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...

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Week(end)

In reading this article (Thanksgiving TBI Wishes: Being Thankful), I was hit by how far I've come. "Some of us who have experienced a TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] might wonder how it is even possible for us to be thankful for anything. The road is tough and it is painful, but we are selling ourselves short if we don’t try."


Lilla Rose

I did spend the first couple of years wondering if thankfulness, joy, fulfilment, peace, and a multitude of other positive emotions were even possible! A tough road is an understatement of a description!



I still have days that are more filled with emotional landmines than others. Reading my post-concussion MRI findings, that my brain shows "Large chronic infarcts in the left cerebellar hemisphere with significant resulting volume loss," was rather sobering. (I knew that about the strokes, but seeing it in black and white, hearing my doctor talk about resulting lost brain volume, was just hard.)



Thanksgiving week and day were filled with some tough memories since that was 5 years since my two life-saving, experimental surgeries and some rather traumatic events unfolded in the ICU in the 24 hours encompassing that Thanksgiving day (holiday hospital staffing can get "interesting" when it comes to quality of care).



But even through the dark days, the questioning of God's purpose for my life, plan of why He even still has me on this earth, I now know an underlying peace and joy I didn't know possible. I can actually find things to be thankful for. Sometimes my reasons for thanksgiving might seem odd to others, like the fact that I can again answer "no" on a health form for something like life insurance, where I'm asked if I've experienced a stroke "within the past five years."



Thursday and especially into Friday morning, I felt rather depressed. I think a lot of that was circumstantial because of memories then my body's betrayal by the end of Thursday. Circumstances are not tremendously better yet, but my attitude is, God's grace is here to remind me everything is going to be OK in His timing! That article reminded me just how far God has carried me in five years.



As for the physical aspect of the last few days, here are some Facebook conversations from Friday that share details of Thursday:
We hosted Thanksgiving here. 5 in our immediate family + both sets of our parents. Mom and I did most of the prep Wednesday, then they came over at 10 yesterday so Mom and Dad could fix the turkey and get it in the oven. We had brunch, played a couple quiet games and just relaxed until 3 when we started warming and final prep. Rick's parents got here right before 4 and we sat down to eat about 10 after. We took pictures and ate pie after all that.
I was doing great other than some serious ear pain that's been an issue for weeks (I'm having a minor surgery on Monday that should help a lot, but until then the pain is building by the hour), but when we went to clear the table, my left arm simply decided not to work at all. I nearly dropped a stoneware dish, and 30 seconds later spilled a cup, tried to upright it, then dumped it out the other side instead! After that I just sat while our moms were left with all the cleanup. I was in bed by 8 and slept for 12 hours!
When questioned (yesterday) about my "minor surgery" next Monday, I replied,
Because it really is rather minor and was just set up this week. It will be local rather than general, so I won't even be put under. We just need to slice open the ear drum again (already done this 3 times, but a basic ear tube lasts less than a year before it the membrane grows closed and pushes the tube out) white a T-tube is more extensive and will hopefully keep ear pressure equalized for 3-4 years this time.
I told a friend more this morning.
Gritting my teeth to make it to Monday's ear surgery to take pressure off TN. Was throwing up from pain by last night....Eustachian tube is still paralyzed from stroke. Every 8 or 10 months I get my tube replaced so pressure can equalize. The ear drum has healed and pushed out the tube again, so I have hundreds of pounds of negative pressure trying to pull the ear drum into the ear. This is what sets off the trigeminal nerve (TN). As soon as he cuts into the ear drum on Monday to place my next tube, I'll have immediate relief even before he gets the tube placed!
...It is what it is. Talk to me Monday night and I'll be in a better mood! LOL (Except it hurts to laugh, or blow my nose, or swallow...)
And to a friend concerned about my arm, I explained,
It's a stroke thing. My arm was totally useless at first. I now have regained pretty much all large motor function and a little fine motor function (still type with only my right hand) but my body lets me know I'm overdoing by revisiting various issues that were there constantly just after the stroke. Sometimes my left eye crosses and I get double vision. Sometimes my leg limp gets really pronounced or my leg drags. This time, the left arm decided to quit then get really painful. Today has been much better with the arm, but my ear is still so very painful I'm fighting throwing up. It's a grumbly kind of day where the chiropractor who caused my strokes is getting prayed for a lot (as in pray for your enemies).
Lilla Rose
I've spent most of today flat in bed (ear seems happiest that way) helping customers navigate our Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday biggest sale of the year at Lilla Rose.



Happy 74th birthday to my Daddy today! I am very thankful to have both of my parents and both of my husband's parents! It was very special to have them all here on Thursday.


The article I opened with, written specifically from the aspect of brain injury, God used to show me a marker of how far He has healed my thought patterns. However, the article was missing the profound hope of Jesus. Hallmark Movie Holidays...Or Real World Reality?, covering a host of chronic health needs (or even everyday stresses everyone can face) fills in the hope the first article skipped over.

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV

1 comment:

  1. I love you and am so thankful you are my daughter. Looking forward to pain relief for you tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete