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. 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 equips you to send any monetary assistance as well, this is a significant added blessing.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Week in Review

For my family...
If you have been following this blog very long, you are aware of my recent WEGO Heath Activist nomination. Here is a celebration video I recorded yesterday morning. :)
 
 
I had my MRI yesterday. Only 3 pokes to get the IV started! He got the vein each try, but after all that potassium and so many collapsed veins in the hospital, twice my veins just couldn't withstand the IV push and one outright "popped" (nice swollen bruise growing on the back of my hand, though not nearly as bad as I expected it would be when I felt it explode) while the second simply collapsed after getting it started. By the third try, Steven just put a little catheter in right from the get-go so the vein would withstand the contrast injection. Glad there are no more plans for pokes for a bit now.


For my strokie friends and other who get claustrophobic with these tests, I wanted to pass along my coping technique. Do you have other ideas to share? I just close my eyes before they ever move the tube, keep them closed the whole time, they pray/meditate in the tube, breath deeply of the cool air blowing in your face, and imagine yourself in a (noisy!) big, wide open field of wild flowers!


I got a really bad migraine on just the left side of my head, that started while I was in the (LOUD) tube (before they ever started my IV or injected dye), but thankfully it was quite short-lived, maybe 2 hours from start to finish. My cheeks also flushed really red and hot while I was in the super magnet (I think only post IV, but I could not swear to that) and stayed that way the rest of the day, so I wonder if I might have experienced a very slight reaction to the iodine injection as I don't ever recall experiencing anything like this with contrast before. I'll try to remember to mention this to my doctor.
 
 
So yes, I really am asking for shares! (OK, I'll take lots of hugs too, if you insist.) If you could please pass around this blog address and help people find me, I'm really working hard to expand my audience before I start presenting book proposals to publishes again, so it would help me a ton if you click on the blue "Join This Site" button (Google Friend Connect) on the right side bar, to the top, just under the "Flyby Promotions" logo. Thanks! You might even win these earrings (pictured below) if you join my membership drive contest this week. :)
Before the MRI, my dear Kathy came over to help with the house all morning and into the afternoon again. We made great progress and reclaimed two areas of the house that have been virtually untouched (other than to keep piling greater collections of "stuff" there) since my strokes. That felt SO good!!!
 
For Kathy. ;)
  
Another thing that felt really good this week was a small victory in my impulse spending department, where I actually took the time to talk through a desired purchase with Rick before whipping out a credit card or pushing "confirm order" in my shopping cart. In the end we did decide, together, that this was a wise and worthwhile purchase and it all worked out even better than I had originally anticipated, but I'm rather giddy over the simple fact that I didn't rush into this decision without talking it through with my husband first. Baby step for me, but it is a step. Thank you, Lord!

 
Mom and I made it to the gym for the second time this week (after 4 months not) and I am tired and sore but glad we did it. This instructor does a lot more balance work than the Monday instructor (much harder for me to attempt and many things I simply cannot do), so I'm glad we have a class with each lady as I get a much bigger brain challenge on Friday but still work my muscles on Mondays, but let my brain de-stress a little more then too.

 
I still "pocket" food in the sides of my mouth. Not quite as badly as I used to, and I typically manage to "sweep" my tongue or figure more effectively and discreetly than I did at first. Today I ate a salad for lunch (and was reflecting on how very amazing that simple act is for me, since this was the last food I was cleared to eat by speech therapy who deals with all mouth and vocal issues, including swallowing and controlling choking) and swept my tongue around my teeth only to discover an entire cashew half, un-chewed and pocketed in my right (less stroke impacted) cheek. Wow! I never even felt that sitting there, and this was my "good" side of my mouth!!!


I did manage to plan (with my mom's input) and cook 4 (well, as of tonight, it will be 4 and tonight's is in the oven right now) out of 5 simple dinners this week. The fifth, Rick had to suggest, but I managed to take it out of the package, dump in a bowl and microwave what he bought. No fast food this week, not once! I think this is a record for our family since we fully took over providing our own meals again. (And, once again, huge thanks to everyone who pitched in to feed my family that first year; work, church, family, friends, even a few relative strangers!) I even already have food items and a meal plan for most of next week already! Weekends are rather casual, fend-for-yourself days around here with typically at least one meal out over the weekend (was rather this way even before my strokes), so we are looking at the potential of two weeks in a row of true self-sufficiency!

 
1 Peter 1:13
[ Be Holy ] Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

28 Month Giveaway


Giveaway time!
If you would like a chance to win these pretty earrings, please be sure you are a blog follower (right hand side bar, toward the top, right under the FlyBy Promotions logo, Google friend connect) and then please leave a comment to let me know that you would like to be entered. Plain and simple, while I know I have several faithful readers here, and well over 200 "followers" on Facebook (feel free to follow me there too, although that won't earn you an entry in this give-away), on the actual StrokeOfGrace blog, there are only about 30 registered followers and that will not look good to a potential publisher when I go to try to get my books contracted. So, I need people to "join this site" and break 100 or more members very quickly.

Could you please help me accomplish this goal? As an incentive for my numbers drive, I will give these earrings to one person who comments (or emails me at strokiegal AT gmail DOT com if you have any issues with the comments feature here) by midnight, Pacific, on Sunday night, March 2, 2014, to let me know that you have joined as (or already are) a member here! :) I'll randomly email the winner, early next week (or contact you through Friend Connect, so be sure I have a way to get in touch please!), to request your mailing address and send your prize. Please join me and spread the word!!!

Picture taken last weekend at almost 28 months since initial 2 strokes.
I talk more about the earrings in my give-away (and in this photo above) and offer a new "Thifty Thursdays" meme with shopping tips at InnerBeautyGirlz if you would like to learn more about this company, jewelry quality, or how to put together a cute outfit for much less! :)

Flute, day 36 (Feb 26)

My mom and I finally made it back to the gym (after about 4 months) yesterday. We are both sore today! There was a lot I had lost and couldn't do, so will have to relearn again, but several things I could still do that I really don't think I would have been able to do were it not for my crawling. I have only gained 3 pounds during these non-gym months.


Yesterday was 100 days in my jumping challenge. My 100-day video is posted below.


My jaw is really the only thing particularly acting up more than usual lately. Both pain, and I noticed while trying to eat last night, in amount I can open my mouth as well. I have no idea why.


I have an MRI on Thursday. I would appreciate your prayer that it all, especially the IV, goes smoothly.


Day 100 of 100
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)
 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cleaning


My friend, Tricia Goyer, posted today on her Facebook page, "Found 3-yr-old brushing the dog with my hairbrush! When I told him that was yucky he apologized to the dog. As if?!" I giggle every time I read this. :)

 
My friend Shelly from Renewed Daily just made me this banner. Please feel free to copy it, link it to http://strokeofgrace.blogspot.com/2014/02/introduction-longer-version.html, and share it on your page! :)

 

 
 

Yesterday, I did something I haven't managed since my strokes. I cleaned my toilets, all 4 of them!!! (We have 3 1/2 baths, thus 4 toilets, 6 bathroom sinks, 3 showers.)  Kathy, remember how I said last year that I had never wanted to clean a toilet so badly? Well, I still can't stand and clean one in traditional fashion, but with bathroom grab bars, I can now manage to get down on the floor and clean them by hand. The first one took me over two hours to clean because of the learning curve to figure out what would work, but the second only took about an hour or maybe an hour and a half, the third took about an hour, and the final one about 45 minutes. I also managed to clean one sink. Wow was I exhausted and sore last night, so sore in fact that I had a hard time sleeping much of the night, and it was very hard on my finger nails (see hand pictures below, the right hand that did almost all of the work, over the left that I hardly used) but I sure am proud of my accomplishments! Rick and I both agreed that 4 in a day is WAY too much for my body on a typical basis, but now that I can do it at all, hopefully I can set up a rotation of one of two a week and clean all of them, consistently, once or twice a month now! Today I'm still moving quite slow, a little more unsteady on my feet, and thanks to blood thinners, quite bruised up.

Right hand, shredded nails from cleaning.
 
Left (primarily stroked) hand, how both hands pretty much looked when I started cleaning yesterday.
 
 
 
I am hoping to launch a drive, likely this next week, to gain more followers for this blog so that numbers are better before I talk to a publisher. Be on the lookout for a giveaway and be sure to spread the word! :) I already have the prize ready to go, so this should be fun! :)

 

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9, KJV)

 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Butterflies and Battle Boots


Several year before my strokes, I was preparing for a speaking engagement where I was giving each guest a small, pink, heart-shaped soap, imprinted with the word "HOPE." I remember a friend (Hi Fawn!) talking with me about how important it was for speakers to develop a trademark, a signature item that people easily associated with their topics and with the individual person and their unique message God gave them to share. I was frustrated that I hadn't yet found that key symbol that captured my heart.

http://strokeofgrace.blogspot.com/2013/04/why-i-wear-combat-boots.html

Now I think I have found a couple of "trademarks," my signature items.  These won't surprise anyone who knows me well, or long-time blog followers, but I need to put these thoughts down somewhere, collect several images that have already been scattered throughout my blog, all in one place (as I have already started to do with my new butterfly label), even if you don't really need to read them. (Today's videos are posted near the end of this post, if that's what you are looking for.)  In case you are wondering what I might like my book cover to look like, that's really up to the publisher, but if I can offer input here are my thoughts on the topic.


http://strokeofgrace.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_9.html
From my near death experience page.

Unless I could find some cute combat boot key chains or something like that, I'm not sure how one could really be incorporated into a "platform" when I speak, other than just me wearing them, but the butterflies hold some real potential for creative expression.

As posted on Facebook, along with anonymous quote about stroke recovery:
I am sure you hear the phrase, when will you be the old you again?
I am sure many of us would like to return to the old you.
Then I look at a butterfly and think to myself. That butterfly will never return to the state of a cocoon. No one expects it to. I don't even think the butterfly would think that.
It may not have learned to fly yet, but it is beautiful in its own right.
Once it learns to fly and takes off, there will be no holding it back.
The butterfly would not be what it is, if it wasn't for the larvae, the cocoon, the chrysalis! We will all develop at the stage that is best for us. Not a moment faster, not a moment slower. We will all emerge at some point.
Embrace who we have become.
Learn to love the new you.
There is beauty everywhere, you just need to discovery it.



When I first discovered the above picture of each stage of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, I wrote (in reflection on my 2013 year), "The emotional / spiritual has been hallmarked by an "awakening" this year, finding "me" again, no longer thinking of my post-stroke self as totally disconnected from the "her" I was before the strokes. Borrowing words and a picture posted in my stroke group on Facebook, this picture best illustrates this realization / transformation / embracing of my new self and God's unfolding purpose here." Kendra and I had already spent quite a bit of time talking about stroke recovery being a renewal journey to a new life, like a butterfly trying to emerge from a cocoon and pump life into shriveled wings, so this series of pictures best captures that idea for me.

Kendra's beautiful reminder gift to encourage me along the journey.
  
 
Sorry, blogger keeps locking up and freezing my computer, so I'm having trouble adding pictures.
 

bracelet from Rick, necklace from Kendra
 
 
yellow boots
 
brown, rose boots

Of course butterflies and boots aren't my only symbols, the only items that represent me, the only objects that make me smile. I also love...

hearts and


bears and

 
all kinds of flowers,


especially roses (represent Grace) in my life),

 
my valentine red roses

and babies,
 
and hats.
My hat wall in my closet.
 
I'm sure others could add many more things that I really like (like cats, just don't have a cute picture of a kitten right now), but I guess these would all be sub-themes of images and objects that really tell you about me. Oh, and crosses, of course I love crosses! (But I think that's more God's "hallmark" territory, don't you?)
 


let's talk hands

crawling therapy
 
Flute, day 31

Jumping, Day 96 of 100
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. - 1 Thessalonians 2:4 (New Living Translation)