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...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Scales War and Jacket Armor

A few times you have heard me bemoan the fact that I just brought a brand new jacket to celebrate weight loss, a week before my strokes. I had just intentionally worked hard and lost 40 pounds. I bought myself a burgundy-toned, brown, fitted, leather jacket on an amazing sale, just $1 for every pound I had conquered to make it to my healthy, perfect goal weight in early or mid October of 2011.


Then I stroked. October 25, 2011.


I spent the next two months in a hospital bed and had no need of a coat that whole time. My arm was incapable of managing a coat sleeve even if I had wanted to wear one.


Unintentionally, I lost another 15 or 20 pounds over my hospital stay. I looked sickly thin. Brain injury rewiring alone is estimated to demand about 5,000 calories a day. Add a feeding tube, liquid only diet, then soft food and thickened liquids (ICK!) diet, and weight loss is not surprising!


By the time I fought my arm into my beloved leather jacket the next spring (2012_, it hung limply on my skeletal frame. I sobbed. (Yes, this is when I could still cry, could not make it through a single post-stroke day without rivers of tears!)


When weather beckoned it back into my attention the following spring, the jacket was still not a fit, but this time it did not tent an emaciated frame! I was dismayed to learn that not only had multitudes of prayers been answered for me to regain the lost hospital weight, I had far exceeded that goal and was well on my way to recollecting all the battled pre-stroke pounds as well.


Like a yo-yo with many more up swings than drops, I have done war with the scales ever since. According to an old post I found on this blog, I seems I have one been within 10 pounds of getting back to my goal weight at one point. It also seems I have pushed toward the 200 pound mark more than once.


By September of 2015 I posted a very painful and bloated picture where my stomach was distended and actually looked pregnant. I guess that's what a combination of Endometriosis, repeat ovarian cysts, chronic appendicitis, and sluggish (still partially paralyzed) intestines will do to a person.


On September 11, 2015, I had a total hysterectomy, an appendectomy, an Endometriosis clean up, and I totally stopped eating wheat. Yes, I've tried the low/no sugar things before, I've cut back on or cut out all grain, I've tried dairy elimination, with some positives, but never with the absolute resolve of this lifestyle change.


I'm down 20 pounds since September. I'm still totally wheat free and my intestines are working so much better, I've even been able to stop taking stool softeners that were expected to be a constant for the rest of my post-stroke life. I've only had 2 migraines, both times when I slipped up and ingested some wheat. I had also started taking an antiviral medication for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome last year. (It had been a different CFS treatment that had allowed me to drop those original pre-stoke 40 pounds, as my body refused to release pounds without the CSF being managed.)


Drum roll. My jacket FIT for the conference! (And yes, it even comfortably zipped up, though you don't see it in these pictures.) First time I have been able to wear it since the strokes.


I grabbed the jacket out of the closet last minute before my trip and tried it on expecting it not to work. It shocked and delighted me when it was both comfortable and gained my 13-year-old fashionista's nod of approval! I still have another 20 pounds to go until I hit my goal weight again, but I guess the "flat tummy" claims of no-wheat proponents, along with the whole muscle-weighs-more-than-fat idea of my continued body toning through ongoing physical therapy (water aerobics), I am about the SIZE I was before my strokes again now!

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