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, October 25, 2013

Details of What Happened

I shared the details of my story on my two year stroke-a-versary, but since that posy was SO long, here's the first and second section (out of 8 sections) of the main body of the post, for your easier reference. If anything here confuses you or you want more information, please remember to visit the original post for full context! http://strokeofgrace.blogspot.com/2013/10/2-years-rest-of-story.html

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1. What Happened and Why I've Been Quiet About It

The story is pretty simple, really, but I was legally advised to be cautious how and where I said anything, and not tell it via social media at all for that first year, and it led to the removal of over 90% of my Facebook friends (never intending to damage actual friendships, but striving to prevent innocent chatter on my page from causing any legal liability) and the creation of my public Stroke Of Grace Facebook page (Have you joined?) where I could control the content of the page and keep everyone as informed as I was permitted. I have been hesitant to share the details even without a lawsuit any longer pending. As you can imagine, that facet of the story, alone, carried its own set of emotional baggage! In a nutshell, I went to a chiropractor, here in Reno, Nevada, where my artery was severed and I had two large bleed-outs into my brain stem and cerebellum, right there on the table. If you want more specifics, below are most of the details.


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I had hinted at the situation a few times before being asked to refrain from further public comment, but this is the first time since just coming home from the hospital that I have been ready to put pretty much the full story up on my blog. (Kendra, I cried when I remembered you were the first to comment when you saw the original post about my strokes, faithful-since-the-start-friend, not having a clue what was coming in your own world! Did I ever tell you I just figured out how to listen to telephone messages and had tried to return your phone call, I think the very day you stroked?)
 
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2. Story Details

That week I had been fighting a migraine headache that Western medicine could not bring under control, especially at the base of my skull, on the LEFT (this is IMPORTANT to know) side of my neck. (While I primarily have left-sided injury to my body now, this represents RIGHT side brain damage, as the hemispheres of the brain control the opposite sides of the body, so any left side pre-stroke head/neck pain was NOT an indication of imminent right side arterial concern.) I had been to the emergency room, given medical tests and scans (showing absolutely NO sign of aneurysm nor structural concern in either my brain nor arteries), then eventually sent home because there was nothing left for the hospital to try.
 

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When the headache continued, I decided to visit a chiropractor, since I regularly visited one in high school. I had not stepped into a chiropractic office in over twenty years (so no, a frequently asked question, I had never met this doctor before), but I had no hesitation to visit one now because I hoped alternative medicine might be able to address my pain concerns.
 


 So I called one chiropractor (I knew and trusted) and that office didn't take my new insurance, but thrilled as I was to have any chiropractic care available to me under my new insurance plan (something that I had desired for our entire marriage and never had before), I picked up the phone and made a second call, one that was nearly to become fatal.
 


Yes, a practice near my house not only took my insurance, but had an opening later that same morning. I didn't even bother getting out of my pajamas before my mom raced me over to take that available spot. The office was sparse, my impression is that it was rather dark (perhaps that is only my impression, as dark events were about to unfold, since I know that one entire wall of that strip-mall location was glass, so I would think the office was actually fairly bright), and, as my mom later stated, maybe we should have realized when I was the only patient in the entire office and the doctor himself greeted us at the reception desk because he had no staff, that something was not quite right.
 
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He seemed to be a nice enough guy, did spend a few minutes verbally going over a bit of my medical history with me, even making personal comments about his own family before he ushered me back to an exam room (without x-rays nor any other form of examination) to begin an adjustment of my neck.

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That sore left side, he worked on first. I was rather tense in anticipation of releasing control of my neck to another human being, so his very last words to me before beginning the procedure were, "Just relax. Trust me!" (To this day, my counselor and I continue to address the trust issues I have developed after those words!) 
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Upon first attempt he successfully "popped" my neck to that LEFT side. He then moved on to adjust the RIGHT side of my neck (I guess just because that is what chiropractors do) and when it was not an easy adjustment, he tried again and again, with more force and pressure each attempt, seemingly extending my neck a little further with each rotation.
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At some point in the process, I believe it was just before he attempted the first adjustment on the left, or perhaps it was during his multiple attempts on the right, I even recall his comment that I was quite "hypermobile." (Typically called excessively flexible or "double jointedness" - we have since learned, from multiple doctors and therapist, that one of the first things they learned was that you are never supposed to manipulate nor try to adjust a hypermobile joint!)

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After several attempts, I heard and felt a large "pop" on that RIGHT side and remember immediately telling him something like, "I am SO DIZZY!" to the point where I dug my hands into the edges of that narrow little table because it felt like I was literally going to fall right off. (Interestingly, in the wake of the strokes, I have developed an extreme fear of heights, specifically of falling, that I think links back to this very moment, along with the cerebral (contain balance center of the brain) damage sustained via one of these first two, massive strokes.)
 
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He started to leave the exam room to get something from across the hall and laughed back over his shoulder something like, "Don't fall off my table!" About that time my left leg jumped then fell. My mom, thinking I was playing around in response to his joke, lifted it back onto the table.

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Before she even released my leg, one arm after the other also involuntarily convulsed into the air as I began what looked to be a grand mall seizure (we later learned the proper name for the event was a psudo-seizure, as it looked like a classic seizure but it was directly triggered by the brain bleeds and I had no seizure history and a subsequent EEG revealed a total absence of any epileptic activity) right there on the table.
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The doctor rushed back into the room, grabbed my face between his hands and shouted, "Look at me!" By that time the strokes must have already been impacting my vision, for, try as I might, I could see nothing but a grey blur where his face should have been. I tried to respond, "I can't look at you," only I heard a very gurgled, slow and slurred version of my own voice trying to respond with something like, "Aaaa ccaaaa ooo aaaa ooooh." At that moment I had no idea what was happening and my emotional centers of my brain must also have taken a beating already, because I wondered at the strangeness of my own movements and voice and actually found the total lack of any control to be both curious and rather humorous. Obviously, I had no notion of what was actually transpiring!
 
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I do vaguely remember some commotion and running and yelling between the doctor and my mom about calling 911. I heard my mom's frantic voice as she began the conversation with the emergency operator. But my last really clear memory was telling that chiropractor that I couldn't look at him. At this point I fully lost consciousness, yes, had stroked out right there on his table before the chiropractor even had a chance to complete my examination!

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The next thing I remember is documented here, though to everyone else I remained unresponsive for the next six hours. I was able to describe the scene of the parking lot with surprising accuracy (where emergency vehicles were parked and how they were positioned) when my mom and I revisited the scene last year. Since I was "posturing" (typical of being "in the throws of death") at the time the paramedics rushed me out to the ambulance, we have no idea if my ability to describe the setting is due to me having been more conscious and aware than anyone suspected, or if I was even closer to death than we realized and my spirit was already observing the scene from outside of my body, since the parking lot emergency personnel were in action just before my near death experience memories. Either way, I have no conscious memories of that day, other than the single one linked above, after hearing my mom begin to place the 911 call. (This link talked about what I have been told about my ambulance ride and first several days after the stroke.)


 
If you would like to read more of my story, please select from Medical Expectations, Manipulation Mechanics, GoalsLegal, Reflections on Forgiveness, or My Victory Declaration. Thank you for walking a little piece of this journey with me.



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