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...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Olimpian


I made it to church yesterday, for the first time in three weeks. We sat on the opposite side of the room from where we usually sit, so that my mostly deaf ear was closest to the speaker. It was LOUD but fairly tolerable for me, once the room filled up with people to help cushion some of the sound.

I did end up in tears during the closing worship set, my hubby thought from physical pain (as I have a few times in the past) but this time it was song words that pierced my spirit. First, the hymn "Take My Life" and verse four jumped out at me in a new way, "Take my intellect, and use
Ev'ry pow'r as Thou shalt choose." Lord, this is so very hard! *cue tears!*

Then a sweet little girl that I first met in infancy, was toddling around the back of the service, her mother chasing after, exploring her world. I wanted nothing more than to reach out, scoop her onto my lap and snuggle away, something I readily would have done pre-stroke (was sort of known for even), but am physically incapable of now. My sweet 11-year-old saw my tears and rushed over to hug me, whispering, "It's ok Mom. Mrs. K------------- is going to have a baby soon and she has already promised you can hold her!" Waaahh! More tears! I am blessed. My daughter knows me well.


Then a song I have struggled with from the first time I went back to church. I can say with words, and usually even believe, at least on some level, that I am beautiful, but my heart must not really totally buy it deep down yet. "You make beautiful things and you made me. So what does that make me?" I usually am numb and tearless now, so the tears typically don't break over the dam of my heart anymore, but yesterday they were already flowing, so I didn't even try to stop them.

Again I cling to my verses about the goal of pleasing God, not men. I'm not even sure I can please my own heart here, so pleasing God has GOT to stay my focus.

The Disciple Jesus Loved - I can't figure out how to directly post this one (I guess Blogger and You Tube aren't playing nice at the moment), but I needed this today.


So why did I label this "Olympics" and haven't even gotten to that part yet? Patience. ;) Actually, I think it is all applicable, as stroke recovery is of similar intensity of training in every area from emotional to mental to physical, but I digress...

I have always loved Figure Skating. It's my thing to watch. I was so excited to watch it three nights ago, and could appreciate the beauty last night to enjoy it as well. But two nights ago, it just hurt. I turned it off. No, I could never skate like that. I'm not delusional enough to even try to compare my pre-stroke ability with such talent. The part that was unbearable though was simply the grace, the freedom of physical movement, the synchronization of thought and expression. I see it every day, in the turn of a loved one's head, the easy grace when someone wills to just walk (or skip, or run) across a room, then does it, the ability for a friend to bend over and pull something out of a lower cabinet with falling on their heads, but these "everyday" miracles I constantly witness, simply aren't allowed to prick my heart moment-by-moment or I would sense to function at all.

What made the ice skating so painful is that it has remained a possibility in my dream world, my fantasies, and now that is gone too, absolutely could never be, even with proper training and coaching. It is a physical feeling of imprisonment and the contrast with such an awesome display of freedom. What has always been beyond my reach, is now beyond possibility. I never really expected I would ever step into a spotlight in an arena of ice, but the knowledge was there that if I had put my mind to it and disciplined my body to the task, the possibility was at least within my grasp. At this first winter Olympics since my strokes (I guess there has been one summer one already, but I have no memory) I am learning to grieve the death of childhood fantasies afresh.


I love what Kendra had to share about stretching this morning. A topic I don't think I ever addressed here, but so valid and brought back a flood of memories. I still get caught by happy surprise by those kinds of moments sometimes, but there's something really significant about the first like that. My own memories are down in her comments, if you are interested. (As for yawning, I really try to avoid it whenever possible as I know it will be so very painful to my jaw. Such is life.)

This is my "someday" goal. It may not be pretty, but if I can't dream of skating any longer, at least I want to be able to move faster than my current walk. (Kendra, I don't take the ability of walking at all lightly and continue praying for you to know even this joy!) I eventually long to break out of a simple walk and regain the ability to run! Dare I dream maybe even skip again too?


Totally changing gears, I was so thrilled for the young snow boarder who had to walk the Parade of Nations on crutches, then eventually yield to a wheel chair, that she was actually able to make her runs last night, even with that huge, hideous bruise. She didn't place, didn't even do so well, fell both times I watched her zoom down the mountain, but she got to participate and that had been questionable prior to the event. She's 16, so I would think she has many more years and even a few Olympics left in her, so we are very likely to see her again. :) It just broke my heart to think of the thousands of hours poured into training, the excitement, the preparation, the trip, only to sit out the entire games after an injury on Olympic soil before she ever even had a chance to give things a try!

Speaking of snowboarding, this sport caught our 8-year-old's attention for the first time this year. "Mom, they are basically skateboarding on snow!" When he learned they are snowboarding facilities within 45 minutes of our house, he could hardly contain himself. If we had the time and transportation to invest in this interest, I can imagine this becoming an expensive (and bone-breaking) hobby, very quickly! Anyone local interested in committing lots of hour between here and Mt Rose? LOL *Sigh* In these moments I feel the loss of giving all that my son desires, in this case my driving ability, pretty profoundly.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. - Ephesians 4:1-6
 

6 comments:

  1. One day we both shall run...even if only in Heaven.

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  2. Mind if I join you? The time we'll have in our new bodies will be forever and strokes (or anything else) won't be able to hinder us. Hooray!

    When you cry, Jenni, are you really loud? The reason I ask is that after the stroke, whenever I cried I was so loud and would drown out everyone around me. I stopped going to church for a while because i never knew when i was going to cry and i would drown out the speaker. I barely made any sound when i cried before the stroke. But this new sound seemed like it came from so deep within me and i couldn't make it stop. Laughing was the same.

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    1. Absolutely! Sunday I was able to cry pretty quietly, but that was a first. Usually, like you describe that loud, guttural wail. And yes, same with laughter!

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  3. Yes, we will all run with Jesus.

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