Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Carl Waldo Christensen Jr. 1942-1983

It's hard to believe that thirty years have past since we lost my dad. This year, I am the same age he was in '83 and my youngest child is the same age I was that year. Thirty years apart. I wonder what he would have thought about being a Grandpa?

Time passes in strange ways, hurling one event into the past, while another seems like yesterday. In some ways, a lifetime has transpired since 1983, but some sights, sounds and smells seem less than an arms reach away.

Missing someone close is an odd mix of laughter and pain. At one moment, the thought of my father will make me smile, even giggle, over no event in particular. Another moment will find me tearing up, again, over no particular memory. Memories of a ten year old are foggy and unreliable at the best of times, add in thirty years and most of what I have are more blurry memories than actual events and conversations. I remember some events clearly, odd events, but significant ones.

I remember clearly waiting for a Star Wars Snow speeder or maybe a Tauntaun that we had ordered to come in the mail. I can see the size and shape of the box, I can even see his hands on the box.

I can see him shoveling out the outhouse in the back yard (what an odd memory is that?) but it is a fond one, and I cling to it. I remember hoping that I would grow up to be as strong as him. He seemed to have mastered the use of the same shovel that seemed so big and unwieldy to me.

He spent a lot of time on the screen-porch working clay into tiles and I can still see him clearly through the old warped glass of the big window of the shed out back, working on something or other. Who knows what he was working on, but I am sure that it was important and manly and cool.

I clearly remember getting in trouble for running around without a shirt on, in the chill of late fall or early spring. I was the Hulk and had to have my shirt off when I "hulked out"... dad did not seem to care. That day, the Incredible Hulk had to wear a shirt... how humiliating. I can still hear his voice, though I could not see him, through the trees that covered the front of the house.

I still have his hat, but my head is too big for it, so I bought a new one, black like his. I pluck at his guitar on occasion, but have neither the voice or talent on the strings to make it sound like he did. Songs like Yesterday, Summertime, Amazing Grace still bring a lump to my throat, though most of the time, I don't remember why. He used to walk through the house singing, while playing the guitar.

I remember getting to go to his work and reading Tintin books on the lumpy couches at the Batch. Watching him splice film or the smell of the 8mm projector in the evening. Playing the one Mickey Mouse reel backwards. I remember his film camera in his hand and seeing him dressed up for the AmTrak trip to see Grandma and Grandpa in Chicago. I have a handful of clear memories, not enough, it seems, for a decade worth of living. But good ones. Memories that remind me of who my dad was, at least, who he was to a ten year old boy.

If you are reading this and you knew my dad, you have different memories of the man. You may even have different recollections of the same events. Like the game of telephone, I am sure that my memories have morphed over the years.

My dads hat and guitar are routinely pulled out and the dust removed. The same needs to be done for our memories. And so, here is a moment of dusting for you, dad.

We miss you.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Peanut Update

It has been some time since my last post. We have been busy with school events, sicknesses and such.

We started our weekly treks to see Dr. Samuel Foster at the Southwest Asthma and Allergy Clinic ( ) in Denton, Texas back in July 2013. Since then, Nathan has gone from reacting severely when he ingested 1/8000th of a peanut to to today, where he is able to eat a peanut butter sandwich, peanut M&Ms and even a Snickers and Payday candy bar!

1/8000th of a peanut isn't a lot of peanut. It's too much eggplant, but not very much of a peanut. I made a graphic to illustrate it. You can click on it to see it full size.

first, try chopping a peanut in half, (don't do this at home)
and then cutting one of those halves in half,
and then cutting one of those quarters in half,
and then cutting one of those eighths in half,
and then cutting one of those sixteenths in half,
and then cutting one of those thirty seconds in half,
and then cutting one of those sixty fourths in half,
and then cutting one of those one hundred twenty eighths in half,
and then cutting one of those two hundred fifty sixths in half,
and then cutting one of those five hundred and twelfths in half,
and then cutting one of those one thousand and twenty fourths in half,
and then cutting one of those two thousand and forty eighths in half,
and then cutting one of those four thousand and ninety sixths in half... roughly.
There you have the dose that sent our son into a reaction, when we first started this protocol.

The transformation has been amazing. So much so that just today, we sent him out of state for a week to the International Science Fair! While we consider the program to be a success, Nathan was the oldest patient to graduate and the doctor feels that his age may be the reason that he still has some reaction to peanuts. Not anaphylactic, but still a reaction.

With that said, who would have ever imagined that he would be eating ten peanuts a day or that he could take a trip out of the state for a week, and even go to an Major League Baseball game (sing the song... peanuts and cracker jacks... yeah, that used to terrify us) without his mother or I tagging along? This is amazing.

It took twenty six weekly trips and put twenty five thousand miles on the van. We paid enough in hotel bills to warrant a room being named after us. The hotel declined our suggestion, but when we returned for the last check up after four months away, the hotel staff exclaimed, " hey! your back!".

We learned many things unrelated to peanut allergies. The most marked lesson is that teenage boys should not be cooped up in a car every weekend for sixteen hours. We also learned that fathers of teenage boys should not be cooped up in a car with their teenage son, every week for sixteen hours. With cable TV in the hotel, we were introduced to Turtleman, Duck Dynasty, Say No to the Schmoe (AKA Say Yes to the Dress... ugg). We saw the Fortworth Zoo, Seaworld San Antonio, lots of mesquite trees, Cabella's, logged more Maul time than a man should ever have to face (when the girls came with). For those of you in Rio Linda, that is Mall, not Maul... as in a large shopping establishment.

We had fun over the course of the journey and are very grateful to our Church and Employers who allowed us the time off to make this happen.

I know that there are thousands of worried parents out there who have kids with severe peanut allergies. Let me tell you that Nathan's allergy was among the worst. Dr. Foster at the clinic had to step down the normal protocol dosage so that Nathan would not be in danger of having an anaphylactic reaction. If we had heard about the clinic earlier in his life, if it had been available, maybe he would have had more complete results. Some of the children who have gone through the procedure no longer show up as allergic to peanuts on the test. I urge you to get you child in a treatment. Dr. Foster was the best, the outcome is wonderful, and though Nathan will always have to eat ten peanuts a day, and will always have to carry an Epipen, we no longer have to worry that a girl who has peanut oil on her lips will kill him with a kiss or a coworker with peanut dust on his hands will send our son to the E.R.

We are grateful to our God for all of the medical advances and giving us the ability to give our son a normal life. Amen and amen