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. 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 equips you to send any monetary assistance as well, this is a significant added blessing.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Reclaim

It has been a busy start to our new year.


My hubby has given notice at his current place of employment and starts a new job in early February.


Our daughter got braces yesterday. I'm not allowed to post an "after" picture until after she does. She turns 13 on Monday and will be setting up social media accounts that day.


Between now and then, our baby hits double digits tomorrow! Yes, this is the little boy who was only 5 when he nearly lost his Momma!


At the end of last year I send Kendra a little package and proudly included a fairly long (few paragraphs) note. It took me an hour to write and package it all, so I'm still slow, but I wrapped it all by myself and my writing looked fairly nice. Kendra even replied back that my writing no longer even "looked stroked" at all. I know what my writing looked like before and still see evidence of deficit now, but her compliment meant a LOT to me.


Speaking of hands, here's something new I tried this past week, sewing on patches! No where near the skill I had when I hired out to sew military patches onto uniforms, for pay, but I managed to do two patches this week, with two styles on stitches.

 

Kendra's comment about my handwriting also got me thinking. Kendra's more profoundly injured hand is her right, previously dominant hand.  I was/am also right-handed, but my more strongly stroke-impacted hand is my left. She had no choice but to force more life back into her right hand and learn to do a lot of things, like writing, with her left, and does an amazing job at retraining a non-dominant hand! I took a lazier approach and, while I've worked to get large motor use out of that left arm, have been content to learn most fine-motor skills with just my right, typing, peeling a banana, using toilet paper, writing, kitchen work even tying shoes. Yes, writing looks pretty nice again (just slow, ask any checker when I sign a credit card slip!) but I use the hand that's been used since elementary school!


In honor of Kendra, I have taken on coloring this year. The twist? I'm doing an entire, more complex designs coloring book (less the one picture I forgot and was amazed at how well it went until I noticed I had done it all right-handed, the red flower "numbered" with the letter R, for right) with my non-dominant, more profoundly stroke-impacted LEFT hand. 



I am determined to force more fine motor function out of that injured limb, so if I must destroy an entire coloring book in the process, so be it! I certainly could not have had these good of results earlier in the process, but well into my 5th year of recovery, it is time to try.


I have been doing one a day, every day, until the last two days. I've taken a couple days break and plan to get back on track this evening. 


These pictures are TINY (photo comparison with dime and quarter),


The entire book is only 8 or 9 inches tall, yet each picture takes between 20-40 minutes for me to do, depending on size, number of colors used, amount of detail, etc.


I've experience several strange phenomena since setting out on this task...


The first thing I noticed, within the first few days, was a significant uptake in left-handed ataxia, a symptom that has gotten fairly quiet in most instances, over time. Basically, the left hand jerks spastically and uncontrollably, especially when trying to focus on a fine or specific movement.


Over the next few days I noticed much more clumsiness, such as frequent tripping and general mis-step (my husband wanted to know if I was dancing when I was simply trying to take a couple forward steps and did a little jig backward and to the side in trying to gain and keep my balance) and fatigue. Oddest of all, my mouth numbness, that has never fully resolved, grew quite strong again. 


After a couple weeks, I was noticing loss of stamina along with all the rest. I started thinking about early childhood development, how when a young child is learning a new skill, say skipping, a prior skill, maybe numbers, might temporarily regress. Thinking of this, I am thinking all theses "symptoms" are not of concern, but signs that my brain is putting so much energy into wiring and learning to master a new skill that it is taking a little vacation in some other areas right now.


When I got to Jan. 19 and saw my coloring progress and number writing starting to slip too, I knew I was maxing out and needed to take a little break. By not coloring the last couple of nights, my mouth feels more normal-ish sensations again, but I still made the decision to skip physical (water) therapy this morning as both legs were noticeably ataxic.


You can see right hand (5 - 10 minutes) pink flower marked R and why I needed a break by 19.


Thinking of skills changing this month, I think it is possibly that my left ear my, mechanically, be hearing a little more than just a few weeks ago. I specify mechanics because my brain doesn't understand the information transmitted. On several recent occasions I'll "hear" a question or statement "across the room" and not realize it is a conversation intended for me, that someone is actually rather near my left ear and talking to me. The difference seems to be that I wouldn't (I don't think) have heard it at all before, now it is there but seems very distant and impersonal and I don't recognize I should respond if I haven't been looking at the person already. I don't have any idea what to make of this recent change.

Me this week, with my almost-10-year-old.

Speaking of water therapy, I thought you might want to see what I wear.



I felt so very exposed in the traditional style suit shown on the video interview I did just over a year ago, that I made the style change soon after. I have already worn through one suite and was going to wait for a new one until I reached my next weight loss goal, but that suit literally fell apart on me just after the first of the year (two hours of chlorine each week is tough on swimsuits!) so this is my latest.


A friend introduced me to her son last year, an out-of-state pastor. She briefly told him my story when we met. "I've heard of you!" he exclaimed. I'm used to being "known" in the infertility and pregnancy loss worlds, but this was a first in the strokie world. Hmmm. Just hmmmm.

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