No Toes

For those of us who can't count to 20

• Learn: Personal Stories •

'The Toe'
By Heather L. Lawver
Originally published on The Heather Show

    [Note: I wasn't able to go back and proofread this entire thing. After I was done writing it I sort of washed my hands of the whole thing. It was too hard to write, and just the thought of going back and reading the whole thing was scary. So, I apologize for any spelling, grammatical, or technical errors you may find.]

    In March of 1996, I was suffering from an ingrown toenail -- a hereditary problem in my family. My Father was in the Air Force at the time, so I was taken in to see a Flight Surgeon on Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. My Mother was hoping to get a referral to see the podiatrist on base, Dr. Alan Siegal, but we were told by the head of Flight Surgery that the Flight Surgeon we were going to see did all the ingrown toenails on the base and we had nothing to worry about.

    During the procedure to remove the sides of my ingrown toenail my mother noticed that the Doctor was taking a rather unorthodox approach to anesthitizing the toe. Two of my three older brothers had had their toenails removed in the past for the same problem, so she knew what she was supposed to be looking at.

    The Doctor prepared only one of the three syringes needed for the operation. He proceded to inject novocaine on the bottom of my toe, around the infected nailbed, and then ultimately, the top of my toe (above the proximal phalanx.) This final injection was the fateful one. Instead of injecting the needle at an angle, he darted it straight down, ultimately hitting the bone. At this point I was in extreme pain, so much, in fact, that I could not scream, I could not cry, and I could barely breath. My Mother said I had turned as white as a ghost, and squeezed her hand so hard she nearly thought her hand would break.

    My Mother looked up and asked the doctor "What are you doing?" To which he replied, "Nothing, I've just hit a ligament, this happens all the time."

    At that point he tried to remove the syringe, but it wouldn't budge. He let go of the syringe entirely and the syringe was so stuck it stood, free-standing, out of my foot. The Doctor grabbed the barrell of the syringe and had to yank it out.

    He removed the toenail, continued to claim he had just hit a ligament, and sent me home. I should have felt fine in three to four days. After a week, I was still in immense pain, trying to explain to my parents that it wasn't the nail that hurt, it was the joint in the toe. My Mother got me an appointment with the podiatrist, who was rather worried about the situation.

    I had monthly x-rays, ordered by the podiatrist, to monitor the toe. The pain did not cease that entire summer. I couldn't walk, run, or play. At times the toe was so swollen that I'd stub it on the floor simply trying to walk. In September, we found the cause.

    The x-ray showed a small blip on the proximal phalanx, the very bone that the Flight Surgeon had stabbed. We weren't quite certain what it was, so we opted for surgery. In October of 1996, I had my first operation.

    During surgery, Dr. Siegal found dead bone directly where we had told him the previous Doctor had stabbed me. Later on, pathology found out that the dead bone was caused by osteo-myelitis, an infection of the bone. In this particular case, the bacteria to blame was epidermal staph -- a bacteria that grows naturally on the skin without problems. But, if it's introduced into the bone, i.e. being carried on the needle of a syringe, it can be quite hazardous and hard to kill.

    I was sent home after surgery on a steady prescription of antibiotics. Everything was going alright until Halloween night. I was at home with my family, watching a movie, with my foot in the air because it was still quite sore. There was an upsurge in pain which caught my attention. When I looked at my toe I could see it swelling so fast that it began to blister and turn colors. Again, so quickly that I could see the changes unfold before my eyes.

    It hurt like the dickens, and of course, my parents called Dr. Siegal immediately. X-rays showed the tiny blip had gotten bigger. Unfortunately, we hadn't killed the bacteria, but in trying to scrape out the dead bone, the bacteria found new avenues of attack.

    I went in for surgery again in November, this time we were going for the big guns. I had the initial operation one day, where Dr. Siegal debrided the bone (scraped it out), and then the very next day I went into the operating room again for the placement of a broviac line; an IV line that goes in through the chest and into one of the major arteries leading into the heart. I was incredibly nervous about this. I had seen several pediatricians to prepare me for the line, and they all went on about the dangers of having a line. If air got into it, I'd die. If I cut it with scissors, I needed to rush for a clamp or I'd die. It could get infected. The antibiotics could eat through the very plastic the tube was made out of. It could do any number of things to increase the risk of the bacteria in my toe spreading to other parts of my body. I was horribly frightened, but the toe hurt so much, I had no choice. And, on top of it all, Christmas was coming up. I made the doctors promise I could have the line out for Christmas. They did their best to assure me, but they couldn't make promises.

    Surgery went alright. I think the worst was seeing how it affected everyone else. My parents, obviously, but even people at the hospital. I remember sitting in Dr. Siegal's office as some important doctor was explaining to me and my parents that I needed another operation. I looked over at Dr. Siegal and saw him rubbing his eyes, looking as if he were going to cry. I hated seeing everyone else hurt because I was in pain. I hated knowing that I was going to "ruin" Christmas for everyone.

    When I got home I had six weeks of IVs and line care to look forward to. A home-health nurse came every week to ask me questions, thoroughly clean my chest around the line, and deliver more antibiotics. And, every Monday I had to go in for hearing tests. The antibiotic I was on daily doses of, Vancomycin, was the most powerful antibiotic known to man. A great thing to attack epidermal staph with, but it had a propensity to cause hearing loss.

    The first hearing test I had was in the same building at the air force base where the flight surgeon's office is. I don't remember much about that visit, but I remember I had an attack of claustrophobia when I was put in the sound-proof booth. I've never been claustrophobic, but something about that building bothered me. My mother had to get special permission from the Air Force so they would pay for me to go to a civilian testing center. She didn't like seeing me involuntarily banging my head against the wall of the sound-proof booth.

    I loathed those hearing tests, but at least they showed positive signs. I hadn't lost much of my hearing at all. In fact, it was barely noticeable. The only time I can still recognize it is if I get sick or stressed out.

    After that operation I entered a long stretch of waiting. No one could form a clear opinion, everybody was too worried about saying the wrong thing to "The Toe", as I was nicknamed. Everyone in the hospital at Davis Monthan Air Force Base had heard the infamous story of "The Toe". Partially because of the incredulity of the story, but mostly because my medical care was being paid directly by the Air Force. They had bypassed the military's version of medical insurance, and were paying all of my bills directly from the hospital's funds. I was told at one point that ultimately, my bills were upwards of $5 million. I set a record in the Air Force -- possibly the entire military -- for the most funds expended for the medical care of a dependant.

    Over the next few years the pain in my toe was always there. I was never able to walk for great distances, run, or behave as a normal child would in any physical activity. The lack of exercize made me gain around 70 to 100 pounds, and I was up to a woman's size 18. I was depressed, exhausted, and tired of hurting. At the age of 12, just shortly after the second operation, I was in so much pain, both physical and emotional, that I couldn't help but consider suicide. I was tired of being in the way, mostly. I had ruined Christmas, which, to a child, is a criminal offense. I was in the way, I was making those around me sad, and mostly, I just hurt. I missed being able to do gymnastics, I missed being able to dance, to ride horses, to swim, to do anything. I wanted to give up. Suicide was always on my mind; I'd walk around and think of various ways to do it. Thankfully, I was always around my family and I didn't want to do it in front of them. I never had the chance to carry out one of my plans.

    While all these thoughts and emotions were coming into play, there was still a part of me that didn't want it. There was still the part of me that knew I was unstable, that knew I needed to find a way out. That side kept me going by finding little things to hang on for. I'd say 'I'll just wait for that last thing, and then I'll do it,' until ultimately those thoughts disappeared. I'll never forget my twelfth birthday; I had grown up watching Star Wars with my brothers, I had always wanted to see it on the big screen. It sounds strange, but I owe my life to George Lucas. He happened to be rereleasing the Star Wars trilogy to the big screen right when I was going through my thoughts of suicide. On my birthday that year they were opening the Empire Strikes Back. I decided I'd see that, and then I'd do it. That was a childhood dream to see that movie on the big screen. I could die if I had accomplished at least that, I thought.

    But then I remembered, Return of the Jedi would be coming out in the next month or so. Maybe I'd hang on for that, and then do it. By that point, my sane side had won over. Searching for the little things had kept me hanging onto that ledge just long enough for me to overcome the most excruciating pain and get used to the daily agonies.

    The pain never went away for a single day. Dr. Siegal was worried about this, so he got permission for the Air Force to fly me to their largest hospital in northern California, where I'd be met by a team of specialists to try and assess my condition and see what they could do. There was an Orthopedic surgeon, a Podiatrist, and a Hyperberic Chamber specialist. We were considering using the hyperberic chamber, which was still slightly experimental. I remember being told that it was this room where I'd put on a funny suit, go inside, and breath oxygen that was more pure. It was supposed to help my circulation so my body could naturally fight any infection that may still be in my toe.

    I went to that hospital twice, all on the Air Force's tab. Once I even rode in a military plane. This was serious.

    Finally, after extensive testing, they decided I suffered from too many second opinions. None of the specialists could decide on whether or not the toe was really infected. Every other doctor they pulled in for yet another opinion would come up with something entirely different. They decided that it was too important to preserve the circulation in my toe, than to blindly cut it open hoping to find something.

    Years went by, but the pain never stopped. I had a biopsy when I was 15, but no bacteria was found in the bone. The leading theory was that it was all joint pain; my joint had been infected as well and had since collapsed, leaving me with barely any cartiledge at all. Whenever I'd walk that joint would be nothing but bone rubbing against bone and it caused extreme pain. One doctor said in that one joint I had arthritis like an 80-year-old woman. But still, there were other symptoms of a bone infection; sporadic fevers, fatigue, etc. My symptoms had always been sitting on the fence, never one way or the other. The infection was never dramatically obvious, but I was never healthy, either.

    In 2000 my family moved from Arizona to northern Virginia. At that point my toe was swelling rapidly again and the pain was increasing. I was finally able to go to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland; the one place I had been wanting to go since it all started. I knew if Johns Hopkins couldn't handle it, the toe was a lost cause and I could finally give in to what all the orthopedic surgeons had been telling me; "Chop it off."

    In November of 2000 I went in for my third operation on just the toe (fifth if you count the times I went under general anesthesia for the placement of the IV lines and the biopsy.) This one was going to be much more grueling than the last. We considered it my last chance to save the toe because the circulation was so poor already. I had faith in my doctor, though. Dr. Ain is the best orthopedic surgeon I've ever met because he understands pain. He's a dwarf, and has several excruciating operations himself. Most orthos I've been to say that pain is good, pain is something to just be dealt with and move on with life. That's not helpful to a young teenage girl who should be active and not incredibly overweight for no reason. Dr. Ain was different, he understood, and he knew I needed to be as pain-free as possible.

    He didn't lie to me, he said the operation would be painful. And it was. He scraped out a lot of my bone, leaving just a thin slice at the very bottom. He fused my joint so my toe wouldn't bend anymore, simply because moving it was too painful. But, in order to stabilize the delapidated bone and the fusing of the joint, he had to place two long steel pins into my toe, which stayed in until April.

    I stayed in the hospital for about five days, simply because the pain was too unbearable and I required narcotics.

    Originally I was only supposed to have what's called a pik IV line, which is a long tube which starts in your arm, and leads up through a major artery in your arm up into the heart. One day after surgery, I woke up with my elbow in a pool of blood; the pik line had blown, which most nurses at the hospital said had never happened before. I was given a sedative and they tried to place another pik line in the same arm, then in the other arm, but none of them worked. Two days after surgery, another IV line was placed in my chest. I could barely stand the thought of it. The first line I had in my chest left a horrid scar, I didn't want another one. I didn't want to handle the risks again. I didn't want to have to go through the grueling cleanings that stung like nobody's business. But I knew I needed it. This was my last shot.

    The IV line was placed, and this one stayed in much longer than the last. I got it out in late March, two weeks before the pins came out.

    A bed had been placed in the family room of my house because I couldn't get downstairs to my bedroom. I spent a month and a half in that bed, watching other kids play in the snow, just sitting inside, doing nothing. I tried to keep warm because if my left foot got cold, the pins would get cold, and in the process take freezing temperatures down inside my toe. Feeling cold from the inside of a bone is utter agony.

    After I was out of bed, I began to feel better. For once in my life I started to feel like I had energy again. For a few glorious weeks I began to feel like the Heather I knew was inside me, but had been buried by the pain. In February, all of that changed.

    I first noticed I was having problems thinking when I went to my brother Kevin's house for dinner. I was called on to say the prayer before the meal, and when I bowed my head to begin I didn't know how to start. I've been praying for as long as I can remember, and it all left me. I didn't know what to say, I was completely lost. After a moment, I remembered the very beginnings. I started, but the words came slowly. I could hear them in my head, but my mouth wouldn't move. I could not form the words on my own. I was stuttered, slow, and sounded like a young child just learning how to read out loud.

    I thought perhaps I was just tired. I had been having a hard time sleeping, after all. But then I happened to watch an episode of the TV show ER; at that point in the show, one of the doctors was going through a hard time. I watched in horror as he started to experience the same things I had just gone through trying to pray; he could hear words, but not say them. He was forgetting things. He wasn't functioning mentally. At the end of the show, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

    I was so scared at that point I was frantic to get a CAT scan. All I could think was, why now? Why me? I had already gone through so much, I didn't want to go through this too.

    Tests were done. A brain tumor was ruled out. But the problems persisted, and evolved. I had lost all writing abilities, I couldn't speak, my short-term memory was in shambles. My head hurt constantly. And beyond all that, I was scared. I have never been more afraid in my life. We all have something that we're deathly afraid of; one phobia that makes us freeze in fear. My greatest phobia is losing my mind. Here, after just having an operation, still having an IV line in my chest, pins still sticking out of my toe, I had to be unlucky enough to realize my fear.

    Several more things were ruled out. The final three were the possibilities of a stroke, a seizure, or a brain infection. The first to be ruled out was a seizure; despite a family history of seizure disorders, nothing could be found to prove that I was suffering from one. The next was the stroke theory. No blips on the brain scans, no holes in my heart to allow air up to my brain. That left us with only one option.

    During the operation, bacteria must have been shaken loose. All it would have taken was one small microbe of epidermal staph into my blood stream to find my weakpoint. The only other part of my body to ever be injured was my right frontal lobe. I had fractured my skull when I was seven, the one time I was on my bike without a helmet. The bike flipped as I went around a corner, I cracked my right orbital bone, blew a sinus, and I was left with just a tiny bit of scarring on my brain. That one tiny microbe found the scarring and went to town. That area of the brain controls communication skills and short-term memory, thus explaining all of my symptoms.

    It was great that we figured it out, but I would have been happier if it were a stroke. There was nothing we could do to treat the brain infection. I was already on thrice daily doses of vancomycin, and I was allergic to all other powerful antibiotics. All we could do was wait, and hope I'd get better.

    We thought that perhaps stress had made the symptoms flare up. In that very same month a campaign had officially been started by myself and Alastair Alexander, a graphic designer from London. The campaign was known as PotterWar/DADA; a boycott against Warner Brothers for their heavy-handed attacks on Harry Potter fan site owners. The campaign was heated and involved a lot of pressure, which, needless to say, didn't help my brain infection much. The campaign went very well, but I suppose the thrill of the hunt nearly killed me.

    The brain infection slowly cleared up, but in moments of stress the symptoms can return. Thankfully, however, not to the same degree of severity. My short-term memory is still rather shoddy at times, and I still have a tendancy to stumble over my own words. But, I have been getting better.

    In May, after just having spent a month where my toe actually felt alright, it began to start all over again. Swelling, joint and bone pain, and sporadic fevers. I went back to Johns Hopkins, and all they could say was that the infection was most likely back, although they couldn't be certain. It might just be nerves waking up, they said. But I knew that pain, it was different from joint pain or nerves waking up. It was sharp, pinpointed, and agonizing. I couldn't simply place my toe on the ground without feeling like a large needle was shooting through my bone again. That left only one option; amputation. The one thing I had been dreading since it all began was finally at hand. The date was set for August 13th. Fitting, I thought; such an unlucky occurance on an unlucky day.

    Some time before the amputation, I started to notice I was rapidly losing weight. I had gone from a size 16 to a size 12 in a matter of months. I had been complaining of stomach aches a lot recently, but I hadn't quite made the connection. I realized that when I'd sit down to eat a meal I could only stand to eat a few bites before my stomach would start to hurt, or I'd completely forget how to swallow. At first I thought that had something to do with the brain infection, but I insisted on going to see a doctor to check out my stomach, just in case.

    In early August I went in for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy because the stomach aches had continued to get worse over the course of the summer. I had now gotten down to a size 10, and roughly around 135 pounds; a weight loss so dramatic it caught the doctor's attention.

    The procedure prompted some very unwelcome news. It explained the stomach aches, but it was much more complicated than that. They discovered something called ulcerative colitis; basically, it means I developed ulcers in my intestines. I'm still not positive what causes it exactly, but I know stress aggravates it. When I woke up from the general anesthesia they started discussing treatment plans. I didn't feel well, emotionally or physically, and I wasn't prepared for what they were telling me. The first option for treatment was a daily regime of steroids. I hated this option; I had spent the last few years of my life being overweight because I couldn't walk very much. I had just now gotten back to a healthy size, I didn't want to take medication that would send me right back to where I had been for so long. Even though it wasn't best for my health, I was thankful when the doctors said I couldn't take the steroids because it would supress my immune system. Not something they could risk if the infection were still active in my toe.

    They prescribed something else that was just as bad, if not worse, simply because of the gross-out factor; aspirin enimas. I dreaded the thought of it. We took a huge bag of them home from the hospital, and my first dose was supposed to be that day. Thank goodness my mother read the label. It turned out that one of the ingredients of the enima contained sulfa, a drug I'm deathly allergic to. I went into allergic shock when I was eight because of a reaction to a sulfa based antibiotic. The reaction was so bad it landed me in the hospital because I broke out in a rash and went blind for about a day. There was no way we could risk doing that again with the enimas.

    The final option was a drug called Asacol. If there was a problem with that, I'd be on my own to face the possibility of bleeding ulcers, operations to remove part of my intestines, and innumerable other unpleasant and painful things.

    By day's end after the procedure, I was an emotional wreck. All I could think was 'when is it going to end?' It seemed no matter how many times I'd get better from something, another monster would leap out of the closet to send me right back to where I started; back in the hospital. I remember coming home that day, laying down to watch a movie, and all I could do was sob. It hurt so much, but the treatments seemed worse. Little did I know what was coming next.

    I started the regime of Asacol, starting with one pill at each meal. After a week, it would be two pills at breakfast, one pill at lunch, one at dinner. Each week another pill would be added. By the time I was up to five pills a day I couldn't take it anymore. The second day of that week my mother had gone out to run errands, and my father was at work. I woke up feeling tired and my body ached all over. As soon as I got downstairs I had to lay down again because I simply had no energy. My legs ached and burned. I thought, perhaps if I took a shower I'd feel better. I went back upstairs and got in the shower. It wasn't two minutes before my legs gave way and I nearly fell down. I sat in the tub, the shower going, completely unable to stand up. When I read the warnings on the medicine bottle, "May cause drowsiness", I never thought it would get that bad.

    I sat in the shower for thirty minutes, just working up the energy to crawl out. Once I got out of the shower I immediately collapsed on the floor, where I spent another twenty minutes. If this was what it was like to die, I wanted it to go ahead and get it over with. I laid on the floor about to cry because I could not move. The shower was still going, I was soaking wet, and it felt like every nerve in my body was screaming at me.

    I finally got out of the bathroom and spent the rest of the day laying down on the couch. I decided I'd rather have a stomach ache than be whiped of all energy, so I quit taking the pills. I've never been one to refuse doctor's orders, but this was impossible. It had taken all life from me, and turned me into a vegetable. I was determined not to spend life like that.

    The operation at Johns Hopkins to amputate my toe was delayed because I caught a bad cold. I was grateful for it. After the episodes with the pills, I wasn't ready to have my toe chopped off. Every second I was close to tears, but I was able to hold it back. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it in if I had to go to another hospital.

    In September I had the operation done. We thought about sending me to a counsellor before the amputation, to try and prepare me for the loss of an appendage. Nothing a counsellor could have told me would prepare me for that. But, something did.

    At Johns Hopkins, in the pediatric surgery waiting room, there's a notebook called the Graffiti book. A nurse handed it to me, and I'm so grateful she did. Inside the Graffiti book are notes from other patients who had sat in that same room, awaiting their own operations. The notes were full of stories, each one from a child my own age or even younger. They wrote about their feelings, their hopes, their confidences, their fears. I read every note in there and was amazed by the courage of those children. I thought, who am I to pity myself when so many children are in so much pain? I still had so much. It prepared me for the loss of a toe, it put everything in perspective. That even though my pain was still my pain, that it was still my trial, I knew that someone had gone through something similar, or even worse. I read those children's notes as if they had written them to me and I wept at the thought of it. I remember one girl wrote about how she was going in to have her left ear removed. She was only seven or eight years old, I think, so she didn't write much. She told me her name, and that she wasn't scared. She drew two pictures, each one of her; one before, one after. The first one had a big ear with an arrow pointing to it. The second one, the ear was gone. What impressed me was in both pictures, she was still smiling. She said she was okay, she wasn't scared, and she knew everything would work out. She wouldn't mind the teasing, she wouldn't mind what others said. If they didn't like the fact that she only had one ear, tough. I thought, if she can handle that, I can handle losing a toe. She has the confidence to face the world with an open scar. At least I can hide mine in a shoe.

    I spent the night in the hospital because the pain was more intense than anyone had anticipated. I tried to sleep that night, but couldn't. The narcotics had upset my stomach. I couldn't stop vomitting. It hurt so badly. Once my foot would stop hurting, my stomach would start. If I'd stop the narcotics my stomach pains would ease, but my foot would start throbbing. I prayed for it to stop, but it didn't for a very long time.

    The next few weeks were spent in my room, with my foot on a mile-high pile of pillows. I watched a total of 42 movies, all trying to take my mind off my foot. It hurt much worse than I ever could have imagined. It's almost impossible to describe because, thankfully, I've forgotten what the exact sensation felt like. All I remember are the nights I actually woke up screaming because it was so intense. In all the years I've had this infection, I had never done that. I remember one night in particular, I had taken as much of the pain medication that I could, and had fallen asleep. I had a dream where I had been running. I came up to a cliff and remember I tried to grip the ground to avoid tumbling over the edge. That's when I felt it, all the bones in my feet tightened and I felt everything in my left foot move. It hurt like nothing I had ever felt before. I screamed. I couldn't stop crying. And the pain didn't stop.

    The doctors had been telling me that I might have to go to physical therapy to help me get used to the change in balance from the lack of a big toe. According to Stephen King, "physical therapy" actually means "pain and torture." I agree with him one hundred percent. Thank heavens I didn't need to go through that. I wanted to prove them wrong. I had trained myself to walk strangely before the amputation, to compensate for the pain in my toe. I had learned to naturally walk on the side of my left foot. Watching me walk, no one would have noticed. It actually took a few weeks for me to stop walking on the side of my foot, because I had gotten so used to it. I had no problem readjusting the way I walked to get used to the lack of the toe. I'm even able to go up on tiptoes now without any difficulties.

    Just after the operation I finally reached some form of closure about the whole ordeal. I had filed a lawsuit a year or so after the initial stabbing in 1996, and it had gone back and forth for ages. The case was complicated because the doctor who did it was in the Air Force, and they're protected. In fact, the case actually read "Lawver Vs. United States Government."

    The sad thing is, the assistant District Attorney, who was assigned as defense, had a larger budget than my attorney. Ms. Guerins, the DA, kept changing her story, until finally she never even denied that the doctor stabbed me with the needle. She just tried to claim it didn't cause the infection. Ultimately, she was able to bury the Judge in paperwork. During the hearing I attended, the Judge openly said he had never seen so much paperwork in any of the civil cases he had ever worked on. That's saying something.

    I had already started walking again when we got the word from my attorney. We lost. All because of a paperwork battle that my attorney -- and not to mention the judge -- simply couldn't keep up with. For all the money the DA spent defending this case, she could have easily settled. Egos got in the way, and in the end, the man who did all this to me got away with it. He got a promotion, and what makes it all even worse is the very podiatrist who first helped me, Dr. Siegal, he basically got demoted and sent to an Air Force base in the middle of nowhere in Texas (which, of course, is double punishment for a nice guy from New York City). Not only did that doctor take six years of my childhood, he killed the career of another man, one of my friends. And he didn't get so much as a slap on the wrist for it. All my life I've had extreme confidence and faith in the justice system of the United States, and the one time I needed it, it failed me.

    I'm trying to move on now. I don't think I've reached complete closure yet. Writing this took me much longer than I thought it would, simply because it reminded me how much it all hurt, and still hurts. It's strange how you can think something is gone, forgotten and forgiven, when really, it was only buried.

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