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...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Open Wide

Here's where I sit almost all day, just about every day (at least when I'm home, not at a doctor or therapy, still taking up at least a part of nearly every day of my life!). It is where this computer (usually on my lap, not the side table, because I can't support my weight on that left arm due to pain and distractingly violent shaking of the arm when I try) is and where I connect with you, where my blog and my books are getting written, as well as where I do many of my therapies, like my therapeutic music program and work on brain strengthen computer programs. (My left eye still looks like I've been injected with Botox! Doesn't my emergency beeper make a fashionable necklace? ;) )

Tuesday's scope went well. They didn't even have to stick the camera down my nose, just my mouth, to the back of my throat! I learned a lot about my vocal chords. I have quite a bit of scar tissue from my intibation and some narrowing of my trachea as a result (since this isn't causing me breathing issues now, I just have to be sure all doctors and radiologist know it before I ever have surgery and am intabated again), but the vocal chord function is surprisingly, mechanically pretty good. I didn't know it was possible to have ataxic vocal chords (the involuntary shaking of my left arm and leg, attributed to the damaged cerebellum, is referred to as ataxia), but I still do, fairly profoundly at that (wiggly, vibrating vocal chords)! I have been told about the arm and leg (so would presume this applies to the voice box as well) that this will likely never be fully resolved.

It sounds like the doctor is going to refer me for further speech therapy, but vocally, the voice box is in pretty good shape though the left vocal chord is visibly smaller (slightly atrophied?) than my big beefed up right side, but able to open and shut (the issue they were concerned about with paralysis) quite well. I have a little sore throat after the procedure, but not nearly as much as I expected. The doctor encouraged me by saying I was amazingly articulate and I would make a fantastic and inspirational public speaker, we just need to work on the hesitation, breath control for phrasing, and occasional pronunciation issues, to help me master more smooth speech patterns, but pretty much all of that should be able to be addressed through continued therapy since the structural function seems to have been mostly restored now. This did my heart a world of good to hear!

Jaw and Face Stretches - Sorry you can't read my hat that reads, "Failure Is Not An Option!"

Kendra and I are discovering, as we get farther and father into recovery, that the differences in our injuries and recovery progress are becoming more and more obviously profound. I don't know how reliable my estimations may or may not be, but from my perspective, I seem to be seeing somewhat of a more rapid physical recovery than she is, whereas it sounds like Kendra is likely seeing more cognitive gains than I am? We realize that the nearly 6 month difference in our recovery journeys, still is rather significant at this stage, as things I can do today I couldn't DREAM of six months ago. But even with so much similarity, there are profound (sometimes painful, when we give into the comparison game) differences too. We are both thrilled for one another in every measure of progress, it is just becoming less and less of an identical journey than it was in the earlier months.

I mention this because I have made several stroke friends through this blog and I ask you to please don't let anything I post discourage you if you are not there yet. I know I am blessed not to face some of your challenges (I can't imagine being non-verbal, especially for months or years, for example!), but even if we aren't on exactly the same course or speed of recovery, there are likely some things in my recovery journey you may find yourself thankful to not be facing as well! I never want to hurt you by sharing my miracles. Please don't hesitate to share your progress (or frustrations at your areas of challenge) in my comments either!

"I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" Lamentations 3:24

6 comments:

  1. Please continue to share! I was just having a pity party for myself yesterday. I need encouragement that one day I get this walking thing figured out.

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    1. I glad you shared your feeling because it made me be honest about my own (that were already there anyway) and to think of the rest of my friends and what they might be feeling too. Keep keeping on, my friend!!

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  2. You are amazing, Jenni, and such an inspiration. Praying for you. Praying for you too, Queen of Brussels Sprouts. I know how frustrating it is having to learn to walk again. (I'm 13 months post stroke)It sounds really funny talking to God about The Queen of Brussels Sprouts! Made me laugh! God's on our side.

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    1. Ruth, do you blog? My blog is www.queenofbrusselsprouts.blogspot.com it used to be about food but now is about my stroke recovery...and food..,and living in Alaska.

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  3. You truly encourage me, bless you dear.

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  4. I am six years into my recovery from a cerebral hemmorage. And am doing amazingly well. It was a lot of hard work at first and I still am the queen of post-it-notes. Keep up the good work and it will pay off ! xoxoxo

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