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, July 19, 2014

Bright Copper Kettle and Warm Summer Accident

What a week! I've debated on how to open this post. Re-quoting, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times..." seems somewhat fitting, though "bad" certainly isn't "worst"! Striving to count my blessings, I figured I should list off several of "My Favorite Things," and though there literally has been a "bright copper kettle" moment in the mix, like "warm woolen mittens" that would bring me much more suffering than comfort (because I am allergic to wool and would painfully hive out!) all of the blessings have not come without some stress too. No dog bites nor bee stings, still some "feeling bad" moments for sure!

Please feel free to take this banner for your own page!
Before I start, here are a couple pictures taken in late April, around my 2 1/2 year (30 month) mark. We are now coming up on 2 3/4 years, 33 months this next Friday. I actually really love this close up of my hands (even though the left is smaller, more purple and more rigid than the right), cane and "get-out-of-my-way" blinged out bell. It just shows what a very long way I have come since not being able to use that arm or hand much at all, and even struggling to use the right very well either!

 

As you may remember, Mom and I did marathon cooking the week before last, to fill up our freezers for the coming weeks as she is scheduled for surgery on this coming Tuesday morning. The problem was that all those dishes were stacked up in my refrigerator because my deep freeze was a space-less disaster, not having been cleaned, thawed or organized since 2010, about a year before my strokes. Last Saturday found me out in the garage for eight hours, starting the morning before 6:30, to get it taken care of and be able to move all the new food in. First world problem, I know! We are beyond blessed with abundance.


I was exhausted (and overheated, sore, unable to maintain balance) by the time I finished on Saturday, but after a rest and shower, was able to sit up in my recliner and be with my family Saturday evening, though I was in bed by about 8:30 that night! I even made it to church Sunday morning, but by Sunday afternoon, my body was protesting the overuse with bleeding hives on my arms and face and double vision. I slept much of Sunday afternoon and was back in bed before 7:30 that night. Both Monday and Tuesday the stroke fatigue was so bad that I didn't even get dressed again until I finally took a wobbly shower about 4:30 Tuesday afternoon!


I actually don't remember much of anything Wednesday. I presume it was a blessedly uneventful and relatively "normal" day around our house. Oh wait, I remember, my mom and I spent the morning and early afternoon with my 11-year-old just having a fun but slow, low-key "girls' day" out shopping (primarily for her school uniforms), lunch, and a visit to  the rehab hospital while my mom went and did all her pre-op registration and testing half a block away at the main hospital campus. I learned some new things from my doctor about my stay there (like how she had gone to her office and cried when she sent me back to the main hospital after confirming I had experienced more strokes), got to see some of my therapists, learn updates on a few others, visit with a friend who used to go to church with me pre-stroke (she wasn't there while I was an inpatient, but is now the receptionist) and tell her more of my story.

I have used much of the text from my recent Why I Never Give Up post to its own page called Never Give Up at http://strokeofgrace.blogspot.com/p/never-give-up.html if you are looking for it.
Thursday, my sweet friend Kathy (hope you are feeling better!) was sick but my kids and I still decided to work on the house together since that was already the Thursday schedule. Our girl cleaned bathrooms and took her little brother to play at the park for a bit. I sorted and started laundry. Our oldest worked on dishes. I cleaned the inside fridge (much easier than the outside freezer!) and got half of the kitchen counters cleaned. The two little one, when they got home from the park, had great fun turning the entire kitchen into a bubble skating rink and did a fantastic job mopping the floor.


Friday was our big day though. I got up early and worked some more on kitchen counters and laundry while our 14-year-old got out to ride his bike before it got too hot. I expected him to be gone about an hour. All morning a tune played over and over in my head. I just could not shake the song! Our daughter and I trimmed up a scraggly plant and were making breakfast when the phone rang.

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in your neighborhood. I'm just calling to let you know that your son was riding his bike and was hit by a car. He seems OK and the driver is a nurse who is right there with him. He says he's fine and wants to get up, but we are keeping him still and an ambulance has been called..."

The corner, about three blocks from our house, is farther from my house than I can walk. Even if I managed, it would likely take me an hour or more to get there. I can't drive. Talk about feeling helpless! Mommy panic. I need to get to my baby!


I called Rick, called both sets of grandparents, called Katie and blubber into the phone as she listened and prayed. (Wow! I actually CAN cry without Rick around, if the situation is scary enough! Another first!) And then that song was back! "When my world is shaking, Heaven stands. When my heart is breaking, I never leave Your hands..."


I'll tell the rest through a few Facebook status updates my husband and I share:

From Rick, around 8:30am:
PRAYER REQUEST: Joshua was out riding his bike this morning and was hit by a car. Meeting him at the hospital. 

From Rick, 9:11am:
He's in having CT scans right now. We will not know anything else for a while. Thank God he was wearing a helmet, docs said it saved his life.

From Rick, around 10:30am:
Looks like he's going to be ok. Ct scans look good. [Such a relief to me personally, as I was afraid of another significant brain injury in the family!]

From me, sometime around 11 or a little after:
Other than a mild concussion, some road rash, general soreness (ya' would think he had been hit by a car or something!), and utter exhaustion from the adrenaline rush, Joshua is home already and relatively OK. Thanks for all the prayers and support. The bike has seen better days and may or may not be repairable. The helmet is totaled, but so much better the helmet doing its job than his brains being scraped off the road this morning! Our family likes to do things out of the norm, but SO thankful that today's injuries were surprisingly minor and there wasn't even an overnight hospital stay resulting from this ambulance ride! KIDS (grown ups too), WEAR YOUR HELMETS!

From me, this morning:
Thank you for all the prayers and support when Joshua Saake was hit by a car while riding his bike yesterday morning! He is exhausted, SORE, swollen, banged up, but home and ALIVE! We are told it would have been a fatality without his helmet. He bounced off the car windshield and shattered it, apparently with his head! In God's amazing protection, he seems to have no broken bones nor evident internal injuries, though we are still waking him often (due to mild concussion) and will be keeping an extra close eye on him over the next few days. The driver and passenger were a trauma nurse and ICU nurse, so he received outstanding care within SECONDS of the collision that briefly rendered him unconscious - God's care! What a "What did you do this summer?" story he has to tell when he goes back to school next month!

He's also got whiplash, a REALLY sore neck, and is thankful he didn't get any teeth knocked out nor need dental repairs.


What does this all have to do with a "bright copper kettle"? Well, just that I "stress clean" when I have the physical ability to do so. Of course it helped that I already had a chunk done on Thursday and pre-phone-call on Friday morning. But with all those hours of waiting for updates on Friday, my kitchen is cleaner than it has been since my strokes! Even after Joshua got home yesterday afternoon, he slept and between checking on him times, I cleaned like crazy.


The old copper kettle on my stove, a badly tarnished antique rescued from a yard sale years ago, used to be polished by me ever four to six months or so. I have only attempted to polish it, with Kathy's help, one time since the strokes, and even then I lacked the muscle strength, hand coordination, "elbow grease" to do a very good job. Last night the family sat down to watch a movie in attempt to unwind from the day's events. I spread an old rag towel in my lap and spend about 2 hours working my pent-up emotions on polishing that black and green water receptical until it glowed a beautiful metallic rose shade again, like it should. I had forgotten why I love the warm welcome of copper so much. It makes me happy every time I glance toward its perch on my stove top!


We hope to go out to lunch today, to celebrate that Joshua is still with us. He's not sure if he will physically feel up to going out at all. We shall see... [He made it. Totally done in now after less than 2 hours out of his bed. I seriously doubt he will make it out of the house for the full morning of church activities tomorrow!]


In other news, we will hopefully be taking our first professional family pictures since my strokes this coming Friday night (2 years, 9 months). Hopefully everyone will be healthy (Rick's fighting a nasty cold the past few days) and will feel well enough (our girl is still in a pretty filthy arm brace and of course there are Joshua's needs to consider, though most of his visible injuries are under hair or clothing other than one scraped up arm and skinned up/swollen hand). This has already been scheduled for a while and it seems someone in the family is almost always having some physical trauma or another, so as long as everyone is up to getting to the studio, we might as well get them now since this seems to be our "normal" and I'm not sure that waiting will yield any better results! I am SO glad, more than I know how to express, that our family still has 5 living members to picture together!!! Here is our last (obviously, not professional) family picture taken on my birthday 2 years ago this  month. I could not stand by myself without support at all yet, so you will see I'm being held up by other snuggled in close in every picture!

Joshua is the tallest kid in this picture, though now he is taller than me and almost, maybe even, a little taller than his dad. You will notice big changes when I post this weekend's picture!

While I'm digging out older pictures, her is one with my brother, sister-in-love and one nephew (the other from this side of the family was already off in college when this was taken in 2012,):

With my parents:

The tea party my girlfriends surprised and blessed me with in celebration of getting out of the hospital:

Some of our littles at this same party:


“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed....
Jeremiah 29:12-14
 

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