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...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Birthdays *Cough-Choke!*

I've had to sleep upright in my chair a couple nights this week, because I couldn't breathe laying down. I woke up this morning (4am, never got back to sleep after that) to hardly any voice at all. Several times today I've tried to say things, and no sound comes out at all. I can usually squeak out a word or two by a second or third attempt, but often with a huge coughing fit between each word if I do manage to get any out.

I quack, and groan and croak and sound like a frog or a strangled duck, when I'm that fortunate to make sound at all! Makes me even MORE (I already have been, more than I can say) thankful that aphasia (loss of speech or even total language ability) was not a significant symptom of my strokes!!! I canceled speech therapy for today because I told my therapist (actually, my daughter had to call her) that there was no sense in doing therapy if I couldn't even speak "normally" to begin with! I also didn't make it to water therapy this morning and figure that's probably not going to happen again before Christmas, at this rate.

I'm just home from the doctor again. I was getting sick for Thanksgiving and ended up on antibiotics then. I had about a week healthy and have been sick again since the middle of last week. My doctor says my body is being an overachiever these days. Like last month, I first had a viral infection (in this case, a common cold) that created a "perfect storm" in setting me up for a nasty bacterial infection to brew. I now have antibiotics, probiotics, and in case I need it, Dyflucan. I hope to be feeling much better and past contagion by then (I sure hope!), but it sounds like I will be on antibiotics for Christmas too. :( At least this is better (hopefully, I guess that's somewhat yet to be seen) then last Christmas day when I threw up all over Rick! Happy holidays.

My mom's birthday is tomorrow, our son's is later this week, the kids are in a Christmas play at church on Sunday (I missed last year because of the hospital), and we plan to be with out-of-state family for Christmas. This set back was so not in my plans! We are postponing my mom's celebration and my new goal is to hope we are all healthy enough to enjoy our son's big day - becoming a teenager at the end of this week! I have three important therapy appointments between now and then that I would rather not miss either.

Back to the medical topic again, I think I forgot to ever tell you about our excitement several weeks back (before I got sick the first time). I was drinking a cup of warm tea and suddenly couldn't swallow, spewing tea all over myself and across the room. My daughter asked if I was OK and I felt fine, so went to answer, "Yes!" but suddenly realized I could speak, cough, breath or move any air at all, so ended up vigorously shaking my head, "No!" instead.

I continued to be unable to breath, due to my airway cramping (called a "broncho spasm," I've since learned), and couldn't talk, so I pushed my emergency call button because I was starting to feel like I would pass out and I was worried about leaving the kids in a crisis without any help on the way. We set off the panic alarm and all four us were doing pretty much exactly that, panicking. The good news to come from that is that I am now much more eager to wear my emergency necklace, something I had become a bit lax and reluctant in doing.

It seemed like 10 minutes or more before an operator came over the line to confirm we needed medical assistance and it wasn't a false alarm (if I had been unable to answer or if only my kids answered, she would have dispatched help immediately), but my son says it was only 90 seconds or so. By the time she came over the intercom, my airway had somewhat relaxed and I was breathing on my own. I still sounded about like I do today, very whispery and course, but I was able to get up close to the intercom and answer her questions well enough to cancel our EMT call.

This happened a second time (not the alarm, but the spasm part) a week or 10 days later, while I was eating warm soup. This time the spasm didn't last as long or scare me as much (because I knew now what was going on and that if I were to pass out, my throat muscles would stop clenching and that alone would allow me to breathe again). Because the soup was already in my throat when it stopped moving, it did burn me pretty badly though. I had a raw, blistery feeling for a week after that one!

I have stopped drinking/eating warm liquids and haven't had anymore scary events like this since. I did try a sip of warm tea once, a week or so after the second spasm, and had a real coughing fit, but never stopped breathing. I don't know that warm liquids are the trigger for me, but they are the only link that makes sense, and avoidance does seem to be decreasing my choking episodes. This seems to possibly be part of brain stem stroke recovery, in and of itself, maybe even an acceleration (due to the medical study drugs???) of what my body would have done anyway. No one is sure.

How I love a cozy cup of tea! I've really missed that, especially being sick so much for the past month! And of course, human nature being to want whatever we cannot have, I now have quite the soup craving, something I rarely was even particularly hungry for before I started avoiding warm liquids. Ice cold is about the only thing that seems to temporarily soothe my throat now. Seems to be the wrong time of year not to be able to enjoy warm drinks!

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

1 comment:

  1. Oh girl, you sound terrible. That is rough...but you are absolutely right. It is good to make any sound at all. I couldn't talk for two months. I shouldn't complain about my strange voice now.

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