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...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Chocolate, Coffee, School and More :)


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My internet was down for several days, then I was out of town. There were several big bits of news from the past week (ear surgery results, hiking accomplishment, etc.), and I will go back and edit the post I hand-wrote into the days I actually wrote them soon, but meanwhile I wanted to get back on track from this date.

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The biggest answer to prayer is that we got a call last night, that our 10-year-old has an opening in her class, so will be getting into the charter school with her brothers. Praise the Lord!!! Classes start Monday! Thank you for praying with us!


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I do not feel like I have gained any new hearing ability (positives, like less pressure on ear will be addressed in a post-dated update, coming soon), but I must have regained a little as it is hard to identify where sounds are coming from now! Something to my right sounds like it is in front of me, something in front, I think is behind and maybe to my right, to my left everything (if I hear it at all) is just a low mumble. The mis-identification of direction is actually encouraging at this stage, as it is evidence of some binocular hearing again and the brain trying to re-learn how to process a bit of input from each ear! :)

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I took an online cognitive test last night. At 21+ months post strokes, I scored 1/2% (4 out of 800) on "divided attention" (multi-tasking) skills. I know that this has improved so MUCH already. My therapist and I would laugh that I couldn't walk and chew gum. (Well, I couldn't walk, period. But in therapy, re-learning, I froze up if anyone else was walking with in line of sight, etc.) I can do that now, while it is with a cane, I literally do walk, in crowds, and chew gum at the same time these days, so there has been progress, but I was stunned and sad when that's what test scores said last night! 

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I know the test was not stroke-specific and just a free, online evaluation, so isn't too detailed, but even if my score were to have been 40 rather than 4, it is still an area where I am pathetically lacking and folk need to be aware of this deficit in my brain function. I simply had no idea that I still needed to work SO HARD to compensate in this area! Other low areas that "could be improved" were eye-hand coordination (I knew that one, but was still disappointed in the 17 out of 800 rating), memory, attention, motor control and perception skills. Thankfully I did score higher than average for my age group in "working memory" (funny, because this is one area I would tell you was deficient, but they are looking at a specific part and function of just one area of memory here, so maybe not the areas of m) and also scored average in "spatial perception," so it is nice to know there are at least a couple parts of my brain that aren't so broken!

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This kind of goes along with thoughts I posted to one of my stroke groups this week, "Do you ever wonder how you look to others? I wonder if I "look disabled" or not? I know the cane and the limp give a clue, but people are starting to treat me pretty normally again. For over a year you could tell with one glance that things were seriously wrong. I know I don't look as injured as I did then, but I wonder how others think of me. I just don't honestly know. Anyone else ponder these things?" It isn't so much that I am embarrased or anything, just honestly wondering how others perceive me, how I would think of me if I were on the outside. For over a year I felt like a different person, not even myself anymore. I would ever refer to myself, who I was before the strokes, as "her," and couldn't even identify with "her" life or "her" reality at all any more. Now I just feel like I have lived one life, am only one "me" again and this "me" is the same person I was, just with a few newer challenges. I wonder if I am still "me" to others or if they still relate to me in two realities?


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A sneak-peak at the back posts I need to fill in, on Monday I wrote, "I had to share my excitement. I PLAYED with my family, in a swimming pool, for nearly two hours this weekend! I am SORE now and exhausted and more uncoordinated than normal (pure fatigue), but a year ago I could only stand in the water, holding onto the side of the pool. Even turning on my own was impossible. Yesterday I walked in the water without support, repeatedly threw a ball, picked it up with my left (more stroked) hand several time, and even swam several widths of the shallow end! Praise God!"

I don't do coffee, but love the other vegetables! (From Facebook.)
I did take a nasty fall later Monday morning and still have a swollen, scabbed left knew and even more painful left shoulder. Not fun, but it is what it is. Poor balance, but no more falls since then.

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It is interesting what foods I do and don't like now. I've never liked coffee (well maybe when I was 4 or 5 and wanted to be grown up), and that hasn't changed. I do have to be sure any beverage isn't too hot (especially) or too cold or I will choke on it, sometimes burning myself too! I have loved tomatoes (like plants and plants worth) and am told I didn't like them at all for several months after the strokes. I like them again now, probably almost back to the extent I did before. I had also been a big banana eater, but can remember, starting as early as the hospital, not liking them any more, but I was also on potassium in my IVs at the time, so I suspect that may have been why, and/or a texture/swallowing issue. Now I can take them or leave them, though I think this past spring I started noticing I was enjoying them more again, but sometimes still have texture issues there. I like the taste of raw carrots, but not the texture, unless it is cut up or shredded finely enough. I can't chew well enough to make eating larger carrot pieces (like you would often find in a salad) enjoyable. I don't find cooked onions as disagreeable, flavor-wise, as I did before the strokes, but they still give me indigestion. I found out over the past couple weeks that I love both cucumbers and raw zucchini sticks - didn't dislike before, but didn't crave them either. I've commented to my husband a couple times now, always in surprise, that scrambled eggs are really good now. I've never really been an egg fan, but the gooey yellows of a medium fried eggs were about the only way I cared for them at all then, and scrambled, unless loaded with bacon and/or cheese, were my least favorite. I'm sure there are many other food surprise changes to explore, but that's all I can think of right now.


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I am in a social group for (mostly) younger and (young-at-heart) stroke survivors on Facebook. It is called a coffee house because the idea is mostly fun chatting with others who will get the odd humor we share. A couple weeks ago I made an onery post that is true and might make you feel like you know the non-stroked me a little better: "Confession. I hope I'm not excommunicated from this group. ;) But I feel like an imposter of this coffee house. So here goes...
I don't drink, I don't even like, coffee. It is "false advertising." The smell is FANTASTIC but the taste is NASTY! 
There, got that out in the open. Please pass the tea..."

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It sounds like I am, hopefully (paperwork still grinding), to start voice training, up at the university, once a week, starting next month. I will also be leading two, one-hour work shops, down in Carson City, on homeschooling through hard times (ironic since my kids will be in public school by that point, but materials are built upon lessons gleaned from my prior season of illness), in about two weeks. It will be my first public speaking since the strokes, I am both very excited and quite nervous too. Please pray I have the physical energy for the day, the mental clarity to prepare and present, and clear enough voice and hearing to be able to communicate clearly that day.

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I am thrilled for my kids that they will all be getting what they really need in school now, but I'm starting to feel pretty sad to. I hope Monday and next week go well. The first day is only a half day, so that helps! I'm excited about being able to work on my book more and having the time to focus on my other therapies, but it didn't start really hitting me, emotionally, that all the kids will be gone, every day, until having Princess R enrolled became a reality, late yesterday. I am hoping to go forward with the next phase of the stroke (medical) study I participated in very soon (they had hoped it would be starting up again this past June and there is no word yet) so if that goes soon, I will be staying plenty busy this fall! Plus my mom and I eventually want to take an art class together and/or maybe start scapbooking again, do more days of gym therapy, and simply have some "play" time.


"God's purpose is to enable us to see that He can walk on the storms of our life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious." - paraphrased from Oswald Chambers, via my friend Jade
 
I love this picture, found on Facebook! Sometimes God calms the storm, sometimes He calms the child!



He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. - Mark 4:39

4 comments:

  1. praise God for answered prayers, love you.

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  2. You will do fine speaking to the Home School group. You will have me there to make faces at you. (Back up notes should you choose to give them to me.

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  3. So excited about school! You know, banana was about the only fresh fruit I could get at the hospital. By the time I got home, I couldn't stand them for almost a year.

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  4. I was in the bank with my son, the other day, to see an advisor. When I had to sign a form I asked my son to hold the paper (as I don't have use of my right arm) and the advisor asked what was wrong with my other hand. I explained that I'd had a stroke 15 months ago and a little about having to learn to walk again etc. She was surprised and said she never would have known anything was wrong when she saw me walk in. But there are times when it is more obvious, when my leg doesn't want to know and to others my walk must seem very odd, not to mention the way my arm rests against my body. I feel self concious in front of a lot of people and when I see them look at me.

    To Queen of Brussels Sprouts: No, I don't blog. Thanks for link to your blog. I have been reading it. Praying for you courageous ladies :)

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