Update: The In Darkness Sing blog at JenniferSaake is experiencing prolonged technical issues, so I'm temporarily posting back here on my old Stroke of Grace blog.

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.

Jennifer 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. (Please see above temporary update note above!)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It Does't Pour, It Floods!

What a week and a half at our house. Last week was one of those weeks with 1-3 doctors appointments every day of the week, so already hectic. This post was originally going to be all about how I got my fair pair of bi-focals on Monday and am having trouble adjusting to them because of stroke issues. Instead I'll just say that several people have told me that their first bi-focals took anywhere from three days to a week to adjust to. I'm wondering if this strokie will be able to adjust that quickly. Today is day 3. So far I am loving the improved vision for both distance and close up, but not the every day tasks (like walking, trying to cut food in the kitchen, etc.) in between!

Back to last week... The first child was sent home from school early in the day Wednesday. By that evening the second child was obviously getting sick and I had a sore throat. Thursday Rick came home sick from work (and he never does that, so I knew he was really sick). In the end, 4 out of 5 of us here at my house and both of my parents (remember, I don't drive, so mom is always taking me to appointments) ended up on antibiotics for throat /ear /sinus /upper respiratory infections.

I still can't physically cry at will, so this was profound to me!

Our 12 year old (the one in a sling with a broken elbow) STILL hasn't gotten better (yes in over a week and after a full course of antibiotics), has no voice, running a fever and dragging around the house utterly exhausted. The steroid she was given on Tuesday to try to relax her vocal chords and restore her voice gave her severe pain and hallucinations all night, so that was no fun for any of us, especially when she couldn't tell us what was happening! I can now say I have had an several intense cell phone texting conversations, including standing at her bedside at 3am! Have you crossed that one of your bucket list yet? As of this Wednesday morning, she now has a confirmed case of Mono. It is unknown if the rest of us fought this off (the intensity of my sore throat for several days there makes me think maybe so) or if she had more than one thing, since the rest of us are either better or well on the mend while she remains so sick.

After I spent a few hours in the emergency room this afternoon and underwent a slew of tests my official diagnosis is "abdominal pain of unknown origin" (and yes, they do know about the mono and no this do not seem related). However, while the ER doctor said all my test results looked normal as of right now, he did "not want to encourage" me too much by saying I was not playing with appendicitis. Unless the pain is obviously resolving with the next 48 hour, or if it continues to grow more intense or I start throwing up, I am to come back to ER. My mom says she went into ER 5 times over a 9 month stretch before her white blood count showed appendicitis and they took it out! *sigh* I really, really would prefer not to take after her in this area!

Oh and did I mention that we have an out of state medical trip that has taken months to get worked out, on the schedule for Monday? Thinking that may have to be rescheduled dependent on how everyone is doing by tomorrow!

Yep, pouring rain doesn't quite describe life right now!


Friday, March 20, 2015

It Was NOT My Fault!

Last time I posted, it was with an urgent prayer request. So very, very much has happened since then! First of all, good news, other than some continue jaw, shoulder and general muscle soreness, I seem to have come through that scare quite well. Thank you for praying!

One thing that has intentionally NOT been mentioned here before is that we have spent the past year undergoing some pretty intense medical investigation for one of our children, to the extent of many specialists (both in town and out of state). We learned yesterday that the biggest, most scary, highest mortality, shortest life expectancy issues that were being considered, have now been clearly ruled out. For this, a huge sigh of relief. Ongoing prayer appreciated as we face they "what then" and "what next" questions in this child's care. As you can imagine, between all of our needs and not having a driver's license, this has added quite a stressful added dynamic to my own recovery journey - between the two of us, I now have 27 different doctors speed dialed into my telephone! While stressful to juggle it all, I figured just keeping our medical schedules sorted out has counted toward good brain training and organization skills!!!

Along with this child's long term health picture looking better than we had expected it might, I share this non-stroke-related part of our family's journey because it does have direct baring on my own strokes. Ever since this research odyssey was undertaken a year back, in small measure, a contributing factor to why we landed on this path of investigation in the first place, was directly because of my strokes.

I had been told by many, many Nay-Sayers that a chiropractic neck manipulation could not have possibly been the real and only cause of my strokes. You can only have such information forced upon you so many hundreds of times before you begin to wonder if perhaps they could be right. Maybe my strokes really were, to some extent, my fault, the failure of my own body, thus perhaps I was unjustly giving a particular "good" course of treatment a bad name? While I had also had repeated medical confirmation that I had no known standard stroke risk factors, I heard the propaganda about how "safe" neck manipulation is and how "impossible" what happened to me actually was that, coupled with several other issues our child was facing, I began to really wonder if our circulatory systems held an underlying cause, a non-standard stroke risk factor?

The scariest condition that seemed to fit all symptoms, including vascular fragility, was an inherited condition seen in only 1 in 250,000 children. Ah Ha. Several doctors agreed that, given our family history, including my strokes, this needed to be genetically investigated.

The results are finally in. We do NOT carry this condition. Our circulatory systems are fine. In addition to the overwhelming emotions I am processing for our child, may I say I feel overwhelming relief, personal vindication even? I did NOT stroke because of fragile veins that were going to stroke anyway! My chiropractic accident was exactly that, chiropractor-caused! Our child is not at unusual risk for a similar incident. I did not realize how terribly badly all those challengers had messed with my head, my heart, my perception of motherhood, until we got an "all clear" answer to this question and finally put the doubts to total rest!

I hate the way that an entire profession has worked so hard to shift an accountability from themselves so that victims of chiropractic injury actually are blamed, made to feel responsible! The only responsibility I had for my own strokes is that I willing entered that chiropractic office of my own free will then consented to a "safe" treatment without being aware that there were any such reported incidents or known risks. If you would like to see a change to our legal system so that if anyone strokes at or shortly after a chiropractic neck adjustment, such data is collected and reported somewhere (right now it is not, thus the chiropractic industry continues to maintain the safety of this procedure as there is no statistical evidence being collected anywhere!), please take two minutes to add your name to the petition requesting such a law in the United States!!!  https://www.change.org/p/u-s-house-of-representatives-bill-proposal-mandatory-reporting-of-chiropractic-stroke-vad-cad

In addition, this week has held news that I am getting my first pair of bifocals (not stroke related, just old age!), my overall hormone and other blood tests are looking the best they have in my entire adult life, my hearing had dropped to it's lowest level since my major ear repair surgery in 2012 ("I don't like this at all" was my ENT's commentary), thus a 3rd in-office surgery (tube implant) was preformed. (The Eustachian tube is finally seeming to heal enough from stroke paralysis to properly manage ear pressure once again, but the eardrum itself still maintains enough injury to not be capable of transmitting sound well without assistance.)

Last week I learned that I have three more teeth to repair in my primary chewing side. Those teeth just seem to be literally crumbling away because of the double-duty that is now demanded of them and intense strain that is constantly placed on them from doing about 98% of my eating work. Prior to the strokes, I had only had one cavity in my entire life! Interestingly, my numbish, non-chewing side is the "dirtier" side of my mouth. While I was repeatedly complimented by both the dental hygienist and the dentist of the state of health and cleanliness of my teeth, the hygenist could instantly tell a difference and let me know which side was my numb one because it was not quite as clean nor well-cared-for as the other. I would think that if one side of my mouth were going to have issues it would be the one I apparently can't clean as well, but I guess those teeth get off easy since they rarely get used now.

Every now and then I still stumble across "new" information I haven't seen before. This morning I found the very initial prayer request Rick sent to or church members, early that very first day (before they had even figured out I had stroked). "This is not to create alarm, but to keep everyone informed. Today at about 10:30 Jenni has a seizure after getting a chiropractic treatment. She was brought to the Renown Downtown Hospital, via ambulance, She has been unresponsive, and has had a CT scan, EKG, spinal tap and an MRI. She is now being moved to the ICU, and we will need to wait and see. She has a slew of doctors, all not sure of what she has, so please please pray."
No commentary as I don't really even know how these reminders make me feel. Startled. Rather sick to my tummy. Overwhelmed with thankfulness at the care of family and prayers of friends. Blessed and heartbroken to read the "please please pray" urgency in my husband's voice when he didn't know if he would still have a wife that night or not. Sort of numb...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Immediate Prayer Need

Prayer Need: Likely more emotional/mental than actually physical (I hope!) but I'm a mess today!

Last night, right before dinner time, I was sorting my pills for the coming week when I felt a sneeze coming on strong. Since the strokes, I don't sneeze politely, I spew spit everywhere because I CANNOT keep my mouth shut effectively when I sneeze anymore. I try covering both my nose and my mouth, but this is only semi-helpful...

Kendra, this picture is for you! <3

Knowing a sneeze was coming, I (too) quickly turned my head to the side in effort to protect the pills I was sorting. I turned the same direction that I had when my artery ruptured, just as I very forcefully exploded out a powerful sneeze.

I instantly felt a sharp pain in my neck in the area of my vulnerable, surgically repaired artery stents. I immediately felt panicked and stumbled (yes, my legs weren't working well, likely in fright) my way to the oldest other family member at home at the time, our 12-year-old, to explain what had happened (in case I lost communication ability, I wanted someone to know the details) and give her instruction on taking over dinner prep for her little brother while I went to go lay down. She said my pupils were dilated HUGE (again, I presume a fear response) and uneven (they have responded unevenly to dilation ever since the strokes, so this wasn't a particular area of concern to me).

I have to say, our girl was VERY responsible and took excellent care of me, tucking me in, checking on me every 5 minutes or less, bringing me dinner in bed, coaxing me to eat when I wasn't hungry, then actually sitting with me and refusing to leave my side all evening once she had her brother fed. I felt very well cared for!

I had spoken to my hubby by telephone and really downplayed the situation, telling him everything was fine and our daughter was being overprotective. This wasn't intentionally deceptive, just that I truly was feeling brave at the time we talked. When he got home an hour and a half later, I broke down and admitted I was terrified to go to sleep because, "What if when I wake up I am not me any more?!" I had obviously already escaped an immediate tear and new bleed, but I am still nervous about any damage I may have done that, at any time over the coming days, weeks or even months, could release a new clot into my brain!

Rick prayed with me and God calmed me enough that I could get to sleep, but it was a rough night. Not only did the physical pain at the artery follow me through most of the night, I kept having vivid PTSD flashbacks to various scenes in the hospital, especially the arterial check surgery 6 months AFTER initial surgeries, I'm guessing because I have more vivid memories of this event than the hospital itself.

This morning, my neck feels much better. Now I am dealing with the muscles and nerves I upset in the sneeze itself and/or my tension afterwards. My left shoulder HURTS, seemingly in the very joint itself. In fact, my whole left arm isn't very happy, but that feels like it is just Central Pain Syndrome getting in on the fun. My left jaw and side of face is angry (even my ear) and seems nike a nice little a-typical TN flair. Even the TMJ in my right jaw isn't wanting to be left out. And I've had a mild all-over headache since last night with occasional spikes of migraine-like pain intensity throughout the left hemisphere of my head. My upper back is pretty tense all over.

Basically I share specifics this morning for TWO reasons. First, I need prayer, that my mind will not dwell in a place of fear, that I can praise God that I woke up this morning and am still me, suffered no brain-altering event overnight, and trust God with both my immediate and long-term future. Next, I have been so detailed because, should something new happen, I want loved ones to give this exact documentation to my doctors so that they have a detailed account of how we got there.

And for the one specific critical person who I do NOT have the energy nor patience to deal with today (so PLEASE don't start! If you read this, you know who you are.) how could I say I am afraid of another stroke from a sneeze and also maintain that my first strokes were the result of a chiropractic injury? My explanation there is that people have been known to get artery dissections from sneezes, from turning to look over their shoulders to back a car out of a parking spot, even from getting their hair washed at a salon. If reasons can be as random as that, then why is chiropractic manipulation that forcefully mimics these same motions still practiced? I am where I am today, with two stents artificially embedded into my artery, was hovering over dozens of pills I take as a result of the first injury, even sneezed the exact way I did last night, all because of the arterial dissection. I feel terribly vulnerable to new injury now simply BECAUSE that artery has already been severely compromised by my chiropractic adjustment almost 3 1/2 years ago. Done rambling and defending my position preemptively on this one issue. As you can tell that is a bit of a sore spot.

After reading all this, if anyone feels you have a better grasp on exactly why I am rallying for chiropractic accountability, a petition for a bill to work toward a new law that would simply mandate the reporting and collection of data if someone does stroke within 120 days of a chiropractic neck adjustment (so no, if I stroked from a sneeze now, it would NOT be included in statistics!), please add your name at https://www.change.org/p/u-s-house-of-representatives-bill-proposal-mandatory-reporting-of-chiropractic-stroke-vad-cad so we can get our petition up to 1,000 names and send it off to congress!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Votes and Signatures Needed, Please!

I have been hesitant ask you for action on this video I shared a few days ago, only because I have already been pleading for signatures on a chiropractic accountability petition at https://www.change.org/p/u-s-house-of-representatives-bill-proposal-mandatory-reporting-of-chiropractic-stroke-vad-cad and Do NOT want to distract from that effort. 

If you have already signed there, I would be so pleased if you would also go to my chiropractic stroke story at http://patients.aan.com/neurofilmfestival/index.cfm?event=vote%3Avideo.view&film=727 (rather than YouTube) and very quickly register to "vote" (register your email address, choose a password, then click on the green "vote" button under my video or next to the title "40 Months of Stroke Recovery") for my video, entered at the Neuro Film Festival

You may see an extensive list of video and, sadly, you may only vote once. I would be honored if you please look for "40 Months of Stroke Recovery" and select mine! Fan voting is only open through March 10 and at this writing I have 7 votes (thanks Mom and a few faithful friends!) v/s some people close to 200. I realize my story isn't slick and professionally illustrated, but I am pretty thrilled with what I managed to record given that I "should" be dead today!

Fan voting is open for just a few more days. They will select one winner based on best "film" while fan get a say in best "story". I would so appreciate your time, help and support in this 3-minute effort out of your day! Thank you!!! http://patients.aan.com/neurofilmfestival/index.cfm?event=vote%3Avideo.view&film=727

Friday, March 6, 2015

Glimpses of Normal

Just stumbled across something I posted to Facebook on Feb. 12. Want to be sure I don't loose a record of this!
It is such a blessing to see PLAY, JOY, FUN, SILLINESS, returning to our chronically stressed world after so many years of pure survival mode! heart emoticon It was so fun to watch Rick playing little games with each of our kids as he scraped their car windows for the ride to school this morning. heart emoticon My heart is FULL to overflowing, yet incredibly LIGHT this morning. heart emoticon So blessed by my family, so thankful we are still together after life knocked us down hard and tried to shatter us apart. heart emoticon