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...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

When A Virus Mimics Brain Injury

I'm sick.

I know this conclusively for three reasons:

1. I started running a fever in the night.

2. My throat is very raw and sore today, I'm loosing my voice, when neither of these had been an issue in many months.

3. The gland behind my left (more stroked) ear, the gland that is always the first red flag of illness ever since the strokes, but has been continuously inflamed and painful ever since my concussion, has been extra swollen/sore/grumpy the last few days. (I'm used to the fact that my ear hurts and madly itches and feels clogged all the time though, so I'm accustomed to trying to tune out these sensations.)


In looking back (hindsight always being clearer!), I've perhaps been fighting this for as long as since last Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday...


On Saturday morning, Rick and I went out to early voting. Then he surprised me with a date, just him and me at the ice cream parlor! I can't think of any symptoms then, but maybe one of those places is when I got exposed?


By Sunday morning, I was COLD and my muscles were cramping, as has happened every single fall since the strokes, as weather changes. My body simply does not do well in the cold. My muscles don't function smoothly and my pain levels skyrocket. I wore long pants, tall boots, a thick shirt, 2 shirts, my winter coat, and gloves INSIDE all through the church service on Sunday morning. I was also drinking hot tea the whole time. I was so exhausted my eyes kept crossing into double vision through the entire sermon. Crazy stroke thing, I figured. And maybe it was???


Monday my muscles were still spazzed and were tight enough I could attempt no running in the AlterG at therapy. (One fascinating discovery via the AlterG cameras is that, in walking backwards, as my right leg stretches toward the front, the ankle automatically flexes and the toes raise upward automatically. I can hardly KEEP my toes flat on the dreadmill even if I really try! When my left leg rides forward, there is absolutely no movement of my ankle or toes, just a total flat ride until I lift the leg off the treadmill. I can now visually see where I deep to intentionally work on flexing that ankle and lifting my toes with each step. Fascinating!)

Fashionable AlterG attire!
Monday night, I spend sitting by the front door and handing out candy and cup-noodles (a happy accidental new accidental family tradition I'll share more about on my InfertilityMom blog) and FREEZING! I stayed inside but bundled up in fuzzy socks and my winter coat.


Yesterday was a "Kathy Day" so Kathy and I spent a few hours out working on my rose garden, bedding it down for winter. The last hour we were out there, my arms were so heavy and uncoordinated I could hardly manage the lopping sheers. (Kathy also witnessed a pretty decent near fall earlier in the morning, but I was still chalking my balance issues to being "just the strokes".)


About that time, my Dad delivered my daughter (13), home from school with a fever, headache, sore throat, congestion, croupy cough, and several near fainting spells throughout the morning.

My girl.

By the time Kathy and I came inside for lunch, my arms were so clumsy, I could hardly unplug a plug from an electrical outlet (with my GOOD arm!), took multiple attempts before I managed!


After Kathy left, I went to bed and slept hard for over an hour, getting up only because my boys were coming home from school. Our girl slept almost straight through from noon yesterday until early this morning, calling me to her room once due to hallucinations, and getting up about 3 or 4 times for drinks or to take baths. She's obviously still home from school today!

Our guys. :)

In the night last night, I realized I was pretty feverish. Even by the early hours of this morning, I could pretty much chalk every virus symptom (but the new fever) off to my body's goofy "normal" stroke reactions. When my throat was sore this morning and the tiniest bits of cough and congestion (nothing like hers yet!) started, I realized that I'm actually sick. I wonder, how many warning signs have actually been there, and for how long, that I totally ignored because this is my normal???


Please pray for the rest of our family to stay healthy!


I'm also scheduled to sell hair clips at a craft show on Saturday, have already invested some good time and money in preparing. This was to have been a post-stroke first. I would be thrilled if God still allows me to do this!


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