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 31, 2012

Year End Reflection

I don't know the author, but I like this quote: "Prayer calls me to abandon the present as my only lens on life and to commit to look at life from the perspective of eternity." - Paul David Tripp

On Saturday, out of the blue, I started sobbing. Now I have cried a LOT over the past 14 months, until I thought it was not humanly possible to even make more tears, but I think Saturday was the hardest I have ever cried. I don't even know exactly why, but I just sobbed and sobbed. Rick wanted to know why I was crying and all I could splutter out was, "It's been a long year." So very much was racing through my mind, but that about summed it up.


I think a part of Saturday's tears came from thinking a little more about my 3rd stroke. It is the one I try to avoid reliving. It is the one that was too terrible to even talk about. I went unconscious early in my first two strokes (and before I went unconscious, I was aware of the direness of the situation, but found the strange responses of my body to sort of tickle my funny bone too, plus I had such an amazing experience that is really my focus when I think about these strokes). I had my final three strokes in my sleep one night, so I woke up to the scary consequences, but slept through the actual events. So only for the third one (fairly major too, though not quite as bad as the first two) was I pretty much awake and aware for the whole thing. They did have to sedate me for my MRI, so I seemed rather unresponsive for a while, but remember hearing and being aware even when others thought I wasn't. I remember the paralysis and being "locked in," only able to move one blurry, non-paralyzed eye. Of feeling like I would drown in my own vomit. Of feeling so incredibly dizzy, and a doctor asking me if I was prone to motion sickness (I guess that accounted for the severity of my nausea). I remember the horrid gurney ride down to MRI, where every jostle of the bed felt like a brutal attack against my system. That's all I can manage to recount, but it was so much worse!

Yesterday, I didn't dare even try to sing at church. I knew if I opened my mouth, opened my heart to the music, I would start sobbing again and be unable to bring it under any sort of control. I was feeling fragile enough, that even without singing, I was in serious tears about 3 times during the service and teary most of the morning, then again at bedtime last night. Rick is good at getting me giggling when I'm crying and I'm so thankful for his sense of humor and his grace.

After the service yesterday (a little tiny part of our story was shown on the big screen at church - I did pretty well through it, but one of the times I lost it was at the very end) a friend came and sat with me and just held me while I cried. She even cried with me. It was such a gift to not have to try to put to words a grief that I can't even explain, and just cry.

It is strange because I CAN'T cry around most people (except poor Rick, with whom I can't be alone and NOT cry, with anyone else I pretty much can't cry, at least not one-on-one, the group dynamic of church usually doesn't stop tears there though, as church attendance is my 3rd most likely place to cry) but this is the second time I have shared tears with this same friend, something almost no one else has experienced. Thank you, L. (I haven't even ever cried at counseling. I think this comes from working so hard not to cry in the face of so much different pain in the hospital? Now, in addition to the brain damage that impacts emotions, there seems to be my own emotional blockage now.)

A few odd things a stroke can do, that most people do not realize, is just as it can cause external paralysis that is visible, it also can equally impact the internal.  We know it has impacted my eustation tube in my left ear, made my digestive track sluggish, and much more.


2013 will actually be my third calendar year with stoke effects (I stroked in 2011) and there have been some really good things about this past year (like learning to walk) but it has been a hard road. I'm ready for a fresh start! Many of my friends are posting theme words they want to focus on next year. I think I am choosing "Restore" as my focus word.

I need to close out now. I started having another ocular migraine about half way through this post. I've been able to manage up until now, but can't see what I'm typing anymore, so need to give up.

From the Jesus Calling by Sarah Young Facebook page.

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.
25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.
28-30 When life is heavy and hard to take,
    go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
    Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
    The “worst” is never the worst.
31-33 Why? Because the Master won’t ever
    walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
    His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
    in throwing roadblocks in the way:
34-36 Stomping down hard
    on luckless prisoners,
Refusing justice to victims
    in the court of High God,
Tampering with evidence—
    the Master does not approve of such things. - Lamentations 3:19-36 (The Message)

2 comments:

  1. I'm with you on wanting this year to be over. It has been a long hard year for me.

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  2. Wow! What a lot you have been through! I was just looking around at other people's 365Words and I came across yours. I like the Messages version of this Lamentation: "He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way" -- how hard it must have been to believe that at times. You are a beautiful testimony!

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