Starting October 25 of 2011, "InfertilityMom," 39-year-old Jennifer Saake (founder of Hannah's Prayer Ministries), experienced 6 strokes, all due to vertebral dissection at a chiropractic office. The largest two strokes were brain stem and cerebellum bleeds. Jenni remained hospitalized until nearly Christmas and was not expected to live (near death experience) nor recover, but if she even survived, she was slated to live out her days in a nursing home or, best case, to maybe come home but wheelchair-bound and needing 24-hour care (please read more and watch short video). Jenni is now walking (with a cane or wheeled walker), has recovered much eye-sight, some hearing, partial use of her hands, cares for most of her own personal/toiletry needs, and is currently writing three books, maintains multiple blogs, and stays active on both Facebook and Pinterest. Near the five-year recovery mark, Jenni has renewed her pre-stroke excitement about the unique Lilla Rose hair Flexi eight jewelry she sells and has finally regained enough hand/arm function to regularly use! (The biggest ongoing losses at the 4 1/2-year point of recovery are left-side nerve pain, inability to drive, loss of homeschool teaching capability, significant sound processing issues (often triggering nausea), and some profound physical ability limitations such as a limp, balance challenges, clumsy use of right hand and only large motor function in left hand.) Here is her resume.

Since Jenni's chiropractor carried no insurance and moved out of the country soon after the accident (thus avoiding any legal or financial consequences), if you would like to help contribute to the Saake (pronounced like the two small words, say and key) family's massive financial needs (medical expenses alone are estimated to cost between $1- and $1.5- Million in Jenni's lifetime), please visit Jennifer Saake's Stroke Survivor GoFundMe Page. (This support information has been added in direct response to several reader requests.) The Saakes sincerely thank you for your prayers and if God prompts and equipts you to send any monetary assistance as well, this is a significant added blessing.

Jenni is clinging to God's grace through the entire experience. Here is her unfolding story, documented in her own words (typing with only her right hand), as she perceives it happening in real time, messy, honest and to the glory of God...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How We Celabrated

Today (five years since my first two strokes, my "re-birthday") didn't turn out quire as I had expected.

Mom has a bad cold, so we cut out most of our plans for the day, We did not revisit my rehabilitation doctor/hospital. We did not go to lunch.

We are taking a rain check on those. I was disappointed, not in Mom, but in the mean germs that spoiled our plans.

I made gluten-free brownies for myself this afternoon. I told my husband, "I figure if my body won't let me cry, I can at least eat chocolate!" ;)

Except I love lemons too! I eat them straight!

Tonight, my kids all elected to take time away from typical homework  and go out to dinner with the whole family, even knowing it would drive the older two into very late nights of study once we got home.
Thank you, Rick, for taking us all out, even order birthday surprise desert (more gluten-free chocolate) and having the kids sing to me.

It made me heart so happy to be sitting together as a whole family!

On the way out, I knew the music the restaurant blasted outside would be loud, so I held my breath before going out the door, the same way I do if there is upcoming cigarette smoke.

Holding my breath didn't help at all with deafening sound!

It did give us a good laugh though! I love my family!

Changing gears, here's yesterday's AlterG video I promised Tee to try to get. My top speed yesterday was 7.5 miles per hour! I was at 50% gravity and only managed 7.5 for 30 seconds (20 of any quality),

Earlier link to Living Scary Brave.

Living Scary Brave

This post is actually a direct continuation of this morning's post on Five Years Ago.

I ended my recollections of that morning by recounting my feelings of physical disconnect and spiritual connection on an indescribable level.

The music that spilled out [from Heaven] and encompassed me is unlike anything I had ever heard, heard with the ear, yet experienced with the whole being, tasted, touched, smelled, pure joy!

How disappointing to find I was still earth-bound...

I am now home from my appointment and ready to share more thoughts.

At 23andMe research study, in partnership with Renown, today,

Front of the hat I'm wearing, since I was trying to juggle the camera at a weird angle for a selfie:
I have been feeling rather ambiguous about my future. Year Six???

Mom and I are two of the 10,000 volunteer participants in this patient research programon the genetic health history of northern Nevada residents. I chose today as my participation date to give back to the hospital God used to save my life!
There isn't supposed to be a year six! There wasn't to be a year five either...

Yes, Kathy, I know. NONE of us know what our futures hold. 

This just feels different. I struggled with it last year. I've struggled again with this landmark too. When you are living days that medically "shouldn't be," it's just bizarre!

This morning, God comforted me with the reminder that all the days ordained for me were written in His book before even one of them came to be (see Psalm 139). My days, those blank, unscripted times that seemed so overwhelmingly uncharted, peninsular, this "borrowed time," really isn't borrowed after all.

I entitled this post Living Scary Brave, because I was thinking this morning about how some days just are plain scary. It almost aches (not physically, I'm talking heartache here) simply to keep breathing. I felt that way this morning.

People often tell me I'm "so brave." I'm not. What choice do I have but to keep living this life?

This morning the phrase "Scary Brave" resounded with me. To make the choice to "be brave" even on the scariest of days. October 25 will likely always be a scary day for me. By God's grace, I pray it can also be an equally brave season.

5 Years Ago

This post was originally titled, "Living Scary Brave, part one," but I've decided to give each "part" its own title.

I was not planning to blog this morning.

My thoughts are too full.

I need to spill out words in order to process.

5 years ago, I was looking for a chiropractor. I had a migraine that was lasting longer than usual.

The day before, I had already seen my own doctor, gotten pain shots, gone to the emergency room, even had a CT that confirmed this was a migraine and nothing wrong with an artery. I was calling every chiropractor on my insurance list, was calling friends and my mom to see who could drive me as I was not sure I was in good shape to drive with that much pain.

One guy that took my insurance had an opening in an hour. I didn't even bother with a shower or changing out of my fuzzy, pink flannel jammies. Mom delivered me to his office where he was the only soul there. No patients, No staff.

We briefly chatted about my medical history and he had me lay down on his treatment table. He commented that I was really tight and, "You are sure hypermobile." (I didn't know that term, but have since learned it is basically is a medical way or noting high levels of flexibility, being "double jointed." I could have told you I've always been very flexible. I had no idea there was any medical significance to this. However, my chiropractor should have known that this was an automatic red light and to not try to adjust me with hypermobility. Multiple first year physical therapy students have since told me that one of the very first things they were taught is "Never adjustment a hypermobile joint!")

He commented on the level of tension in my neck, a result of the stress of intense and prolonged migraine pain.  He encouraged me to yield the full weight of my head into his hands.

He rotated my neck toward the right. Immediately some vertebra "popped" and presumably re-aligned, taking a slight level of tension and pain immediately down a notch.

Then he moved to the other side. When he twisted my neck toward the right wall, nothing happened. "Just relax. Trust me."

He tried a second time, slightly more aggressively and forcefully. Still nothing.

He tried at least a third, then I believe a forth time. My mom thinks she counted six rapid, forceful, rapid neck thrusts on that side. (Keep in mind, he had already noted I was hypermobile, yet seemingly forced my neck a little further than the previous time, with each attempt.)

Finally a LOUD "POP" and pain dramatically diminished (presumably as that pinched nerve, muscle, and/or vertebra finally submitted into place). "Oh, that felt so good. But I am SO DIZZY," I exclaimed.

I grabbed the edge of the table with both hands as I felt certain I would fall to the floor. Within seconds, my left leg involuntarily kicked into the air, then flopped off the table.

My mom, sitting in a chair near my feet, thought I was being silly and lifted my leg back onto the table.

As she moved my left, my left arm, immediately followed by my right, shot out wildly into the air. This event was eventually deemed a pseudo-seizure - looked and acted like a grand mall seizure, but had no true epileptic link.

The doctor, who was momentarily out of the room, came running back and grabbed my head in his hands. "Look at me!" he ordered.

I often wonder what was going through his mind as he looked into my actively stroking face, right as it was happening. I bet he had (maybe still has?) nightmares! I wonder if my face was visibly drooping to one side yet? If he watched my left eye as it crossed and locked into paralysis where it would remain fixed against my nose for the next several months? I likely will never know what he witnessed, but I do wonder!

I tried to look up and saw only grey blankness where his face should be. "I can't look at you," I tried to reply,  By then my voice had already slurred and I think I was drooling a bit too. I heard a strange voice say something that sounded a bit like, "I A OO A UO," a slurred version of what I was trying to say, all vowels, but it didn't sound like me at all. I fought the urge to giggle - this was all so bizarre!

I heard running feet and panicked voices as the doctor and my mom each jumped into action. My mom's voice beginning a 911 call was the last think I heard before unconsciousness fully claimed me.

I've been told that the ambulance (and police and fire trucks) arrived in less than five minutes. I have no recollection of the crowd of emergency personnel that I'm told maneuvered my body back down the narrow hallway. When my mom took me to revisit that empty office (my chiropractor moved out of country with months of my accident)  and walk that parking lot four years ago, on my first anniversary, I was able to tell her where the ambulance had been parked and situated, as well as point out the areas of various other emergency vehicles. I never saw any of that, so we still don't know exactly how I was able to recreate the scene, but she confirms my information, that no one ever described to me, was indeed accurate.

I'm told my body was already "posturing" (in "death throws," the rigidity and involuntary twitching to signify deep brain injury) by the time they arrived. As the ambulance door closed behind me, my mom fully expected that she would never see me alive again.

My only memory, after loosing consciousness on that treatment table and "waking up" in the ICU several days later (I was only fully comatose and unresponsive for six hours, but true awareness was a very gradual, may-day process), I place as having happened in that chiropractic parking lot, before we even left to the hospital...

I remember my mind sparking to wakefulness and realizing I could not see, nor hear anything, nor feel anything, nor make any kind or sound, nor wiggle my body even a fraction. In fact, I felt totally disconnected from my body in the least. The only information I had to work with was unique experience I had just endured and the knowledge that a 911 call had recently been placed on my behalf...

You know how you can sometime sense light shifting without even having your eyes open, like when sun burst through your window in the morning and wakes you up and you know it was a light shift that just took place, even though you cannot actually see it? When my brain sparked awake for that moment, that's why. Maybe an EMT was shining a flashlight in my eyes? Maybe I reacted to being brought out into daylight from the darker office? Only God knows what the catalyst was, but here's what my brain told me was going on when I interpreted a square of light, that I presumed to be the size and shape of a back ambulance window as the ambulance door swung shut, shifting...

I must be in an ambulance now. [Check of five senses and realization of utter body disconnect.] Don't pull the plug! I'm still here.

As those thoughts crossed my mind, I expected a wave of panic to hit. Instead, I was overcome, overwhelmed, engulfed by such tangible peace that any words I use are utterly inadequate.

Borrowing words from Revelation 11, "I saw Heaven opened" for a time. Isaiah 6 has long been a passage I've loved since high school, and while I was yet outside Heaven, looking into the courtyard from still outside the gates, did not see the face of Jesus, only tasted the tiniest sip of the splendor and majesty of God's glory, the grandeur of Isaiah six makes my heart race with anticipation because it is a reflection of the little I got to know.

The music that spilled out and encompassed me is unlike anything I had ever heard, heard with the ear, yet experienced with the whole being, tasted, touched, smelled, pure joy!

How disappointing to find I was still earth-bound... [to be continued later today as I'm off to a doctor's appointment now...]