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, March 17, 2013

Is It Getting Better?

Good morning!

I've been pretty quiet this week. Nothing particularly "wrong" as much as just busy! Doctor's appointments and/or therapy every day since Tuesday (I had to cancel Monday because I was home with a sick boy) had me out of the house pretty much "full time" hours all week. On Tuesday and Thursday, I was home less than an hour between 8:30 and 5 each day! Yesterday we at appointments, thus out of the house, from 9-3:30. Today I am home from church with a sick little boy again. :( I told me mom (usually my chauffeur) that she had no idea that me having a stroke would put her into such an aggressive stroke recovery schedule, especially nearly 17 months after the events began!

As my husband put it yesterday, "People keep asking if it is getting better and you want to say yes, but it really isn't getting any easier!" Now, when we really look at things now compared to when I first came home from the hospital or even six months into recovery, we can both point to many things that have significantly "gotten better," but it is still so very much harder than we ever dreamed it might be, plain and simple.

My attitude and emotional outburst have undoubtedly improved. The kids are home (even if homeschooling isn't going to remain a viable option past this school year) and we are resettling into family routines. Even with the schooling changes, God has/is opening some amazing doors that seemed humanly impossible! I am walking (with a cane), something doctors predicted would never happen. I can see quite clearly over 99% of the time. Surgeries have restored enough hearing to my left ear that I am usually at least be somewhat aware when sound is being made on that side now, even if I can't decipher it. My left shoulder is gradually strengthening enough so that it doesn't slide in and out of joint even daily anymore (was still doing this several times each day, even a few months ago, but we seem to have finally hit on the right combination of restorative exercises and enough time has lapsed that it is getting stronger) and isn't always such a constant source of such severe pain. I have regained some large motor skill and voluntary movement with my left arm. Only a portion of the left side of my mouth retains total numbness. We have traded sides of the bed so that I am generally in less danger of further injuring my sore side in my sleep. My right side, while possibly always retaining some mild deficits that I am quite aware of because I'm the one who has lived in this body both pre- and post-stroke, is pretty much back to normal and in no way visibly stroke damaged any longer.

Unquestionably, there has big large scale improvement. We thankfully acknowledge that we are in a much better place than we were even a few months ago. The dailiness and stress are still very real and disheartening, though. There are a million little things of daily life that I used to do, even to some extent in my bed-bound days (of prior chronic illness) that I simple cannot do now. These mostly fall on Rick's shoulders now. What I am physically capable of, I often forget (usually to do, occasionally how to do), so Rick can't even count on me doing that which I am able to accomplish. I think the feeling that it "isn't getting better" stems from the question of if it will ever improve or if this is our new daily (stressful) reality now?

Two somewhat encouraging things were said to me this week. The first was when I had a qualification review with special needs transit. I went in hoping they would approve me for the next three years (3 years is the maximum they can offer at one time, though last time was only for only six months, thus another interview this week), so that I wouldn't have to make time for another interview with them between now and then. They only recommended me for two years. I got the distinct impression from several things that were said, that this time-frame was chosen, in large part, to give me hope that I might be in a much better place in two more years.

The second was when my therapist and I were talking of the possibility of upping my therapy schedule again. D. indicated that we might see additional medical benefit from more frequent visits, but she ultimately decided we should stick with our current schedule because she didn't want to take away any more time from me "living my life" rather than living at the gym. We won't back off from current schedule, it just felt good to not be adding anything additional, to be encouraged into regular life rather than pushed toward more "recovery." In once sense, recovery will remain a lifelong pursuit. It is simply nice to be given some grace, some freedom, some gentleness, like this.

Here are a couple brief Facebook updates from the week:

Thursday:
I used public special needs transit today. It worked great and my drivers were absolutely fantastic! My 1 hour counseling appointment took 5 hours from the time I left the house until I got home again though. I'm one exhausted girl! Thank you to my dear hubby, Rick, for bringing home dinner, not only that but one of my *favorite* dinners!!! ♥

Friday morning:
I don't have to be anywhere for any appointments until lunch time today! (OK, that means we bailed on regular water therapy today, moving it until tomorrow, but it wasn't workable today.) I am so excited!!! A whole morning, uninterrupted with my kids! What luxury. I feel so spoiled. :)

And a quote from a friend's page:
"Jesus didn't just preach a gospel. He lived one, and now YOU are His hands and feet. hands that are for more than writing personal checks. Feet that are for more than walking to Church or to the mailbox so someone else can be resourced to go."
~The Resolution for Women


I may be called to be a "resourcer" if that's what God equips me to do, but I have to remember to do all that He does call me to do! If we are called, we must trust God to equip us according to that call.



Ecclesiastes 9:10
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

2 comments:

  1. I hope for continued improvement for both of us! I have a pen pal from S. Africa and her mom had a stroke 4 years ago but still sees improvement!

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  2. I love both of you ladies dearly and am praying as you both learn your "new normal" in the midst of the incredible improvements you both continue to make each day. <3

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