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...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Home Sick

Nothing terribly exciting to report about my week. I've done some form of therapy every day since Tuesday. I'm one tired and sore lady! (I'm also, by far, the youngest person in most classes I take, being a good 20 or 30 years younger, yet most decrepit, in any of the classes I've taken the last 3 days.) Yesterday and today we have found a teacher whom we adore. M. really gives special attention to my needs and safety and ability.

I think I may be getting a little feeling back in my mouth. (Well there you go, that is something significant to tell you.) At least it feels more predominantly "numbish" now and sort of like I drank something too hot and burned my taste buds, but for the whole left side of my mouth. I'm trying to decide, but think my lips feel a little tingly now. All those facial strengthening exercises and stretches seem to be bring back a little life to the nerves in my mouth again?

There are a couple other things I'm not quite ready to talk to the world about yet, but I am making note of the time frame here, so that when I'm trying to remember, I can look back here. One has to do with news we learned earlier this week, and the other slightly pre-dates my last neurologist appointment in July, by 3 weeks or so. Since this is where I keep my personal journal notes too, and have such impaired natural memory, thanks for understanding my need to sometimes make notes here for myself. :)

My emotions still tend to swing wildly, and I do cry frequently and oh so easily, but the latest on the PBA symptoms is that I currently tend to be in an upswing of laughing more than crying. I was just sitting in my chair a couple of nights ago and suddenly burst out laughing for no apparent reason at all. My son wanted to know what was so funny and I couldn't give him a logical answer.  Crazy!

Yippie, my shoulder MRI is finally scheduled for next Wednesday. In a way, I kind of hope they find a correctable problem, because it the issue can be addressed, I might be in less pain, long-term. My husband's shoulder surgery from nearly 4 years ago is still painful and slightly limiting for him, so I know it would not be a perfect fix.

If everything looks good, structurally, that's even better news, because even though it is very painful, at least I will feel more confident trying to push the abilities of the joint and muscles in therapy, without being so concerned about exacerbating damage. It may well be that the pain is mostly stroke-related, but it has gone on at much too severe a level, for too long, to not go in and have it imaged in order to try to find out.

My wrist of the same arm is very painful as well, but there's no indication that it may have suffered additional damage. It is always more sore for a few days after I fall or try to catch myself with that arm, but we think it is just muscle and nerve pain, not possibly joint-related as the shoulder now may be from overuse during therapy. The hand (especially fingers) and even main parts of the arm can be pretty painful as well, but differently enough that I'm pretty convinced that's all nerve-related.

My other shoulder is also getting rather sore too, from trying to take up the slack from the left side, but it feels muscular, not in the joint.

Both my left arm and leg are hyper-sensitive to touch. Although there is diminished feeling in them, if touched, even gently, when I'm not expecting it, I flinch in pain. I prefer to sleep on my left side, but can't now (well, both me ear and my shoulder make certain that I can't anyway) because I can't handle the weight of my whole body pushing down on that left side for more than a few minutes, if at all.

Tonight a friend is coming to pick me up for dinner. I'm so excited. Thank you for thinking to invite me, A! Home-school co-op starts next week, so we have decided it will be therapeutic just for me to try to go for the hour, once a week, and simply be there for the organized chaos. It will be wonderful to see so many friends on a regular basis again. Thank you, Mom and Dad for being our regular transportation and stepping in to fill my commitments to co-op this semester. You guys are amazing!

Some of you have been worried about some of my recent comments about wishing I had died last fall. Actually, I am doing pretty good. I am choosing to ask God to make the most of my days here on earth, but I am not ashamed to say I would rather be with Him in Heaven. If anything, my near death experience has clarified and profoundly deepened my perspective on and belief in God and His promise of Eternity. Given the circumstances of the very brokenness I live in daily, I think it would be quite surprising if I were not "Home sick" more often than not.
Edited to add, here's the background behind these statements, once I finally got the courage to share it.

Around six months into this journey, I was quite suicidal. My husband challenged me that if God did not take me Home last fall, that He still must have a reason for me to be here. I'm looking for His reasons for each day in a new light. What you are reading now is that I'm finally brave enough to write what I'm really feeling, what I have been feeling, often on a much more profound level, for months already. I see this as a step of healing, not a red flag of concern, but I do treasure your loving words and heartfelt prayers and you have no idea how much each note of love ministers to me! May God be glorified in the life He has given me.

This has become a key passage in my life now. My pray is that Christ be revealed in my mortal body:
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4 (NIV)

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