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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Keep Forgetting

I have an assortment of small details that I keep meaning to tell you, but keep forgetting to post. So I guess I have enough to make up their own post now!

I tend to think of my left side as my "affected" or weak side, thus of my right as my "unaffected" or strong side. In thinking this way, I tend to forget that I have bi-lateral stroke impacts since I had so many strokes, all over my brain. The left is so much worse than the right, that when a therapist wants my to use my "good" arm or leg, they are always talking about the right side. I like how Kendra words it, more accurately, I should call it my lesser-affected side!

My parents took me to cast an early voting ballet last week. I am right-handed (and that is my better side), so it was natural to grasp the pencil/pusher with my right hand. I initially tried to hold it in a standard pencil grip (after-all, I can do that to write short phrases or my name) but I couldn't target the voting buttons with accuracy this way since I was trying to hold the pusher over the screen, then control enough to squarely hit the little voting boxes. My arm shook and my hand landed wildly off cource. It really surprised me  at the amount of wildness and unpredictability in that fine motor skill attempt, and that's what got me really thinking on handedness again.

In frustration, I grabbed the pencil in my fist, across the mid-section, much like a toddler might grasp a crayon, then jabbed my selections against the computer screen, like I was stabbing it. It wasn't terribly graceful, but I figured out a solution and ultimately, I did it! My physical therapist laughed when I described the situation to him, then said, "Good for you!" when I talked about violently jabbing the voting machine. This year has shown me that the old saying just isn't always true, "When there's a will, there's a way." This time, it thankfully was!

A few night ago, I had insomnia for over three hour in the middle of the night. After the first hour, I gave up and got out of bed. That night, our little girl had a bad dream and, for the first time since the strokes, actually came looking for me to comfort her (and then I wasn't even in bed, so she woke my husband up to find me out in the living room). To me, it was a really big deal! Oh, the waterworks (on my part) of thanksgiving and joy. I hate that she got scared. But what a healing blessing that she actively sought of her Mommy again!

Today, our water therapy instructor asked both my mom and I if we had been dieting. She said we both need to get new swim suits because ours are starting to fall off. That was nice to be validated by her! I found slimming swimwear at 90% off, so I've ordered the next three smaller sizes, optimistically hoping I will be putting them each to use over time.

I feel like weight loss is going tediously slow (I'm stalled out at about 8 pounds under my diet starting weight, about the time I started water fitness, 15 pounds down from my total highest) and I play around with about 3 pounds I just keep re-adding and dropping again. This kind of tangible encouragement today was such a blessing! I guess I am firming up al loosing some fat and inches anyway.

M. also said I'm "entertaining to watch" try to keep up with some variation of movements that the rest of the class is working on. She is genuinely interested in me as a person and my recovery goals. She is also fascinated by the way the brain and muscle movements work together. Today, she got caught up in watching me so much so that she got distracted from teaching the rest of the class and had to refocus before she could continue the hour. I love Monday mornings, even it it is HARD work!

I told her when she starts the class on a set of exercises and counts down, "Just 9 more, 8 more, 7 more.." all the way down to, "Now other side," I often feel proud of myself if I've managed to accomplish even one on each side before the class moves on to the next thing. Sometimes I want to groan when she says, "Other side," because I haven't even figured out how to move that way on the first side, or because I have just finally figured out what I supposed to do, then it is time to switch sides or activities and it takes so long for my brain to transition and for me to catch up. It isn't uncommon for me to miss a set all together because I'm just finishing up an attempt at the previous one when they are ready to move on yet again.

M. always encourages me to not become discouraged but just to keep trying. I still feel terribly slow and uncoordinated. I'm not seeing progress in my skill set over when I joined the class about 2 1/2 months ago, but she says she sees a big difference already. Today she commented on a specific move she says I was incapable of doing when I joined the class. I don't remember that this is a newer skill, so it is good to hear her observation of improvement!

Not trying to be a whiner here, but since I'm trying to keep an accurate log for future reference, physically, my left side is hurting a lot more the past several days, more so that it has already been hurting. My neck and shoulder are the worst, but my wrist, back of my leg (around the knee) and jaw are pretty nasty too. Actually, my whole left arm, and entire left side of my face. Even a little bump on my forearm, makes me want to jump away from the pain. My left ankle doesn't particularly hurt more than normal, just feels pretty stiff and pops a fair amount. My right shoulder and jaw are also rather sore/fatigued from doing double duty all year, but the pain is different. I'm pretty nauseated the past couple days, but no near vomiting scares, like the week before (when, strangely, I didn't feel particularly sick to my stomach) I'm trying to see the positive in this upswing of pain, that perhaps nerves and/or brain connections are just waking up (from the trial meds???), so I'm feeling them more?


  1. Goodness, that is awesome about your daughter. However, I am so sorry you are hurting more. Good attotude though.

  2. So glad about your daughter. I'm there with you with the weight loss. I'm down only about 10lbs from my highest. I still need to lose about 20lbs more. Going VERY slow. Praying for your pain to improve.