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, January 30, 2015

39 Month Give-Away

My new hat :)
Almost 1/12th of the way through a new year already! I am happy to report I missed my 39 month anniversary, I didn't even realize it until today, a full five days late! My friend, Becky, shared that this week marked 13 years since the car accident that nearly took her life and left her with traumatic brain injury. She has one of my biggest sources of encouragement back in the hospital and said she believes God left her here to encourage others. I told her I am one of the ones she is here to encourage. So thankful!


My blogs, one by one, are being transitioned to my own domain. I want to get all the others moved over first, work out some glitches, then announce the address here to unveil the new central location when I'm ready to move Stroke Of Grace too. Just getting the first blog transferred has been challenging, a week and a half and we still aren't there yet. So I don't know how "soon" all these changes will take place (I was hoping to have everything done and working well before the end of the month, but that does not look like it is going to happen!), just giving you fair warning that this is the plan and, Lord willing, there could be an announcement here any day now. Your prayers for the transition process are appreciated.

Because of this transition, I do not want to post anything new on the blog we are in the process of working on moving, so though not stroke-related, today I would like to share a little book review and give away. A comment in the comments section (with a working email address so I may contact you for your mailing address if you win) will count as your entry! (Giveaways are only valid in US & Canada.) Facebook, Twitter and other social media shares with #marriagetogether are appreciated too (but won't increase your odds of winning). The winner will be selected around noon (Pacific) this Tuesday, Feb 3, 2015 and have 24 hours to reply to my email before I need to select a replacement winner.

Team Us: Marriage Together offers couples practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in their marriages. Author Ashleigh Slater shares from her own marriage as she presents couples with realistic ideas on how to foster cooperation, deepen commitment, and exercise grace on a daily basis.


About the book:
176 pages / Forward by Dr. Gary Chapman (author of 5 Love Languages)

What are you agreeing to when you say “I do”? When a couple promises “I do,” they agree to more than just a shared last name, a joint bank account, and no more dateless nights. This husband and wife duo forms a new team. “Life together” becomes their mantra. Nothing can come between them. At least, that’s the plan. But then real life sets in. With it come disappointments and frustrations. If the couple isn’t intentional in their day-to-day interactions, that once enthusiastic “we” can slowly revert to “you” and “me.” Before long, the couple’s left wondering what happened to their team spirit. 
 “Finishing your marriage story well is definitely within your reach, no matter what your history tells you.”
Jenni's Thoughts: I enjoyed the light-hearted, honest way Ashileigh Slater tacked some real marriage issues. I especially loved the way she used and explained a little-know sporting event to get this non-sports-loving-gal into the "team spirit" theme of the book. Enjoyable read to add to my marriage tool box. Want your own copy? I'm giving one away, so be sure to leave a comment!
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”



Back to Strokie Stuff:
After a solid week of Central Pain Syndrome (CPS) flared up so badly I could accomplish next to nothing, pretty much only sit in my chair and grit my teeth, I am so very happy to say that it has now been 48 hours for me without much in the way of extraordinary body pain. I had "normal" flu-like aches with a fever yesterday morning and actually giggled and thought, "Oh, that's what "bad pain" is supposed to feel like!" While flu-like pain is accompanied by a limb heaviness and fatigue that I had always believed to be a part of a pain package (it is not, that is the virus or infection itself, I would guess, as much more intense pain can be experienced with the body-zapping fatigue!), the pain itself ranks only about a 6 on my pain scale, truly laughable after the week I had just endured.


As you my recall, I shared last week that our family doctor died of a sudden heart attack last week. :( A huge praise is that God has already opened doors for a new family doctor for us all. We get a group, family appointment to get established Feb. 20! It does nothing about the heartbreak of loosing a friend and amazing, long-time care provider, but what a blessing to have the "now what?" question answered about personal medical care!


Because my blogs are in transition right now, I will share here an update I would normally have posted over at InfertilityMom, something I wrote for a select few prayer warriors last night:
I'm so in awe! While R. is still very sick (3rd full day throwing up, on top of horrid bed-bound cold since Monday) her wrist that was broken nearly 10 months ago and has continued in anguishing pain despite several x-rays, scans, an MRI, therapy and 5 doctors, really upped the pain game this evening. I felt totally helpless, had given her all the medication I could, and the pain just kept building. She was so frustrated she banged her arm into the wall (apparently pretty hard!), felt something "slip" inside and has full use of her hand back and almost no pain now. Praise God! She hasn't used it for most of a year, so the hand is weak and she will have to retrain herself to remember to use it, but just wow! Praise God! She is just glowing with joy and relief, even in the midst of illness.
I will never hear the phrase "hit the wall,"as a term of exasperation, quite the same way again! LOL Her hand continues to feel wonderful this morning, she is using it in ways she has not been able to in nearly a year, and she did not wake up asking for pain medication for the first morning since she fell and apparently dislodged something just enough to cause so much pain (but not enough to show on any scan).  She must have a really high pain threshold too, because the things she was able to push herself to accomplish this past year, even while trying to guard that hand as much as possible, have been pretty amazing! She is the bravest young lady I know.



As far as her "bug" we changed antibiotics from liquid suspension type to pill.  It seems she was reacting to the coloring and/or flavoring in the suspension liquid itself.  She was NOT handling her antibiotic well. Dizzy, lightheaded, so nauseous she feels like the slightest movement (sitting up in bed) would (and often did) make her throw up again. Today she has more energy, hasn't thrown up since midnight, and is more talkative than she has been all week. I'm encouraged. [ETA: Before I got this posted, she did throw up in the shower   but after asking questions,I learned she has had a migraine since Monday, along with everything else! (Poor kid!) When she talked headache, I thought she was referring to pain from her sinus infection. She IS feeling improvement with the rest, but light and sound sensitivity are still triggering vomiting.] After a long, hard week, it seems she has finally taken a turn towards improvement! My boys (and hubby) are all on antibiotics too, one having missed school two days this week, one having missed 4. I think I'm going to tackle changing sheets on at least two beds today - can't imagine even thinking of trying that a year ago! I have a little cough and congestion, was feverish yesterday, but so far seem the least hard-hit of anyone in the family, with the uptake in CPS being my very most disabling symptom.



I was recently asked if there is anything in my world that was NOT impacted by strokes. After some thinking, here's what I came up with.
 I've been trying to think of anything. Every one of my 5 senses was significantly impacted, though have re-gained almost all sight, some hearing, most of my taste buds, some feeling in my body, etc. My marriage nearly crumbled after 19 years, but God is holding us together and we are slowly healing. I still can't drive (it's been just over 3 years) so my mom and I have become very close as she has become my designated driver, getting me to the gym 2x a week and all my doctor's appointments. My kids, whom I had homeschooled before strokes, lived away from home for 8 months and are now home but in traditional classrooms. My faith in God took a beating but ultimately proved itself sure. I've always been strong-willed, but determination came on very fiercely in therapy. So no, I can't think of one single thing in my life not changed by stroke, some for the worse, most ultimately for the better.
Oh, I did think of one area, for me, that had surprisingly little impact, as I expected there would be so much more! My face. Yes, I had initial droop and still a little weakness, but rather than my face "looking stroked", if anything it looked like I had taken botox injections ONLY on the stroked side, as that eye was WIDE open and no wrinkles for a couple of years! Even that is getting less and less preceivable now. I had seen pictures that had me expecting pretty severe and long-lasting (permanent?) facial droop, but never really experienced this too much! I now have one pretty strong wrinkle line about an inch above my left eyebrow that was not there at all before, I think because that's where the "botox injection" paralysis stops and normal facial tone begins to break in again.

 

10 comments:

  1. Julie Donahue contacted via Facebook. Her comment didn't "take" here.

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    1. Julie, you have been contacted to request your mailing address. You are our second draw winner!

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  2. This sounds like a fantastic book, I would love to win and read it!

    heatheranne99 at gmail dot com

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    1. Heather, I'll be emailing you. You were just selected as the winner, via random number draw. :)

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    2. Heather, I've been looking for you email reply. I'm sorry to inform you a second chance winner has now been drawn.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. As a neuropsychologist, I'm so thankful for individuals such as yourself who will write about their experiences to educate and inform others! Keep up the great work!

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    1. Dr Bengtson, here's the emotional process of my story in a nutshell: http://strokeofgrace.blogspot.com/p/never-give-up.html

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  5. Sometimes, the only silver lining we can draw out of such tragedies is how the ensuing struggle can be an inspiration, and how the slow crawl of the victims propel us to betterment. At least, you still have someone to live for. I really admire your positivity amidst everything you're going through, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing your story! I wish you all the best!

    Sabrina Craig @ Medical Attorney NY

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    1. Thank you for your kind wishes, Sabrina. :)

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