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.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

23 Months

I was asked this morning if I could say just one thing to a new strokie, what would it be. I think I would tell them something like, "It seems forever, but time REALLY won't always seem to crawl so slowly. While your life may never be exactly the same again, it really does become livable again. {hug} Hang in there!"

Speaking of saying one thing, I was looking over our 7-year-old's homework from last week and he was asked if he could wish for any one thing and have it come true, what would he spend that one wish upon? He wrote, "I wod wish that my mom wod be betr." That really hit me in the heart!

From Facebook
I wrote last week on The Problem of Pain. I need to add a new experience yesterday where I was sitting in a weird position and after about 5 minutes of pretty intense pain I was just trying to ignore, I realized that if I changed positions I actually COULD do something to relieve this one! I hadn't been wiggling or squirming or anything all that time, just living with it because that is what I usually have to do and moving usually hurts even more. So once I realized what I was doing, I changed positions (probably how I was putting pressure on a nerve) and that particular pain turned off like a light switch. That's the first time I know of that my body was sending a legitimate pain signal telling me to change what I was doing because it wasn't good for me and I failed to respond because I am so "used" to ignoring pain.

From Facebook
I guess my pain post from last week brings you up to speed on my CPS, TN, TMJ (jaw), ears, shoulder and things like that. My eyes have been a little blurry again at times lately, especially that left one, but things usually refocus fairly quickly. I seem to be able to, usually, look all around me, even behind, to the right with single vision most of the time now! To the left thing still double pretty quickly to my side, I think even more quickly than a month or two ago, but compared to last year, things are so very much better!

I still seem to be managing pretty good large motor function out of my left arm (when I remember to use it) but do usually find it much more comfortable to carry pulled up close to my body rather than free-swinging. I am still walking with a cane outside my house most of the time (often without it at home because of less chance of distraction and less "traffic" to cause loss of stability) but had to give up on the goal of carrying it with my left because I often just end up dragging it with that arm and it doesn't offer me stability that way, so I went back to carrying it with my right. If I'm holding a cane in my right hand, I can't carry much with my left so kind of have no free and reliable arms to use much when I'm in public.

I still haven't quite figured out what to do with the social convention of shaking hands when my right is occupied with the cane - the solution I usually default to is switching the cane momentarily to the left, shaking hands with my right, then switching the cane back to the right. Not terribly safe/stable, but no one ever gave me "lessons" in how better to manage here. I often think of Kendra and other friends who can't shake with the right much at all. It is just awkward for everyone involved! Anyone have suggestions?


I've got my rose garden about half way re-claimed from two summers of mostly wild growing. The half I haven't done yet has lots of volunteer trees growing in it now, so someone else is going to have to get in there and pull them or cut them for me as I'm not strong enough yet. It feels nice to see half of the bushes tamed back again even though it is fall and they will soon sucome to frost for the year! So far, no falls in the roses since early summer! Almost took a digger this morning, but God kept me upright! Climbing through there this morning, cane in my right hand and dragging my little gardening bench eith my left, stepping over uneven ground and previously cut thorny branches, I thought I would love for my OT who first taught me to start walking again, to be able to see me now! I really think he would quite be in awe!!! I figure my garden is great physical and occupational therapy too!

Concerning brain reorganization, yesterday I actually thought to pick a toy up off the floor and put it away myself rather than ignoring it for several days and thinking "someone" should deal with it. I also managed to help our daughter get an entire sink load of dishes prepped and loaded in the dishwasher last night. This morning I put away all the silverware by myself! These perhaps seem like rediculously small tasks, but are all HUGE steps of progress for me. I am so excited! I still had to ask my husband what to do next (make breakfast) when I got up to see my kids off to school this morning, but with a little coaching, I think things are starting to come along.


I'm not really making any progress on my books right now. :( Lots of thinking (most of which I will forget) but very little actual writing. I've decided my rose pruning hours alone with God must still be great for brain development and reorganization, but wow I wish you could actually read some of the amazing thoughts that flitter through my head in those hours. I would like to read a book like that! I thought with not homeschooling this year I would have time heavy on my hands. That's not been the case! Everything I do takes me so much longer than it did before, so that probably accounts for part of the speeding hours?


Last week, I had just gotten in the shower when I heard the doorbell ring. In the past I might have jumped out, grabbed my robe and run for the door. Last week, I knew that wasn't even an option (for one thing I can't break into a run no matter how hard I try - I tried again today, nearly fell in the living room, grabbed for the bird cage to catch myself, got my thumb stuck, and nearly broke it as my body continued moving forward while my hand stayed trapped between metal bars) and that I would likely fall and hurt myself just trying to stand up quickly from the shower bench and rushing to step over the shower threshhold. So I just heard myself say, instead, "Oh well. If it is Publisher's Clearinghouse here to give us money, I really hope they come back!"

I continued to shower then heard the door open. "Mom?" I called out. My parents have a key to our house, so I hoped that was them and that I hadn't left the door unlocked or that someone was breaking in! Waiting for my mom's answer, I sat there caculating how quickly I might be able to get up and around the shower door to reach my emergency beeper right outside the shower in order to push the panic button before a criminal got me! About that time, I heard Mom's voice, so I knew all was well.

The funny things that go through my mind now that I know my old responses would no longer be possible! After I finished my shower, my mom combed out my wet tangles, they blessed me with my favorite kind of salsa from a chain they visited on our trip that is no longer in our area, and we got to visit with my parents a bit, I told them they were even better than a visit from Ed McMan and I was very glad no police had to be involved. :)

I guess Disney just announced they will be tightening up their disability access program and there will no longer be instant access to rides for disabilities. I had been looking forward to the day I could manage Disneyland, but with this ruling I think that potential was just moved back by several years, if not made impossible all together. Too bad that so much abuse of the program was made so that those of us who really need it can no longer use it. :( Hopefully the new options will still make the parks useable for most. I would be happy to be pleasantly surprised if this change does not impact my own timeline as much am I think it likely will.

I'm pretty sure at least one more big piece of news was intended for this update, but since I have NO idea what that might have been, I'll log off for now.

James 5:11
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.


  1. Time is finally starting to fly like it used to! As for picking up toys, I still need my wheelchair for that. Awesome that you even can!

  2. I can't shake hands (the stroke affected right side). Although I have some movement in my arm I can't move it away from my body. When people go to shake hands with me i just say "I'm sorry, I can't shake hands". Sometimes i explain it's because of a stroke and sometimes i don't. I would think people would see the stick in your right hand and understand you can't shake hands.

    Your son's wish for you to be better was very moving.

  3. This post blessed me so much. I am so proud of you and so blessed to call you "friend" ... I love you so much, Jenni! For the record, my "able body" doesn't have a decent gardening bone at all. I apparently inherited my mom's black thumb. My dad recently exclaimed to my mom, "Get back!" and when she looked at him, startled, he laughed and said, "You were near the azaleas! I was afraid you'd kill them!" LOL Anyway, I am excited for you that your rose garden is becoming a joy for you again. I am sure it is beautiful! Wish I could come help you pull out the volunteer trees, though I have no idea what those are. I am pretty good at killing plants and weeds (though you'd never know it from the beds in front of our house...it is a year-round battle to try to keep the weeds out. They are more persistent than I am!).

    As for shaking hands, supposedly etiquette dictates that the WOMAN should be the one to initiate hand-shaking, so if you don't initiate, you shouldn't have to shake hands ;-) It's okay to extend your left hand when your right hand is occupied with your cane. Anyone who is callous enough to expect you to sacrifice your safety and stability for a social gesture should just get over it!

    As for the Disney thing, you already know how I feel about it. I am praying that they will reconsider the possibilities so that you can enjoy a trip with your kids in the near future!