All in Blended Family Health Issues


Let’s talk sending your kid or step kid off to College this Fall!

You've probably been inundated with lists out there of what to send with your College bound kid.  Having sent three kids off recently, I found three key things missing from any of the dozens of lists.  Three things, that I consider an absolute MUST for parent sanity when sending our youngins' off to forage on their own.

This month marks the 2nd anniversary of Little Hart's brush with death. We sat by her bedside watching the respirator take her every breath - wondering if she would ever tell another funny story that made us laugh uncontrollably, inform us she was not going to do this, that or the other (she's so damn stubborn!) or be able to say "I Love You Mom and Dad."

Little Hart and her BFF from the hospital

Greta, Raylan and I sat in a small ICU room for NINE days and nights - all unified in praying for a miracle. One arrived on day six when she the turned a corner.  A lot of things in our Blended Family Life were forever changed after those nine days.

For the past two weeks it feels like our family has been in an episode of House, desperately trying to figure out the cause of Elle's mysterious symptoms; ringing in her left ear and pain on the left side of her head and neck.  It started the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and it's been a extreme gambit of emotions since then.

Elle has had a number of ear problems over the years including a burst eardrum, indented ear drum, too many ear infections to count. She has a high pain threshold which usually means that by the time she says something is hurting it's been going on a long time and will take a considerable amount of effort to remedy. We always know the source of the problem and how to fix.  Not so this time around.

"We're ready to apply Elle's hardware," something I had never imagined hearing about one of my children. The words from the surgical intern calling from the Elle's surgery with an update.  

Elle's hardwareSo far everything had gone according to plan - no complications.  A relief for any parent, but it an even bigger relief given the emotional turmoil between Elle and her Dad. She needed something to go right. 

I talked at length with Elle about postponing her surgery until the dust had settled with Dick. Elle was adamant that she keep her surgery date.

Elle made it clear to Dick and Malus that she did not want them at the pre-surgical meeting or the surgery.  She would later agree that Dick could come to the hospital and sit in the waiting room during the surgery for updates and the results of the surgery, but she did not want to see him.  Dick agreed, but Malus on the other hand did not.

At Elle's pre-surgical visit, Malus arrived in the waiting room. She looked at us and didn't say a word, chosing to sit in a different section than Elle, Little Hart, Raylan and I sat. I could have made a scene in the crowded waiting room instead I didn't acknowledged her.  

I wasn't inflicting payback of my own for how Malus had treated me over the past fourteen years. I chose not to because Elle had asked her not to come which she ignored and her behavior during the situation between Elle and Dick back in May.  Malus knew what was going on behind closed doors and yet she told Elle to cover it up because her marriage and family would be over if Elle told anyone or left.

Elle was forced to call me from a public bathroom to tell me what was going on with Dick. When I talked to Malus I was very specific about how I wanted Malus to protect my daughter. I did not want Elle to see or talk to Dick until I could catch a flight home and assess the situation.  I knew that he was drunk and out of control and I didn't need to know any more than that. Malus promised - Hung the phone up and did the complete opposite.


Elle had been diagnosed a year earlier with severe scoliosis.  You would think with a spine curve at a -49 degree you would be able to notice it by the way Elle was standing.  Nope.

Elle's Body BraceThe strange thing is that her body had adjusted to the curvature - she looked like she was standing straight. The only outward sign was her spine had disappeared from view when you looked at her back.  Other than wearing a swimsuit you didn't see her back - so it was easy to not notice.  The only complaint that Elle had initially had was her neck bothered her from time to time.  We attributed it to her sleeping wrong.  

Elle's diagnosis would occur during a routine physical before entering High School.

This is a four part series in honor of Elle's 2nd anniversary of her SUCCESSFUL Spinal Fusion Surgery to correct the -49 curvature of her spine! YEAH!!!  

Curvature of the spine Tension had been brewing between me and Dick since Elle's diagnosis a year earlier. Although we had both accepted the fact, Elle's spine could only be fixed through Spinal Fusion Surgery - we both knew our 50/50 custody arrangement would not work in the recovery phase.

Elle's surgery had to be done before she turned nineteen to give her the best chance for success. Initially we thought/hoped it would be closer to nineteen, but the pain from Elle's curved spine began affecting her ability to participate in simple everyday activities - surgery needed to happen at 15. In May of 2009 the surgery date was set for Wednesday, July 22nd, a little over two months away.  

After my divorce from Dick, I was consumed with the day to day negotiations between the two households -  weekends - holidays - vacations - schooling.  In the back of my mind I always had a deep fear of something out of the ordinary happening; an accident, an illness, a surgery.  

Dick and I were barely able to agree on the the easy stuff - how in the world would we ever agree on something life threatening?  The minute a surgery date was set the underlying tension turned into a full on tug of war began between the two families - with Elle smack in the middle.  Where would Elle stay after her surgery?  Elle would have a six week recovery period, if everything went well - longer if it didn't. The best home for recuperation was up for debate.

Elle wanted to stay in our home, period end of story! Things had not been going well at Dick's house. I decided to tackle it head on with Dick.  I was strong, direct, confident and unwilling to compromise; Elle was was staying at my house after her surgery.  I was her mother, worked from home and could be there for her 24/7.   Dick would fire back that they were the better parents and that Malus could provide better care for Elle.