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, December 8, 2014

December (1 of 4 - Time and Decorating)


Can you believe we are nearly through 2014 already? I remember how horribly slowly that first year crawled by. Now, time is going faster than I can keep up. If you ask me my age, my initial response is still that I am "39," the age I was the day I stroked, the age that seems indelibly imprinted on my brain. Give me a moment and I'll realize I'm actually 42. Or I may tell you I'm 41, or 43, but at least I will get pretty close, given a moment to contemplate. ;)


I've sat down to write this post probably at least a half dozen times. My focus keeps changing. Saturday it was going to be about how I finally got every Christmas item up this year, first time since the strokes. Sunday morning it was going to be about how I learned I do have aphasia (loss of language) with my second language and all the emotions I was processing with that realization. Sunday afternoon it was going to be a prayer request for a woman I actually witnessed stroke on Saturday evening and didn't know it until Sunday morning! Somewhere in there I planned to talk about shoes and share some Christmas Thoughts and Prayers. Today, I think I better post a series of posts tonight as tonight's blog would be WAY too long otherwise! (If you are reading this via Facebook, I'm not getting on FB at all for a few days, taking a little break, but this should still auto-post there for me this evening.)


The Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, our daughter
 and I spent a full day and a half decorating our home for Christmas. We had a lot of fun. I still have enough mobility challenges, balance issues and such a short emotional fuse, that there were a few moments of friction and some near tears (I would have cried had my body been able to process emotions in this way), especially as I got fatigued each evening, but my husband wisely stepped in at one point and reminded me why were doing this all in the first place, so mostly the time is filled with sweet memories. My beautiful mini tree, full of angels and teddy bears, that is heavy and awkward and about as unsteady as I am, that I made myself, years ago, out of the recycled top section of an unusable old tree, I finally got up again for the first time this year.
 It was the item that gave me enough trouble I was nearly in tears, but I was determined it WOULD go back up this year - my Christmas anti-stroke act of defiance for this year! Would you like to come on a tour of our Christmas celebration with me?

Let's start at the front door!
 
As you come in, the first thing you see, the Reason for this Holy Season!
Next to our tree.
 


And train.
All beside the piano.
In the rocking chair, another reminder of the Why.
Our daughter decided that if we were going to decorate the tree...


...we better include the large house plants too!
 
These are a very small selection of the ornaments my grandma designed and made for our tree each year while I was growing up:

 


Some special gifts from friends and family...






And a few we have added over the years on our own (anyone notice a theme going on here?) along with some treasured antiques from Rick's family:




As you follow me into the dinning room, we will pass a side table where our daughter lovingly arranged about seven more of the nativity scenes from my collection.


  

Every direction you look, there are more reminders of celebration.
I just bought this bear at a yard sale, not long before my strokes. I actually got to use him for the first time, last year!
Rick's childhood decoration.
My grandma (same one who made the ornaments on our tree) hand-carved and painted the birds to make this wreathe.

Into the dinning room...
Table centerpiece this year.
 

And on into the kitchen...
Window passage between dinning room and kitchen, dinning room side.

Same passage from the kitchen side, looking back to dinning room.
(Christmas tree is to right of dinning room, in our "formal living area" turned game and music room.)


Hand-carved olive wood nativity set from Israel. I grew up with this set and Mom gave it to me when Rick and I married.
Every year, from the time I was 3, I "swaddled" the baby in toilet paper so He wouldn't get cold! My kids carry on this tradition now.
Only Christmas tree we had up that first Christmas home from the hospital, given to me by my loving writer's group.
Do you see the TINY nativity scene nestled in the branches?
Also about a foot tall, this is the tree Rick's Grandma crocheted for us early in our marriage.


Beautifully illustrated book from my mother's childhood.
3D Nativity "star" hanging from kitchen light (sideboard full of nativities about 2 steps to your right), looking out into family room.
Looking back into kitchen (dinning room now on left).
Looking at the far side of kitchen (opposite from sideboard and dinning room) with family room to the right.

Our fireplace. I especially love the stuffed bear under the Pooh stocking. He reads the entire story of Christmas, direct from Luke 2, to his "grandchild" bear who is sitting on his lap.
The Nativity I made from teddy bears, early in our marriage.
Those first few Christmas celebrations after the hospital seemed rather "Charlie Brown"-ish, both in our home and in my heart.

This year 4th Christmas out, I finally feel I am recapturing the wonder.
 

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