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, June 13, 2014

Second Week of June


I remember (at least one of) the things I was trying to remember in my last post (though it has nothing to do with my arm, shoulder, nor swimming, so maybe it wasn't the only thing I was trying to remember)! A friend recently asked a group of us to "share something random" about ourselves. I shared, "I'm quite double jointed, so now that I'm regaining my left side, I already have (had at even a year) some areas of more flexibility there (though less than I have on the right) than most non-strokies ever achieve. For example, mechanically it is no big deal to bend at my waist, keep my legs straight, and put the palms of both hands flat onto the floor. Now if only I could master balance, muscle control and strength to go with that flexibility... I guess along the same lines, I can bend my elbows backward (in my lesser stroked arm, around 20 degrees beyond straight), touch my tongue to my nose and pop my thumbs (well, just the less stroked one now, but used to be both) in and out of socket at will. (All these carnival tricks are quiet painless.)"

She replied, "Jenni, your answer about being double jointed put a big ole grin on my face. Isn't it amazing how the Lord God sees our needs long before we're even born? He knew that you would suffer a series of strokes and He knew that being double jointed would help you out immensely after them! I'll bet most double jointed people can't say more than just the fact that it's neat but for you, it's a real blessing. Awesome!"

Thanks for the cross bracelet, S.! <3
I have almost survived this season with my parents out-of-state. They should be home early next week! It's been good for me to see what I could do without their help (laundry is all caught up, folded with the help of Kathy and my daughter, and half put away AND dishwasher is staying caught up pretty consistently). I've even managed to take on a couple of long-overdue cleaning and organizing projects the last couple of weeks, with my kids home to do some of the leg work under my direction. But boy have I ever missed them and am exhausted! Thank you Mary for all the rides to the gym and for all my many "Team Saake" friends who have pitched in to provide various transportation.


This week at the pool I was able to accomplish both "rocking horses" and side sways WITHOUT holding on to anything (nor wearing a flotation belt). These were total "firsts" for me. Maybe they didn't look too smooth or pretty, but I still did them. I still haven't mastered the side-to-side "tick-tocks" without holding the wall, but we have made some massive balance progress with these two. I am trying to "tightrope walk" the line on the pool floor and still can't come close to mastering that, but I keep trying and it is one of my goals. Shelly (today's instructor) commented that no one would even guess I had had a stroke to meet me now and that watching me in the water my "legs are so strong" now. I was talking with two newer ladies in the locker room after class and they both seemed genuinely shocked that I had strokes. Yes, I walk with a cane, but it never crossed either of their minds why. That felt good!

 

Speaking of the gym, I sure missed it when I wasn't going for a while, but now that I am back there my hips have really started acting up again with pain that is making it hard to walk and impossible to sleep on my sides (what had become my most comfortable post-stroke sleep position). I don't KNOW that the activity and symptoms are related, but it seems to be a rather odd coincidence if they are not. If I had to guess, I am thinking I've developed Bursitis and will be talking to my primary care doctor about the issues later this month. The cysts on my right foot, that was to have been surgically removed but had receded when I stopped the gym last fall for 4 months with kidney stones, both my mom's and my surgeries, and our recoveries, is visibly growing again, now that I'm up on my feet so much, but thankfully hasn't become (too) painful yet. I think both the hips and foot are results of carrying my body weight improperly and unevenly.
 

 
 
 
Speaking of pain, I had no idea how badly my broken tooth had been hurting me until it is now resolved and not hurting. What a relief! :D And what a joy to find I can pretty much eat anything I want again. Thank you to my hubby for providing for my needed care here and to Dr. Kym for his fantastic job! :) Another praise is that I found the prescription night guard I thought was left behind in a hotel room over a year ago! It had slipped way UNDER the mattress of my bed, but still up in the bed frame, so I cleaned it up and started using it again last night, to hopefully prevent more teeth clenching or broken teeth. Big PRAISE!!!


Our incredibly brave 11-year-old is actually WALKING again and continues in therapy for both her foot and now also her wrist, that were broken then hypersensitized in their casts. Some days are better than others. The harder days are pure physical torture for her (bringing great sympathy from her physical therapist (who treated me for many months) and all the staff at that office, an indication of just how horrid her pain levels are with this rare complication - I've been informed that I had it "easy" compared to the anguish she endures, though he worked with me before my Central Pain Syndrome really kicked in so badly, so I imagine the pain of these two nerve temper tantrums might be somewhat parallel?) and beyond heartbreaking for her family. We will be seeing her bone doctor again in two weeks, primary care in a little over a week, a couple of other specialists over the summer. Beyond how her care directly impacts my post-stroke life, I will not be commenting much on her health as it will be her own story to or not to share, as she desires.

 

Summer vacation is going well and FLYING by. Rick did not make it through to the general election ballet, so this bid for local office ended with primaries on Tuesday. We are actually quite at peace with that, disappointed, but ready to turn the page on the next chapter of our lives. I am so proud of the way he ran the race with integrity and vigor. <3 Our kids are back in their classrooms the second week of August! I'm guessing I won't get much (any?) more writing done on my book over the summer. I think we will be getting a new family picture taken (haven't done one since about a year before the strokes) this fall. It was my big spring project to put together coordinating outfits for everyone for this event and I pretty excited!

 
Picture color pallet.

Emotionally, I'm also making strides. I got really bold this week and flat out told someone, "I am beautiful. I'm pretty amazing!" I think it stunned this person for me to be so blunt, but I explained that their inability to voice these things had dramatically shaped my self-view for over two years, but doesn't agree with what God says about me, so I am done letting that view influence what I think about myself. Pretty amazing for someone who avoided mirror and cameras like the plague for so long! Sure, I still fight depression and down moments, but so very many gains continued to be made in my heart. <3 I actually found myself telling the new lady at the gym, "I'm glad to be here!" this morning (when speaking of the fact that I nearly died) and surprised myself to realize I actually meant what I was saying. :)


I was challenged to list two (OK, so I went a little over the limit) things I CAN still, or once again, do since the strokes that I am thankful for. Quickly off the top of my head, I came up with:
1. I can still write. I'm much slower than I was a few years back, but I have book plans and actively blog.
2. I can JUMP again.
3. I am reclaiming some of our home, housekeeping-wise!
4. I can finally sort of keep up enough in water aerobics class that I went this week without wearing my safety/flotation belt in the pool!

Added to that (I could come up with a LOT more if I took the time, and maybe I really should go and start my own "1,000 Gifts" type list!) I need to say that my ENTIRE (other than one bush that needs an actual saw taken to a few branches) rose garden was neatly trimmed and weeded a couple weeks ago, for the first time since the strokes. It is looking a little bedraggled again already and I won't get to it much for the rest of the month between schedules and heat and such, but I actually got to it all (but one plant) at one point this spring!


I am just starting to get involved with a friend in the formation of the League for Chiropractic National Safety (LCNS), being formed as an initial step toward getting mandatory laws changed for present chiropractic practices. I don't know what my involvement here will exactly look like, but I can't not get involved in what totally seems to be a "for such a time as this" moment in my life. I'm nervously excited.

 

Quote: What a waste of an illness or injury if we read--or go on talking--day and night about that illness, that injury, and not about the God who allowed it for His own sovereign reasons.
       ~Joni Eareckson Tada


God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. Romans 6:23 MSG
A very happy 18th birthday to my nephew Drew, and congratulations on both your high school and college (AA) graduations this week! We are proud of you!!!


Just for Fun:
 

4 comments:

  1. I am so proud of the strong, beautiful woman you are. I love you sweet friend.

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  2. Jenni, I cannot fully express how very happy this post made me.... so much positive, great big strides, and all this confidence I see in you. I am SO glad you are here, and I love you. <3 Heart Hugs

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  3. Jenni I love you and am so proud of all of your accomplishments. Lots of love and prayers! Shonilee

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  4. Praying for your daughter and her doctors wisdom.

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