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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cane Walking at 9 Months

Tomorrow is 9 months. Since I will be in ear surgery (report to the surgery center at 6am), I figured I better give my monthly update today.

My emotions seem to be somewhat more stable and mood swings, while still happening, less frequent and generally less severe.

I am still really struggling with self-image and want to cry at the sight of myself in a mirror. Weight gain at least seems to have leveled back out.

We still are doing exercises for my eyes, and not seeing any tangible ongoing improvement since I last posted an eye update, but my vision is (thankfully) at least usable and relatively manageable now. I still can't turn my head easily, or look to either side or up and down well, especially if I'm trying to walk at the same time.

I have been walking with the cane since Wednesday evening, still only with adult supervision last week, but full-time ever since the weekend! Yesterday I even went out in public with just the cane for the first time. Around the house and at therapy, I'm even walking short distances totally without aid. I'm still not terribly study yet but I haven't fallen in two weeks, so we are making progress.

I told my therapist that I wanted to be walking by my birthday (a week from today) and he confirmed, "You are walking." Yesterday, we did some walking/balance testing in therapy and he said I actually did better in some areas than he was anticipating (not so great in other areas). I said, "Not too bad for someone who was never supposed to be able to walk again!" He laughed.

I still am not regularly making meals or cleaning my home and doing laundry. The crock pot idea didn't end up working out as well as I had hoped, especially now that summer is here! Now that I am more mobile, I think the kitchen will be my next big goal.

I have found that the best way to cope with not being able to hold the cane with my right hand (I can't support or steady myself with the cane in my left hand) and something else, like a glass of water, in the left, is simply to carry thing with my right and not use the cane at all!  I can't do this for long distances or with heavy items, but a few steps from the kitchen counter to the table is doable if I have a good grasp with my right hand, on an item that is lightweight. A bag of popcorn, fresh out of the microwave, is too hot to carry in my left hand, as nerves seem hyper-sensitized on that left side.

My mouth is still numb / feels burned on the lfet. My jaw/head still really hurts on the left, though my jaw did finally pop a few times, several weeks ago, and once last week, so I'm guessing this means the jaw alignment may be getting a little better, but now is becoming more like "normal" TMJ which typically pops with every movement of the jaw? Instead of the bionic man, I feel like "Plastic Woman" when I go to bed wearing a mouth guard and arm splint. It is like putting on body armor!

Speaking of popping, my occupational therapist says my shoulder is no longer so very sublexed, as it used to be, and that my "scapular winging" is also much improved. The shoulder still pops quite often, especially with specific activities, and still hurts, but maybe it is on the road improving now? I've been doing some very targeted exercises to try to strengthen the shoulder and that is bringing a measure of relief. If it continues to be so painful, I will need to ask my primary care doctor to order imaging to see if I need surgery also.

My left hand may never be terribly strong or fully functional. It is, however seeming not to be trying to curl up on itself quite so much, now that I'm back in therapy and wearing the splint at night. Because the splint so immobilizes me, it is reminiscent of when my hand refused to move at all. Besides sometimes hitting myself in the face with that arm, bonking my husband with my splint, and not being able to bend my wrist to push myself up or back in bed, I can't turn a page in a book, scratch my other arm, rub my eye, wipe my nose, or anything. It makes me appreciate how far I've come and be thankful for the abilities I now do have. As one friend pointed out to me, I now see my left arm as my "helper arm," I would miss the assistance if it weren't available at all, but I know I can't primarily rely on it like I used to.

My left foot is not nearly as purple now that I am walking more and keeping it elevated when I'm not walking. My left hand was turning quite purple as well, but is becoming a more normal colored now that I'm back in therapy. My neurologist confirms that this is a stroke-related blood flow issue.

Our biggest challenges right now seem to be insurance-related and also having wisdom to parent a 6-year-old, who has figured out my weaknesses and is exploiting them. The other day (before I was using the cane without another adult here), he did something he knew was not allowed, would not listen to words of correction, so when I stood up to come over and work with him, he stole my walker and ran away down the hall. Smart kid! It would be funny if it weren't my child. He does similar things on a several-times-a-day basis. Please pray for Little Bear and for wisdom for us in guiding him.

Edited to add, a friend just asked me how long it takes to type up blog posts. This one took me 5 or probably closer to 6 hours. It's been and off and on project all day. But I am a perfectionist, so even though it takes a very long time to type with one hand, I go back, correct, and rewrite a lot before I am ready to post. Sometimes I go back to a paragraph and add more details, sometime a sentence doesn't flow well and has to be re-written. Often I make major typos and don't catch them until 5 or more ties re-reading.

Two items of praise (thank you for praying with me!) are that Kendra is out of the rehab hospital now and Danny (the 15-year-old who was missing) is home with his family as of last night. I really don't know much more about either situation, but both are matters of thanksgiving and continued prayer as families adjust to current circumstances.
Unless the Lord had given me help,
    I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping, ”
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy. - Psalm 94:17-19


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! I posted an update at http://strokeofgrace.blogspot.com/2012/07/todays-surgery.html

    2. still thinking of you every day
      i am home but learning to walk and talk all over again
      thankyou for all your cards and gifts
      this is a hard road we travel