Journal

Journal entry by Steven Christenson

Chris was discharged from Roanoke Hospital today, July 31, 2018 after getting a "tune up" to optimize his health for the days and weeks ahead.

At age 83 Chris' body is not serving him very well anymore. Nonetheless he is every bit as sharp and engaging as he's always been. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) confines him to short trips, and you may hear his words trail off when he is working to get more air... but he's still every bit the conversationalist he's always been. It's not just COPD, that is troubling. He has also declined due to kidney insufficiency... the latest numbers on the kidney function have actually improved.  



The latest complication is that all these conditions have taken a toll on his heart efficiency and thus "CHF" - congestive heart failure. His love for us, his children and family has always been unchanging - so clearly THAT part of his heart isn't affected.


Steven - his oldest (and most modest 😃 son who lives in California) found a visit with Dad to be really delightful despite what are clearly the waning days, weeks and months of Dad's life. Lori, eldest daughter, and her husband Paul are currently living with Dad to help him out. They cancelled their planned cross country RV trip so they can continue to help him as they can. Lisa, the youngest daughter, has a house not far away and spends lots of time with pops, too.


Dad has outlived many of his friends (and both wives) and is resigned to and at peace about the inevitable ending he is facing.  When he's not napping, he's playing Pinochle, marbles, doing the crossword puzzle, or reading the paper. I'm sure he'd be grateful to hear any observations you have about him... funny / sentimental stories, encouragement, or just what Byron "Chris" Christenson has meant to you.


You can drop him a note here (See Comments and Thoughts and Well Wishes below), or email him, or give him a call (being mindful of the time!)

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Journal entry by Lori OConnell

Dad had his first home health care RN visit.  His weight, blood pressure, heart and lungs all sounding good at this point.  Of course Dad did his best to charm Melissa (the RN) with his witty ways and convince her that a little salt in his diet can't hurt, can it?  He has been doing his best to minimize his salt usage and his cook (aka me) has been trying to keep him satisfied with low salt meals that still taste good.

Lisa has been over every day and each night has entailed a game or two of pinochle or marbles, Dad's favorites.  Think we'll start keeping a log book of each person's wins/losses for bragging rights.  :-)

He's been enjoying your messages, posts, phone calls and texts.  Thank you so much for showing him the love!

Journal entry by Lisa Wehausen

Lori and I took Pop to his primary doctor today (this was a follow-up appointment that was scheduled when he left the hospital). He got a good report! The doctor said his weight was good, his lungs sounded good, all of his vitals were good. I gave Pop a high-five and told him if he let the nice nurse take some blood and didn’t fuss then he would be rewarded with a nice dinner and a nice tall glass of chocolate milk - Dad’s drink of choice! 

His next appointment is August 21st with his cardiologist which Lori will take him to as I have to return to work/home this Wednesday. 

I’d be remiss to not include in this update that Dad and I beat Lori and Paul two games to one in Pinochle last night. ♦️♦️♠️♠️ Dad always says, “Bid or sleep in the street” and clearly last night “They” were NOT sleeping in the street! :)

Journal entry by Lori OConnell

Good news! The results of Dad's blood work this week remained stable compared to his lab work from 2 weeks ago.  Additionally, we paid a visit to his regular cardiologist, Dr. Molly Rutherford. What a wonderful woman she is - very caring and compassionate. She was very disappointed that she wasn't involved in Dad's care during his hospital stay. While we loved the hospitalist who treated Dad at Roanoke Memorial, she did not know my father prior to his hospitalization. Dr. Rutherford has been treating Dad for a number of years now and she painted a much brighter picture about Dad's longevity!  She feels with a little dietary self-control and her continued monitoring, Dad has every reason to be optimistic about his future as long as his heart, lungs, and kidney function continue to remain stable.


I want to personally thank all of you who have reached out to Dad, myself and my siblings with thoughts, prayers and well wishes. Love and hugs to all of you!

Lori

Journal entry by Steven Christenson

Dr. Brooke Wehausen, Chris' grand-daughter, daughter of Lisa and Tony Wehausen had planned a 2019 wedding with Phillip Swett. But the hospitalization of Chris about 2 months ago made it clear that Chris' medical status is shaky.  What did Brooke and Phil decide to do about it?


Brooke and Phil planned and executed a small, intimate wedding at Lisa and Tony's lake house on September 15, 2018, so that Chris (my Dad) could attend. Hurricane Florence kept the skies cloudy and wet, but spared the wedding from the worst of its wrath.


Chris had an excellent time, though it probably included a few too many champagne toasts  ;-) Fortunately he got plenty of dancing in with his daughters and grand daughter on September 15, 2018.


You can see a video that Steven put together here: https://vimeo.com/290283110/e300756367


Facebook friends can see still more photos from the official photographer. The caterer, photographer, and camaraderie were exceptional. The wedding, no doubt, is one of the highlights of Chris' waning days. 


I did fail Dad when I partnered up with him to play our family game of Pinochle vs Lori and Paul, but it was a good match and we fought valiantly.


But, alas, all is not good. His latest test results have shown a decline in kidney function.


Chris is currently able to manage things for himself with hospice care and periodic household help. And fortunately he's still every bit his witty self.

Journal entry by Steven Christenson

Our father, friend, golf buddy, encourager, supporter and thoughtful lover of souls died Friday, December 7, at 8:40 AM.  His two daughters: Lori and Lisa, and his son-in-law, Paul were with him when he died in his home in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, 11 days shy of his 84th birthday.

Chris will be cremated and there are no plans for a memorial in keeping with his wishes.  His family will reunite to remember him and celebrate his life in the not too distant future, meanwhile we will keep him in our memories.

Chris had asked us to curtail updates about his health status, preferring to keep matters closer to home. Until the last day or so of his life, he was in good condition - playing cards, joking, doing his daily crossword puzzle, and sending gifts for Christmas. He was his generous, good-humored self until almost the very end. No matter that he knew his end was near, and no matter how much we had anticipated his loss, it is still a great sadness. 

Fortunately we have a lifetime of memories of a generous man who overcame many obstacles in his formative years. And like all of us, he dealt with grief of many kinds. His first wife, Nancy, our mother, died of lung cancer. His second wife, succumbed to crippling arthritis. We lost a brother to a drunk driver... in short he and we have faced the same kinds of grief common to the human condition.

We would like to remember our father and friend and therefore would love it if you'd contribute a story about Chris Christenson that reminds you of him.  Just click "Comments" below and write a note, story, or remembrance of Chris.

Thank you.

 

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Byron (Chris)’s Story

Site created on July 31, 2018

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