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.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

In The Kitchen

There was a topic I intended to address in my update last night. I spaced it until just now.

The first couple times I was taken into the tiny rehab hospital kitchen, it was to teach me skills like standing next counter with a speciality walker, not even trying to walk around.

Snow falling view out my front door last week.

I got promoted to doing basic tasks while standing at a counter, things like turning on and off the water at the sink, of cutting playdough-like therapy putty with a blunt plastic knife.

By the time I left the rehabilitation hospital, I had the skills to make myself a cup of warm (not hot because I couldn't swallow enough to cope with liquids past luke-warm temperatures) tea.

Out my bedroom slider.

To use fire or lift a tea kettle of water, even with my stronger right arm, I needed profound assistance and strict supervision.

Last week's view out our living room slider.

When I got home, I could not manage to get from sink to stove (2 or 3 steps across a walkway between side-counter to center island), could not carry anything,

Out my bedroom slider.

The first recipe I attempted to follow was a simple tater-tot casserole I had made dozens of times before. My home occupational therapist walked me through each step of attempting to open about 6 cans with a can opener (he ended up having to do the opening for me) and dump them into a casserole dish for someone else to lift into the over.

View over the fence brom living room slider.

What should have taken me about 5 minutes, took most of an hour and I was EXHAUSTED at the end from trying to follow all those instructions!

Butterfly leggings from a friend.

I doubt I even got all the steps right, for it sure didn't taste very good when finished, either.

I remember the first day I managed to carry a pretend tray of "lemonade" (air) and "serve" (pretend to pour from a pitcher, then hand a glass to the receptionist) at outpatient therapy a year or so after the stokes. The receptionist had to blink back tears as ske reached for her cup.

At the same therapy facility, I later remember carrying a half-full cup of cold water (primarily with my stronger right hand, but needed to help with my left as well) a few steps. We celebrated that I only spilled part of the water.

Lilla Rose figure 8 Flexis (hair clips) make fantastic "ties" for Lula Roe and other oversize clothes!

After several months I could step from stove to sink, with a cane or walker. It was a few years before I strong and steady enough to get a 1/4 full pot of cold water to my stove without sloshing the contents everywhere though! Once the water was hot, I couldn't even try to move it again!

Japanese Curry, a family favorite!

Months later, the first meal I tried to make for guests, very basic one-dish crock pot curry, a family staple I had made regularly since childhood, it took me four hours and I was in a panic attack by the time my husband got home from work, an hour and a half before guests were due, and calmed me down. Attempting to follow a recipe, setting the table, and doing a little very basic pick up before anyone came, was way too much overload for my brain!

Yummy roast from a week ago. I can now brown meat over a hot stovetop, cut veggies with a sharp knife, carry a heavy cast iron pan several steps, and lift it in and out of a hot oven now. My early therapists would be stunned!

I'm now to the point where I can walk across the kitchen even carrying a fairly FULL pot of HOT (boiling) water! My left arm occasionally gives out on me without warning, bit it is about 95% reliable to complete whatever task it starts. I've only dropped a few hot or heavy items unexpectedly over recent months.

Lilla Rose

A week and a half ago, I made a five complete meals over 36 hours!

A turkey is moist and WELL DONE if it falls apart as you try to lift the cooled bird from the pan!

One day I made a 26 pound turkey by myself. I overcooked it and it split in half as I tried to lift it out of the pan. The next day, Kathy showed up to spend about 4 hours cleaning the disaster I had created of my kitchen in the process!

That second morning, I started a pot of curry (the same dish that had done me in my first guest meal attempt) before Kathy showed up, boiled the previous day's turkey carcass to make soup, then made a roast with veggies, crock pot Mongolian Beef, 10 cups of rice, AND prepped all the peppers and onions for fajitas, all before Rick got home from work that Wednesday evening.

Early stages of Mongolian Beef. 

No, I normally don't cook this much. We were given a fresh turkey after I already had all the ingredients purchased for the week, so I was cooking it all up to make sure none went to waste.

Adorable bear leggings a friend sent me. Across my leg is the flash drive containing my book manuscript for Harvesting Hope From Heartache.

I cooked it all at once also because I wanted to take a few hours to work ahead so that I could concentrate on writing the rest of the week. Thee food pictures posted here are from a week ago Tuesday and Wednesday.

It amazes me to think how far I've come in five years! If you spend time with me, it's still pretty obvious I'm "different," but compared to where I started, the mental, organizational, and physical skills and stamina improvement are astounding!

My idea of "bear feet" in the winter. ;)

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