Update: The In Darkness Sing blog at JenniferSaake.com is experiencing prolonged technical issues, so I'm temporarily posting back here on my old Stroke of Grace blog.

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, in Oct. 2011. Jenni remained hospitalized for 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.

Jennifer is currently writing more books and stays active on both Facebook and Pinterest. Stroke of Grace became In Darkness Sing in early 2018 and has moved, along with all five of Jennifer's active blogs, to one location at JenniferSaake.com. (Please see above temporary update note above!)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hairy Situation

Edited to add: The thought here grew from a longer post call Thinking of Kendra and here include visual aids to expand upon the original thoughts...

Last week, I had just about convinced myself it was time to cut my hair again. For almost two weeks now I have been unable to brush it out myself, due to length. As it was growing out (just a little past my shoulders now), it was a "good problem" over these past couple of months. The struggle reminded me that it was actually growing. But once it got to the point I couldn't do it myself at all, it became overwhelming. While my heart in no way wanted to cut it, my quest for independence left me little choice.
Taken several months, probably close to a year, before my strokes.

December, maybe 5 weeks after initial cut.
Maybe this whole conversation would make more scene to understand that when I stroked, my hair came about to my waist. At my request, my mom had to cut it to a little below chin length about a week after the first strokes, because it was taking hours for the nurses to wash and brush out after each frequent EEG (where they had to rub my head with sticky, conductive gel). Even though my mom worked hard to keep it in a braid that first week in ICU, it was a mess, constantly uncomfortable, snarled, and getting in the way. Laying on my back, day in and day out, practicality dictated the hair must go. This is one of the many vanities that the strokes robbed from me.

Long hair, wadded up under my head, in the hospital bed. So uncomfortable!
In December, after over a month of dealing with the first cut, it was driving me so crazy that I begged for an even shorter cut.
Mid-December, 2011.
I kept that short pixie maintained for the next several months:

Hospital homecoming day, December, 2011.

End of school year, 2012.
So it's been about a year now that I've been on an active quest to regain length.

Late July, 2012.
It is getting there (though I can no longer achieve this pulled back style on my own). But last week, despite the emotional turmoil, I asked my husband to start pointing out shorter styles he might find attractive. 
Two months ago, Feb., 2013.
When I mentioned to my mom, last Thursday, that I was afraid I was going to have to cut it, my daughter got pretty upset and promised to brush it out for me every day as long as I wouldn't cut it. So as long as she stays faithful to that commitment, and my pain levels don't continue to climb so rapidly or get so high that I can't tolerate her gentle care, I can continue my efforts to reclaim this one area of my pre-stroke normal.

I know most won't understand or be able to relate, and I am, in no way, judging anyone who has made different choices. Part of me tells myself this is a sign of emotional weakness that it matters so much to me. After all, it is only hair! It would be so much easier, so much more practical, to cut it. Kendra did and I rather envy her cute, one-handed-care cut. For me, the continued growth of my hair is somehow a marker of progress and recovery. To cut it again would be some sort of admission of "defeat." I just can't go there yet.

Here's what I wrote about hair last May (at not quite 7 months after the first strokes, many other long theological thoughts at that post as well). Describing the recovery journey: It is like waiting for my hair to grow - it obviously is longer than it was months ago, but it would still be described as "short." At what point does it become long again? Who defines that? Am I looking for Rapunzel length or just past my shoulders? For me, pre-stroke, it was about to my waist but that will take years and years to achieve and will be considered "long" well before that. There are so many versions of "long," taking vastly different time frames to achieve. So is the quest for getting better, what one might call "better" can be measured by such different perspectives but it takes a long time either way! The journey seemed endless after just a few weeks, a few months, still.

Today I have managed to get it almost all pulled back into a jaw clip sort of bun on my own. While I can't curl or do a "half up" style by myself, don't have the dexterity do do a ponytail, and find it much too painful for anyone to work the ponytail elastic for me, maybe this will be a doable summer option? (It waits to be seen it today's outcome will be replicable in the future,)


November, 2013 update: The jaw clip has not proven to be a replicable solution. I have learned to occasionally manage hot rollers in my hair though (putting them in almost exclusively with my right hand, but able to get my left arm up onto my head long enough to get clips in place!), and while I still can't manage any kind of "half up" style, I have found some gentle ribbon-like pony tail holders that don't hurt my head too much for me to wear if someone puts it in a whole ponytail for me! I sometimes manage to fairly comb out wet hair on my own after a shower now. Dry hair usually still requires someone else to brush for me. I recently posted some related thoughts on hair and head coverings if you are curious about my thoughts.


October 2016 update: I  have long-since master the jaw clip and moved on to Flexi Clips. I can wash and comb/brush my own hair, wet or dry. Here are other five-year reflections and a current picture.


  1. I had no idea it was that long! I can see how wanting to grow it out would be a blessing and frustration all at the same time. Either way...you are beautiful my friend.

  2. Long, short, or no hair at all, your beauty shines dear.

  3. i will keep up with your hair mom, you rock mom you rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  4. Thanks for sharing Jenni! I understand where you're coming from.