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.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

3 years, 4 months (almost)

Here's a beautiful picture taken this winter in Missouri by my friend Ruth Ann Dozier Branham. Sharing just because it is beautiful and makes me happy:

On one of my stroke support groups there was recently this chart posted:

I replied with, "3.5 here - I do walk with a cane for stability any time I leave the house, but I technically CAN walk (bounce off my own walls anyway) around my house without any help now. I can attend to pretty much all bodily needs on my own now though. Started at a 5.99, was a 5 for a few months, and was still a 4 or 4+ until a year or year and a half out!" 


I don't do family finances. I still sit, or very occasionally stand with grab bars, to shower. I cut 6 inches off my hair last month as it was to the point of not being able to care for it myself at all. I don't have a driver's license. But I CAN now plan and execute basic meals most nights, organize family schedules and health care needs, get myself safely in and out of the shower on my own, work on writing and VERY SLOWLY preparing a book manuscript for publication, stand safely at a hot stove to cook, execute fairly responsible sharp knife skills, carry a cup of water across the room without usually spilling (too much anyway), sort, wash and and wad (true folding is still rather hopeless) laundry, sing with about 80% accuracy of range, as long as I keep the tone and volume low, care for myself and children for extended time periods and without supervision, and so much more. As Kendra and I sometimes remind ourselves, "Not bad for a dead person!"


There was talk on the group about how this chart only seemed to address physical function. To several friends who are predominantly dealing with mental and/or emotional deficits, I wrote,"the cognitive and emotional battle is EVERY BIT as challenging as the physical one! If you had to give yourself a cognitive number from 0-6, where are you today? Where have you come from? How long has it been? I just said last week (using different scale than this) that I feel I am back to nearly 80% physically and about 70% emotionally/mentally now."

Out on the town, with friends, last September. I'm in the hat and holding the cane.
A rare unsupervised outing, though I still had to ask for a ride.
Talk continued on that thread, eventually hitting on people using the cadicapped parking stalls and restrooms when they don't need them. Right or wrong, this was my input on the bathroom issue: " I try to give grace to those who keep my legs crossed while I wait for them to get out of the one toilet stall I can use (not needed for size, but I DO need the hand rails still!) for four reasons: 

1. Before strokes, I used to fairly exclusively use the big stalls if I didn't immediately see anyone in need, due to truly severe claustrophobia. No I didn't "need" them physically, but I felt truly panicky in the smaller ones, like I couldn't breathe! 

2. There are LOTS of people living with chronic pain and/or other disabilities that aren't readily visable. Just because they aren't in a chair doesn't mean they were not in need of that stall too. Looks can be deceiving. Unless I know the details of their story, I can't presume! 

3. Sometimes people just don't think - it is not out of intent to hurt another, it just didn't occur to 
them. I've gotten to the point that if someone offers me an open stall because they see I'm waiting, in a normal volume of voice I just say sweetly, "No thank you. You go right ahead. I'm waiting for the big stall because I need the hand rails." This let's the person in the big stall know I'm waiting (except for the other day when I waited a LONG time and the user nearly smashed me with the door as she flug it open to come out - had her earbuds it while using that stall as a changing room) without being rude, and gives some education, something to think about, for all that might be in the room at that point (especially if I have to turn down empty stalls several times before I get to go in). 

And 4. I eventually might ditch my cane but still need the stability of those rails someday and then I would suddenly become the seemingly fine looking person who was taking up someone else's potty spot. With a cane, it sure would be nice if the smaller stalls that can't fit a chair still had rails so I wasn't taking the wide spot, but as most don't, that's what I still need to use." At this point, I would gladly take small stall claustrophobia if it mean I wasn't taking the big stall away from someone who might need it more than I did. After enough MRIs, those regular sized stall look absolutely mammoth now.


This in no way negates the fact that if someone is in a wheel chair they have absolutely NO OTHER OPTION than the handicapped stall, so I would ask that if just choose the big stall for no particular reason, please think about your other options. It is just my perspective from both the NEED and the pre-stroke side that helps me try to understand the choices of others. Also, a mom with little kids usually needs the big stall too, in order to change a dipper, fit a stroller and/or keep her toddlers in sight! As I've gained fairly regular bladder control, waiting is much less of an issue now than it was a year or two ago, but I still wish bathroom designers took the time to design their bathroom with infant changing tables NOT taking up the one and only wheel chair accessible stall in a public restroom! Another tip for public restroom designers, put handrails in more stall while you are moving the baby changing station out of the handicapped stall, please.


December, 2011, not quite 2 months post stroke

Picture, Sept. 2014, about a month shy of 3 years.
Handwriting, February, 2015, 3 years, 3 1/2 months after first strokes.
January, 2015
Taken "mirror image" with my webcam. so my left (more stroked side) is actually on your left in this picture.
As you can tell, my face was never terribly stroked-looking (my eye sure was!) but, while it is a day-to-day thing (the January picture was a particularly good day) there does to gain facial improvement as well as all the rest. It is still a week before my 40 month mark, but as this post is primarily a progress report, I am going to call it my 3 year, 4 month update.

1 comment:

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