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, May 22, 2012

Thinking of Kendra


I know Kendra's story and my own are two distinct experiences, but I can't help thinking of them as somehow intertwined. I was at therapy yesterday and the therapist was working my shoulder, putting it through range of motion. (I was discourage that my fingures still could not navigate the "shoulder ladder" as I simply lack the digital dexterity to "climb" and descend it.) I couldn't help but pray for Kendra, who perhaps at that very moment, was going through much worse.

I know Kendra has unexplained arm pain and while I do not know the answer in her case, I think of the many months of frustration and pain, unaddressed by countless doctors and therapists, that is gradually improving, but not until someone figured out that my shoulder is subluxed and the therapists could begin treating it as such.

I so appreciate the perspective on Kendra's blog that you don't have to understand everything that is happening in therapy or why it is working for it to work. I keep bring that to mind when therapy seems so senseless at times. Thank you, Scott.

Kendra is on my heart nearly constantly. I still am in shock that this has happened. Of all people maybe I shouldn't be, but it does seem strange that two friends, in our 30s, who had journeyed through the intimacies and grief of infertility together, suffered what is commonly though to be an "old person's" condition, and both to have unusual cerebellum damage too, with multiple strokes each, just 5 1/2 months apart from one another. (I met folk in their 20s in rehab
and I've heard of teenagers, infants or even pre-birth strokes, so I know it isn't nearly as uncommon in younger folks as I had presumed.)

Over discouragement over her own situation and not believing she will recover, here's what I recently posted to her page:
I know Kendra's story is not my story, but for perspective, I had been home several months (plus the first two months in the hospital) before I could see ANY improvement in myself (others saw it, but I could not, or it seemed so insignificant to me as to be discouraging in the lack). It was only after I began to see some consistent improvements for myself, that I could begin to believe I might get better. I still question the amount of improvement I will ever see. God never promises anything but suffering in this life (John 16:33). This has dramatically changed my eternal perspective, but does nothing to buy my confidence in the earthly span ahead.

As for the man by the pool and his faith, please remember it took YEARS of illness in preparation before God's encounter with the pre-knowlege of the belief God had honed within his heart specifically for this day. Does Kendra herself need to have faith right now? I don't believe human doubts have the strength to stay God's power. I prefer to think of Mark 2 and Luke 5 where it was the faith of 4 friends who literally carried a man to the feet of Jesus when he could not walk there himself. Scripture says nothing of the man's faith, but it was the faith of those who carried him at a time he was helpless who are noted for their faith.

It was their heart attitudes in action that allowed Jesus to do the work He was already wanting to do. I would encourage you and everyone else in Kendra's circle to continue to lift her up when her own faith is as paralyzed as her right side of her body. Some day, when she sees evidence for belief, it will come again. Right now she is likely wrestling with the reality that a life of faith does not guarantee protection from life's deepest losses and that's more than devastating and faith-shattering to work through!

Recently Kendra's husband, Scott, asked her if "Why?" was a big question on her mind. She nodded affirmatively that it was.

I have been thinking a lot about that. I took a measure of pride in the reality that I really have never really asked Why and simply accepted, stating so as some of my very first words in the hospital, thgat God had a plan through all this.

But I must humbly admit that am doing much the same, phrased a little differently, asking, "Why not?" as in Why didn't I die? Why am I still here?, Why did God not just take me Home last fall when I was so close? Where is my place and purpose still in God's plans for me on this earth?

Yes, Scott, it very much does seem a form of unjust punishment. "Torture" is actually the word that repeatedly comes to mind. Like "water boarding," as a friend put it, we thrash and grasp for help, fearing we might drown, when the reality is that we are upheld and supported in strong arms all along. The analogy is imperfect as those very arms are loving, just and nail pierced in reality, but they seem cruel at bent on destruction at times.

It is easy to fall into the trap that ensnared Job, thinking that God was the cause of all his suffering, rather than just simply removing His hedge of protection and allowing satan to try to work his worst, still within the grace of God's limitations. While satan was bent on destroying Job's faith, it didn't work. God was still glorified in the end. I hope His Light will shine through me as well, that Kenda and I together can testify of God's faithfulness in the end. It just hurts to feel like satan's chew toy, dragged through the mud, right now! Though better to remember the actual source of suffering is not of God even if He allowed it and  can work a wonderful purpose through this all.

Logically I can say and I know that every human deserves this and far worse. I can equally say that, because of the blood of Christ, I know I am not under the wrath of God.

Emotionally, it is a different story. In my heart I feel, "If God is for us, why does He allow strokes to be against us?" There it is, that Why? question.

Kendra and I both love this verse so much that we have instilled it in the hearts of our children since birth, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Oh LORD, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8. What do you do when God has not chosen physical protection? We know he's the only One who can, so what of peace when He does not? As someone else said in Kendra's guestbook, I continue to choose God, for where else can I go? Right now that seems like a choice made on pure faith rather than remotely one on any other reliability or circumstances.

My pastor said an interesting thing Sunday. "God does not fit into your story. You fit into His!" I'm waiting on Him to understand how and where I fit. As Rick reminds me, I wouldn't still be here if God didn't have a reason, so I am trying to rest in His sovereignty right now but that is so near impossible in my heart, even if I can say so in my head.

I am surely waiting on the When I fit as well, for I can't see any purpose in this wait, even, as folks tell me, if it is part of God's plan and purpose right now. I don't know but how to look ahead, past the now, into whatever brighter future I am assured will eventually come. Even if I could see tomorrow, what do I do with today?

I am living in the now and it is so all consuming that there is little room to for my heart to sync with my head and know that God has a plan and isn't caught by surprise (as we are!) but is still in control and has woven His story, from the beginning to include this plot twist. It is much easier to imagine God in editing mode, adjusting His story around circumstances, than to think that God, in His loving grace, would have intentionally written His script this way in the first place. How self-centered is my humanness!

Nearly seven months seems long to wrestle with these kind of questions!It light of Eternity, even in light of an earthly lifetime, it really isn;t so long. But when you are living the questions and the wait, with no clear finish line, it seems endless!

It is like waiting for my hair to grow - it obviously is longer than it was months ago, but it would still be described as "short." At what point does it become long again? Who defines that? Am I looking for Rapunzel length or just past my shoulders? For me, pre-stroke, it ewas about to my waist but that will take years and years to acheive and will be considered "long" well before that. There are so many versions of "long," taking vastly different time frames to achieve. So is the quest for getting better, what one might call "better" can be measured by such different perspectives but it takes a long time either way! The journey seemed endless after just a few weeks, a few months, still.

I can remember, shortly after coming home from the hospital and walking my daily laps of the hall with my walker. I contemplated seasons a lot during those walks, glad that God see the end from the beginning, eager to fast-forward to God's season of Spring in my life. Can I just say the fall and winter seem unusually long right now?

I think you can read a tiny bit of when the logical side is fighting to take imminence and when the emotional rages to the forefront. This is where I live these days. The emotional usually stays in check while I write, but today it will not, even at the keyboard.

P.S. We have been dealing with another major insurance glitch most of the day. Rick is on the phone again, as I type, straightening out what he can. Not only are they denying any further physical therapy until July (frustrating!), they are now saying they are denying all my occupational therapy,to date, as not medically necessary. (I say, come live in my body, even now, and then say that, but of course they won't.) This is after we had already been told we had prior authorization for the treatments. We will see what happens and what Rick can find out.
Please pray! This is so not what I need the same day I'm starting new antidepressants!
"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?"  Psalm 13:2 [my enemy, satan? the strokes? ???]
"... my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you." Psalm 88:9

"But I cry to you for help. O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you." Psalm 88:13
"My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:2

1 comment:

  1. Jenni~ Psalm 3 has been on my heart recently for a variety of reasons. (I posted it on my blog early this morning - http://sheridanwaits.blogspot.com/2012/05/weekday-worship_23.html )

    I know that Psalm 4:8 & Psalm 3:5 are similar, but I have loved the imagery of David, on the run from his own son, laying down to rest knowing that God will sustain him.

    Praying that the insurance company is willing to see your need(!) and cover the necessary services.

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