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.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Week

I've posted (and read - if the quote isn't mine, I'll say so) several little Facebook notes in my various groups over the past few days. I guess the best way to keep you updated is to share a few excerpts of these:
Weird, quirky little symptom I've never heard anyone mention before, so just wondering about. Every single night since the strokes, my tummy will repeatedly "clench" (would be like the tightening for doing a tummy crunch, but it pushes my abs OUTward, not in) as I am trying to drift into that transition between wakefulness and sleep. At first it was really bothersome (because it kept jolting me back awake, often several times per night, before I finally could really get to sleep) and now it is just sort of "there" and kind of calming because I know my body is actually trying to finally fall asleep for the night. It is profound enough, it actually looks/feels much like a baby kicking (I had a hysterectomy pre-stroke, so I know for sure I am not pregnant, plus this has gone on for well over 2 years now) and startles my husband when he feels it. Anyone else? Any explanation?
I did receive a few replies like, "Same thing with me! Never heard anyone mention it before. Started right after the brain stem stroke." and the only commonality is that this does seem to be only amongst brain stem stroke survivors (at least these are the only ones who commented that this medical little oddity, fully ignored by our doctors). As one woman speculated, "Brain stem controls breathing, so it makes sense." Our conclusion as to why doctors never address this issue is, "probably not a concern for the doctors as they are so focused on saving our lives or focusing on critical needs. This is annoying, but rather benign." and "I've just come to accept it. But I still wonder what it is."

A funny thing is I have NO CLUE about sports, so I filled it out a fake basketball bracket for March Madness, purely on what tickled my fancy at the moment. For example, one choice was CCAR, I don't have any idea where that's located or what the school name is, but I picked it because it sounded like "car" so I liked it. My husband and son were totally laughing at my ridiculous spread that had no logic involved. They say it is so crazy, I just might win! LOL

Congratulations to Michael Fernandez of Migraine Discussions for your Rookie Of the Year win with WEGO Health in their Third Annual WEGO Health Activist Awards Ceremony!
Thank you to everyone who has voted for and supported me! Hopefully we have all done a little something to help promote stroke education. See more at www.StrokeOfGrace.blogspot.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stroke-of-Grace-by-Jennifer-Saake/339888582731687 .
I didn't win, but truly am thankful and overwhelmed to have been selected as a finalist health advocate. When I told Rick last night, he blessed my heart in even a bigger way than the selection would have, by telling me that he and the kids are proud of me. My heart hurts over so very many and deep losses since the strokes - what a blessing to hear that my family is proud of me even when I'm not a "winner"!
According to a recent edition of the Stroke Association of Victoria’s member magazine, "Cognitive Fatigue is common after any kind of brain injury. The brain is working harder to keep up all that it does, even the things that before the injury, came naturally. The brain needs a rest. Without rest, those who experience Cognitive Fatigue, can experience headaches, or become irritable, confused, or sometimes have problems with behaviour.
A variety of things enable Cognitive Fatigue to be managed.
A daily routine should be balanced with quiet times, or rest times. Plan ahead to allow for rest times, especially when preparing for demanding activities. Allow time for quieter routines before and after these activities.
It is suggested that if there is a number of activities to do in one day, they should be worked out and prioritised.
Help family and friends to understand that cognitive fatigue is due to brain damage, not because of laziness, or a lack of motivation.
Aids can be used to reduce strain and effort where possible.
Factors, like the effects of medication, the weather, illness, people, or places can contribute to fatigue. It is suggested that strategies should be worked out on how to manage these.
Those recovering from brain trauma, can experience ‘sensory overload.’ This too, can impact on fatigue. For example; a busy shopping centre, with lights, noise, and lots of people walking around, can be overwhelming.
Maintain health and fitness, but make sure that exercise itself does not cause fatigue.
It is advised that ways to manage fatigue should be developed.
Plan to prevent, Cognitive Fatigue, rather than manage it after it occurs..."
I shared in a couple different groups yesterday:
I've had a nasty headache this past week, that just won't quit. Scary, yet I know worry and fear won't change anything if something is about to happen, just steal away joy from these days it hasn't happened yet too! I keep thinking about all of you who have gone though this more than once (I had 6 strokes, but all clustered within a month of each other, so all the recovery battle has really just been once) and I don't know how you who have done this twice or more! Just saying, you all are amazing!!!
 Following a variety of member questions, I replied back with:
I just had a routine CT and MR study (I think this means both MRI and MRA) last month. All clear. It was during the MR IV injection I first started with the bad headache (I presumed a side effect of the dye) and it has been off and on ever since. I had classic migraines, pre-stroke, then nothing other than ocular migraines for about a year post-stroke (trippy, new experience!) and then really no headaches or anything most of the past year or so.  
I do take Zertec, daily, and I just had this re-encouraged by primary care a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping the headache was sinus, but even after a nasty cold with ear and sinus infection is all cleared by a round of antibiotics, the head is still grumpy. I really think it is likely my sublexed shoulder and how I still carry my left arm, putting such strain on my neck for over two years. Since my strokes were injury-related, I don't logically think I'm at any more risk now than I would have been, had I never stroked, just sometimes my heart gets ahold of my fears and runs away with them!
TN [trigeminal nerve] is pretty angry today, but it seems that the headache well pre-dated the TN flair for me, this time around. 
Then several hours later, after lots of prayer from several friend, a couple laps of painful hall crawling that stretched out my neck and shoulder, and several round (days actually) of gentle neck stretches, "It is down a LOT for the past few hours. Thank you for praying." It is not "gone" today but certainly feels just muscular again now, so much more tolerable.

Informative little links to share this week (written from the chiropractic industry perspective) is that not every VAD (vertebral artery dissection) happens from chiropractic injury (car accidents, I've even heard of beauty parlor sink strokes, though I have yet to meet anyone who personally claimed that cause, conducting an ogrestra, etc.), but that nearly 1/3 of all VADs are linked to chiropractic adjustment. http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/stroke.shtml

Here's a great little video I found on YouTube, demonstrating a one-handed shoe tying technique:

Using my big, heavy-duty, seven wheeled "Parkinson's walker" that I had to use any time I was upright, when I first came home from the hospital, I made it all the way down the LONG block to my mail box and then on all the way around the block (gentle up-hill climb) on Thursday. I had my emergency beeper around my neck and cell phone in the walker basket. On Friday I again made it to the mail box and back home (didn't try the whole block yesterday). On Thursday there were three major trips or imbalance moments when I would have, otherwise, gone down, but that big, sturdy, 70-pound piece of equipment allowed me to stay upright and accomplish the task. :) I was able to get out of the house some, last spring, but still pretty much always with supervision, usually in my wheelchair. It felt so good just to take a walk around my own block, all by myself on Thursday! It looks like there may be some issues with our gym membership, so while we are trying to sort that all out, my mom and I are going to work on taking little neighborhood walks fairly regularly now.

"‘O Sovereign Lord, you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me, your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as you do?" Deut. 3:24


  1. I can see why your family is proud of you. You have such determination and courage. You have worked so hard on your recovery, even when you have setbacks, and are a wonderful inspiration to others, myself included. I pray that God will heal your heart regarding your loses and replace the hurt with joy.

    Looking at the one handed shoe tying, which is very clever, I wonder if the final result is tight enough. I may try it and see. At the moment I have elasticated shoe laces that just need the ends pulled. They're great.

  2. I appreciate all of the information that you share. I have terrible headaches in the back of my head. In the area where I had my stroke, and where the 100% blocked artery is.