting pain, etc.

6. "Going to seek actual professional medical advise"

For the record, I'm don't diagnose.

Please let us know if the doctors have anything helpful to offer, and please ask them for an explanation of why you're having the symptoms you're having.

Always curious to see if they have something helpful to offer.

Apr 12, 2017
Continuous pain after blood test
by: Philippa D

Three years ago, I had a routine blood test which left me heavily bruised and with a lump on the needle site. The bruising and lump eventually went away but the pain continued non stop for two monrhs. Even now I have continous throbbing pain right on the injection site along with numbness and tingling. The pain radiates to my shoulder and finger tips. If I touch the area, it is very painful and can leave me in pain for hours. Flexing the arm is also extremely sore.

The nurse told me that I would feel a sharp scratch but I knew within minutes it was much more than that. I complained to the Practice Nurse who barely examined it and laughed and fobbed me off that the equipment has caused this. I know this can't be correct because I had another blood test at my local hospital and i had no bruising or pain at all.

What damage could have been done?


Joshua Comments:

Hi Phillipa.

Probably the needle hit -just- the right little something in the vein (like the 'hinge' of the interior one way valve).

And then the brain gets a 'damage' signal, and kicks in an inflammation response (more pain), and the little muscles around the arteries etc get tight/lock up, and it's a downward spiral in a small area.

It's not common, but it's a thing.

Being uncommon, the phlebotomists etc aren't likely to have seen it. Alternately, they do hundreds and thousands of needle sticks/blood draws, and being an uncommon complaint, it's not particularly surprising that they aren't going to believe your complaint because it just doesn't compute for them as a possibility.

Apr 12, 2017
Severe pain after blood test
by: Philippa Drake

What is the interior one way valve and will this heal eventually?

I have been very disconcerted by all this because not only was I injured but I was also laughed at too when I showed her a photo of the bruising I had sustained. This was not professional behaviour in my view. Healthcare assistants are supposed to put the patient at ease and be pleasant. I got the creeps from her and she was very surly and barely spoke. I feel there is a competence and training issue here.

The hospital phlebotomy department gave me top standard care and took time to listen to my concerns and treated the side effects I was having immediately and bathed my arm several times to minimise pain and bruising.whereas my local surgery had medieval standards in comparison. There should not be this difference in service surely ? If they are doing blood tests everyday, they should be good at it. If they are not. they are in the wrong job. I would have been ashamed of myself if I was a Healthcare assistant and made that kind of mess. I am a writer and take pride in my work!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Philippa.

Veins have one way valves to keep the fluids moving in only one direction.

It should heal, yes. But there's two aspects of that: The wound healing, and the body's response to the actual injury dialing back down to nothing. One can have that response (tightness, inflammation, etc) long after the healing is done.

As far as everything else you said about professionalism etc......yeah......I agree.

Apr 14, 2017
Recurrent pain after blood test?
by: Philippa Drake

Do you think the inflammatory response I had will go away because it is still there three years after the incident?


Joshua Comments:

If it's been around three years, it's not likely to now just go away.

If it's still there, it's still there for one or more reasons.

Those reasons are why it's been active three years.

May 30, 2017
Tendon hit by Needle for Blood Draw
by: CP

This happened to me just last week. The man that did my blood draw (Pre-Op)had me dangle my arm and poked the needle deep. I didn't know at the time it was my tendon he hit until it became extremely painful within an hour and started bruising.

I just called the hospital again because I now have a huge bruise and swelling around my elbow and some intermittent numbness. So injury could happen by a careless person doing a blood draw.

Jun 04, 2017
Inner elbow sore after blood draw
by: Leigh

I had my blood drawn on 5/26/17 and felt sore during and after the blood draw, but I really didn't think about it until still a few days later I felt and still feel soreness like a tendon pulling from inner elbow to about halfway towards my wrist.

It did bruise slightly around and to the left of that area, but the soreness and pulling is still felt and I can see a little swelling, not really a defined lump right next to where the blood was drawn. I've never had this happen, should I just wait it out or tell my doc Monday.

I also had the dtap shot and was super exhausted and felt like I had the flu for about 4-5 days.

What the heck is going on?


Joshua Comments:

"I've never had this happen, should I just wait it out or tell my doc Monday. "

You probably should report it to your doctor so they can document it, but other than that there's nothing they can/will do about it.

"What the heck is going on?"

Sounds like your immune system was responding to/activating due to the vaccination. Nothing surprising about that.

Dec 03, 2017
Sharp pinching pain and strain on my wrist 2 months after blood draw
by: Anonymous

I was an ER patient on 24th September 2017. In the process of drawing blood I felt a wild sharp pinching pain on my wrist and I screamed at the nurse who stopped and took the left hand.

The pain reduced and my thought was that it will go away but after 2 months its getting worst. I can't use my right hand anymore. I am so concerned. What do you think happened to me?


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymous.

Well, that sounds a bit like 'regional complex pain syndrome'.

Such that you get stabbed by a needle (maybe something 'bigger' than usual got poked [valve hinge]) and your body went "OMG WHAAAA!!!" and never stopped.

Doctors think pain like that is mysterious and magical, but the first and easist place to look is nutrition - if your body doesn't have what it needs to work correctly (be pain free) it can't work correctly (and you can't become pain free).


Feb 06, 2018
needle puncture
by: Anonymous

had blood drawn 1-9-18 arm a mess looked like it was bleeding on each side of vein. now it is 2-7-18 and my inner elbow aches bending or holding it straight. why? maybe blood clot?


Joshua Comments:

How long did the bruising last?

Did it take several attempts to 'get' the vein?

Does the 'ache' feel like it's related to the wound(s) to the vein? Meaning, straightening the arm stretches an lingeringly unhappy vein?

Mar 02, 2018
Blood test injury
by: Philippa Drake

I finally went to my doctor about the continuing pain from my blood test injury and he diagnosed me with neuropathic pain.

He offered low dose antidepressants which I declined because I felt I would just be exchanging one problem for another and there was no guarantee that they would help anyway.

I feel I am better off living with the pain than trying to cope with feeling toxic all the time with anti depressants which I do not believe would be good for me. After all, I have lived with the injury for three years and somehow have got used to it. The pain now comes in bouts and is no longer constant.

I reported the culprits to my GP and I later discovered that both of them now no longer work for the surgery I attend.

If the weather is dry and I don’t touch it or do any strenuous movements with my arm, the pain stays in remission. When I go to Italy in the summer, the hot climate stops the pain. Finding out what damage had been done and dealing with those responsible has helped me to come to terms with it.


Joshua Comments:

"...he diagnosed me with neuropathic pain.

He offered low dose antidepressants.."

I......I just don't have anything nice to say about that.

Mar 24, 2018
Diagnosis neuropathic pain after blood test
by: Philippa

Do you think I have been misdiagnosed?


Joshua Comments:

I don't know.

Do you have nerve pain?

Do you have a pain dynamic that's caused by a neuropathy?

My main complaint is that even if the diagnosis is accurate, it offers you exactly zero help and zero path to recovery.

WHY do you have neuropathic pain?

Your doctor doesn't know. Nor did he try to find out.

He gave you diagnosis and a random prescription, his job is done.

His job should be just starting, to find out WHY you have this pain and what to do about it.

Mar 25, 2018
Neuropathic pain after blood test
by: Philippa Drake

I also have nerve sensations in my other arm because of a fall on my elbow over forty years ago. A couple of years back, the nerves in my hand short circuited and it stopped working for a few minutes. The nerve disruptions started from my elbow down. I often get pins and needles and pain in both hands too.

I do wonder though, if he was too quick to offer antidepressants.


Joshua Comments:

Well....ya know....some doctors are better than other doctors.....

And some are down right terrible.

Mar 26, 2018
Same issue but in my hand
by: Anonymous

I had blood taken nearly 3 weeks ago now in my hand. There was a very bad bruise there for just over a week, which I didn’t worry about because I do bruise very easily.

But now almost 3 weeks later I am still getting very sharp pains in the location that the blood was drawn. If I try to clench my first, pick up something heavy or when I’m washing my hands the water stimulates the pain.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymous.

The bruising is from the obvious reasons: injury releases blood into the tissue.

The ongoing pain, well, read the entire thread and follow the links and read those pages too.

Something got injured. Something is still unhappy. Yes I know that's a highly technical explanation....

Any idea what this may be?

Mar 26, 2018
Neuropathic pain after blood test
by: Philippa Drake

I’m not surprised at my diagnosis because of the pain I was in immediately after the blood test. Although, both arms were injured differently, the nerve sensations are similar. It’s just a pity, nothing can really be done for neuropathy.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Philippa.

There's a lot that can be done for neuropathy...depending on the cause of the neuropathy.

Nutritional insufficiency related neuropathy, easy peasy.

Nerve severed during surgery, not so much.

Mar 27, 2018
Neuropathic pain after blood test
by: Philippa Drake

To be honest, with the warmer weather arriving, this is the only thing that helps it. Dampness always sets it off.

Aug 21, 2018
Probably Drew from a wrong angle
by: Lab Finder

I tried having that before because there was an intern who did for the doctor. The angle was wrong and a few minutes later it started to hurt and after a day it bruised. It's better to always have the best check our bodies and not go for the cheaper ones. Visit to find the best labs, clinics, or hospitals near you.

Aug 23, 2018
Median Nerve
by: Marco*

It always starts with a "routine blood draw". Mine was exACTLY the same. A week later still felt like the needle was in my arm, or a piece broke off inside (didn't but felt like it!) OR as if someone had a voodoo doll of me jabbing my arm with a knitting needle!! Neither could I pour a gallon of milk...

A year and a half of tests, physical therapy and pain management and it was better. WAS,... keyphrase.

I've recently had to retire from my career as balloon artist @ 61 as my 1st two left fingers are numb like in a light socket.

And it all starts with a "routine blood draw"....
There is SOOOO little info on this we learn the hard way, my Heart goes out to you all.


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