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...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Restore

I got lost in Target today. More specifically, Mom and I got separated. I was panicky for a moment, then calmed down, prayed and picked up my cell phone. It wouldn't dial my mom's cell number for some reason, so I called my dad at home (that worked by the second try) and had him call my mom and tell her where to find me. About that the time I hung up, a voice came over the loud speaker, paging me to meet my mother at the snack bar. I knew how to get there, so we found each other. But I realized that is the first time I have been unchaperoned (away from our house) since the strokes. And yes, Kendra, the dizziness REALLY kicked up when I felt the stress of realizing I was lost! I seriously thought about going up to an employee and telling them, "Help. I lost my Mommy," but wouldn't have begun to know how to explain that one beyond the first statement! LOL Do you know any other 40-year-olds who get paged to meet their Mommies in stores? It was quite an adventure. We left the store in a fit of giggles and neither of us even made a purchase. 

I do have an infection impacting lungs and sinuses (she didn't specify what kind) so I started antibiotics yesterday. Praising the Lord that it doesn't look like an antibiotic-resistant strain this time! Overall, I've been up and going (today was a busy doctor appointment day, with the Target trip between two appointments), though it took longer than usual to get going this morning. Kendra's therapist told her that even a slight cold can put a stroke patient back in recovery by 8(? - how many, Kendra) weeks.

My test study results were dismal this week. I have regressed significantly over the past week. This may be, in part, attributed to not feeling my best because of the infection, or it could be that I had taken the real drug for the first three weeks straight and (my speculation) started the placebo a week ago, or both of these issues combined.

I asked my doctor if my previous speculation (about possibly being the only brain stem stroke patient in the study) could hold any validity? She informed me that I am one of at least 4 brain stem participating that she is aware of, but that it could easily be that I have been on the real drug while the others may have started their first three weeks just on the placebo and they haven't gotten to the real drug yet. Since I am the first study participant at our location, I am a few weeks ahead of most other participants, so this is quite possible, mathematically. We shall see (though not until the study is finalized). She did agree that a brain stem stoke would likely be much different in reaction from other forms of stroke.

My mom is waiting to see a second (and possibly third, depending on what is decided at her next appointment) doctor, concerning her knee, this week. We may be looking at a knee replacement surgery in the near future (the other was replaced a few years back). Please be in prayer for wisdom for the doctors and peace for Betty (who has a huge, swollen knee that, at very least, will probably need fluid drained this week). Mom does almost all my laundry and driving still. And it is my Mommy we are talking about here! Thank you for the prayers!

Rick came home from work, sick tonight. He is hoping to sleep it off tonight and be better by morning. I'm not as optimistic, having watched each family member fall to this bug, one by one. Prayers for him too, would be greatly appreciated!

A friend sent me a card with the following poem:
Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
to whom his love
commits me here;
Ever this day
be at my side,
To light and guard,
to rule and guide.
I don't subscribe to today's popular "angel theology" that can run so rampant, but I did love this verse because it points out that God commits me here out of love. (If you don't know why this idea is so profound to me, read What The Camera Can't Capture.)

I still struggle with this thought often, and today it clicked a little more of why I struggle. Actually, it started to form as a gelatinous thought at church, a week ago. We were singing, "Cast me not away from your presence, Oh Lord, and take not your Holy Spirit from me..." and I started to cry. I am thankful that I have the New Testament assurance of salvation, that God promises to never leave me or forsake me, that I have no need to plead for God to not take His Holy Spirit from me! Tears of overwhelming thanksgiving on that count!

On the other hand, I have likened sunrises to a dim glimmer of Heaven. This morning, I watch a glorious sunrise. I watched just a sliver of it, mentioned it to Rick, and he opened the blinds all the way so I could see it more fully. With the pull of the cord, he quickly plunged the room back into darkness, to finish getting ready for the day. 

That's when the thought solidified for me, that for the past 13 months I have been wrestling with the Lord about being "cast away" from His presence. Like the sudden shift from the beauty of sunrise to the depth of darkness in our bedroom, I have grieved the unheralded shift from Glory and grace to earth's dullness and pain. I think the jolted realities are best described as culture shock!

As I waited and my eyes adjusted, our room wasn't nearly as black as it had first seemed. In fact it was filled with early dawn light and I could watch my husband's preparations for the day pretty clearly. It had only seemed so black because of the sudden contrast from such brilliance to lower light.

Sticking with the sunrise theme, it occurred to me that the prettiest sunrises are the ones with clouds. A cloudless sky is often described as "best," but when there are no clouds, there is no brilliant shifting of color, nothing to reflect the sun's rays. When there are too many clouds, the light from the sun isn't evident for a while, but the sun is still just as much there, just veiled for a while, but still just as certain! I believe it is the same with the Son - that the absence of trials prevents His Light from being magnified, but He remains a constant even when troubles strive to overshadow His goodness. 

I'm going to keep playing with these ideas. You will likely see further evolution of these thoughts in my stroke book. While only a poor reflection, I am making an intentional effort to find beauty now, for the same God who authored Grace, molded these mountain and painted these sunrises, for my enjoyment. Rather than focusing on lack, I want to transition into the "restore unto me the joy" phase now, thanking God for the gifts He has given.
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. Col 2:6-7 The Message


3 comments:

  1. This is beautiful, Jenni! Praying with you for the "restore unto me the Joy!" phase. Keep up the struggle, it will be (is) worth it. Kathy H.

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  2. Jenni, May we all call on our Father when we are lost! You are right, we have to think a minute and not panic which is our nature as human beings.

    I like your sunrise and cloud discussion. I remember once when I was a little girl looking out the window and seeing the rays of the sun rays coming through the clouds and running to my mom and telling her that Jesus is coming. Anytime I see sun rays coming down from the clouds I'm reminded that YES JESUS IS COMING... He always comes to us through the clouds and storms of life. I wonder if our Lord will return on a cloudy, stormy day!?

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  3. She said it was 6 weeks and regression from being sick is totally normal.

    I had to giggle at the," where's my mommy" story. I'm sure it was scary when it happened. Sometimes I have to hold Scott's hand just to stop the dizziness.

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