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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Laundry, Writing, Pain, Stinking Thinking


This video went out to my Facebook.com/StrokieGal followers on the 25th (benefit of following that page!) but I know not all of my blog followers have FB, so here you go. :)


On Monday I shared some writing updates, cross-posted to several other of my blogs, Hannah's Hope (infertility, miscarriage and adoption loss book, published NavPress, 2005), Harvesting Hope from Heartache (book in progress, praying to complete and submit for publication soon), and InfertilityMom (personal updates, primarily motherhood after infertility / loss).


Last week, I talked about the dreaded hospital pain scale and how to use it when chronic pain clouds your perspective. Find these thoughts on my chronic pain/illness blog at Given Me a Thorn.


In my personal life, God's been challenging me to grow in my prayer life and personal relationship with Him. Faith, trust, grace, patience.


I'm really trying to:
and replace my gripes with praise!


Finding the balance between focusing SO MUCH on my eternity that I cannot embrace the here and now, and trying so intently to be fully present in each moment of this life that I easily get bogged down in the struggles and sorrows, is an ongoing balancing act for my soul. 


My focus verses in this area are Philippians 4:8 


and Colossians 3:2.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Real Time, TN, Prayers for a Friend


I'm proud of myself. Recently, I've managed lots of short, single-topic post, consistently posted to this blog, quite an accomplishment for someone who prefers to randomly, sporadically posts lengthy and multi-topic entries. I've managed this via prayer, self discipline (to stick to single topics), and the Blogger post scheduling feature (write a bunch of short posts at one time, then schedule them out 2-3 posts per week, for the next couple of weeks).


The only part I don't like about blog posting this way, is a slight damper on the "real time" feel of this blog. By the time something post, I may have written it two weeks back. It's a fresh post for you, but "old" news to me already! I'm generally willing to make this slight compromise if it means a more consistent, readable, inviting blog, however there are some days, like today, I just need to record things as they happen...


So in my best announcer voice....

Of course, I would have a PINK microphone!

I interrupt my regularly scheduled posting to bring you this breaking news. (Not that it is overly exciting, just that it is actually happening right now. )


I posted to Facebook a couple days ago (that is still real time chronicalling of my life, except for these blog re-posts that automatically link there within usually 12 hours of whenever they are scheduled to go live at www.StrokeOfGrace.blogspot.com ),  that my kids has all had a virus and I was managing to avoid it surprisingly well (thank you God, for Vaycyte, the antiviral drug I take for CSF, activated charcole, and mega doses of vitamin C) other than a badly swollen glad behind my left (more deaf, deeply-stroke-impacted, multiple surgeries) ear, the inflamation causing both my TMJ (jaw joint) and TN (facial nerves) to not be playing nice, at the same time. Neither are as horrid as they have ever been, but to both be this angry at once is no fun. This affects chewing, sneezing, yawning, talking, even looking out my left eye.


They, yesterday afternoon I took one of the nastier falls I've taken post-stroke. It was purely a balance issue and I couldn't recover in time. No horrid bruises or scrapes to post, and no broken bones (I really wasn't sure about that at first!), but I'm sore enough to be taking a "jammy day" and not bothering to get dressed today. I think I will try a shower after the kids get home from school (so someone else is in the house for safety reasons), but otherwise I'm just trying to drink a lot of extra liquid and sleep a fair chunk of the day.


I did take the one prescription pain medication I am least allergic to yesterday, a couple hours after my fall, along with benadryl. I was in bed for the night by 8pm with only a few hives. I woke up in the night needing more benadryl, but in more tolerable pain levels. Today I am certainly still sore, but can turn my head each direction and raise both arms to shoulder level again. By about an hour after the fall, I ached from toes to face yesterday, so badly I could not move and my sweet hubby fixed dinner for the family after a long work day, then brought it to me in the recliner!


Today, the biggest issue seems to be a "pulled" sore back, and more facial pain than I had before the fall. The left side of my face was really bad last night since my neck was so angry and pressing on all kinds of muscles and joints, causing migraine symptoms in addition to all the rest. It is still worse than pre-fall, but so much better than last night! I'm so thankful for this progress as I was anticipating a much longer stink of the more intense stuff. Thank you, Lord!


Today, as tension has eased in my neck, my headache has dramatically lessened, as has some of the a-typical or type-2 trigeminal nerve pain over there on the left.  But to my unhappy discovery, the RIGHT side of my face, the side that has only ever given me those lightning bolt sudden shots of type-1 TN pain, where it feels momentarily like my jaw has just come unhinged and is being ripped of my face, has decided to join the type-2 party of less-intense, yet constant, throbbing.


A quick second topic I'm throwing onto this post. Please be in prayer for my friend C. who used to live in Reno and now lives in southern Nevada.  I have spoken of her in the past, that we were apparently pre-stroke friends, but I have no memories of her. After the strokes, I kept seeing her name pop up in comments on my Facebook page and finally contacted her to see who she was! We ended up doing several things together after that and she was the first to buy some of our homeschooling curriculum (at a younger level than my kids would need to use again) before I even made the decision to retire.


Bottom line, less than a week ago, C. had a chiropractic neck adjustment. She had them many times before, but this one just "felt different" and she knew something was wrong with her body right away. Though her symptoms were initially at "stop to buy an ice pack on the way home" level, and she never had the drastically severe onset of symptoms I experienced, she has been in and one of the emergency room ever since, with a suspected artery dissection and possible stroke of her own. Since a full-blown catastrophic event has been documented to take place up to 30 days (some suspect even up to 3 or 6 months!) after arterial injury via neck manipulation, please pray for both C. and her doctors to have wisdom, figure out exactly what's going on right now and how to best treat her, and for C. to have protection from any further complications like a full-blow, debilitating stroke! To say this uncertainty for a personal, in-real-life friend is rather disconcerting, would be an understatement! Please pray.



Monday, August 29, 2016

As a Man Thinks...

First, please allow me to congratulate my parents on 51 years of marriage, today! Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!


I've been rather fascinated exploring various brain videos.


Right now I am particularly intrigued by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian neuroscientist with more than two decades of experience in understanding, and sharing, how science is finally catching up with proving what the Bible has to say about our thoughts.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Vulcan Peace and Jewish Blessing

Sorry this posted a week early. I'm still trying to figure out saving drafts, sceduling, and all that fun technical stuff of blogging.

Did you know that the Vulcan Peace sign is actually a symbol of Jewish blessing? Read this Washington post interview with Spock actor, Leonard Nimoy to learn why he choose to letter Shin, used in Yiddish prayer, to bless folks with the phrase, "Live long and prosper."


I've been trying to reclaim the ability to make this symbol. For a long time I couldn't manage it with either hand.

A couple years back I got my right (less stroked, dominant) hand able to manage the sign again.


I'm still working on my left.

I can get my middle and index fingers to stand up straight and stick together.


My thumb even sort of corporates! And the pain that was rather constant and quite intense in the thumb for years (hand video from just over 3 years back posted at the end of this blog), had settled way down. Not gone, but much happier!

Now if I can just get my ring finger and pinky to play nice.


Maybe this is silly. Maybe you never have mastered the Shin.

Thing is, I used to be able to do this, and with both hands even.


It is a personal goal to someday be able to do this again.

You would think typing with both hands would feel more important. Actually, I'm pretty happy with single-handed typing now. But remastering two-handed Sign Language is pretty high on my priority list, so if I can get the Vulcan Peace sign down, that should help with the physical ability to do actual Sign Language again too!


June, 2013 (19 months) hand therapy video shows hand recovery at that stage:


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Estimations


I've had two friends this month, who both expressed surprise over my actual abilities in contrast to their estimation of where they thought I actually was.


My online friend had estimated my memory and abilities to be higher than they actually are, until she read a post here that detailed a brain issue she had never realized I dealt with. This explained an area where I had disappointed her. She sent me the sweetest note apologizing for so seriously over-estimating my recovery. If I could cry (lovely stroke issue, inability to cry!) I totally would have. Her words were so sweet, the gift of loving understanding, such a blessing!


My long-time, off-line friend, who has known me since high school, when she came to visit, indicated her relief that I am still (at least, once again) myself, the "me" she has always known, in so very many way. Yes, there are some stroke deficits, but she had been rather scared of who I might be now, how she might react to the changes. "I didn't know what to expect." She was pleasantly surprised, and oh so relieved, to find I am, at heart, totally her beloved sister still. We still laugh at the same inside jokes. We still have the same corny humor. She learned of some physical/ emotional/ mental struggles she hadn't realized, first-hand, while other worst-case issues she thought herself likely to encounter at her first visit since the strokes, are long-since overcome. Overall, she had tried her best to prepare herself for my deficits to still be much more significant, my actual recovery to be far lower, than it is today.


As hard as I try to paint a clear picture of my reality, I guess I am "too close" to my story to really give a crystal-clear explanation. And everyone's perspective is different anyway. Factors like if you knew me pre-stroke or met me after, if we are online friends only or know each other offline as well, if we see each other frequently or only sporadically (a couple of people I only see once or twice a year, always comment on how massive my improvements are since they last saw me, while it is very hard for me to notice changes day over day at this stage of recovery), are all going to color perception.


I will be talking more about perspective and post-stroke realities (specific to the writing journey) on some of my book blogs next week. Stay tuned.

LillaRose.biz/InnerBeauty

In other news...
I've been selected to receive a free subscription to Runner's World Magazine.
The obviously know me and my abilities quite well! LOL



P.S. I'm doing at lot of my posts several days early and setting to auto-post now, in effort to keep blogging more consistently. As this post is going up a day before my month-a-versary, 4 years, 10 months now, I'll count it as my monthly update. My previous post, about butterflies, is more where my heart really is at this landmark though, if you missed it. 


What I wish people knew about me, even now, but very especially those first few years!
What I want strokie friends to consider about those who let us down after our strokes.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Butterfly Frenzie




My daughter claims that if one more butterfly comes into this house, she may have to move out. She says we are inundated. Already saturated.
I don't quite agree.

My very first painting.
It's not colorful, but I've wondered if I might incorporate it into a logo somehow?


I talk more about my logo thoughts at the end of this post. I wonder if this butterfly, posted above and bellow, could serve as a starting point for my logo?
I would love if if he had some pinks/reds and purple in him too! "All the colors," as my friend Caroline says!



She may threaten to run away from home, but when she leaves me notes like this, I'm not too worried of any real danger there. ;)


Over time, I've moved from just home decor to clothing and accessories. (Since I have so many pictures, I'll just put three here, then find them all at the end of the article.)


So why all the butterflies? I talk about that a bit here and you might also enjoy this video (butterfly part starts about 1/2 way into 3 minute interview segments).


Basically, it boils down to these issues for me.

One:



Stroke is vicious, but...

Through God's grace, I have survived the worst of the attack and am now learning to thrive!





Two: 

Since my near-death experience, this world seems dark, dull, devoid of living color. I literally cannot get things bright enough, vivid enough, colorful enough, to meet the soul hunger for what is lacking. Vibrant butterflies, rainbows, sunrises, celestial lights, all ease that ache a little. I guess you could say that butterflies represent a tiny reflection of Heaven for me. (See more attempt to combat thos longing on my Homesick For Heaven board on Pinterest.)



(Not a butterfly pattern, but yep, I really like bright and colorful now. What I'm wearing as I write this post, a six dollar find: )

My hubby know I love color. His gift today:


Three: 

Mostly, why I gravitate toward butterflies is that they are a living example of deepest whole-being transformation. Renewed life. Something that was once resigned to a state of crawling is now a thing of beauty, able to soar far beyond her dark time of confinement. That's who I want to be. Not the person who got caught in dark circumstances and swallowed up there, but the one who could never become who she is without that forced sideline, but who, because of the strength imparted by God alone, leaves that time behind, pumps her wings until they can hold her, then takes to the world in glorious color, beauty and flight, going farther than that crawling caterpillar could ever have dreamed possible!


Becoming the character of a "butterfly" illustrates grace. Butterflies encompass the very concept of my blog name, StrokeOfGrace!









Back side of my business cards.
Front of my cards.
As I look at these three, they all overlap and intertwine quite a bit. Color, change, freedom, brokenness to beauty, grief receding into hope, God's sovereignty and strength, life; simply, it all points to GRACE.  Butterflies speak all of that and more to me. 


So next time you wonder why Kendra and I have adopted butterflies as our stroke recovery symbol (and how convenient that several stroke organizations also use butterflies as stroke survivors' symbol and/or in their logo - see also my post on the lightning bolt), there you go. 



Can't get enough butterflies either? Check out my butterfly Pinterest board and my butterfly fun things collection I've gathered on eBay!
Thanks Shelly at Renewed Daily for this banner!
Feel free to share widely.

Anyone love to do graphics and want to take on a logo attempt for me? (If you missed it, I talked about logo twice in my first set of around-my-house pictures at the top of this post.) 

Maybe something sort of like this does the words right in the design?
I make no promises to use it, but I would love to see some options if you want to play. If I love it, I might use it. I'm looking for something bright, colorful, simple enough to be a single-colored logo if needed, delicate/lacy, possibly incorporating the infinity sign (as the wings???) since this also speaks of God's infinite grace to me, and containing or easily incorporating the word Stroke of Grace.


I love roses too, if that helps with logo ideas. My favorite color is pink and second favorite is teal. If you send me a logo I love enough to use, I'll send you a little gift (likely butterfly themed)! Any takers? My email is StrokieGal AT gmail DOT com.


My butterfly collection:

 
 
 
 
 
 
http://www.lillarose.biz/innerbeauty
http://www.lillarose.biz/innerbeauty
 
 
The story behind this piece.
 
 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
This one's actually my daughter's shirt. She won't wear it because it is both PINK and has BUTTERFLIES!
I'm saving it to do some kind of project (pillow maybe?) with the fabric!
 
 
Soaring Butterfly
Available from LillaRose.biz/InnerBeauty