Update: Stroke of Grace has become In Darkness Sing and has moved to JenniferSaake.com.

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.

Jenni 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.

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.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Learning Contentment

From Facebook
My "baby" boy is a high schooler now. We attended 8th grade graduation last night. *proud sigh* He did incredibly well adapting to 8th grade in a traditional classroom, joining the system half way through the school year. I told him that I felt like it was "our" 8th grade graduation, as I had overseen his entire educational career up until my strokes and even again for the first half of this school year.

When we got there, the gym was decorated in lots of balloons. My previous latex reaction flared up, the worst it has been since my week in the ICU (where a "latex free" hospital had to order special catheters just to meet my needs). I was in the gymnasium only a matter of seconds before my stoked eye was burning and watering. Soon the entire left side of my mouth, anywhere that the feeling hasn't totally normalized yet, basically that entire side of my mouth) felt like that significant "burning" sensation you might know from when an arm or leg "falls asleep" and looses blood flow long enough that it hurts to get circulation going in it again, more than just annoying prickles or pins and needles, but actual pain.

I took a Benadryl when my throat started to tighten and right eye started to burn and water too and even the right side of my mouth started feeling funny. I also moved my Epi-Pen to the top of my purse, for easy access if the reaction continued to progress, but thankfully never needed to use it. This kind of thing so frustrates me because I am not wanting nor trying to draw attention to myself and get so tired of always being the one to cause problems. I just wanted to enjoy my son's moment in the spotlight!!! I wanted to cry at the though I might need to leave.

Next I had a full-on TN attack, the worst I have yet to experience. Not sure what I am talking about? This video explains.

This (along with the left side of my eye and face being my first alerts to danger) was a new post-stroke facet to my reaction. It was bad enough I asked my mom to dig through her purse to see if she had any Tylenol. She only had Aleve (that I haven't taken since the stroke due to the stroke risk warning on the bottle, even though this would be totally unrelated to my cause of strokes), but I was desperate enough that I took one.
From Facebook
Hearing, that I normally would have expected to be quite diminished during this episode, actually seemed to be heightened, was intensified to a painful level. I actually had to plug my "bad" ear because the sound of the crowd prior to the start of the event was too intense for me to process. Fortunately, this symptom began to settle about 15-20 minutes into the graduation.

My mouth is still more painful and numb than normal, today, but so much better than last night. But the throat relaxed with about 10-15 minutes of the dose of Benadryl and the intense pain in my eye/ear/face/jaw started subsiding after about 1/2 hour. I still have a bit of a sore throat today, but no breathing concerns.
Thank you, so much, to our friend Melanie (and to her husband, Seb, and this year to her young son as well), who have made sure at least one family member has run the Never Quit 5 K in Florida each year since Kendra and I stroked, in our honors.What a humbling blessing!
From Facebook
We had a frustrating situation (that left my mom and a giggling so much in the bathroom, we thought we would get kicked out of the lab today). My blood draws often take multiple pokes and sometimes up to an hour. Today, I had a new phlebotomist and (praise the Lord!) she got all my blood successfully drawn in a matter of minutes, on her first poke! The problem came with my urine sample that I simply could not manage to collect. As I've told my husband, I still have major problems when it comes to peeing on demand.

When I've got to go, I've got to go. If I'm someone tells me I must and I'm thinking about it and need to go, I can't. I think this comes from all those weeks in the hospital when I could only attempt to use the restroom on the nurse's schedule and often couldn't go by the time my call button was answered, even if I really had a full bladder by then. "Shy bladder" the nurses called it. Today, the lab tech had gone on and on about how much urine I needed to collect for her. I told my mom that my bladder was so full that I easily should have been able to give her the sample as soon as we got there, but the more the nurse emphasized the need and the amout, the more stressed and anxious I grew. By the time I tried, I couldn't go at all.

I asked my mom to come in and run water and tried all the tricks I know, but nothing was working. I tried twice, both before and after the blood draw and after drinking about six cups full of water. At one point in the giggle fest I asked my mom, "So how am I going to blog this one?" That question just got us laughing all the harder, still without the needed result.

Finally we ended up leaving the lab, running some errands, and taking my little cup with us to bring back to the lab by the deadline an hour away. On the way home from the lab, after our successful (finally!) delivery, I turned to my mom and said, "Now I need to go to the bathroom!" The rest of the day I could have filled a boatload of those little cups! I now have a supply of cups of my own so I can collect at home and bring to the lab the next time I need to.

From Pintrest
I told the lab tech what has become a standard line for me, all of the past 19 months, but especially the last few weeks. "It is what it is." I don't remember ever hearing that saying before, but in searching the web, lots of other people seem to say it too, so I guess I can't claim it as my own, like I thought I could. To me, this is acknowledging the reality of whatever given situation, but also recognizing my own inability to change things in so very many cases. I am learning that much of the time I can fight (usually without any change) what I don't like, or I can relax and roll with the ebbs and flow and hard knocks of life. Relaxing ultimately tends to be much more productive, less painful in the long run.

Philippians 4:11-12 "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little."


  1. Congrats to your dear son, praying for you.

  2. Bless you heart Jenne! I'm so glad you can laugh about the hard stuff. I loved your resolve to accept "it is what it is" and take a cup with you. I'm going to remember that next time I'm asked to go on demand! Oh--and CoNgRaTuLaTiOnS on your son's graduation :D

  3. Love the pics...absolutely can't potty on demand either. Even having hubby around makes me unable to relax enough to go. I join you in that!