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.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Putting Myself Out There

I just took a big step and emailed the women's ministry team of my church. Re-reading, I realize my letter sort of reads like a resume. And so I put up a page just for speaker questions and share my letter here, putting myself officially "back on the market".  (At this time I do not charge a set speaking fee, though welcome your love offering to help provide for family needs and expenses that come about when I'm called away to speak. I also appreciate the opportunity to set up a book table and sell books at your event. My preference is local, Reno, Nevada area, speaking. For out-of-area speaking, I do need transportation, food and lodging provided for both myself and a travel-companion / care-giver as I still am not ready to travel unaccompanied and do not have resources to take on these kinds of travel expenses.)

My name is Jenni, age 43, married to Rick Saake for since 1992, mother of 3 living children (and at least three more waiting for us in Heaven after a decade of infertility including 7 adoption losses and 3 known miscarriages). I am the author of one published book (Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage and Adoption Loss) and have several more manuscripts in the works to seek publication. 

I have spoken to local women's groups at Reno Christian Fellowship, Hope Community Church and Coram Deo (now Mountainside Community Church) and some out-of-state speaking in California and Washington and Texas (I've been invited to Kansas and Colorado as well, but had to decline these invitations), done multiple radio interviews including a Focus on the Family Weekend spot and have done a few television interviews such Family Life of Canada on their Marriage Uncensored show, mostly all on the topic of infertility and loss.

Nearly four years ago, in October 2011 (my kids were 5, 8 and 11 and were home schooled), I went to a chiropractor for neck manipulation due to headache. His adjustment ruptured an artery in my neck and I experienced 2 massive brain bleeds (strokes) right there on the table and was not expected to even make it to the hospital alive. I was unresponsive for 6 hours, during which I had a vivid near death experience, and in ICU for nearly a week, followed by a week in the main neuro unit at Renown, transferred to the rehab hospital, a return to Renown main due to additional strokes and two needed emergency surgeries on Thanksgiving morning, another week of total hospital bed rest, then back to rehab, coming home just before Christmas.

A lot has changed in our lives these past 4 years. Our kids lived with grandparents for 8 months, the new chickens we had just adopted lived in "foster care" for many months, our marriage nearly crumbled due to the severe mental/emotional processing deficits as I slowly re-learned how to manage, we had to enroll our kids in traditional classrooms when they came back home, I was not able to walk at all for nearly a year, I am still without a driver's license, We had to change home church (we have been at SRBC since Feb. 2014) due to neurological needs as far as sound volume (music too loud causes physical pain and makes me throw up, so early service here is just my speed now) and vision issues (those big screens here are SUCH a blessing). I still use a cane or walker outside my own home. Much eyesight is resolved, I have hearing in one ear and have reclaimed large motor function of my left arm. 

I am still slow in mental processing (my last book took me about 10 months to write. I have been working on my current one for about 3 1/2 years now with no end in sight yet) and have done no public speaking since my strokes, but feel my communication skills have improved enough to "put myself back out there" and let you know I'm available if you need me for either a small group or luncheon or whatever. I cannot drive, so need to work out transportation issues if/when/where you ever need me. I am also severely allergic to latex and cannot even be in the same room with tradition rubber balloons. I always want people to know these two things about me when we even start talking about the possibility of speaking anywhere. ;)


So, there it is. Next step. I'm ready and waiting for whatever doors God opens now...

I wanted to see the Super Moon eclipse last week.
This is about what I could see instead.
So here are a few favorite pictures I have seen posted that I have enjoyed instead.
In the meantime, it has been over a week since I posted any kind of update here. My first update actually pre-dates surgery. I never bothered to post it at the time, because I didn't think it had any lasting relevance. I had loaned out my new walker to someone with more urgent and immediate needs than my own. Just before surgery I went online to look around at walkers again, knowing I might really need one after surgery and that if I ended up with two, my mom was starting to need one, so I could give her my extra. I wasn't planning to buy as much as just looking at options.

Over Jerusalem
My all-time favorite shot, photo credit Cathy Croom.
I ended up finding a version of a pink rollator (walker with wheels) I really wanted, that I had never realistically considered before because it was nearly 3 times as expensive as my blue model (different brand, and slightly different style - sturdier but not three times sturdier) in a single box damaged sale, for slightly LESS than I had paid for my blue one! So yes, the day before surgery, my sweet, sassy, beautiful new PINK walker was delivered. I'm debating between the names Bubbles (she is bubble gum colored) and Flower (she is bright and Springy and has a flower-covered seat cover I added, plus this was the name of our first car Rick and I bought together!), for my new wheels. :) A Facebook friend took my cartoon picture I posted here and merged it with a picture of Bubbles/Flower (before I added the basket liner as a seat cover):

Second update. I am still sleeping ALL. THE. TIME. since surgery (23 days ago). For example, Friday night I was in bed by 7:30, slept all night until a little after 9:30 yesterday morning when I got up to have breakfast, was back asleep before 10:30 and slept hard until after two. Could have easily gone back to bed at 4:30, but forced myself to stay up until 7:30 again, when I went to bed bur read/prayed/played on my computer until nearly 10, then soundly slept all night again. I couldn't make it up in time for church but made myself get up (easily could have kept sleeping!) at 9:15 to watch second service online (turns out first service was just over and second service didn't start until 10:45, so I actually could have slept more!). After I post today's blog, I'm planning to go back to bed again. Here's the update I posted to FB this past Tuesday:
Home from post-op appointment. Doctor is very happy with my recovery. In fact, she let me cancel my second scheduled post-op and only come back again if I feel like I need to. She asked how I was doing and didn't even bring up hormones! (I was hoping to avoid added hormones as I really want to starve off new Endometriosis growth.) She supports that I have restarted my Metformin about a week after surgery and agrees that my body seems to need it, as I feel so much better on it. She said come back if I need to see her again, otherwise, I'm good to go. She found surprisingly little Endo but there were a number of spots throughout my abdomen (and she reaffirmed that with this crazy disease you can have LOTs of Endo growth with little pain or little with HUGE pain), including INSIDE my tube, several small cysts (typical of PCO) on my ovary and she said that while there was nothing terribly visibly wrong with my appendix other than incorrect positioning way down in my pelvis (and that the tiny portion they biopsied did not show problems in that one specific area of the organ either), based on my pain level changes I did a "very good job" in knowing my own body and asking for that to be removed! The sharp pain that was back last week is mostly resolving again and it turns out one of the largest areas of Endometriosis removal was right on that ligament, so it likely was post-op pain that was happening last week! I can resume regular activities in another month. My incisions are healing well . When she walked in the room, her first comment was that I looked perky and that I "did not look like I had just had major surgery." When I told her how crazy-much I'm still sleeping, she replied, "Good! More energy for healing!" (Not really the response I wanted! tongue emoticon )

Next item to share, our daughter stayed home from school on Friday. Wanting to help her feel better, I got creative and did a fancy job with her bowl of oatmeal, home cooked steal cut oats with strawberries, sprinkles of cinnamon and cloves, garnished with cinnamon sticks, served in a fancy flower-shaped bowl. I wasn't trying to work hard at cooking or put all this thought into fancy plating. I was just being a mom, trying to bring a smile to my sweet girl who felt rotten. And you know what? I not only did a good job with a great outcome, I really ENJOYED myself! It caught me totally off guard to try have fun, bring delight to my heart, by cooking and serving what I made, the very first time I have felt such pleasure related to serving food, since my strokes!!!

I'm reading an amazing book right now. (Inspired by the movie War Room that I hopefully get to go see with some ladies from Bible study on Tuesday!) It is called Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer. I want to read large passages aloud to about 30 different people - it is that good!http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/1433688670… If you are a Kindle reader, it is $7.99 for that device. 

So very thankful Rick Saake's answer to this was/is Yes! It is an easy decision to make, fine words to say, before the reality of brain injury (major mental, emotional AND physical hurdles to overcome DAILY) but he has stuck out nearly 4 years now and I am ever-so-thankful for his faithfulness through strain, stress and pain we could never have begun to truly grasp until it was upon us!

From last Sunday:
We missed church today. Got up, ready, and even into the church parking lot, only to see someone carrying balloons into the church. (I am HIGHLY reactive to LATEX and even going into a room that has balloons in it could send me to a hospital via ambulance!) Our student driver didn't even get to park. Rick simply said, "We are not going in there!" and directed him right through the parking lot and back onto the main road. 

I was disappointed as I haven't been out of the house in a week, but just getting up and ready, a quick stop for bagels on the way, then picking up a couple items from the store on our way home, I came home (back home by 9:30!) and slept HARD for over 2 hours! (Sad that I slept right through the internet feed of our services so I didn't even get to see those!)
Guess I'm not bounced back much from surgery yet. Counting it God's grace that we pulled into the parking lot at the exact time the balloons were being tak
en into the building so I didn't encounter another allergic reaction in my already stressed body!
‪#‎MyInvisibleFight‬ ‪#‎InvisibleFight‬ ‪#‎IIWK‬ ‪#‎IIWK15‬ ‪#‎LatexAlergy‬‪#‎WhenBalloonsAreScary‬ ‪#‎CrazyBody‬

I am posting further details over on my Given Me A Thorn blog if you want more details about my latex issues.

Last week I had 3 days in a row of scarily, badly choking on my own saliva again. Thankfully that issue is improving again!


1 comment:

  1. love you so very much, you are my hero. keeping you in my prayers.