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. Jenni remained hospitalized until 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. 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 equips you to send any monetary assistance as well, this is a significant added blessing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tired

Monday I had all three therapies. All my therapists commented that I didn't seem as on my game as usual. R. (speech) in the afternoon even suggested I go to bed and try to get some sleep when we were done.

In OT we used therapeutic ultrasound on my wrist. I think I'm going to be watching ebay to try to get an affordable machine of my own! It is strange to watch the visible transformation of my hands as the right one bulks up with muscle and the left becomes skinny and skeletal. I don't know if it is visibly noticeable to the untrained eye yet, but having studied these hands for 40 years, it is sure obvious to me. :(

In physical therapy I kept wincing hard enough that my therapist keep stopping to check on what hurt. All the "normal" pains of my jaw, shoulder, etc., but nothing unusual. Just frustration with myself for all the times I keep not getting things right with how to command my leg or arm or do tasks.  He really wants me to work on carrying my left arm to my side, rather than drawn up before me, to try to ease a measure of the pain in my shoulder and to help balance my body better - so much easier said than done!

This time we used a different piece of equipment than we ever have a I was trying to "jump" or kick off a platform (while lying on my back) and land on it with both feet again. I learned that even my right foot isn't terribly coordinated and my left foot nearly kicked my therapist in the face several different times before he moved to safety behind the machine to protect himself!

We did do another walking evaluation. A normal score is 24. Last time (maybe 5 weeks or so ago?) I scored 8. This week I scored 12! I think the difference was that I used the cane this week and I don't think I did last time we tested. He asked again, incredulously, if I was sure I still wasn't using the walker at all.

Yesterday my parents drove the kids (including their cousin, who leaves today) on a field trip up to South Lake. I was invited to go along. In my eagerness, I pictured myself using the cane all day. In their wisdom, Rick and my parents strongly suggested I take the wheel chair also. I'm so thankful that they did. We primarily went up to a traveling Lego Land play exhibit (our youngest two won a bridge building competition with a long span of bridge that could support over 50 pounds of weight) with a side stop to sit in the shade and watch the kids "wade" in the lake. (A six-year-old's definition of "wading still seems to be a full-body immersion experience! The 9 year old didn't come much closer to meeting my definition.)

The Lego place was indoors, so after my dad had wheeled me to the building, I wanted to walk. After about 1/2 hour my right foot (that still supports most of my weight when I stand or walk) started burning and tingling. Soon, the foot was completely numb and I was stumbling badly, even with the cane. I'm so glad I had the chair to default back to. Both feet got so swollen the the pattern of my socks left obvious mark on them yesterday. By last night, there were obvious bruising on both.

Today I'm exhausted and not moving very well. We need to get back on track with school though! I'm so thankful we have a homemade lasagna waiting in the fridge for dinner tonight!

I've been thinking a lot about nursing homes and how blessed I am this week. In the main hospital, there was very little hope of any kind of meaningful recovery for me. I can remember some conversations about if I was even a candidate to attempt the rehab hospital or if I should just be discharged to a long-term care facility? My husband tells me there was also serious consideration of a nursing home about 1/3 of the way through my stay at the rehab hospital. My life could be so drastically different right now! When I fall so short of my own expectations, I'm trying to keep it in perspective that at least I am even home with my family. Thank you to Rick, my parents, Cathy, Latricia, Rick's parents, my therapists, our church, and so many other friends for making this possible!
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. - Romans 3:23-34
I'm trying to remember that everyone "falls short." Perfection is not where the bar should be, so why do I get so mad at myself for missing that mark so badly?


Sunday, August 26, 2012

10 Months

Yesterday marked 10 months. I sat down to write this update several times, but I could never focus on a direction.

What can I tell you? What might you really want to know and what's just TMI? I have a very hindered sense of what's socially appropriate to share.

I want to be transparent, but do you really care that I was successful (so far) in this attempt at dropping from 3 daily stool softeners to two, last week? It's a huge victory for me, but likely not terribly blog worthy. The joy of living out a private tragedy in such a public venue...

To up my dose of one pill, we had to change manufactures/formulas. It's been about two weeks and my tummy/digestive system and emotions both seem to be in upheaval over the change. Prayerfully, things will start to settle down soon. Hey, at least I'm not having too take as many stool softeners now. ;)

When I sneeze, I am usually successful at keeping nasal secretions where they should be until I get a tissue,  but my laptop, clothing, or the person sitting across from me regularly take showers in my forcefully spit-sprayed saliva. I wish I could learn to control that bettrer, especially if I have recently had food in my mouth before the explosion!

It's been a hard week. Lots of tears. I described myself to a friend as simply being, "battle weary" on Thursday. This article helped a bit. I know God wins in the end, I'm just aching to taste a measure that victory now. I'm doing, not great, but somewhat better now. Thank you for prayers and encouragement.  

My husband teased today that he's going to stop taking me to church, because even if  I have a good week (not this past week!), I usually end up in tears there. He said he was sad that something there always seems to upset me. I tried explaining to him that I'm really not usually any more upset than any other time, it is just that I let my guard down, open my heart, and let myself become more vulnerable there, so the tears flow more readily. Today, we didn't even make it to the opening song before I was blubbering. 

One thing that did upset me today (a circumstance that's been building in my heartache and could have happened just about anywhere I went in public) was that a mom was kind enough to trust me and offer to let me hold her baby today. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I LOVE babies and have "baby radar." The heartache that's been growing all these months is that I am now unable to safely hold babies and no one has even offered to let me, since the strokes. Today, the offer was made and my eager heart so wanted to say yes. I was seated so gave it a moment's serious consideration. But, ultimately, pointing to my dead arm, I had to decline, for the child's safety. I felt so blessed to even be trusted enough to have this offer, but I was so mad at myself for having the chance within grasp and having to say no. I guess if someone visited in my home we could probably set up a safe environment here at home, supporting a child with pillows and such, but a straight bench at church was not the place to try! This is what started the tears today.

We went to the pool Friday night. I practiced therapy things the whole time we wre there. Rick was worn thin, keeping up with the needs and skill levels of 3 different kids (and me). I nearly broke down in tears there too. I told Rick, "I hate not being myself anymore." I especially hated not being able to help our 6-year-old stay above water as he learns to swim. I couldn't go underwater with our daughter (even if I could, I still have to keep my ear dry) and I couldn't swim out in the deep water with our 12-year-old, past where I could reach the bottom. I now love being in water because it sooths pain and makes me feel so light. Getting out, on the other hand, I feel so clumsy and heavy. For all the pain I didn't feel while in the water, my shoulder sure screamed that night and the next day.

I spent many month thinking, "I know God wins in the end. This world is not my home. But what is my purpose here and now, while I wait?" Here's a picture (from Facebook) that generally describes my overall reasoning now, a thought and effort that normally brings me much comfort."Until God opens the next door for you, praise Him in the hallway."



I don't know what "next doors" God has planned, so I'm trying to see this season of life as a "hallway." I do better at that, some days than others.

I have a friend who had a brain injury years ago. I met this couple after the accident. I don' think I have ever seen the husband smile, not even in pictures. (Well, yes, in his wedding picture, but I'm talking about anything since the accident). I have no doubt that he loves her dearly, is dedicated to her, but their is obvious ongoing grief there, such drastic changes to their present, future, and all the hopes and dreams. :(

I so don't want to be a weight to my husband. I pray God will restore joy to his heart, to our lives. I don't think most people have a CLUE how intense, or long-lasting, the level of stress experienced by a spouse. As you pray for me (thank you!), please continue to hold Rick and our kids in prayer too! One of my greatest fears, at the moment, is eventually getting Alzheimer's too, loosing even more of my memories and reasoning abilities, and putting them through even more pain.

OK, so now that you've listened to lots of things you might not care about, here are my progress updates that you are really here to read...

I will just go down the list of categories most folks ask about. I think I am maybe starting to hear a bit more? I'll see the ear doctor again in about 7 weeks. For anyone interested, here's a very basic explanation of how we hear. My surgery was of the middle ear.

Still no driver's license. I'm still not cooking regularly, but a bit now. For a variety of reasons, I'm still working on getting in with a counselor. It seems like I'm not seeing as consistently well this month - maybe I'm just physically worn out? Mt sight is mostly singular in front, most of the time, but very doubled peripherally. I'm still awaiting the MRI for my shoulder.

I am thankful for both my ankle and wrist braces. They are pretty comfortable, but hot. I still roll my left foot more than I should, even in a brace, so I'm probably wear shoes out quickly on the sides, but I'm very glad to be able to fit into shoes other than my heavy tennies occasionally, now that I am in a brace that isn't so heavy and fits me better. Unless a shoe is very flat and has a sound back, I can't wear it. I still try to walk out of some of those! Since my knee keeps giving out on me now that I am using my ankle more properly, I will ask about that at therapy tomorrow.

I am still hopeful to be able to query my next book by the end of this year or the spring of next. Writing's going slower than I would like, but I am happy with the words that are coming together. This necklace seems to capture so many themes I wish to write about.

My jaw is about the same. Some of the head pain there seems to be related to my ear and I'm hopeful it may resolve a bit as the ear heals? A lot of pain is now radiating down my neck as well, which is common with TMJ, according to the reading I've done. My teeth are starting to really hurt on the left and I still can't open my mouth as wide as I used to. I had to leave some breakfast on my plate this morning because I couldn't open my mouth wide enough to take the bite. The pain in my teeth, under pressure, does bring me a little more hope that the overall left side numbness will resend?

Kendra is back home. At my next monthly update she will be at the stage (time-wise) where I was when she first went in the hospital. My heart just aches for all she is going through. It is hard to read because it dredges up so many memories, but I am hoping to be the kind of friend, just a few steps ahead of her on this journey, that I wished someone could have been to me.

I am currently investigating equine (horse) therapy. I doubt insurance will touch it, but it sounds like it would be so very good for me, if we could.

I'm consistently walking with a cane now, much to my physical/neurological therapist's awe and surprise. Not walking is just not a long-term option in my mind, so the walker had to go as quickly as it was humanly possible.

Well, I guess I have rambled long enough. Thanks for listening. :)
Psalm 57:2
I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bad Day

I'm having a very grumpy morning. I would like to crawl into bed, pull the covers up over my head, and ignore the world. I'm just tied of fighting to do everything.

I don't live in this kind of discouragement every day, but it is where I am right now.

No particular reason, just the way I feel today.

Thanks for listening.

I'm going to listen to my music therapy now and see if that helps calm the savage beast of myheart. Anyone have some good verses to suggest?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shower of Blessing

I took a shower totally on my own last night! No help climbing in, getting out, or using the shower head while in there! I still need to have another adult in the house, in case I fall, but only having my husband or mom within ear-shot, not in the room or shower stall with me, is major progress! Honestly, I didn't think we would ever see this day. I can't tell you how much I have missed, and used to take for granted, the independence of showering on my own.

I still am using an ugly metal and plastic shower seat. My old OT said to consider this a permanent accommodation and try to see sitting for showers as a luxury (think expensive spa get-away), rather than a necessity or safety requirement. I think I might eventually try to invest in something like this teak shower bench, because I think it really might help emotionally, but financially, that is a very low priority right now. Here are other possible options if/when the time is right: Corner Bench, Shower Seat, Arched Shower Stool,  another Corner Design, Rectangular Shower Seat, with Handles, fancy, yet another Corner, simple and elegant.


My left arm is still pretty useless in there, due to both strength and lack of precision in dexterity, as well as the inability to move my shoulder much without pain, but I'm becoming fairly proficient in single-handed shampooing.

I have several friend who have seizures and/or pass out regularly. They are unable to shower without adult assistance, and this is a many-years "normal" in their lives. I have new empathy for them. It has been a long (almost) 10 months to regain this measure of independence, but I am so blessed and thankful!
Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, O LORD our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this. - Jeremiah 14:22

Monday, August 20, 2012

3 Therapists

I say all three therapist today. It was a long day!

Both my physical and occupational therapist spent the bulk of their hour-long appointments working on my shoulder. My OT taped the shoulder (latex-free tape) in the position she wants me to hold it, since the muscles won't hold it in place on their own. I'm now wearing a day-time wrist base to support significant weakness and pain there and have been adding neck stretches and strengthening exercises to my routine to cope with left arm and especially shoulder pain.

My PT did tons of shoulder massage and ice therapy and spinal positioning (I don't know what that was actually called, but involved me balancing my spine on a narrow piece of hard foam so the shoulder would be free to relax), then said he would call my primary care doctor to talk about imaging needs this afternoon. Still no word on my MRI yet. I think it is a bad thing when your PT makes faces as you describe symptoms (basically an "Oh man!" look, things he was apparently hoping I would avoid), then calls you an "interesting case."

I guess I can take comfort in the fact that he also called me, "Over-Achiever!," when he said I could take a break but I kept going on one machine when he turned his back today. He rolled his eyes in pleasant surprise and gave me a questioning look when I said I hadn't used my walker in a few weeks and was walking around the house under my own power, about half of the time. Of course, he had previously given me the OK to try these thing, he just seemed surprised I am actually doing them. He also seemed very happily surprised ("Holy Cow!") in my balance and turning progress since he last say me. I'm still really slow and unsteady, but there is progress.

I got my more comfortable, long-term leg/ankle brace today and will hopefully be able to fit into and wear a wider selection of shoes now. :)

Speech Therapy went well and all to quickly. I could happily chat with R. for hours! She was amazed at the progress she has seen in the two weeks she's been working with me. I'm listening to some computer modified classical music she loaned me, every day. It seems to be helping my speech to be flowing smoother, with less hesitation, clearer pronunciation, and hopeful some additional cognitive function will be an end result. In the meantime, my ear doctor is really interested and excited to see that is does seem to be retraining my brain to work with my post-surgical ear and restoring some hearing ability (minor, but sooner than he would expect) already!

Speaking of hearing, I'm not scheduled to go back to the ear doctor for nearly two more months now. :) He vacuumed out my ear on Friday, suctioning out old blood and lots of medication he had filled my outer ear canal with while I was under anesthesia. To say the suctioning felt strange is an understatement, but the ear drum seems to be healing well and I am starting to hear (faintly and unclearly) a few more sounds.

Thank you to K. and her family for watching our youngest son while I was gone this morning. Thank you to my parents for their faithful driving and care for our children most days, making it possible for them to be home and still cared for when I have to go off to therapy or a doctor. Thank you to Rick's parents who took care of them for all the months I was learning even to care for myself. And ongoing thanks to C. who comes every Thursday to clean and listen and keep our house flowing relatively smoothly (much smoother than it would without her!) these past many months.
Don’t offer parts of your body to sin, to be used as weapons to do wrong. Instead, present yourselves to God as people who have been brought back to life from the dead, and offer all the parts of your body to God to be used as weapons to do right. Sin will have no power over you, because you aren’t under Law but under grace. - Romans 6:13-14


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Anniversary

I'm goinf to try something. I'm going to tpye this with two hands and post the unedited version. I've been practicing hard with my left hand, so even though my shoulder is already really burning and it is very slow going, I think this will still be readable?

Our anniversary was nice, yesterday. Thank you forthe blessing of 20 years, Rick, especially the trials of thiw past year!The kids had a sleep-over with their visiting cousin at my parets' house and In took my husband's arm to go todinner - I almost knocked him over several times,but it was fun to push the strokes toward the backburner gor a bit. We then went to a gym (a doctor and a therapist want me doing water therapy)...

Nope, can't do it. It has taken about 14 minutes to type those two partial paragraph's and my left arm and shoulder are screaming, so back to single-handedness for a bit...

...but my therapist/training wasn't at the gym. The computer said we had been "rescheduled" but we never got a phone call and wasn't anywhere else in the computer, so I'm now scheduled to be initiated next month. Wish I would have known that before we rearranged our anniversary, but I'm trying to be optimistic and say we started a new, healthier chapter of our lives for our anniversary, by joining a gym. :)

I did try a couple of pieces of equipment like I've used at rehab and I also tried a new (to me) weight machine, set on the very lowest setting. I was able to fairly easily push the bar up with my right hand, but when my hubby encouraged me to push the left arm up (it hadn't moved at all while I had been moving the right) I answered, I've been trying. He teased that I will have a right arm that looks like Popper the Sailor after he's eaten spinach, in the end.

Did I tell you I actually used a curling iron and wore makeup to dinner, the first time since the strokes? (My mom had used a curling iron on me once, last month for my birthday, but I had never tried myself and hadn't worn makeup since last October.) I only burned myself on one ear and ended up trying to clean up a huge blob of mascara from the tip of my nose, but if felt good to attempt to be spiffed up! It took about 2 hours to get ready and I had my daughter's help, but we managed! I probably looked like a kid who got into Mom's makeup drawer because I know I got way too much eye makeup on and my hair was only about half curled, but at least I did it. :P

Twice this week I've been lightly bumped into, situations that would have made me fall over even a week or two ago. I'm thrilled to say that though I tottered, with the cane I stayed upright!

I've have had a lot of prickliness in both feet and up my left leg, an issue that was mostly resolving, grumpy again since last night, for some reason. My left foot is also significantly more purple than it had been, so I still must not be regulating blood-flow well.

I'll see the ear doctor again tomorrow to see how my ear is healing. It's been a little over 3 weeks since surgery.

I'm waiting for the imaging center to call me to schedule an MRI on my shoulder.
Genesis 48:13
And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him.
(Verse is personally encouraging to me because the culture most valued the eldest son and yet it was the left hand, that I am lacking and was held in lower regard when giving a blessing, that was placed on his head. God still used even the "weak" hand.)
 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; -
(There, finished the rest of the post, with one hand, in about 2 hours!)

Monday, August 13, 2012

What My Weeks Look Like

I saw both my OT (occupational therapist) and ST (speech therapist) today. There was a scheduling complication, so I don't see my PT (physical therapist) for an unusually long stretch, until Friday morning. Actually I did speak with him briefly this morning when I saw my OT, but not for a focused hour-long appointment.

On Thursday I go in to see my primary care doctor about continued shoulder issues (the OT thinks there may be an issue there) and schedule an MRI to look at the possible need for surgery. Friday afternoon I have my next post-op with the ENT (ear doctor) to see how I'm healing.

Tonight hubby will work on install a new over-the-range microwave as our old one, very inconveniently, decided to die just as I was trying to get into the kitchen more. Wednesday we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, meeting with a new PT that evening, after hubby gets home from work. Stroke is the hardest thing our marriage has ever endured! God's grace alone brings us to this date together. <3

I am using a cane and walking brace for my ankle. My OT says I should continue with single-handed typing for any kind of legal document or any time speed or accuracy is an issue. Otherwise I am to weight my left arm (helps me feel it more, my brain communicate with it, and reduces some uncontrolable movements) and forse movement out of my left hand and try to type with both hands no matter how slow and tedious or inaccurate. (Spellcheck and backspace are really my friends!) We may be modifying the keyboard by textturizing ssome keys soon.

This blog is therapy in and of itself, but I might not be posting as long or as often for a while, due to shoulder pain when I try to type with both hands.

Off to drink my applesauce with a straw now. (Speech therapy to strengtthen facial muscles.)
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Another Surprise :)

I have started with my new speech therapist. She's given me some great exercises for my mouth and facial muscles. One, my kids call "rubber face" as I take my hand and stretch my cheek muscles a certain way. She said I should have been receiving speechb therapy consistantly since my strokes, but she seemed amazed I am functioning as well as I am. In her words, a brain stem stroke is "really bad." Personality-wise I think this is a really great fit. Thank you Lord, for sending R.

Yesterday, some of my friends threw me a party. It wasn't a "surprise party" in the sense that I knew it was scheduled. It was a surprise in that my mom drove me to the park to find four picnic tables, beautifully set with lace table cloth, china tea cups, vases of flowers, and and the like. The buffet table was decorated with rose vines climbing georgeous tea trays of delicate delights. It looked like a bridal shower and I felt so loved.

At the end, they blessed me with a beautiful, hand-made prayer quilt made by a ministry at a local church and lovingly tied by many of our church and homeschool friends. <3 Even my daughter got to tie a  prayer knot several months ago, at one of the few Pioneer Club meetings she was able to go to. It is so special to me because so many different people, from different walks of my life, over such a long time, have all been involved, and of course all the prayers it represents.

Boy am I exhausted today. There is no one I would not have wanted to spend time with yesterday (Thank you all!), but I was glad they waited so many months to throw this party, as being around so many people, so many conversations, and so much sensory stimulation, was neurologically overwhelming and I can't imagine trying even a month or two ago! It was a very relaxed, low key setting, and we enjoyed resting in the shade of trees and the sipping iced tea and lemon-aid in the picnic shelter, while the kids ran off to play in the park within eye sight. I don't think there could have been a more ideal situation. I am very thankful. I am just sad that I'm not able to be the social butterfly I used to be. I, absolutely do better in a quiet one-on-one setting now. But the only way we find these things out is by trying!

And yes, there were tears before Rick got out the door this morning. :( I have resigned myself to the reality that, while I am capable of taking some steps around the house without it, I am just safer and more secure with at least a cane. I was worried Rick would be disappointed in me with this decision, and so the tears came rushing. He assured me that even if I were never past a wheel chair he would still love me and be proud, so that was a huge relief.

I feel like the first 9 months of all this were like prison. I am beginning to feel a little more "freedom" now, a semblance of a measure of normality in my life. There are many things that are not at all the same, and may never be. I am still a prisioner of my own body, but it seems someone has cracked a window open to let in abit of sonlight and fresh air. Today's verse, while written about Paul, captures some no this emergence, the related feelings, and the acts of family and friends in my gradually changing perspective:
He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. - Acts 24:23

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Old"

Even before I turned 40, our 6-year-old had decided I'm officially "old" now and my husband, at 42, is "older than old." I guess I shouldn't be too offended, as he tells his9-year-old sister that she is old too. ;) But seriously, there's nothing like a stroke to make you feel elderly!


Speaking of age, my birthday actually went smoother than I expected! Big praise. Didn't leave town or do anything "big" like I might have dreamed my 40th birthday might be, but it really was nice and maybe I can post pictures sometime (if I can figure out how to get them from my phone to a blog). Thank you for all the prayers and warm wishes, both in the mail and on Facebook!

I was pretty much was back to my cane (after ear surgery) by the weekend and Monday, met my goal of a bit of walking without support on Tuesday, and have been doing a mix of cane walking and independent walking since.

Wednesday my therapist had me start "test driving" a splint for my left leg, to address weakness and instability there. If it works as well as we hope, later in the month I will probably look at a more-fitted long-term option.

On Friday I had my first post-op appointment for my ear. My doctor repeatedly stressed that he had been a LOT of scar tissue he had removed from around my hearing bones, much more than he typically see from ear infections and the like, so the stroke paralysis that put that ear under such intense negative pressure for so long, was indeed evident. Hopefully, this removal will allow me to mark improvement once the middle ear packing (to hopefully prevent new scar tissue) dissolves? He started me on antibiotic ear drops to help aid in healing.  I go back in two weeks and the packing usually takes 6-8 weeks to dissolve, but could take up to 3 months. Only after that will we know more definitively if the surgery helped (and if so, how much), but he is optimistic, based on the amount of repair work he did.

At this point the pain only usually gets intense if my ear is pointed straight down, like trying to sleep on my left side. Of course with a mostly dead and hyper-sensitized left arm and a hurting left shoulder, that isn't too much of an option anyway.

I made dinner on my own, last night, in the oven! Tonight I think we are having popcorn or BP&J - something easy everyone can make for themselves. I'm not ready to try the exhaustion and stress of cooking again yet, but it was a start. :)

I have a lovely new collection of rug burns on my knees and elbows tonight. I usually do therapy in capries or long pants and tend to usually fall to my right when I loose my balance. Tonight I wore shorts and kept falling over to my left, so I kissed the carpet or did pretty hard face plants and knee skinners a few more times than I was prepared for! At least I'm on hands and knees, not at full height a lot, during my exercises.

My OT (occupational therapist) gave me new arm exercises on Wednesday, to help strengthen my shoulder. I cringe with each repetition and am nearly in tears less than half way through the set. Pain is still shooting all the way down and through my wrist an hour later. I think I am going to have to have the shoulder imaged to find out exactly what's going on in there, if it doesn't shape up soon.

My PT (physical therapist) is working hard to battle ongoing balance and dizziness issues and double vision making me very dizzy and usually nauseated any time I try to turn my head or look anywhere besides directly in front of me. This would be another matter of prayer.

My PT wanted me to come in again on Monday, but the time slot was the same as I was already scheduled to start with my new ST (speech therapist) so it wasn't possible this time.

My sister-in-love captured my birthday moon over our house. <3



Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him! - Isaiah 30:18

40

What a busy week! [From late July and early August.]


On Tuesday morning we went out to my favorite doughnut shop for breakfast. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) After a chocolate chip doughnut bar for breakfast, we went across the street and spend gift cards and money my parents, hubby and kids had all given me that morning.

I walked (pushing a cart for stability) for the better part of two hours before I had to give in to a wheel chair! If you had seem try to push a shopping cart in the rehab hospital (watch out!), you would know just what an amazing birthday gift this was!

After spending all my gift cards, finding a purse that was both big enough to hold my handicapped placard and compact enough (with a long handle to slip on and off, over my head) to center on my body and not pull my center of gravity too out of whack, we went home and did a little schooling with the kids. (We were mostly planning to take the day off school, but I did a little reading with the kids in bed.) My sister-in-love did a little shopping too, and made sure our 9-year-old enjoyed her morning out big girl shopping with the ladies.

Then we went up to my parents' house and I laid down for a couple hours. I would have slept but our 6-year-old made sure that wasn't a possibility. On both Monday and Tuesday, there where lots of whispers and secret phone calls to Daddy at work, and general excitement and secrets obviously afoot. It was an exciting, electrified day. The best news for me where that there were no tears, even threatened ones, through the whole celebration! (That's a huge reason for thankfulness, in and of itself.)

On Tuesday night everyone got dressed up and I was driven to my favorite sushi restaurant where I was greeted by my hubby and a huge bouquet of mylar balloons and a beautiful pink lemonade cake, prepared by my mom, sister-in-love and daughter. All-you-can-eat sushi for a party of 10. :) I felt pretty spoiled! Thank you Rick and all of my family. <3

"Sweetheart Rolls" ordered by Rick at Sushi Pier 2.
 My brother and his family gave me lots of fun things, including a bicycle horn for my walker or cane. :) At the end of the meal, the wait staff brought me a candle-lighted plate oh green tea cheese cake and ginger ice cream, all decorated with whip cream and fancy syrups. The cake was actually really good. My sister-in-love is the ginger fan of the family, so she took care of the ice cream for me, since I didn't want more than a taste. 


The waiters and waitresses sang (loudly) and invited the whole restaurant to sing with them, so even if anyone had managed to miss the balloons dominating our table, they knew I was turning 40 after that! I was really red, but felt kind of like a princess too.


At the end of the day we enjoyed the cake we hadn't eaten at Sushi Pier. I was able to blow out all my candles, something I couldn't have dreamed of doing just a month or two ago. In the rehab hospital, I doubt I would have had the lung capacity to even blow out one. I also stood for family pictures. Here's a brief walk to celebrate the day.

(video to come, hopefully)
 
On Wednesday, I walked into therapy without a walker or cane. I had accidentally left it at the table when I started down the hall on Saturday. My therapist seemed pleased by the lack of a cane and really pushed me hard on vision and balance exercises as I'm still surprised by a pretty constant level of dizziness and sudden waves of excess dizziness, thus not terribly steady on my feet. Now that I'm vertical, he is having me "test drive" a brace for me left leg and foot for the next couple week to try and compensate for ankle and knee weakness and instability. If it helps as much as we hope, I will likely end up with a new one with a more customized fit for long-term needs.

(trying to figure out how to get brace picture up onto blog)


On Thursday, our daughter was given her doctor's blessing to be cast and support-free for the remainder of her healing of a broken foot. She is so eager to swim! My dear friend, Kathy, was quite amazed at my walking ability this Thursday over last (she last came the day after surgery, when I was using my heavy walker) or even the improvement over the week before when I wasn't just post-op. Praise God! I woke up pretty exhausted and shaky, that day, so I was using the cane for safety again` that afternoon and evening.

(pink cast picture)

Yesterday (Friday) I not feeling well at all, so I mostly used the cane all day. I had my first follow-up from ear surgery. The ENT expressed that everything had looked beautiful in my ear, save for a LOT (and he repeatedly emphasized that there was much more there than he had expected to find) of scar tissue he had removed. I seem to be healing up nicely, and with the treated packing inside my middle ear, hopefully we will avoid new scarring as well.

I still need to keep the ear totally dry when I shower and no submerging. He said he never will venture a guess on the success of surgery this soon after, but based on the extent of scar tissue he removed from my ear and the way the scarring was immobilizing the bones from conducting sound, he was making an exception in telling me that he fully expects I will have a notable improvement in my ability to hear after the internal packing all dissolves. The pain is pretty much cleared up now, unless I lay with my left ear pointed down.
My sister-in-love captured my birthday moon over our house. <3