I don't know how I am supposed to feel about this date. Half a year ago, I woke up, kissed my kids, walked out the house on my own power, went to the doctor, and it started out just as an ordinary day. The past six months have turned out to be anything but ordinary! I am sleeping surprisingly soundly, most night (praise!) even though I still am wanting to go to bed around 8 in the evening, I'm still struggling, beyond words, with the coming and weekly going to outside care of my kids, I am still fighting to learn to walk again. I've seen more doctors and specialists than I care to count over the past 6 months, most unrelated to the doctors I was seeing before!
Some doctors and support organizations tell me that whatever improvements I have seen by the six month mark will be the most I can expect to ever see. Most, even those who statistically give me a longer window of improvement, agree that this first six months will be the most rapid and pronounced parts of my improvement. Some say that I will keep improving for 1 year, 1 1/2 years, or a very few even say 2 years. I have know and heard of folks still making some strides, just not as quick or measurable, a decade later. We will see what God has in store, but it is discouraging to think this may be about it.
There has been SO MUCH progress since my time in the hospital, but I still have such a very long way to go. I may or may not be accurate in this statement, but in doing research and reading numerous stories, I have been led to believe that many people who have the kinds or extent of brain damage I did, either do not survive at all, or, more likely, live semi-vegetative lives for the rest of their lives. No wonder I'm having a hard time finding anyone who really understands, can relate or can offer me help!
With this in mind, I am more than thankful for how far I have come, but, like anyone else would, I want back my life and abilities of before, though I'm incredibly thankful that the abilities I do have no longer seem as hamper nearly as much by chronic illness as for 22 years before. God's grace in the storm! (I am not free to really answer questions about this topic, so please don't ask. I will share, in detail, when or if I am free to do so!) For those who want to know, I am now tolerating about 45-60 minutes of exercise per day without significant backlash. There are exceptions to this rule, like yesterday when I could only mange about 20 minutes before I went to sleep for a good chunk of the afternoon. But we are talking general rules.
The last couple weeks have been especially emotional for me. Reliving it all (and more) as I pray for Kendra has been very hard, both in my worry for her and in all the remembering and questions for me. There have also been some significant marriage issues, most brought about by my ungodly thought patterns, insecurities, fears, ill-chosen words, and unwise actions. My husband has been so incredibly forgiving and steady through it all. Please pray for strength for Rick! I would leave me if I could because I must be so hard to live with. He has assured me of his faithfulness and commitment to our family, but he's got to be feeling so beaten down by now!
I look at our 9-year-old in her emotional swings or even our mature but childlike 12-year-old and ask myself if either of them would be ready for marriage? The answer is obviously not. Then I consider myself, with some of a brain with almost 40 years of experience, and other parts so immature as to be compared to a six month old child, and other parts non-existent all together. I think of 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me," and wonder where is the verse for when my mind becomes like that of a child, only in part, yet again?
You know the updates on walking, my ears, jaw and "regular stuff" I keep you updated on. I haven't talked of my shoulder for a while. It is still not healed, still causes me pain, and still slides out of position a bit. It is, however, slowly showing signs of improvement. I am putting weight through it consistently and that now seems to be helping rather that hurting it more. I am doing a few minutes of therapy that use it each week and I seem to be tolerating that.
My blood flow still is an issue of prayer. While I have mostly regained feeling in most of my body (my mouth being a notable exception), and am even starting to feel slightly ticklish at times again, I wake up with a prickly left foot many mornings. My normal state is to see my left foot purple, as (we suspect) blood pools in it any time in sits at rest for even a moment. Getting up and trying to walk on it for aggressively, for several minutes, tends to help. This improvement only lasts as long as I continue walking. The foot is usually purple again within moments of sitting back down.
I am getting some limited movement out of my left hand. If I really concentrate and force my figures to move, I can sometimes manage the computer keyboard to type, though it is an agonizingly slow process and spell-checker is my constant friend for all the keys I mistakenly hit!
I am starting to see a single image of most things, even at a distance, if the objects are totally still and directly in front of me. Even a few inches to either side an they will double again. Any movement, when I am stressed, tired, or often for no known reason at all, I can not pull the doubled images I see, even directly in front of me, together, no matter how hard I try. Still, it is starting to give my weary eyes a little rest and I am thankful for the times I do see singly!
One prayer need, coupled with a praise, is that the lady I have selected as my counselor is currently applying to be contracted with my insurance. They told her it would normally be a 3-month process, beginning from the time she filed the initial paperwork, yesterday. Because she has already completed many of the steps that will be required of her, the insurance told her it should go faster. Please pray that they will accept her application, that the process will be finished very quickly, that God will keep us out of crisis while we wait (at all for the future would be even nicer!), and that I would be able to get in to see her, with insurance approval, very soon. If this is not the direction God is leading us, pray that God would lead me to just the right person,though my heart is already here, after a wonderful phone consult.
Update: Stroke of Grace has become In Darkness Sing and has moved to JenniferSaake.com.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jennifer Saake (founder, Hannah's Prayer Ministries), experienced 6 strokes via vertebral dissection at a chiropractic office, including brain stem and cerebellum bleeds, in Oct. 2011. Jenni remained hospitalized for nearly 2 months 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. At 5 years, 7 months God showed how He was writing her story from the beginning.
Jenni is currently writing more books and stays active on both Facebook and Pinterest. Stroke of Grace became In Darkness Sing in early 2018 and has moved, along with all five of Jennifer's active blogs, to one location at JenniferSaake.com.
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 equips you to send any monetary assistance as well, this is a significant added blessing.