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...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dread and Victories

Before I forget, I want to share this link for a stoke support fundraiser (pounds, not dollars) at http://www.justgiving.com/kirsty-shedlock for a gal in my online support group who is undertaking a doctor-monitored fast for the next 2 months on behalf of her mom, who has had three strokes.
 

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I thought I would be so cool to time my 200th post with my second re-birthday, yesterday, so I've been going through a bit of blogging withdrawal over the past few weeks because I had to ration my posts to once per week if I wanted to meet that goal. Now that I'm not trying to conserve posts, I'll catch you up on a few everyday landmarks in my life!

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This past Tuesday was a big day. My mom drove me and my 10-year-old, dead-for-the-second-time vacuum, to the shop to see if it was even worth spending the money to repair again. We ultimately traded in our yellow behemoth (I remember craving that Dyson and thinking it was the end-all-to-be-all in floor care, nearly a decade ago!) and left the shop with a new, powerful, bright red Simplicity model (it feels like a race car!) and I dealt with all the decisions and financial transaction without having to call my husband to walk me through the pro and cons! I think I made a good decision and I did it without picking up the phone to make sure I was handling it OK!
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We brought it home, my dad came over and put it together (and fixed what I managed to break in the first five minutes!) and, for the very first time in TWO YEARS, I managed to walk with the vacuum and push it the entire length of two hallways in our house! Yes, I was probably at pretty significant fall risk, yes my left leg was SHAKING badly (especially when I managed to push about three swipes with my LEFT arm), yes, I worked up a major sweat and was panting like a dog, but I DID IT and didn't even fall! I'm still not allowed to vacuum by myself if there is no one else around, in case I were to fall, but other than one brief success on a very specific mess in a confined area of our son's room (where I could cling to the side of the bed and sit down on it frequently) this is a major first!

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Bird seed never made such a beautiful sound as when it was sucked into that machine! It was weird though, because in one way I could mentally dissect all that has transpired over the past two years to bring me to this point, yet it was very surreal and really didn't even seem like I didn't just do this chore myself last week. I thought I would be crying with joy but it felt pretty "normal" and mundane, strange for something I've worked so very LONG and HARD to achieve!!! I guess "underwhelmed" best describes my reaction. But when I think about it, I know this is actually a HUGE deal!

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That morning, I managed to fold a towel "perfectly" (Mom's word). I used my right hand, chin, and a lot of right arm shaking out of fabric to get things where I needed fabric to fall, but it is all lined up so neatly! My mom says she isn't going to abandon me to my full loads of laundry yet, but with straight edged items, it's a huge start! :)
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Wednesday morning I was quite blue. I wrote a couple friends and said, "I'm kind of down (emotionally) this week, but just two days away from my 2-year stroke mark, so I think it is mostly just landmark dread. If I stay brave, on Friday I am going to post a LONG explanation of exactly what happened that day (chiropractor, legal, pretty much everything), so I think just getting that "out there" will help anxiety a lot too. Either way, the date will be passed soon and that will be a relief!" Then I posted to my online stroke support group, "Anyone else having landmark anxiety over a coming stroke-a-versary? Two years out and my re-birthday is Friday. Knot in the tummy, all though I keep telling myself that it is just a date on the calendar."


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One internal sign of stroke is lightening, since it strikes hard, fast, unexpectedly and can be so terribly destructive.
 
Here's a great talk I listened to this week, about purpose. It won't imbed for me, but so worth visiting http://youtu.be/O1ZdXeKMysI for A Deeper Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada (Strange Fire Conference).
 
Trace the rainbow through the rain! (From Facebook.)
 

Awesome, short explanation written for kids, but great for adults too:
I have had little aphasia, but what I have had is more like what this video presents than total absence of words like I thought it was.
 

 
Facebook - I love bears. <3
 

Here are a bunch of pictures, from Facebook, that I'm sharing for no particular reason other than that I like them (but there is more writing after these pictures, so don't stop reading here!):

 
 

 
Apple Hill, CA

 
 
 
 
 
I want to add this to my profile as well, "As of October, 2013, all images, unless otherwise noted, were taken from the Internet and are assumed to be in the public domain. These images are not presented as my own, unless noted as such. Copyright still belongs to the owner / creator of each work. (Prior to this date most pictures were mine unless otherwise noted, but I am still open to site sourcing you may offer on specific works!) In the event that there is a problem with the inclusion of your work, please contact me at jsaake AT yahoo DOT com with the exact post URL and description of image that concerns you, and I will be happy (my preference) to edit in a link and credit the appropriate source or even to entirely remove the disputed image from my site, if that is your desire."
 
While we are talking about pictures that are presumed to be in the public domain, a picture currently circulation around Facebook is titled "Blessing Bags.":
 
 
I post it because it reminds me of a story that I wrote* years ago that you might appreciate:
 
One cold winter evening several years ago, we drove past an elderly man on the corner, icicles dripping off his beard. We had only the length of the red light to make a decision and chose to drive on with the color changed to green. We knew in our hearts God was calling us to do more but let the rush of holiday excitement stand in our way. A couple hours later we left the party and went back to find him so we could pay for a cheep motel room for the night, but we couldn’t track him down.

To this day I can’t help but wonder if he wasn’t an “angel unaware” that we failed to offer the hospitality God so clearly prompted us to give. I’ve never been able to pass another cardboard sign without deep conviction that God calls us to reach out to the hopeless and needy, sometimes in small ways, sometimes more. We have at times, bought meals or even given cash, as God prompts our hearts. I have no doubt we have been scammed a few times, but that’s between the other person and God. I’m only responsible to act in obedience as God calls me.

Our church introduced us to the concept of Manna Bags. We now carry ziplock bags in our car containing a bottle of water, a couple of protein bars, socks (sock are like gold if you live on the street, see infertilitymom.blogspot.com/2009/06/blog-post.html ), dried fruit, etc. You could add things like toothbrush, travel size toiletries, or whatever else God puts on your heart.
 

The ideas is that we know this little bag will not change their world, but like manna, it can be God’s provision to meet needs for this one day. When I gave one out in a parking lot last week, the man had eaten his first granola bar before I even made it back to the car – no doubt he was truly hungry. As so often happens, it was the socks that really got him excited and brought tears to his eyes.
 
I’m also working on a list of area missions and shelters and soups kitchens and such, along with addresses and phone numbers, that we can enclose in the bag along with a written prayer so that hopefully we can help direct people to more long-term solutions. I long to help meet the needs of spiritual hunger as well as physical and continue to pray about what kinds of resources I might include that will fill this void.
 
I’ll never forget the day I had just taken our kids to a special bakery and bought a loaf of gourmet bread for three times what I normally would pay in the grocery store. It was warm and fresh and we each savored a single piece as soon as we got to the car. Pulling out of the parking lot we spotted a couple shivering by the stop sign. I had nothing in the car to give but that treasured loaf of bread and even though it was a treat they loved, my kids didn’t think twice. I pointed out the couple and before I could even ask what we should do I heard from the backseat, “Roll down the window Mommy. We still have most of our loaf of bread!” Their generous hearts meant more to me than a million dollars, and scam or no scam, we were all richer for the experience!
 

* I wrote this pre-stroke and never got to follow through on my intentions to put together a list. If anyone knows of Reno area resources (or national, just not a soup kitchen in another state!), please let me know. I would still like to get this part done!
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
- James 2:15-17




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