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, September 19, 2015

Strokie Does Menopause

I realize that much of this is not directly stroke-related, but as stroke seems to color aspects of everything else in my life, and because you all have been such fantastic prayer warriors, I have opted to add the update on my past week of surgery recovery here. (I wrote an entire story about the 30 years that led up to needing this surgery at http://hannahshopebook.blogspot.com/2015/09/invisiblefight-myinvisiblefight-iiwk.html .) I will basically just copy/paste the various times/dates I have been adding brief updates to FaceBook all week:

Friday, Sept 11, just after 4:30pm. my hubby wrote:
She's in recovery, had a reaction to the anesthesia, but surgeries both happened as expected.
About the reaction, later that night he replied in comments:
...we know what caused it, and are a little upset, since it was a medicine that is not only documented in her charts, but we actually talked to the anesthesiologist about, and he said he would find something else to give her. I am going to request all the documentation fir the surgery, and find out why he gave it to her.
Sept 12, before 7am Saturday, Rick wrote:
Jenni did pretty well through the night, still had some rashing from the morphine that they gave her for the surgery. Jenni's mom is coming over to watch her, so I can take [our son] to his school's Saturday session's this morning.
Thank you Rick Saake! 
Marriage is hard and when one or both of the people have a chronic illness it can add a huge extra burden. Today, we honor those of you who have endured the test of time and worked through the hurdles and challenges. #chronicillness #chronicpain #marriage#invisibleillness

Sept 12, early afternoon, I finally posted my own update:
Wow! Realizing my brain is still slow from anesthesia, I've spent over 2 hours trying to catch up on everyone's well wishes and am still not done! AMAZING friends. Thank you!!!
I was in the hospital less than 8 hours, check in to check out. Pastor Joe, of South Reno Baptist Church, was waiting for us when we got there and prayed with us before check in. (He offered to help with the surgery too, and while I told him I was glad he knew my Designer, I declined his offer when I found out he wanted to be sure my parts were labeled in there. wink emoticon )
Great news, I was already in far less internal pain by the recovery room than I had been in prior to surgery. I have 4, 2-3 inch incisions where the robot arms did their thing and they each have big purple/green bruises around them, but that is my most painful part now! Yes, I feel "tender" inside and a little swollen from them cutting around inside, but nothing like the pre-surgery pain that's been more on than off since Aplir.
They did NOT find a hernia and found surprisingly little Endometriosis growth (mostly only on that left ovary they were taking out anyway). They did say my cervix was unusually long and high up into my pelvis. They also said that while my appendix did not have visible endometriosis growth on it (pathology report may find microscopic growth) and looked relatively "normal" for the most part, it had a few areas that looked odd and was also unusually low, way down lower into my pelvis than normal position should have been, and sort of folded back on itself. The consensuses is that this was likely the primary source of my pain.
I woke up in recovery with my face burning and itching like crazy. This was tremendously more distressing than any post-op pain! I asked for Benadryl and they gave me 12.5mg that didn't begin to touch my itching. A few minutes later they gave me another 12.5. After I fought off the sleepiness of surgery enough to go to the stage 2 recovery room, I was still itching like crazy and got another 25mg of Benadryl.
When they let Rick come see me, my face was still deep red/purplish and a cool washcloth wasn't helping much either, so the nurse called and got permission to give me another 50mg as hives were now forming down my neck and arms and chest too. It was only then we learned I had been given Morphine during surgery, something I have a documented allergy to and had specifically asked my anesthesiologist to avoid! Within about 20 minutes of the second 50mg Benadrl the itching quieted and swelling/redness was down exponentially.
After another 20 minutes itching started to build again. I asked for more Benadryl and they said I would have to stay for several more hours of observation before receiving another dose. We requested discharge, came home (by then it had been about 4 hours since my first dose and I know my body can easily handle 100mg at a time), took another 25mg orally, then finally could relax enough to sleep. I woke up at midnight and 4:30 with worse hives, including entire torso, each time and took Benadry again then, but am managing pain with just Tylonol - as I said, I am in less pain now than I have been for months!
I was hived out again when I woke up just before 8 this morning, so took more Benadryl at 8:30. Today I just feel very tied, drained of energy, itchy and a little sore, but have had absolutely NO nausea (praise the Lord!). I am on total bedrest (up for potty trips) for 48 hours, then light activity for at least 3 weeks.
Thank you for being my friends!
If you have a friend who makes a difference in your#invisiblefight of #chronicillness, a friend who knows about all the complications of your #invisibleillness and who chooses to stick around anyway, share this on your wall, tag them and say THANK YOU! Sometimes our best friends have no idea how much we appreciate them and need them during our #invisiblebattle.#iiwk15 #spoonie #thanksforbeingmyfriend 
(InvisibleIllnessWeek.com will be Sept. 28 - Oct. 4, 2015.)

About an hour later, my mom reported:
She is finishing up some oatmeal, has had chicken broth, an Asian pear, and lots of water. 

Nearly 11am, Sunday, Sept 13, I wrote:
My itching is much improved (not gone, but better) so I skipped my two overnight doses of Benadryl. Took a prescription for pain at 8pm and didn't need Tylenol again until 5am. My airway does not feel swollen, but what was a sore throat yesterday now often just feels like my airway is trying to fold in onn itself, so I'm back on Benadyl this morning. 
 Midafternoon, Sunday, Sept. 13:
Slept much of the day so far. Throat feeling pretty good right now. Tummy feels SO MUCH better. Now that I feel the absence of pain, it is beyond doubt clear that something has been wrong for a long time and this surgery was indeed needed! One of 4 incisions is very sore, but so much better than the internal that has been going on! My face is already all broken out in new zits and I've had my first VERY MILD "hot flash" (just felt like a warm wave washed over me but I've had much worse before seeing an endocrinologist a few years back, so I know this was only a small taste of what is to come). Mostly I feel very cold and am staying snuggled under a blanket. Still a little itchy but Benadryl remains my friend (why I'm sleeping so much I'm sure)!

Noonish, Monday, Sept. 14:
Hives staying down, but come back if I let Benadryl laps too long, so yes, I am staying down because I'm sleepy!:) Mom came down and did a couple loads of laundry and loaded my dish washer this morning as she said she knew I would try to do it myself otherwise and that was not OK. Throat stays open with Benadryl but starts feeling swollen by the end of each dose. Seeing primary care doctor tomorrow so he will change up anything he feels important. Tummy is still SO MUCH better. Only pain is really the one incision at my belly button and that is being controlled with just Tylenol. If it weren't for my throat (combination of having been intubated and then the Morphine reaction) and the belly button and the drained no-energy feeling from Benadryl, I really feel great and think I could be up and about in my flower garden or housework or whatever. SO thankful to have that intense whatever that has been hanging around all these months finally GONE!I
 7:30pm, Tuesday, Sept. 15
Doctor gave me a shot to address my allergic reaction to Friday's surgery Morphine so I don't have to keep living on Benadryl round the clock. Head ache from the shot so I'm headed to bed early to see if I can sleep that off. She also wrote a letter saying I may not go back to the gym until the end of October - something about thinking I'm stubborn and would try to go back before my body is truly healed or some crazy idea like that! wink emoticon 
Getting dressed and out of the house for the first time was EXHAUSTING and on the ride home I fought off over-tired tears and told my mom I had no idea what I was going to manage for dinner. She reminded me I didn't have to! Thank you to our amazing Sunday School class from South Reno Baptist Church and the meals you are blessing us with this week - thanks beyond words for this gift!!! heart emoticon

1pm, Wednesday, Sept 16
My Ken-a-log (no idea how to spell it, but that's how it sounds) shot from yesterday seems to be doing the trick. No more itchy or hives, only a few brief instances of sore-ish throat but that always self-resolves relatively quickly, so that could legitimately be still just left over results of intubation and not allergic reaction. 
I have not had to take any Benadryl or Tylenol or other pain medication since yesterday afternoon. I have a just "there," persistent yet dull headache since yesterday that I'm chalking up to either medication rebound and/or hormone changes, but it is not bothersome enough that I feel a need to take anything for it. It feels so good to give my body a break from chemicals! I do sort of still feel "punched in the belly button," but since I have a pink, purple, green, blue and yellow bruise the size of a softball around that incision, I'm not surprised it is still a little tender. Two of the other incisions are barely light brown bruises at all and only itchy, not usually sore. The fourth incision has a huge purple bruise about 6 inches long around it, but surprisingly doesn't hurt much at all. 
I have been wide awake since 3am - don't know if this is a result of hormone changes, stopping Benadryl after taking it around the clock for 4 days straight (like my body is saying this sleeping thing has gone on long enough and since I'm no longer forcing it, it isn't going to anymore!) or the Kenalog (my mom has had one of these shots before and sleeplessness was NOT a side effect for her). I was full of energy all morning (did close my eyes for a combined total of 2 1/2 hours throughout the morning in hopes of trying to get a nap, but was too wide awake and never could get more actual sleep). I'm feeling quite physically drained this afternoon, but now am making an effort to stay awake until bedtime so I can get back on a better sleep schedule tonight.
Noon, Sept. 16, Mom wrote:
I used to pray the Lord would turn her stubbornness toward Him and his works for her to do. He answered so well. PTL

Sept 16, late afternoon, I shared:
I keep waiting for the tears storm everyone tells me is coming to hit hard and it hasn't yet. About 5 times since surgery, I've been sitting in my chair to feel wet running down my cheeks from my eyes, but absolutely no emotions linked to tears. I've had a couple times like yesterday when I was so exhausted that I've felt like tears would bring release but dry eyes with those emotions. Maybe the stroke is a blessing in disguise when it comes to menopause???? I guess it hasn't been long enough to really know yet, just interesting.
Kathy replied: I think the only thing you can count on is that your experience will be like no one else's. 

Sept 16, about 9:45pm:
After a straight 19 hours wide awake, I've taken Benadryl again simply to try to get some sleep! Betty Camp, I did look up Kenalog side effects and both headache and insomnia can be side effects. Thankful hives and breathing issues went away with this cortico-steroid though!
Thursday, Sept 17, 9:30am:
I finally knocked out HARD last night. Still groggy. Only awake because neighbor was pounding on something and doing yard work around 9 this morning. Not sure how much I'll be around today. I initially slep from a bit after 10:30 until only 2:30 and figured I was in trouble again, but I kept my eyes closed, focused on breathing, and told myself stories to keep my mind from wandering and next I knew Rick was getting up for work for the day!

An hour later:
Managed to get the dishwasher loaded! Yard work is quiet now. Quiet plans for the rest of the day! 
 Sept. 17, early afternoon:
Yesterday I felt FANTASTIC, full of energy, low on pain. Went about 20 hours without sleep and flying high! Today is rather a back lash day from the steroid shot two days ago. So TIRED and drained and rather sore today! At least no more allergic reaction though. Laying low physically, but thankful to feel OK in spirit.
 Sept. 17, 4:45pm:
95 minutes of deep, restful, restorative sleep this afternoon!

Sept 17, 7:15pm
Feeling pretty rough tonight. Not exactly sure why. 
 Follow up yesterday morning:  I think I got into some food with MSG last night too. Feeling better today. It was just one more thing for my already taxed body and I didn't do so well for a few hours there!

Friday, Sept 18, 2pm
Today is slow, but I feel better than yesterday. Wednesday I felt FANTASTIC after Tuesday evening's steroid shot. Yesterday was rough. Today, I guess I'm probably right about where I should be one week after surgery.
I'm blessed. Today is a pretty good day. Sure could have used this on Thursday!
We have a family member who has had a brutal year. After several surgeries and other intensive medical treatments over the past few months he has needed to be out of state for a prolonged and unanticipated hospitalization, we are praising God that he is back home!!!

I'm beyond thrilled for my friend Shelly Benoit Hendricks. I knew her before her new books were even born in her heart. heart emoticon It has been a joy to watch God unfold this plan. Can't wait to get my copy in the mail. (And here's a hint to be watching my chronic illness blog in coming weeks for a chance to win your own copy too. wink emoticon)

My bay has been pretty low key today. We will see how I'm doing by morning, but I do hope to try church, then possibly even stay for Sunday School tomorrow morning.

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