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...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Surprise!

I have been very worried about how I would deal with my 40th birthday, Tuesday. I knew my 16-year-old nephew would be coming to town on Monday and would be staying with my parents (half a mile from us) for about a month. I thought flying.

Today I was totally surprised when I was taking a nap and woke up to find my nephew standing at the foot of my bed, along with my brother and sister-in-law! They had driven for a day and a half just to surprise me.

It is the first time I have seen my nephew since my strokes. My brother was flew down here in January. My sister-in-love was here in April, I'm told. Dan sees huge improvements in me since January. That's encouraging to hear!

I don't know all this week will hold. I've heard there are some kinds of plans for a cake and restaurant on Tuesday night. I have doctor's appointments or therapy every day this week except Tuesday. I already have appointments for the first couple of days of the following week too. My brother and sil are here until Wednesday, when they start driving home on a belated anniversary trip. My nephew actually is in town for a month or so.

Surgery recovery is going a little slower than I had hoped. My doctor had said a couple of times that this wasn't a painful surgery. I was pretty good the first two days, but Friday and Saturday were pretty painful. I am counting hours until my next allowable doses of pain medication today, though I did make it out the door, on my husband's arm, for church.

I told Rick, either last night or this morning, that if this is not a painful surgery, then I don't want to go through a painful one! I have been through more painful surgeries before, but this is so not a cake walk. My hearing is terribly muffeled and actually significantly worse than before surgery right now - I hope this will improve as packing dissolves!

At first I could not walk without aid at all. On Thursday I went back two steps to my very heavy walker I used when I first came home from the hospital. Late yesterday, I went back to a cane, with assistance. I may go back to my lightweight walker tomorrow morning for therapy. There is a U-Step (heavy walker) for use at therapy if I need it. I hope I will be walking with the cane for my birthday, though it may or may not be totally independently.

I will restart speech therapy next week. The story behind my therapist there is pretty miraculous. Maybe I'll share more details some day, but for now I'll just say that I'm actually excited about, and looking forward to, working with this therapist! New emotion and experience, for the first time in over 9 months. I  still don't think the actual therapy will be easy, but I'm excited about the person!

I still don't know how I feel about Tuesday's significance, but I have never been so surprised in my life. (Well, probably the night my husband proposed, but I knew that was coming, just didn't know when.) I feel so blessed that my family would go to such lengths for me. Maybe turning 40 won't be quite so bad?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Today's Surgery

I'm home from surgery. Rick says I was pretty pale when I came home around noon, but immediatel went to bed, slept for several hours, and thanks to continual does of pain  and nause meds, am almost back to regular coloring and eating with less nausea than is typical for me, post surgery. My main complain is that I feel so very week and absolutely exhausted.

Our anesthesiologist spent probably 15 or 20 minutes with us this morning, wrestled through some tough issues, and was a total gem! She wrote down the protocol she finely decided on, for us, so we have it to reference in the future.

I'm uncomfortable, but really not in terrible pain unless I accidently bump my ear into my pillow. It feels very "plugged, " both from internal (will self-dissolve over the next few months) and external (leave alone for 24 hours, then where as much as I can for 6-8 week) packing. They found and removed lots of scar tissue (most likely from the stroke eustation tube paralysis and so many months of such high, constant internal pressure) that was immobilizing some of the function of the bones in my middle ear. We won't really know how it worked until the packing is dissolved in a couple months, but I am told my ENT came out of  surgery, "grinning like a school boy," so we are hopeful!

I was very shakey (needed my walker and two adults to steady me) when I first used the restroom after the recovery room a couple hours after surgery. They put me in a wheel chair to go out to the car and I was still amazed at how unresponsive and unsteady my body was, especially on the left, for the car transfer.

It isn't so much that I have just "gotten used" to being as dizzy as I was early-on, but definitely that I have seen improvement in this area. Today, I;m still not as dizzy as I remember being when they got me up the first few times post-stroke, but it is quite reminiscent of how I think I felt when I first came home from the hospital. In think, for safety, I'm back to the walker for a bit.

Going to try to sleep again now. "Happy" 9 month-anniversary.

P.S Thank you yo my hubby for correcting for multiple typos! Thank you to all of you dor the prayers!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Determined


This picture reminds me of therapy on Monday, when my therapist said I could stop doing some repetitions of an exercise and I intentionally did two more before stopping. "Determined," he mumbled under his breath.

Thanks for posting on Facebook, .   
We watched a movie years ago, where one brother was genetically engineered to be superior. Two brother would race in swimming distance in the ocean and the normal (non-genetically-engineered) brother almost always won. The engineered brother once asked his brother how he could always win these races without genetic advantage. The little brother's reply still sticks in my mind. It was something to the effect  of, "You calculate your energy and swim as far and fast as you can before turning around and heading back to shore. I swim as hard and far as I can too, but I don't save anything for the trip back to shore."

That's what I feel stroke recovery is like. It is a fight as hard as I can push my body. I'm not "saving anything," just keep fighting past any limitations!
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.- Philippians 4:13

Cane Walking at 9 Months

Tomorrow is 9 months. Since I will be in ear surgery (report to the surgery center at 6am), I figured I better give my monthly update today.

My emotions seem to be somewhat more stable and mood swings, while still happening, less frequent and generally less severe.

I am still really struggling with self-image and want to cry at the sight of myself in a mirror. Weight gain at least seems to have leveled back out.

We still are doing exercises for my eyes, and not seeing any tangible ongoing improvement since I last posted an eye update, but my vision is (thankfully) at least usable and relatively manageable now. I still can't turn my head easily, or look to either side or up and down well, especially if I'm trying to walk at the same time.

I have been walking with the cane since Wednesday evening, still only with adult supervision last week, but full-time ever since the weekend! Yesterday I even went out in public with just the cane for the first time. Around the house and at therapy, I'm even walking short distances totally without aid. I'm still not terribly study yet but I haven't fallen in two weeks, so we are making progress.

I told my therapist that I wanted to be walking by my birthday (a week from today) and he confirmed, "You are walking." Yesterday, we did some walking/balance testing in therapy and he said I actually did better in some areas than he was anticipating (not so great in other areas). I said, "Not too bad for someone who was never supposed to be able to walk again!" He laughed.

I still am not regularly making meals or cleaning my home and doing laundry. The crock pot idea didn't end up working out as well as I had hoped, especially now that summer is here! Now that I am more mobile, I think the kitchen will be my next big goal.

I have found that the best way to cope with not being able to hold the cane with my right hand (I can't support or steady myself with the cane in my left hand) and something else, like a glass of water, in the left, is simply to carry thing with my right and not use the cane at all!  I can't do this for long distances or with heavy items, but a few steps from the kitchen counter to the table is doable if I have a good grasp with my right hand, on an item that is lightweight. A bag of popcorn, fresh out of the microwave, is too hot to carry in my left hand, as nerves seem hyper-sensitized on that left side.

My mouth is still numb / feels burned on the lfet. My jaw/head still really hurts on the left, though my jaw did finally pop a few times, several weeks ago, and once last week, so I'm guessing this means the jaw alignment may be getting a little better, but now is becoming more like "normal" TMJ which typically pops with every movement of the jaw? Instead of the bionic man, I feel like "Plastic Woman" when I go to bed wearing a mouth guard and arm splint. It is like putting on body armor!

Speaking of popping, my occupational therapist says my shoulder is no longer so very sublexed, as it used to be, and that my "scapular winging" is also much improved. The shoulder still pops quite often, especially with specific activities, and still hurts, but maybe it is on the road improving now? I've been doing some very targeted exercises to try to strengthen the shoulder and that is bringing a measure of relief. If it continues to be so painful, I will need to ask my primary care doctor to order imaging to see if I need surgery also.

My left hand may never be terribly strong or fully functional. It is, however seeming not to be trying to curl up on itself quite so much, now that I'm back in therapy and wearing the splint at night. Because the splint so immobilizes me, it is reminiscent of when my hand refused to move at all. Besides sometimes hitting myself in the face with that arm, bonking my husband with my splint, and not being able to bend my wrist to push myself up or back in bed, I can't turn a page in a book, scratch my other arm, rub my eye, wipe my nose, or anything. It makes me appreciate how far I've come and be thankful for the abilities I now do have. As one friend pointed out to me, I now see my left arm as my "helper arm," I would miss the assistance if it weren't available at all, but I know I can't primarily rely on it like I used to.

My left foot is not nearly as purple now that I am walking more and keeping it elevated when I'm not walking. My left hand was turning quite purple as well, but is becoming a more normal colored now that I'm back in therapy. My neurologist confirms that this is a stroke-related blood flow issue.

Our biggest challenges right now seem to be insurance-related and also having wisdom to parent a 6-year-old, who has figured out my weaknesses and is exploiting them. The other day (before I was using the cane without another adult here), he did something he knew was not allowed, would not listen to words of correction, so when I stood up to come over and work with him, he stole my walker and ran away down the hall. Smart kid! It would be funny if it weren't my child. He does similar things on a several-times-a-day basis. Please pray for Little Bear and for wisdom for us in guiding him.

Edited to add, a friend just asked me how long it takes to type up blog posts. This one took me 5 or probably closer to 6 hours. It's been and off and on project all day. But I am a perfectionist, so even though it takes a very long time to type with one hand, I go back, correct, and rewrite a lot before I am ready to post. Sometimes I go back to a paragraph and add more details, sometime a sentence doesn't flow well and has to be re-written. Often I make major typos and don't catch them until 5 or more ties re-reading.

Two items of praise (thank you for praying with me!) are that Kendra is out of the rehab hospital now and Danny (the 15-year-old who was missing) is home with his family as of last night. I really don't know much more about either situation, but both are matters of thanksgiving and continued prayer as families adjust to current circumstances.
Unless the Lord had given me help,
    I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping, ”
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy. - Psalm 94:17-19

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Surgery for My 40th Birthday

I am going to be having yet another surgery on Wednesday, on my 9-month anniversary since the first strokes. I had my first two stroke-related surgeries about 8 months ago, when we put stents in my vertebral artery (back of neck). This ear surgery will be my 5th surgery (two were called "surgeries" or "procedures" depending on who was talking, but one was in a surgery center and the other was in office - I was awake but sedated for both) since my Thanksgiving Day two emergency surgeries in the hospital, that briefly put my back in ICU. There are 3 other pretty significant issues I anticipate we may still be looking at sleeping-under-anesthesia surgery to address, and who knows what else may be isolated through the coming months.

Last surgery/"procedure"

 This week it all just hit me hard that it seems "unending". I am overwhelmed.

As for this surgery, the doctor tells me we won't even know if it helped for 8-12 weeks because my ear will be packed with self-dissolving material when I wake up from the surgery. There is mild nerve damage in both ear, that cannot be addressed with current medical ability, but we are trying to recover functionality of the nerve capability that is there (but not currently being realized) in the left ear, where I currently have mild to profound hearing loss, dependent on tonal range. This is micro surgery, involving the removal of my ear drum and requires me to stop blood thinners (taken probably for the rest of my life, to prevent my artery from clotting again) for one week. Please pray the health of my arteries, for skill for the doctor, wisdom to find and repair exactly whatever is going on in my middle ear, and good restoration of hearing. I would also appreciate a gentle and good recovery! Thank you for your prayers.

Oh, and Rick was right. The kids and I do have nasty colds or something viral. On Wednesday it felt like the worst cold I had had in my life, so I'm still not totally convinced that there was not a latex reaction involved from therapy as well. Even though there was notable improvement by Thursday, my kids came down with it pretty hard on Thursday and I felt pretty bad again yesterday (Friday), so it is hard to say. Nasty cold symptoms with tummy issues too. I think I'm feverish now, so I'm watching to see if I need to go in to the doctor Monday or Urgent Care over the weekend. I'm praying I feel better by ear surgery time next week!

Earlier this week my physical therapist gave me a new eye exercise to help my vision and overall balance. I have an unusually hard time making turns. He believes this is tied to my dual vision, especially peripherally. He asked me to do the new eye tasks at least twice each day, but warned me to keep a vomit bucket close at hand as my brain works at resetting this area. Lovely! While I am not nearly as nauseous or dizzy as I was early on (maybe I am just more used to the sensations now?), moving my head, as I need to for these eye-tracking activities, still sets my world to spinning out-of-control.

My 40th birthday is in 10 days. I have an assortment of very mixed emotions about this landmark. I typically have liked it when people make a fuss over my celebrations. I know everyone else tells me they are very thankful I am here to celebrate another year on earth. I know God must have a plan in all this. Honestly, I will probably feel pretty disappointed if my birthday comes and goes and no one really takes notice. On the other hand, I don't trust myself or my emotions and wonder how I will respond should anyone want to celebrate this day. I think that it would be a significant landmark under normal circumstances doesn't help. I feel like everyone who loves me is in a rather no-win situation. I'll be upset and hurt if the day goes by with little fanfare, but I don't know how I will react if anyone marks this passage of time either. Uggggggg.

I would like to beg for your prayers for my friend Lisa, her son Daniel, and their whole family. Our sons have taken classes together over the years. Danny and I share a birthday. When I turn 40, he will turn 16. Danny has gone missing and there is currently a search for him. I don't know other details, but God knows and sees all, from Danny's specific where-about to the brokenness of his family's hearts.
Please grab this picture and share! Maybe you know someone who will know something.
Psalm 139:7
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Therapy

It was an eventful day in therapy today.

In occupational therapy, I was fitted for a resting splint for my left arm, to wear whenI go to bed to try to keep my fingers and wrist from curling on themselves so much.

In physical therapy I was asked to take the wrist brace off (I've been wearing it daytime today, to test for irritation and skin tolerance and in hopes of preventing night time skin breakdown), but keep the stockinet (like an ace wrap, latex-free) on to give my brain more mental feedback that my arm actuaally exists.

He also tried ace wrapping my head (I wish I had pictures!) to see if that pressure gave me more mental feedback. We took the wrap off when we didn't see any improvement in my walking or balance.

I climbed a flight of stairs, both up and down, TWICE today (without the head wrap). I used no hand rails whatsoever, but it wasn't a graceful climb, by anyone's imagination, and I relieded heavily on the trunk support and coaching of my therapist. If I was faced with a similar climb in real life, I would absolutely need to pull myself up by the hand rails. Still, this is HUGE!

The only real negative today was when my therapist brought out a balloon, not realizing how reactive I can be to even air born latex. Even though he put it away right away when my mom and I both protested and he washed up, my eyes started burning within moments. My nose started dripping on the car ride home and I've already rubbed my nose raw and filled a trash can with tissues in less than 4 hours. Fortunately, no breathing issues today! I don't think my therapist will ever try latex around me again!

My hubby thinks I have caught a nasty summertime cold and the timing with the therapy appointment was just coincidental. I guess only time will tell.

After therapy, my mom drove me over to the surgery center to pre-register for next week's ear surgery. I filled out a bunch of forms (my signature is actually getting fairly readable), did an EKG, and gave several tubes of blood.

I also walked, outside, for the first time with a cane today. :) Not terribly steady yet, but walking with just the cane, none-the-less!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Cover & "Prone to Wander"

I'm doing a little dreaming about what my book cover might look like. I'm drawn to images of lightening (an international symbol for stroke, as I understand(, especially those paired with a firework. A friend recently pointed out that a lightning strike look much like the branches of a human vein, and a when there is a rupture of that vein, it is much like a firework going off in the head. (Thanks for the idea, Steffanie!)

There is one picture I especially like, but it seems to being been pulled off the web due to copyright issues, so I don't even know if the link will work for you? [Edited in to say, so far, it has stayed up here for well over a year now, without challenge.]  So maybe something like this? Here is the total of what I did find: Lightening and Fireworks. If anyone has a good lightning and fireworks picture you are willing to share with me, you just might find yourself credited in this book!

Rick has asked why it is that  most weeks I manage to hold myself together all week, only to fall apart badly, on weekends, when he is with me. (When he asked, I wasn't even making it from weekend to weekend, falling apart many mornings before he even left for work and evenings when he came home, so it seemed directly tied to him being around.) Yes, there is an element that because I am more vulnerable with Rick than with anyone else, he sees my most raw and honest emotions, thing no one else gets (or probably wants!) to see. I really don't think it has as much to do him being around, as the change in schedule and routine, time to slow down and think more freely, time to grieve and reflect more on our current situation? Time to really feel and process the despair?

Today I laid down in bed and was immediately flooded with dark thoughts, a run-away freight train of damaged emotions. It hit me that when I take time to be still, then I feel this pain more profoundly. So I didn't do much other thinking, but used the time at rest to intentionally be still and focus on knowing that He is God and in control. (This is when I started to ponder my book cover, but that's all I can remember other than the dizzying, hypnotizing effect of the ceiling fan going round and round, overhead.)

The effort just  to battle my own deceitful thoughts and live in that reality of God's goodness a while was exhausting, but it did keep my mind from idly wandering, like it usually does when I first wake up each morning, and getting me in trouble. We've come very close, but no tears of emotional waterfall, so far, today! (My eyes are watering again, worse than I remember any time since the hospital. Often feeling a hot tear roll, uninvited, down my left cheek, is enough to trigger the emotions of crying to go along with the unintentional action, already in progress.)

When I walk, in therapy, I do pretty well until I come to a doorway. That still really throws me. I ffel like the dog with the talking collar, from the movie "Up." Instead of, "squirrel," I'm easily distracted by, "door!"

Here is a writing link I want to remember. Free Grammar Checklist - Guide to Common Grammatical Quandaries (Thanks Lisa!)

I ask prayer for my friend, Kendra, who is going through an especially dark valley and crisis of faith, these days.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,  with eternal pleasures at your right hand. - Psalm 16:11
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” - Psalm 46:10
2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Back"

My physical therapist nearly made me cry today. (Not being mean, just stating the obvious.) I told him of our evening at Urgent Care with an injury for our son, and this before our daughter's broken foot has even healed.He said, "These kids just need there Mamma fully back!" When I laughed, he replied, "No, seriously, they do!" Water-works!

Actually, I couldn't have prevented either injury even if I were "back." But it felt good to hear and feel needed and to know that my therapists are serious about getting my body back to normal (or as close to normal as possible) function, as quickly as they can.

I am now to start relying on the cane as my primary assistance device (rather than the walker, though I have not fully graduated from the walker yet) around home. Rick and I will have to decide about our comfort level with the cane when he isn't home, but when he is around, E. wants me using the can as much as I can.

C. (my occupational therapist) isn't so sure about that plan. She isn't terribly comfortable with my reliance on a cane yet. This is the first time I have needed God to give me wisdom between two conflicting pieces of important therapy advice. I think E. has seniority in my care, so his advice seems to take president here? I guess the compromise might be to only use the cane around other adults and still use the walker when I'm responsible for the kids?

Interestingly, one of the other physical therapists came up to me today and said it might sound like a strange question, but did I know M. Saake. She was asking about my brother-in-law! It turns out she is best friends with my sister-in-law's little sister! She recognized my last name on the patient attendance sheet, and since it is an unusual last name, wanted to find out if there was any connection. Cool, right?! She said she was aware we lived in the area, but since my brother-in-law's family lives about 6 hours away and this was his sister-in-law's friend, we hadn't ever met. Small world!
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. - Psalm 73:26

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jesus Calling

"REST WITH ME A WHILE. You have journeyed up a steep, rugged path in recent days. The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty. Look neither behind you nor before you. Instead, focus your attention on Me, your constant Companion. Trust that I will equip you fully for whatever awaits you on your journey..."
- from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, June 27 reading

Yesterday, I saw the neurologist. I have doubled my depression medication. I am also getting clearance to get my driver's license back, though the process may take some time. It may be a while before I feel ready to put it to use, but it will be nice to have that option again, that decision back in my own hands, rather than having the decision made for me for medical reasons (one non-epileptic seizure at the onset of the first strokes, and nothing since) that doesn't even really relate to my own current (or even past 8 months, recent) health concerns.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.- Psalm 143:8

Monday, July 9, 2012

Re-starting Therapy

I restarted therapy this morning. I am seeing neuro-specalists for both physical and occupational. The occupational brought up the possibility of pursuing further speech therapy too, so we will see if anything comes of that.

It is always funny to see new therapists grow wide-eyed when I tell them we are homeschooling. I still haven't decided if this is because of my limitations and their doubts about the feasibility, or if is commentary on societal views on home education in general? I suspect it is some of each?

My physical therapist (who remembers my condition in the rehab hospital) was actually pleasantly surprised at the scope of my abilities and the advances we have seen over the past half a year. He is more concerned about my left arm and shoulder even than about my ability to walk.

At one point, I did something today (I think walking with a cane and then without any support, therapeutically, but not with permission to try outside of my house) and he commented that, when he had first met me in the hospital, he never would have dreamed I would ever regain to that level in my whole lifetime!

He says he envisions me ultimately walking with just a cane, or possibly even without an assistance device of any kind. For now I am still to use the walker, or at home sometimes the cane, but inside only. He said he could tell that I was going to be "a lot of fun to work with."

The occupational therapist was in awe that I'm even still alive to come into her office. She reasoned that it was probably my young age that had saved my life and been to my advantage. I told her it was God that had saved my life. My friend (thank you, so much, for taking me, Mandy) informed her that my survival was the answer to many prayers. She really didn't respond to any of that.

She did give me several new arm and balance exercises and explained a lot more of the consequences of cerebellum damage, and some good coping strategies to counter those consequences, I had not had explained before. She said she is very glad I am there with neuro experts now and that it was a very good decision to come their way.

We talked about some of my limitations and advances, such as how speech therapy had to really work with me to do basic mathematics in the rehab hospital because even preschool level, basic math confused me. And how now it is my 12-year-old's algebra that stumps me, not 2+2 anymore.

She also said that even as tight and non-functional as my left arm has become, that she has many other patients who would "kill" to have the kind of mobility I'm now finding in my left hand. She says my left arm would likely always be clumsy but that we are going to fight to regain what use we can from it.

She liked that I am making myself go through the Sign Language alphabet each day to stretch the muscles, tendons and encourage mobility, though I have some letters I can't form well and have to model movements with my right first, then mirror with my left, to bring about the fine motor movements I do accomplish. She noticed deficits in both arms, with the left being pronouncedly more extreme.

The therapists were not at all surprised to hear how I am doing, emotionally. The OT went so far as to tell me my reactions of emotional upheaval are "very common" and to proceed to tell me some things about my conditions that I had already known, but not shared with her yet. She asked if she could keep a copy of some of the research I had brought in to share with her, for her records.

I had a pretty bad weekend and Rick took a lot of emotional attack and fall out. I'll be seeing my neurologist this afternoon, so we'll see if he has any new insight for us.

Mornings still tend to be my hardest time of day. This morning I woke up smiling and peaceful. A rarity, but I'm thankful. This leads me to today's verse:
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. - Psalm 90:14

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chickens & Independence

I can tell I haven't been trying my cane the last couple of weeks. I tried it again this afternoon and it did not go at all smoothly. Am I ever sore from the effort! I was hoping to declare independence from the walker, but not yet.

Happy birthday to my big brother, Dan. As kids, I hated that you were "five years older" than me for a few weeks each July. Now that we are getting older, that's not so bad. ;) Enjoy the fireworks that you had me convinced the whole nation put on just in your honor. :) 

My hubby is off work today. It is so wonderful to have him home! He is smoking a chicken on the grill for dinner.


Speaking of chickens, our "girls" came home today (4 of the 5, 1 died away from home last month). Thank you, so much Chase family, for taking them into your lives all these months! I think this was the last major thing, that we have control over, that was keeping the kids from their return to "normal" lives.

Of course, there is still much we do not have control over and Rick and I still have some work to do toward pulling out of crisis mode, but it is wonderful that both our kids and their pets are back home again! I had really thought the kids would be the only ones totally thrilled by the return of the girls, but I had forgotten how soothing their gentle clucking sounds can be. I must say, I am very glad they are home too!

I am pleased to say that I have made some writing progress again this week! I had planned to keep mr Paul  book on the back burner for a while, but I had fresh inspiration this week, so maybe God has other plans? As far as I know, this book is still 3 books away from completion or publication. I am also working Harvesting Hope (fruit of the Spirit, life of Job) my stoke book.


Princess R. gets her broken foot checked by the doctor on Friday, has her birthday party that night (about 5 months late), the kids have VBS next week (my mom will take them while I will re-start therapy, see the neurologist and have an insurance appeal meeting), and the kids and I plan to start the new school year the following week. My ear surgery is scheduled for the 25th. My 40th birthday is the end of the month. Life keeps coming!

From Facebook. Thank you, Digital Inspiration.

In honor of national Independence Day, have you ever heard the second verse to The Star Spangled Banner? If not, you will definitely want to go listen.
John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Memory Lane


I've come across a few pictures and updates from earlier in my recovery.

It all started with a chiropractic injury that resulted in two massive strokes, unconsciousness an and ambulance ride.

On the 25th of October, Rick posted from the ER, "After over 6 hours on no response, Jenni tried to open her eyes, even a little, squeezed my hand, and was able to shake her head yes and no to a few basic questions. The Nurse, said she was looking better."

Here's my account of what happened during those same six hours, the most important part of this story!

A friend re-posted the day-by-day short updates that my husband was initially posting to Facebook. It is my best history of those first few days, that I have little memory of my own. (Thanks for documenting for me, Lisa!)

Sometime after I was moved down to the main hospital neurological wing (I don't know the date - probably late October or very early November), my shredded artery clotted and I had a third stroke. I was briefly (a few hours) "locked in," meaning I could only follow movement with my one non-paralyzed eye, but could move no other part of my body and could not speak, but I could hear and was fully away of everything going on around me. I was vomiting faster than the nurses could change my bedding or gowns and they had to keep rolling me on my side to keep me from drowning. (I was so incredibly dizzy, contributing to the vomiting, that I could only tolerate laying on my back, face up toward the ceiling. Turning my head even slightly sideways just contributed to the feeling of extraordinarily severe "car sickness.")

Cards on the wall, the first time I was in rehab. I was in three different rooms at the rehab hospital and all threee had frosted windows, where they are contracted to hold prisoners in need on rehab, with no view of the outside world. At least I never had a sheriff station outside my door, though I did have a man burst into my room in the middle of one night. "Help! Help! It's a catastrophe. I can't find my clothes." I was still unable to even sit up in bed on my own, much less stand on my own two feet! You better believe, a semi naked man, at the foot of my bed in a wheel chair in the middle of the night, so disoriented that he had pulled out his own IV and couldn't understand that we were both in a hospital, certainly had me urgently pushing my nurse call button! I kind of wished I did have a guard outside my room at that point.
Three more (smaller, but different parts of my brain) stokes in the rehab hospital (the main symptom that put me on bed rest in rehab and indicated the need for another MRI was continual, wild, involuntary head bobbing) send me back to the main hospital via ambulance, for two emergency surgeries that took place on Thanksgiving Day, November, November 24, 2011 and another terrible night in the ICU. (I am told these six area of brain loss/damage are permanent :( though some of the bruising to the brain is healing and the "rewiring" process has begun, training new areas of the brain to take over some of the tasks that the areas that died used to be responsible for.) After 5 days of mandatory full hospital bed rest following the surgeries, I was back to the rehab hospital.

Don't know the actual date? This was a prayer quilt ("Comforting Hands," West Virgina) that greatly blessed and encouraged me. You can also see my teddy bear (from my sister-in-law, requested from our house) and Tina Bunny (sent to the hospital by my friend), up on my pillow. <3 The room looks like it was from my second time in the rehab hospital.

On Dec. 5, 2011, Rick posted from the rehab hospital,
"Jenni does her first puzzle since she had a stroke - Blues Clues - bow bow bow."  




What my hair used to look like, pre-stroke. We had to cut it to shoulders (pictured above) as soon as I was transferred out of ICU to the regular neuro floor (about a week after the first strokes) because it was so mattered and tangled from all my days in bed and from the EEG gel.
Hospital hair cut, in December. More stylish and so much easier to shower, brush and care for.
Hospital snuggles with my little Snuggle Bear. :) "Mommy needs a snuggle."



Home coming Day! December 14, 2011. Hospital bed in our living room. The gift basket is from my writers' group, Reno Christian Writers. The prayer shawl, at the foot of the bed, is from a church prayer group, out of state. Medically, my doctor still really did not want to release me yet, but insurance said they wouldn't keep paying any longer. I was so glad to be home!

On Dec. 16, my mom posted, "Jenni's insurance approved a special walker for her. It is called a U-Step with 7 wheels. Pray that it arrives soon! She is stuck with the wheel chair until it arrives. Also her wheel chair is too wide to fit through the bathroom doors, so it is quite the dance to get her to the restroom. A narrower wheel chair has been requested! Thank you for your prayers.

On Dec.  21, she updated, "It arrived yesterday! She is so happy to be up and mobile on her own. We are with her, or some adult is, but she is doing the walking."

On Christmas day, I couldn't manage to keep down dinner. It was at least the third time that I thew up all over Rick. (That I know of. Once in the ER, I've been told, once during my 3rd stroke in the main hospital, once on Christmas Day. I threw up a lot of other times too, just not on Rick.) I'm so glad we don't have pictures of that! :P

I know there are other updates and/or picture that I may be editing into this post as I find them, but that's all I can find or figure out how to upload for now.

Here's my fun post of the day (from Facebook). Many of these, I did not know!

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. - Isaiah 42:16