"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.
So 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.
Malus would take Elle back to her home three more times and tell Elle to fix things with her Dad, it was her responsibility to do so. It would end with Dick throwing Elle out of his home and telling her it was permanent. I knew then that Malus' priority was not my daughter.
Malus would follow us back to the exam room. She stood in a corner without saying a word. The nurse brought in consent forms for me to sign. Malus asked where she should sign on the consent forms. I kindly responded "the forms don't require your signature." I did give her a copy for Dick to review.
The surgeon came in. He said Elle, here's what I'm required to tell you - you could become paralyzed from the surgery, have other complications such as an infection, nerve damage, blood clots..... Now here's what you should know - I've done a lot of these surgeries, I'm good at what I do! I've never had any major complications with any of my patients. Some patients have had minor complications, but we were able to reverse them and are doing well now. You should feel confident that your in good hands. We did.
Malus left with her papers and us with ours. Elle, Little Hart, Raylan and I took a tour of the hospital a few days before her surgery. Studies show that kids who take a tour before surgery have an 80% better recovery rate than those who don't. We had no idea at the time that the hospital tour would play a role in Little Hart's life nine months later.
Elle and Little Hart would get matching purple stripes in their hair prior to the surgery and matching stuffed animals. It was their way of staying connected - Elle would take her animal into surgery and Little Hart would keep her's in the waiting room.
When we arrived at the hospital the morning of the surgery, Dick respected Elle's wishes. He would come later to sit in the waiting room. Elle called Dick right before surgery to thank him for respecting her wishes and tell him she was headed into surgery. The conversation was short and strained.
Raylan, me, Little Hart, Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) were able to walk her to the surgical area. I'll never forget the way she looked in her pink robe, pink fuzzy slippers, clutching her stuffed animal as we all gave her hugs and kisses. I tried my best not to not cry, but a few tears slipped. I had to place all my trust in her surgeon, a man I had never heard of a year ago, to take care of my baby!