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.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Heaven Thoughts and Another Surgery Looming?

Sorry I've not been around. Non-stroke health issues... Now I'm on new medication for my symptoms, sleeping a LOT as a result, and for 3 weeks now my appendix can't decide if it wants to get angry enough to come out or if it will settle down and be good. 

My mom played games like this with her appendix for 9 months before it got inflamed enough to show on tests. I have two different friends who did this for 2 years each. My prayer is, if my appendix is going to actually need to come out in the long run, not to spend more weeks or months with off-and-on vomiting and abdominal pain, but get it good and inflamed so they will take it out sooner than later! Of course I'm good with it totally quieting down nicely, right away, too!

Because I've been so sore, often iffy on heading to the ER or not, and nauseated, we haven't been making it to the gym for water therapy very consistently. With regular colds and such, then all of this hitting, my mom and I had basically a month where we did not go at all. I lost significant function of my left arm during this time (the mobility is technically still there, but the pain when I raise my arm above my head is greatly increased). 

I had been less steady in balance and core strength and my clothes were also fitting tighter, so I was sure I had gained weight over that missed month of gym time. When I got on the scale and was actually DOWN a pound, I chalked the loss up to all my vomiting. Then after a week back at the gym (where I could only achieve about 3/4 of what I could do the month before), my clothes were fitting more comfortably again but I had GAINED back that pound! Guessing it was lost muscle mass from missing that month.

We didn't make it to the gym again this morning as I threw up overnight and have been in pretty high pain for 2 days in a row now. One of my biggest nightmares at the moment is throwing up IN the pool, as I have so little warning nor control of this bodily function since the strokes. Not only nastily disgusting for myself and all other participants of the class, a horrid inconvenience and added expense for the gym management, this would just be beyond mortifying to me personally. If I didn't get banned from the pool, I doubt I could ever show my face there again anyway! So when my tummy is this iffy, I simply cannot go!

I still am not too steady on my feet. I almost took bad falls at church twice yesterday and even when I didn't feel like I would fall, my hubby asked what was wrong because I was holding his arm like a vice grip. I don't know if this is still payment for lost therapy days (probably), a reaction to abdominal pain, or some combination of the two. I dread thinking about what recovery will take if I am down in a hospital bed for a few days in the near future. Yes, I have had several surgeries since stroke (7 I think, but would have to go look that up to be sure) but some of those I was still in the hospital or a wheel chair. I think all but one (maybe that kidney stone one too?) still in formal therapy to aid in the recovery process, and none entered into when I already feel so weakened and run down ahead of time.

On the glasses front, I had a wonderful lady help me re-adjust them and really take her time to do some training with me a help me address some of my issues. I am much happier with them than I was, but still not adjusting to the bifocal thing well. I am thinking of simply ordering my perscription in distance glasses (either just sunglasses, or even regular clear glass with photo-chromatic tint) and just carry readers in my purse for up close. My eyes keep hitting that blurry line between the two lenses and it causes vertigo and stroke symptoms to kick into high gear. Just not a workable situation, so typically I end up not wearing them when I should, squinting and getting head aches. I found some adorable butterfly frames I'm hoping to order after my next book royalties come next quarter. I started out thinking this would be an inexpensive option, but by the time they custom fit them to my face (my face is too small for their standard) and I do the sun tint option and all, Ill be up to about $70 or so anyway. So much for the "$10 glasses" solution I started out thinking I could do! But these butterflies are cute!

Here's the mock up of about what they should pretty much look like on me:

I've been thinking lately of my Heaven experience. I find this memory often makes me so very sad, wistful, longing, aching, grieving for what I cannot have. Last week, God used a familiar passage in Romans 8 to confirm to me that I am right where He wants me right now (neither death NOR LIFE separates us from God). 

Even so, yesterday in church they were singing hymns about the glory of Heaven and I was so overcome with memories that I wanted to SOB (but cannot cry thanks to broken emotions) and simply could not open my mouth to sing. I asked God why such a beautiful, powerful, majestic experience would leave me so hurting, in such anguish, and He told me two things. First of all, the human brain is not wired, prepared to process such immensity. It isn't a matter of "stroke brain" that makes this beyond my grasp, but No mind has conceived of the wonderful thinks He has in store for me. This is beyond my capability to fathom, to process, and that is OK. It is how He designed me. When I get there, I will be capable, but as long as He has me here, that's not something I need to wrestle with grasping.

Secondly, God challenged me, that when my memories do wander there, rather than focusing on myself, what I want, what I am missing out on,what I am lacking here on earth, I should instead be focusing tangibly, fully on Him. When I feel overwhelmed and awed, it is the Lord who is the inspiration behind my wonder, the Person, rather than the place. My Divine Lord, Deity rather than the destination I'm trying to recreate in my mind's eye. I can't not reflect and remember, nor do I wish too. I think speculation is a healthy part of what God does intend for me to process. Learning to transition my thoughts from where to Who will be a process. But simply at that realization yesterday, I could tell the sorrow was lifting, being replaced in my heart with His glory and grace.

It is not like there are an abundance of people who can talk me through this process. Many who claim near death experiences, while perhaps quite viable experiences in their realities, without getting to personally know them deeply, I would be unsure of their spiritual grounding to help me without leading me astray. The greatest theologians in history, without personally experiencing this path, might not merit my respect on the topic of living here after glimpsing There. I think often of people like Jarius' daughter or Lazarus or other Christ brought back to life and wish we knew more about their lives in the aftermath. Thankfully, though no human counselor seems capable of touching these thoughts, I am clinging to the Wonderful Counselor to walk me each step of the way. I falter and stumble, more often with my heart than even my body, but He continues to gently lead.


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