Update: Stroke of Grace has become In Darkness Sing and has moved to JenniferSaake.com.

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. Stroke of Grace became In Darkness Sing in early 2018 and has moved, along with all five of Jennifer's active blogs, to one location at JenniferSaake.com.

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.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Great Lengths

I have dreaded taking showers this past year. Sometimes the pressure of the water against my skin, especially my head, outright hurts. Sometimes I just get tired of the whole inability-to-stand-for-a-shower thing. Often I am frustrated over the pathetic aid offered by my left hand (though very thankful it can attempt to help at all and it has been awhile since I punched myself hard with that unwieldy club, though I did manage to poke myself in the eye when trying to touch my nose a few weeks ago).

Hair, late October, 2014
Usually, my reluctance to shower has progressively become my hair though, not just care while showering, but the dread of the process after the shower. It leave my discouraged, defeated, frustrated, exhausted. My close friends laugh as I often can put off my "early morning" shower until afternoon...or evening...or even push it out an extra day or two. I dread showers just that much!

French braid attempted selfie.
Spending 2-3 hours per week in a pool, my hair had grown quite damaged. The ends were like velcro. It was 30-60 minutes for my mom or Kathy to brush the tangles out for me, and to the point I simply COULD NOT de-tangle it myself anymore, even if I carefully braided it before a swim. Much too reminiscent of the early months post-stroke, when everything had to be done for me. The hair damage was severe enough that, even once untangled, it would be knotted up again, several times yet that day.

You may know how much long hair has been important to me through the years, first as a symbol of defiance against more than two decades of chronic illness, and now a visible measure of my own stroke recovery. My lengths were sacrificed in the hospital, thus the new growth treasured and very sentimental. But between the chemical damage of nearly 2 1/2 years of regular water therapy and, I would think, residual damage of all those strong medications I was on clear back in the hospital and the daily regiment that, while dwindling, remains to this day, I finally had to come to the realization that some length had to go if I were ever to regain my independence in basic hair care again.

Fast forward to today and I must tell youthe last two showers I have taken, I actually didn't dread the process! In fact, on Thursday, my husband asked me if I "enjoyed" my first shower after a hair cut and, after a moment's hesitation, I nodded my head and realized it had actually been pretty good. Great way to start a fresh year!

The difference? I had 4 (sides) to 6 (back) inches of length cut off this week! It still come to my shoulders, but I found it SO much easier to manage myself. Still not "easy" but actually something I could actually accomplish! And my hair feels so much softer and less tangley too!  Praise the Lord!


For those who have asked, I still don't have my cell phone correctly talking to my lap top, so couldn't retrieve pictures off my cell phone until my sweet 11-year-old saved the day by downloading them (in some cases actually taking pictures on her cell phone of the pictures on my cell phone) onto a flash drive from her computer and transferring them over here for me. So, scattered throughout this post, you will find selfies of my french braiding (taken not quite a month ago, when my hair was longer - still need to get a picture of shorter hair in a french braid - something I found much easier to accomplish now that the length is more manageable, but still only if I am in a dark, quiet room with no other mental distractions), then at Wednesday's hair cut and today after I curled it (all my myself)!

It takes a while, but I can now manage steam rollers all by myself, mostly one-handed!
An odd discovery this week is the realization that none of the people closest to my every day life, Rick, my mom, Kathy, realized my world still is constantly spinning, typically in a counter-clockwise direction. To be sure, it is very slow and mild now (except when I move my head too quickly or at a wrong angle like attempting to look back over my own shoulder where my vision is still quite badly doubled, or when I very first sit up in bed and stumble to the restroom each morning) but it is always there, none-the-less. The initially days and weeks and months felt like a wild bucking bronco or the craziest roller coaster ride you have ever imagined.

New hair cut.
I remember just trying to sit upright on the toilet during my second week in the hospital, having to be held upright by both a nurse and my husband, yet still clinging to the hand rail for dear life! It is nothing like that now, more of a very slow, yet constantly-moving, merry-go-round or carousel ride . As long as my world just spins sideways and my horizon doesn't jump vertically (as it did repeatedly and rapidly flip over my head with each stroke) I don't get too uptight about this constant, dizzy motion anymore. I guess it is just so much my "normal" now that I rarely think to mention it, but was surprised to learn that even those closest to me had no idea this remains an issue, so I figured you might not either.

December, 2011. Where I started from in regrowing.
I'm thinking my "word of the year" for 2015 might become SING. I'm still praying, but so far, that's what I'm thinking. Very literal implications too, as I do not yet have my full singing voice back, but it is SO much stronger and has some range, unlike this time 3, even 2, years ago.

O my soul, come, praise the Eternal with all that is in me—body, emotions,mind, and will—every part of who I am— praise His holy name.O my soul, come, praise the Eternal;sing a song from a grateful heart;sing and never forget all the good He has done.’Psalm 103:1-2 VOICE



  1. Girl! I love it. You next goal: wear a flexi clip ;)

  2. Loved reading your post, Jenni, your hair looks lovely. It was also lovely to read that showering is more manageable now too :)

  3. That is a very inspiring entry, for an awe-aspiring blog. To see that that kind of recovery is possible is enough to revive dreams. At least you've been able to reconstitute yourself, enough to build such a strong online persona. I just hope that you are adequately supported online with more readers and more feedback, and offline with further treatments and medical support at your beck and call. Thanks for sharing your story! Continue to be an inspiration!

    Brad Post @ Jan Dils