Feedback/4 Hearts, 1 Marriage - 12/04
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Wed Dec 1 14:06:53 EST 2004
- MAKING A DIFFERENCE
- MORAL OUTRAGE
- 4 HEARTS, 1 LOVING MARRIAGE
- MAKING A DIFFERENCE
> Hi Diane,
> I just wanted to give you some feedback on your list and website. There is
> little help with marital challenges available in Toronto that is accessible or
> I found your website last year while looking for answers/ways/reasons to keep
> my marriage alive. While I am still struggling, I can¹t tell you how wonderful
> the messages coming through my email from your list are.
> While I watch my friends around me choose divorce, I look to the tidbits of
> wisdom that I see weekly to keep me going. Today¹s was no exception and we are
> going to see the Incredibles as a family this weekend.
> Thank you. You make a difference and I would suspect it¹s worldwide.
> Kelly in Toronto
This is the kind of message that keeps all of us going. If we can just help
affect "the decision-making process" one couple at a time, then these
couples will, in turn, begin to influence their neighbors - and their kids -
and our work will be done. It's all primarily about attitude and
understanding, anyway. Makes me wish I could resend all the 'best of the
list' marriage ideas from the past 9 years.
And, this also reminds me that I want to remind/encourage all of you to give
marriage-strengthening classes as wedding, anniversary and new-baby
presents. I gave my sons marriage education classes as wedding gifts and am
giving them marriage classes for their 10th anniversary presents - they've
got great marriages and we want to keep them that way! I give them the
classes and provide the childcare. We must practice what we preach. See the
website for the Directory of Programs
(http://www.smartmarriages.com/directory_browse.html) - there are one-day,
4-day, cruises - the works. I'm giving my son and daughter-in-law the 3-day
PAIRS intensive, Part I. Oh, and not to worry, I sent all kinds of
suggestions to Kelly in Toronto. She might even join us in Dallas. Maybe
she'll start offering a marriage class in Toronto. - diane
- MORAL OUTRAGE
> Dear Diane,
> I have been an interested reader and contributor to your e-zine for several
> years now.
> I find your report on the immoral behaviour of Blunkett in the UK most odd.
> As an organisation supposedly promoting marriage how do you justify such an
> article that makes this man out to be a saint and debases the sanctity of
> The facts are simple. He violated Stephen Quinn's marriage by having illicit
> sexual intercourse with his wife.
> This was not a passing romantic tryst. The man claims he is the father of at
> least two of the Stephen Quinn's wife's three children.
> This is outrageous and more so that you should be seen to be giving what he
> has done an air of respectability by printing that immoral article.
> I suggest you immediately apologise for having published that article and
> make your position clear as to what are the true standards of morality
> expected in a marriage or else expect to see "Smart Marriages" confined to
> the bin with the rest of the immoral feminist claptrap whose days are long
> past their sell-by-date.
> Roger Eldridge,
> Chairman. National Men's Council of Ireland
> eldridgeandco at eircom.net
I didn't see the article as making him out as a saint - but as rather
pitiful. Reminds me of my mother's favorite adage - "We're not punished for
our sins, but by them." I shared it as a story consuming the British press
that will have a trickle down effect - of some sort - on us all. - diane
Dear List, sorry the last few articles have been so long, and here's another
long one. This one isn't about marriage education, divorce legislation,
funding, or community initiatives - not our usual fare. But, a very
'heartening' marriage story - what 'for sickness and health' is really all
about. Imagine either of them making it through without the other. - diane
- 4 HEARTS, 1 LOVING MARRIAGE
Los Angeles Times
NOV 30, 2004
By Jeff Gottlieb
Mark Landau cringed when doctors said his wife needed a new heart. Six years
earlier, he had been wheeled into the operating room at Cedars-Sinai Medical
Center in Los Angeles for a heart transplant.
Wasn't one per family enough?
Mark was more worried about his wife's transplant than he had been about his
Would she have the stamina to get through the operation? he wondered. What
about the shakes and hallucinations he had suffered when his body tried to
reject the new organ? And the weight gain? And the hair that grew in the
But Sandra was as calm as someone in her situation could be. She had seen
this movie before, and it had a happy ending. She'd have the same hospital,
the same cardiologist, the same surgeon. Besides, it beat the alternative.
"I've never seen anyone so happy to have her heart ripped out," said the
Orange County couple's 30-year-old daughter, Sarah.
Nearly 40,000 heart transplants have been performed in the U.S. since South
African surgeon Christiaan Barnard pioneered the procedure in 1967. Doctors
at Cedars-Sinai say the Landaus are the only husband and wife known to have
had the operation.
No other married couple have experienced the parallel courses of
roller-coaster emotions. Sandra and Mark each knew the despair of a dying
heart and the surging hope for a renewed life. Each braced for the other's
death. Each felt the stress and joy of nursing a partner back to health.
Ultimately, their marriage survived, even thrived.
The role of nurse fell first to Sandra. After Mark's transplant, she helped
him shower, cleaned his bedpan and prodded him to walk. Then it was Mark's
turn, and he had to learn how to iron and use the washing machine and dryer.
Seven years after Mark's operation, and a year after Sandra's, they still
prepare each other's daily panoply of pills.
There are red ones, white ones, blue ones, green ones. There are pills to
fight organ rejection, pills to build muscle, pills to fight the side
effects of other pills. There are diuretics and antacids, supplements such
as calcium and magnesium, and vitamins 24 pills a day for Sandra, 32 for
Sandra, 60, complains that the medicines make her an emotional mess and
cause her hands to shake so badly that sometimes she can't write, put food
in her mouth or drive. She's hoping that when she stops taking the
anti-rejection drug prednisone Feb. 1, the shaking will end.
Mark, 54, complains that the medicines make his face so oily that he has to
wipe it several times a day. Both say they sleep only an hour or two at a
time, despite the slew of sleeping pills they have tried.
But it's the price they pay for new lives. The Landaus spend more time
together. They joke more and fight less. Once angry at life, Mark is more
optimistic and carefree and worries less about money.
"We're mellow," Mark said. "She's keeping me alive. I'm keeping her alive. I
realize it's not worth it to get aggravated. Perfection is in the imperfect
The Landaus moved to Orange County from New York in 1988. They live in a
two-bedroom apartment in Rancho Santa Margarita. A painting above the living
room couch symbolizes their newly relaxed attitude toward life. It shows a
calm, sparkling-blue ocean with palm trees swaying in the wind.
The transplants were hardly the first challenge in the couple's 32-year
marriage. The variety store they owned in suburban New York was ruined in a
flood, forcing them into bankruptcy and onto welfare and food stamps. They
moved across the country to escape the wet and cold and start anew. Mark got
a job as a paint store manager; Sandra sold shoes.
Doctors think a virus damaged Mark's heart. Each winter in New York, he
would catch the flu. His heart function would decline. Fluid would build up
in his chest. He would become short of breath and end up in the hospital.
Three times, he nearly died.
In California, his health improved dramatically until he caught the flu
again and doctors told him he needed a new heart.
The diagnosis: idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, which meant that his heart
was enlarged and pumped poorly, and that the precise cause of the condition
"I was stunned," he said. "I thought I'd solved all my problems. I was in
good health all that time."
He was placed on the national transplant list Oct. 3, 1996.
"Your whole life spins in front of your eyes," Mark said. "Everything you've
worked for seems to come to an end."
When he told his wife that only a transplant could save him, she burst into
tears. He broke the news to son Larry, then 20, and Sarah, then 22.
"Everything went silent for a minute or two," Larry recalled. "Then emotions
broke out. I was the first to go. Then my sister started crying. Then my
The hospital gave Mark a pager so it could get in touch with him when a
donor heart was ready. The first time it went off, he shook so hard he
couldn't press the buttons on the phone and asked a co-worker to call the
It turned out it was the wrong number. Someone had called his pager by
mistake. Twice more the pager went off because of wrong numbers.
The clock was ticking. He had been given 15 months to live, and when he
reached the 16th, he was weak and tired. His legs were swelling, and his
eyesight was failing.
He took a leave from his job at Vista Paint Corp. in Mission Viejo and
prepared to die. He called a funeral director to ask the price of a
cremation. He told Sandra she should remarry, since it was the only way she
would be able to pay the bills.
A week later, Cedars-Sinai called. Mark had 2 1/2 hours to get to the
hospital, where a heart would be waiting.
During the drive up the San Diego Freeway from Aliso Viejo, where the couple
lived at the time, Mark was calm and joking. But when nobody seemed to be
expecting him at the hospital, panic set in. He was shaking, talking
gibberish. He stepped outside and called the transplant coordinator, who
made sure the right people were there to admit him. By the time Mark had
given his 14 vials of blood for last-minute tests, he had calmed down.
Mark worried how his wife would survive if he died. He was, after all, the
protective father and husband who prided himself on working long hours at
the paint store, supporting his aging mother and his blind brother along
with his own family.
Mark and Sandra held hands as he was wheeled to the operating suite. It was
April 15, 1997, the day Mark celebrates as his second birthday.
In the hospital chapel, Sandra prayed for two hours.
After the five-hour operation, she walked into Mark's room and nearly
fainted at the sight of one tube in his mouth, two in his stomach and one in
"He's hooked up like Frankenstein," she said.
Mark spent 25 days in the hospital, and for most of that time Sandra stayed
in a room down the hall, going home only for a change of clothes. "I told
them, 'I'm not leaving,' " she said. "This was unknown territory. I didn't
know whether he'd make it or not."
They held hands, watched TV, talked. Sandra became friendly with a woman
whose husband had undergone a double lung transplant, and they took walks
and ate lunch together.
Mark's body began to reject the heart a week after surgery, and doctors
adjusted his medicines, trying to find the right combination. On the eighth
day, he got out of bed, took two steps and fainted. Another time, he
hallucinated, jumped out of bed, pulled the tubes out of his arm and ripped
off his hospital gown.
The residual pain from the surgery was so intense that Mark sometimes wished
he would die. "My chest felt like it was caving in," he said.
When Mark returned home, Sandra became his nurse. She monitored his oxygen
tank, gave him sponge baths, awoke at 5 a.m. to prepare his daily
intravenous antibiotic and sat with him in the bathroom when he had enough
strength to take a shower.
Mark would wake up at night to find Sandra holding her head next to his nose
to make sure he was breathing. Sometimes, she'd wake him to make sure he was
"Leave me alone," he growled. "Let me sleep."
Normally not much of a reader, Mark consumed 23 books. He read "Harvest," a
novel about a heart transplant, in a single day.
Soon he tired of reading and watching television. "I was a chained tiger,"
Most heart transplant patients wait six months to a year before returning to
work. But against the wishes of his family and his doctors, Mark went back
after just three months for a few hours a day at first. Two months later,
he was working full time.
Mark fully recovered, and the couple thought their future was secure when,
in 2001, they received stunning news:
Sandra had fainted at Macy's in Laguna Hills, where she sold shoes. Tests
showed she'd had a heart attack and suffered from hardening of the arteries
and congestive heart failure, the result of heredity and diabetes.
"They told us there was a 40% chance I'd live four to 10 years," she said.
"Whatever that means, I still don't know. But it's not kosher."
Her internist said her heart was in such bad shape that she wasn't a
candidate for bypass surgery. Mark called Cedars-Sinai, and doctors there
agreed to see his wife. Sandra began a yearlong battery of tests to
determine whether she was a transplant candidate.
While they were waiting, the Landaus took the longest vacation of their
marriage, wondering if it would be their last. In August 2002, they flew to
Maui for a month and visited the site of their honeymoon nearly 30 years
Their activities were limited no mai-tais, no water skiing, no snorkeling.
They couldn't sun themselves on the beach because of Mark's anti-rejection
drugs. They took pleasure in the sunsets and the hundreds of birds that
alighted on their patio each day.
Tearfully, they broached the subject of Sandra's possible death, her
funeral, who should be called and how to help the children deal with it.
Back home, Sandra's health so deteriorated that doctors surgically implanted
a defibrillator to assist her failing heart. She grew so tired she could
barely read or watch TV.
Sandra was placed on the transplant list June 13, 2003. "I cried like hell,"
she said. "I knew what Mark went through, and it was scary, and I didn't
know if I'd come out of it dead or alive."
Mark didn't think his wife could survive. "It took me two days to compose
myself," he said. "I couldn't go to work. I was crying to friends on my cell
phone. I was just shocked."
Sandra, who long ago had stopped attending synagogue, began praying three
times a day at home. She prayed that she would live to see her two children
marry, to have grandchildren, to have a full life with Mark.
After a four-month wait, Sandra got the call Oct. 14, 2003, that a heart was
ready for her. She called her husband at the paint store. This time he would
be in the waiting room.
As Sandra was being readied for surgery, cardiologist Lawrence Czer stopped
by her bed. Czer is a man of science, but also a churchgoing Protestant who
believes God works through him.
He asked the Landaus if he could pray with them. They held hands as the
doctor asked for God's help.
About five hours later, surgeon Alfredo Trento walked into the waiting room
to tell Mark the operation had gone well.
"You know who I am?" Mark said.
"No," the surgeon answered.
"You did me," Mark said.
"I did you?"
"Yes, you did my heart transplant."
The name came back to him, and the doctor smiled.
Sandra gained from six years of scientific advances since her husband's
surgery improvements in surgical techniques and organ preservation, better
drugs to fight organ rejection and treat post-operative complications.
The day after her transplant, Sandra was sitting up and sipping water. "It's
like they plugged the heart in, and she's up and running," Mark said.
Whereas Mark had been bedridden for six weeks, Sandra left the hospital
after only eight days. On her second day home, she walked a quarter-mile.
Now it was Mark's turn to nurse, and he took three weeks off to care for his
wife. He was a good cook, but now he had to run the house. Even when he
caught a cold and slept on the couch to avoid infecting Sandra, he got up
every half hour to check on her.
Sandra was living with a man who had walked this same path. When she had the
sweats, Mark told her not to worry. The same thing had happened to him.
Things went so well that after 10 days, Mark got bored and went back to
Although Sandra's recovery has been relatively uneventful, it doesn't mean
she and Mark can forget that other people's hearts are beating in their
As for the anonymous donors, the hospital said Mark's was an 18-year-old man
who died in a motorcycle accident in Southern California and Sandra's was a
woman in her late 20s who died a natural death in Northern California.
The Landaus are mindful of the fragility of life. They know the buffet of
drugs they will have to take for the rest of their lives may damage their
livers and kidneys and can cause cancer.
They were lucky that Mark's health insurance covered the cost of their
operations and follow-up care. Nevertheless, they exhausted most of their
savings during the transplant ordeals because each stopped working while the
Now, they spend more than $300 a month on drug co-payments. They have no
life insurance, and they drive an 11-year-old Toyota and a 6-year-old
Thunderbird. But they are not complaining.
Sandra thanks God for keeping her and Mark alive, for the heart doctors and
for the heart donors and their families.
Mark says his transplant was akin to winning "a lottery on life. All I see
is brightness on the horizon."
His e-mail address includes the phrase "nulife."
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