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...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ears, Kendra Update, Upcoming MRI and More

I had my first ear/nose/throat appointment today. The ENT looked in my ears, played around with my ear drums (ouch) and scoped my nose (unpleasant). In the end, the hearing loss does seem to be stroke-related, probably paralysis or significant weakness of the left eustachian tube not allowing pressure to equalize in that ear. We will try daily nose drops for about 3 weeks, and if that doesn't stabilize the pressure and restore hearing, he will make a small slit in my eardrum and insert a tube in my ear. According to web site research, this should restore my hearing immediately. Praise God!

Thank you to all who are praying for Kendra. She still has a very long road ahead, so I request your continued prayers. I did want to pass along the praise that she has graduated out of neurological ICU and into "Intermediate Care." She sounds as if she is now doing things as well as or better than when I legt ICU for the regular neuro wing of our hospital so I am guessing that's about where she is at, just a different name in her stroke center. Her next step is rehabilitation, but I would anticipate that is still several weeks away.

If I could also request prayer for M., she had a stroke the day after Kendra's (yes, she is a very young woman too, I don't know many details) and her family was to meet with a team of doctors to make a plan today. She is unable to speak or, apparently, to understand anything spoken to her, though doctors suspect she probably retains some memories of communication, movement and life before the stroke - torturous! She has already endured cranial surgery but is not even tolerating tube feedings. Her prognosis is not good. Please pray!

Today in therapy, I walked backwards, at first holding on to a rail, then the arm of a therapist and eventually unassisted (one therapist walking with me, but only there to catch me when I lost balance and not holding on to me). This was a skill I couldn't master for even a few steps last time we tried (a month or so ago) but I did quite a bit today! I was very slow and still awkward but I did it! I also walked (forward) without support for several laps of the rehab center.

Last week, on Monday, I walked the length of the (very uneven) lawn, once, without holding on to anything (two therapists still walking with me), then on Thursday I walked both directions across the lawn in the same amount of time it had taken me to go one direction just 3 days before. A rabbit even hopped across my path Thursday, movement that normally would have really thrown me off balance, and I kept right on walking. God's power!

I didn't try the sitting step machine today because we ran out of time. Thursday I only made it 11 minutes (out of 15) and around 800 steps. This was after my first lawn walk so I was very tired before we even got started. They had turned the cardio resistance up from a level 3 to a level 6 and my therapist was thrilled I made it 11 minutes and that I was sweating so heavily that he had to get me a towel.

I am having o lot of sharp, newer, upper back pain. My therapist says the best and fastest ways to address that is through spinal manipulation. For some reason I'm resistant to that approach, so it could be a long process to bring that under control. It is one more thing to eat up time at therapy. Please pray we can resolve this quickly, thoroughly and wisely!

Thanks to my wonderful husband, I walked into church this Sunday. I was holding Rick's arm for extensive balance and some support, so I told him he was being my "walker" that day, but the looks on a few faces was priceless. Thank you, Lord!

It was a tearful weekend. This weekly cycle of uncontrollable sobbing is exhausting, for Rick and for me. Please keep us both in prayer, specifically that I can learn to handle my emotions better.

My 6-month MRI is tomorrow. I don't know when I will get results. My occupational therapist should be back from training and again in the office for my Wednesday appointment. I will have physical therapy again Thursday. Other than the kids being back home (no, not for good yet), I think Friday is currently clear. Praising God for giving my mom stamina to keep up with all the driving - thank you Mom!

Thank you too, Kathy, for your faithfulness every Thursday. And thank you to our church family, for still bringing meals so many months into this journey! (I tried to prepare a meal on Saturday, Rick doing any lifting or carrying for me, and let's just say that it was somewhat edible but "disaster" would be a significantly understated description of the whole 2-hour preparation process.) Thank you, Sue, for the beautiful hats you blessed me with on Sunday. Thank you to all of you for fervently covering me in prayer. Most of all, thank you to my amazing husband for sticking with me through all the highs and lows!


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