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...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Three Steps

Another month gone by. 1/3 of the way through the year.

Kendra!
This past month marked Kendra's 3 year stroke-a-versary (on tax day!), followed 10 days later (last Saturday - yes I was very aware of the significance of that date, no I did not choose to post at the time) by my 3 1/2 year mark. When we were counting stroke recovery in days, weeks and even months, that 5 1/2ish month span in our recoveries seemed so significant. Now that we are both marking off YEARS, I just keep it simple and say we stroked about 6 months apart!



After over a month of TRYING so very hard to adjust and make them work, including an extra adjustment and training session by the ophthalmology office a couple weeks back, I am throwing in the towel and deciding I no longer want to keep fighting to strive to make my stroke brain accept bifocals that just make me feel horrid! Today I took them back, activated my warranty, and asked for a new pair in my single vision (distance) prescription. While I was at it I picked new frames as this whole bifocals experience has been unhappy and I wanted a fresh start in every way! My new eyes should be here in a week. OTC readers work for my up close needs so now I just have to carry a pair in my purse and have readers stationed by my chair, headboard, cookbooks, etc. Rick bought me an ADORABLE 4-pack this past weekend.  I'm excited and so very, very relieved!

Jesus in me!
Within the past few days I've had several opportunities to talk with folks about my remaining stroke deficits. To list them all out, there really are still many! But compared to where I started, even where I still was a year or two back, just wow! When I talk about hearing loss, or weight gain, or balance and dizziness that make thing like adjusting to new glasses particularly challenging, or nerve pain conditions, or when I can't pick up something I try to grasp (or let go of!) with my left hand, or face the ongoing cognitive stuff like inability to process thought quickly enough to safely drive, or pick up my cane to step out of the house, or slip my medic alert necklace on each morning, or any other inconvenience like that, it is so helpful to remember all I CAN do now. I've been surprise to hear (and realize that's really how I feel) words coming out of my mouth about how I should be dead, or in a nursing home, or at least never walking, and how my eye was crossed and paralyzed next to my nose for months causing severe double vision, and how these issues now are just mild irritations compared to my prognosis! "It is what it is." or "I think I'm doing pretty good!" are words I've found myself saying to stunned friends a lot recently.


The smallest things can make my remember, flash back, but usually now not in a negative way, but with awe, amazement, thanksgiving for all I can do now. Picking up a full gallon of milk still reminds me of when even my "good" right hand didn't have enough strength to do that at all. Kendra, today, I sort of managed to get my hair up in a Lilla Rose bun successfully, all by myself! It last all of 5 minutes (fell down just as I was taking pictures to show you!), so obviously not a great job, but I did it! (Just mastered a high pony tail for the first time last week!) For all of those month when simple brushing brought pain tears to my eyes because my head was so sensitive and I could not get my arms high enough to work with hair on top of my own head, these are victories, ongoing gains that make me thankful! I have yet acquire the stamina to vacuum my entire house in one day, but getting through an entire room, staying balanced enough to push that machine back and forth across the carpet in a room, still makes me feel accomplish and rather awe struck that I have regained such capacity.


The single trigger for the most common flood of memories comes when I stand in my own kitchen. "Simple" acts like reaching down into a lower cabinet to retrieve a pot (I had neither the strength, balance, nor flexibility for a year or more), taking the three steps needed to cross over to my sink (this wasn't possible at all for so long, then it was a season of holding onto the counter with both hands and flinging myself across that gap, praying I could get a steady hold on the kitchen island before my legs buckled), turning on the water (sometimes I even manage this with my left, more profoundly stroke-damaged hand now!), turning around (a huge challenge!), carrying a full pot of water back across those three steps (with both hands, I can lift it, hold it, and typically even move it without spilling much - when I started relearning this task, half of the contents of the pot would be sloshed out on the floor by step 2), turning on the stove (fire was a big no-no in the beginning!), and boil a pot of water! I need to call someone else to carry it back to the sink once it has reached boiling temperature, but how amazing to get this far! If you had told me way back that I would someday stand there in retaliative confidence and steadiness, I would have thought you were crazy! And to be able to do the rest too? Words are inadequate to describe the change!


In Acts 9 there is the story of Tabitha/Dorcas. She was an early believer in Jesus, know for her goodness toward others (remind me of my dear Kathy who still comes to help me so often!), but became ill and died. Jesus, through the Apostle Peter, ordered her back to life. Personally, I wish I could read more about the whole experience and aftermath from Dorcas' perspective, but God's perspective reads that she still had more to do for Him. In dying and coming back to life, part of that mission was to bring many to Himself, through her story. That is my prayer for my strokes, that Jesus be glorified and folk seek personal relationship with Him because of all he has done through me!


On top of the stroke stuff, I seem to have picked up at least two different nasty and heavy-duty viruses this spring, triggering the reactivation of ME/CFS (previously known as Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome), that I battled for over 20 years but has been in remission since before my strokes. I haven't said anything here yet because I hoped this relapse would be short-lived and not worth mention. Plus, putting it is writing "makes it real" and I can no longer pretend it is not real. It has gone on long enough, I have enough medical confirmation and symptoms, that it looks like we are in for another battle. I have been on anti-viral medications for a few weeks now (out of an anticipated 6 month course of treatment) and, other than needing mega amounts of sleep, think the medicine may actually be helping a bit already!


- I just lost 3 additional paragraphs I had written and my computer didn't save here. Typically, I would rather write than sleep and often give up sleep to finish a writing project. Today my body DEMANDED a two-hour nap rather than trying to recompose what I lost. I'm sad, but simply don't have the mental clarity to get those thought put together again. :( -




I was in and out of the local emergency room for tummy pain (that may or may not be related to these viruses), my appendix, the ovarian cysts they found on my stroked side that could have been referring pain to my "good" side, some combination of any/all of the above, or something else not yet discovered,  (no one is totally sure), twice within 3 1/2 weeks, but am on day 5 of a realitiely pain-free or at least low-tummy-pain streak. Still don't know the reasons, but today I am pleased with the outcome right now! My next regular doctor's appointment is scheduled for about the 3rd week of may, so that if it is a recurrent feminine issue, we hope to catch it cyclically. Because of the internal stroke paralysis, I do not seem capable of properly transmitting pain signals, so I am leaving my doctors with quite the guessing game right now!


 

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