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...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cane!

I have been using my cane around the house this afternoon! I still need the walker or wheelchair any time I leave the house (unless I have Rick's arm) or when Rick or another adult isn't home to spot me, but I am thrilled to walk around familiar territory without feeling so "caged in." I really can't regulate my speed at all, but hope this skill will be refined with time.

I may not be walking, unaided, by my birthday next month, but using a cane is a pretty exciting leap forward, and more than a month before my goal date of walking. I think if were to see someone else walking with a cane, I would still count that as "walking," wouldn't you? I still hope to be assistance-free in the end, but I think this will be one of the last stages before we get there?


Just as Jesus supernaturally walked on water, it is by His power, and just as miraculously, that my lame feet are being empowered to walk steadily on solid ground once again, like Peter, by keeping my eyes only on the Lord.  Please remember that He gets the credit when that day comes!

When I went from my heavy-duty walker to a lighter weight one, my therapist warned me that I was at unusually high risk of falling and that this would increase any time we stepped down to less stable support. I am not nearly as stable with the cane as I was with the walker, but I know I won't learn if I don't try. Hopefully, when I restart physical therapy next month, we will make significant progress.

I had really felt I had plateaued, or even regressed, physically, over this past month. I still think the lack of therapy has been detrimental compared where I could have been otherwise.  I am just very thankful for the continued healing of my brain. Maybe not at the speed we desire, but healing and slowly, some progress, none-the-less!

I can tell I have been walking more because my entire left leg really aches (from hip to ankle) and the arch of my right foot hurts from weight distribution too. I can tell that I don't bear weight evenly when the right foot (less impacted) starts burning like fire and this reminds me (not so subtly) to shift my weight more onto my left leg. The right foot doesn't hurt as much today as it did when I tried cane walking for a couple of hours yesterday (though my left leg aches much more), so this makes me wonder if maybe I am standing straighter now?

My paralyzed (or "impacted" or "effected" or whatever it should be called) left foot is much more prone to tripping without the walker, but the leg does seems to be moving fairly well, as long as I remember to, and can control, the bending of my left knee. So if I get enough lift on my leg with each step, I don't seem to trip as much. Moving toward a transition to the cane gives new meaning to the term, "step of faith."

I have been fighting an all-over headache today. This is different from, and in addition to, my jaw pain triggered headache. I'm thinking it is probably related to tensed-up muscles in my neck and shoulders as I work with the cane?

The paralysis of my left arm is much more evident today, as my arm is no longer kept busy grasping the handle of a walker, and readily draws up to my chest as I concentrate on balance. I have to stop and really think about what I'm doing to start walking with it dropped down to my side again. My hand is looking bluer/darker and more curled by the week. :(

I had thought it would be much easier to carry light-weight things one I exchanged the walker for a cane, but my right (stronger) hand still has to support my body weight/stability with the cane and my left hand struggles to grasp. If I can get my hand to support the weight of an empty cup, it is too unsteady to keep from spilling the contents once the cup is filled. I tried to pick up a hand-full of chips, left-handed, today, and I ended up with a hand full of greasy crumbs, as I couldn't control the strength of my grasp and I instantly crushed them as soon as I tried to pick them up!

On the positive news front, the kids and Rick play a game on the drive to church each Sunday, to see who can be the first to spot a goose or a wild horse. I have been straining to see one for many months, but often I can't see it until long after one of the kids calls it, if at all. Last Sunday, I was the first family member to see a heard of wild horses up in the hills. I was so excited at this evidence of God's hand to heal my eyes!

God's carried me a long way since the week in ICU or my months in the hospital! We are far from the finish line yet, but not bad for someone who wasn't even expected to live last year!

I had my second morning in months where I did not wake up terribly depressed, with ugly thoughts racing through my mind, one morning this week! I had another morning where the thoughts started out by running rampant, but after fixing my mind on the words of the Lord in a devotional book, the ugliness significantly and rather rapidly receded. This has not been my normal experience of recent months, so it was of great relief!

 As I have explained to Rick, everyone encourages you to "fight" the strokes. It is so hard to stay in that mindset without ending up fighting God's plan or people too, even/especially those you most love!  The closer the relationship before the strokes, the harder to let someone see the depth of my brokenness and vulnerability now. I had no idea that strokes would be even more of an emotional and spiritual battle than a physical one!

Writing is very slow going, but finally seems to be progressing (one-handed) a bit again. Thank you for praying! http://www.HarvestingHope.blogspot.com

Here's a list I put on Facebook this week, since I am trying to take my friends list down to just people I know well, usually in person, but I don't want to loose touch with you in the process! Some of my "friends" have been around since I first joined FB and are really only following me because of my book, but since I didn't know to set up a page for that at first, they ended up on my personal friend list even though we don't actually even know each other. The same has been true of chronic illness over the years. For all those I don't know in person, I hope you can find a home on one, or more, of these pages:
- Stroke updates: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stroke-of-Grace-by-Jennifer-Saake/339888582731687
- Infertility, miscarriage or pregnancy / infant loss: https://www.facebook.com/HannahsHopeBook
- Current Book Project and Drawing on the Holy Spirit and Fruit of the Spirit in troubled times: https://www.facebook.com/HarvestingHope
- Future Book Project on the Life of the Apostle Paul and chronic pain/illness (friends with ME/CFS or other related illnesses may want to go here): https://www.facebook.com/GivenMeaThorn
- Fun and encouraging Beauty Tips, inside and out https://www.facebook.com/innerbeautygirlz
- Author Friends (published, yet-to-be-published, and serious bloggers): https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennis-Journal/404112829631073

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. - Matthew 14:25
“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. - Matthew 14:29
The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. - Matthew 15:31 (I've fallen into pretty much every one of these categories at some point over the past 8 months! Thankful to God for His healing thus far and waiting, with expectation, for more yet to come! Praise the Lord!)


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