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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

5 Years Ago

This post was originally titled, "Living Scary Brave, part one," but I've decided to give each "part" its own title. Part Two is now specifically titled Living Scary Brave.

I was not planning to blog this morning.

My thoughts are too full.

I need to spill out words in order to process.

5 years ago, I was looking for a chiropractor. I had a migraine that was lasting longer than usual.

The day before, I had already seen my own doctor, gotten pain shots, gone to the emergency room, even had a CT that confirmed this was a migraine and nothing wrong with an artery. I was calling every chiropractor on my insurance list, was calling friends and my mom to see who could drive me as I was not sure I was in good shape to drive with that much pain.

One guy that took my insurance had an opening in an hour. I didn't even bother with a shower or changing out of my fuzzy, pink flannel jammies. Mom delivered me to his office where he was the only soul there. No patients, No staff.

We briefly chatted about my medical history and he had me lay down on his treatment table. He commented that I was really tight and, "You are sure hypermobile." (I didn't know that term, but have since learned it is basically is a medical way or noting high levels of flexibility, being "double jointed." I could have told you I've always been very flexible. I had no idea there was any medical significance to this. However, my chiropractor should have known that this was an automatic red light and to not try to adjust me with hypermobility. Multiple first year physical therapy students have since told me that one of the very first things they were taught is "Never adjustment a hypermobile joint!")

He commented on the level of tension in my neck, a result of the stress of intense and prolonged migraine pain.  He encouraged me to yield the full weight of my head into his hands.

He rotated my neck toward the right. Immediately some vertebra "popped" and presumably re-aligned, taking a slight level of tension and pain immediately down a notch.

Then he moved to the other side. When he twisted my neck toward the right wall, nothing happened. "Just relax. Trust me."

He tried a second time, slightly more aggressively and forcefully. Still nothing.

He tried at least a third, then I believe a forth time. My mom thinks she counted six rapid, forceful, rapid neck thrusts on that side. (Keep in mind, he had already noted I was hypermobile, yet seemingly forced my neck a little further than the previous time, with each attempt.)

Finally a LOUD "POP" and pain dramatically diminished (presumably as that pinched nerve, muscle, and/or vertebra finally submitted into place). "Oh, that felt so good. But I am SO DIZZY," I exclaimed.

I grabbed the edge of the table with both hands as I felt certain I would fall to the floor. Within seconds, my left leg involuntarily kicked into the air, then flopped off the table.

My mom, sitting in a chair near my feet, thought I was being silly and lifted my leg back onto the table.

As she moved my left, my left arm, immediately followed by my right, shot out wildly into the air. This event was eventually deemed a pseudo-seizure - looked and acted like a grand mall seizure, but had no true epileptic link.

The doctor, who was momentarily out of the room, came running back and grabbed my head in his hands. "Look at me!" he ordered.

I often wonder what was going through his mind as he looked into my actively stroking face, right as it was happening. I bet he had (maybe still has?) nightmares! I wonder if my face was visibly drooping to one side yet? If he watched my left eye as it crossed and locked into paralysis where it would remain fixed against my nose for the next several months? I likely will never know what he witnessed, but I do wonder!

I tried to look up and saw only grey blankness where his face should be. "I can't look at you," I tried to reply,  By then my voice had already slurred and I think I was drooling a bit too. I heard a strange voice say something that sounded a bit like, "I A OO A UO," a slurred version of what I was trying to say, all vowels, but it didn't sound like me at all. I fought the urge to giggle - this was all so bizarre!

I heard running feet and panicked voices as the doctor and my mom each jumped into action. My mom's voice beginning a 911 call was the last think I heard before unconsciousness fully claimed me.

I've been told that the ambulance (and police and fire trucks) arrived in less than five minutes. I have no recollection of the crowd of emergency personnel that I'm told maneuvered my body back down the narrow hallway. When my mom took me to revisit that empty office (my chiropractor moved out of country with months of my accident)  and walk that parking lot four years ago, on my first anniversary, I was able to tell her where the ambulance had been parked and situated, as well as point out the areas of various other emergency vehicles. I never saw any of that, so we still don't know exactly how I was able to recreate the scene, but she confirms my information, that no one ever described to me, was indeed accurate.

I'm told my body was already "posturing" (in "death throws," the rigidity and involuntary twitching to signify deep brain injury) by the time they arrived. As the ambulance door closed behind me, my mom fully expected that she would never see me alive again.

My only memory, after loosing consciousness on that treatment table and before "waking up" in the ICU several days later (I was only fully comatose and unresponsive for six hours, but true awareness was a very gradual, may-day process), I place as having happened in that chiropractic parking lot, before we even left to the hospital...

I remember my mind sparking to wakefulness and realizing I could not see, nor hear anything, nor feel anything, nor make any kind or sound, nor wiggle my body even a fraction. In fact, I felt totally disconnected from my body in the least. The only information I had to work with was unique experience I had just endured and the knowledge that a 911 call had recently been placed on my behalf...

You know how you can sometime sense light shifting without even having your eyes open, like when sun burst through your window in the morning and wakes you up and you know it was a light shift that just took place, even though you cannot actually see it? When my brain sparked awake for that moment, that's why. Maybe an EMT was shining a flashlight in my eyes? Maybe I reacted to being brought out into daylight from the darker office? Only God knows what the catalyst was, but here's what my brain told me was going on when I interpreted a square of light, that I presumed to be the size and shape of a back ambulance window as the ambulance door swung shut, shifting...

I must be in an ambulance now. [Check of five senses and realization of utter body disconnect.] Don't pull the plug! I'm still here.

As those thoughts crossed my mind, I expected a wave of panic to hit. Instead, I was overcome, overwhelmed, engulfed by such tangible peace that any words I use are utterly inadequate.

Borrowing words from Revelation 11, "I saw Heaven opened" for a time. Isaiah 6 has long been a passage I've loved since high school, and while I was yet outside Heaven, looking into the courtyard from still outside the gates, did not see the face of Jesus, only tasted the tiniest sip of the splendor and majesty of God's glory, the grandeur of Isaiah six makes my heart race with anticipation because it is a reflection of the little I got to know. (Here's why I can't tell you much more.)

The music that spilled out and encompassed me is unlike anything I had ever heard, heard with the ear, yet experienced with the whole being, tasted, touched, smelled, pure joy!

How disappointing to find I was still earth-bound... [to be continued later today as I'm off to a doctor's appointment now...]

Link to Part Two, Living Scary Brave.


  1. I remember too and the beautiful thing you said to me the first time I saw you in the hospital. Always thinking of others.

    1. I don't remember. You will have to tell me about in the hospital, Kathy!

  2. You are brave, Jenni! What an ordeal. Prayers for continued healing and God using your story! May he fill you with encouragement! Hugs!