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.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Great Appointment

I met with my Nuero-Opttomologist this afternoon. He has a reputation for being pretty impersonal, but he came in the room and gave me a big hug, even though it has been three and a half months since the one other time I've seen him.

Then, my mom, whom he had never even met, stuck out her hand to shake his (based on previous experience and what others have said, I didn't even think he would talk to her) and he bypassed her offered hand to give her a big hug too!

That was the start of an all-together positive afternoon. (We were only in there 2 1/2 hours today, rather than our last appointment in his office, that lasted 4 1/2.)

First of all, he was blown away (his account) by the improvement in my eyes. That was fun!

My eyes had been 30 (degrees?) off in February. At that time the double vision was "too bad" to even be addressed. He showed me how thick my potential glasses would have had to have been then and, literally, they would thicker than the bottom glass of at least two coke bottles. He said the prism cut he would have had to put on them would have been so intense that the glass would have been too clouded to see through anyway.

Today is my eyes measured at a 3 and were too close to normal to be improved with prisms. Can you believe that? My vision was 30/20 in one eye and 25/20 in the other. from too bad to too good for prisms in just three and a half months! I'm still doubling to the sides (this was at a 60 before) but we are talking about eyesight directly in front of me. I knew my eyes were doing much better but I had no idea how much. Last time he talked about "when" (not if) he would do surgery, today he didn't bring up the possibility at all. Praise the Lord!!!

Next I learned that Nevada law has changed and now you only have to be seizure-free for six months (rather than a full year, as I had been told) before you can apply to get you driver's license back. I have only ever had one seizure in my life, in conjunction with the onset of my first two strokes, so I never quite understood why they took my license. Having clearance from this opttomologist is such an answer to prayer and something I wasn't remotely expecting today!

He did give me some detailed instruction with how I should carefully and slowly "get my feet wet" when I start behind the wheel again, but even if I will have to take things really slowly, I'm just thrilled this might be a possibility again, as we had truly wondered if I might not ever drive again. We had actually planned to put my van up for sale because it just sits in our driveway. Maybe that thought was premature?

Just my regular neurologist's approval left to go. Hopefully, I will able to get an appointment with him for next month. In the meantime I am studying the DMV book inhopes I will be soon needing this information! I'm glad for several weeks to study it to hopefully take the information from short-term to long-term memory. It will do no good to memorize all the information in the manual if I can retain little of that instruction!

Much more happened, including some very good information and encouragement on both the medical and legal fronts. He told me I am one of his very favorite patients. :)

He did invite his whole staff in to hear my story and get quizzed on medical and optical stuff again, but this time he asked for applause for me before they left. I didn't feel myself to be nearly the oddity I felt last time,since mucch of what he focused on was my improvements since he last saw me.

He did make several comments to point out to his team how bad I still am in certain areas and the medical explanations, but mostly I think he was just enjoying "showing off" how much God has done in my body since February. Last time he kept shaking his head in despair that it had already been four months since my first strokes and I was still so bad. This time he almost couldn't seem to wrap his brain around the amount of improvement since he saw me last!

There are certainly area where he would have liked to have seen evven more positive change, like in the ability to walk, but my mom says I did the most steady assisted walk she had ever seen me do, when I walked for his evaluation today. :) Maybe unaided walking is getting closer?

I go back in another four months. He has already warned me that the medical aspect of my next exam (about 11 months after the start of my strokes) will be much more extensive than today's. He cut today's appointment shorter than he wished because another doctor was waiting to consult with him.

A new (to me) website that I am finding very informative is www.tmjhope.org. I woke up in the hospital with the whole left side of my face severely hurting (even though I was numb everywhere else on the left) and, medically, I am simply diagnosed with "headaches." All these months later, though the pain is more localized in my jaw thanks to the work we have done in physical therapy and improvements I've seen as a result, I still can't open my mouth wide enough to take a normal-sized bite. We have talked of jaw surgery but remain undecided for several reasons. The upper part of my jaw seems to be slipped behind the lower part. Interesting stuff I'm finding here!

Wednesday I'll have a screening for hearing aids. May God's will be done.

I don't feel the depression is fully banished yet, but is improving! Thank you for your prayers. Whenever I feel my spirit starting to dwell in darkness, God is reminding me that both the words of my mouth, and more importantly to where my heart lives, the meditations of my heart are to be acceptable in His sight. By committing my anxious thoughts to Him in prayer, and with the help of medication that helps balance my brain chemicals, we seem to be overcoming! Some of this I have to take on faith because I cannot yet or fully "feel" it, but I am closer to saying, with Job, "He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light" (Job 33:28). Thank you for helping to pray me through.

That last part of the verse is harder for me to grasp than the first, but I am starting to feel a little more hope in God's plan for the rest of my earthly life. I have no idea what that will look like, but if God still wants me here, He knows the hows and whys.  I so want to use these days of grace to His glory, to count it all joy, rather than just (as I have been since the strokes) wanting to skip over everything this side of Heaven and fast forward to the really good stuff.

It occurred to me Sunday that not only is God in the business of healing and is "powerful enough" even to make the deaf hear, blind see and lame walk (something I have known and believed, intellectually at least, since childhood)  but His body not only died on the cross, but was brutalized by that cruisifiction, and He still had the power to fix it all before His resurrection. I don't think I am explaining myself well, but the though was powerful and personal to me.

That doesn't mean I WILL be physically healed, or in a way or time-frame I desire, but God is more than able to do what an exhausting team of doctors and therapist can't, if He so desires! That is comforting.

As depression is more fully pulled into line, the PBA seems a bigger issue again, but thankfully more from the laughing standpoint than so much of the crying. I actually made it all the way through church Sunday without breaking down! I haven't even yelled at my husband in over a week, though I have broken down in tears a few times. Still, this is so much better than it was even a couple weeks ago! I am so blessed that God has given me such a patient husband!

If anyone is available to watch kids (I think they will be home by then) or to take me up near St. Mary's early on the afternoon of the 26th for another ENT appointment, please let me know! I have a couple friends I will try to call, but just want to go ahead and put this need out there for everyone (local) to consider. I may be asking for help a few more times in coming weeks, as my parents are gone. Thank you.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1

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