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!!!
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.
Now mind you both Dick and Malus knew exactly the complete disfunction going on in their household, I only knew the half of it at that time. I held strong and Dick finally agreed to my face, but behind my back he would try to manipulate Elle to stay at his home.
Dick and Malus told Elle that they would remove her from their insurance if she stayed with me after the surgery. It would place a huge financial burden on me(her Mom). Raylan and I would not be able to afford her surgery and lose everything. Luckily Elle talked to me about it. I told her that Dick was required by the divorce decree to provide health insurance regardless of her living arrangements. He was just bluffing. And if he wasn't - Raylan and I also had full coverage insurance on her as well - the surgery would be covered. I would call Dick directly and he would profusely deny they ever said such a thing!
Dick and Malus threatened Elle that I would go to jail if she wasn't there at specific dates and times. The court had ordered she be at their home no matter what happened, Elle must live there half the time! All a lie of course, but to my then fifteen year old she felt she had to keep their secrets and follow the schedule to take care of me. I finally pulled out the divorce decree and went through it line by line with Elle to prove to her that was not the case.
Dick and Malus' last grasp to manipulate the situation was setting up Grandma Georgia(Dick's Mom) to come to their home and take care of Elle (a woman she sees once or twice a year) - "How can you let down your Grandma by letting your Mom (or Lisa as they always called me) take care of you?" I would confront Dick and he would deny, deny, deny that he or Malus had ever said anything of the sort.
Five days before Elle left Dick's house permanently she said "Mom - how about I stay at Grandma's (my Mom's house) so it's neutral territory?" I said honey I don't think anything short of Dick and Malus getting their way and you staying with them will get them to stop.
Elle had cried for months every time she went to their home and when she returned from their home. How could I let my child stay there after a surgery? I couldn't! I didn't know how I would do it, but I knew I had too!
On May 22, 2009, Dick and Malus both crossed the line with their inappropriate behavior. Elle left never to return to their household. Debate over where she would stay after the surgery became a side note. She would never live in their household again.
Stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday.