Home - About Me - Salvation - Statement of Faith

Testimonies - Encouragement - Inspiration



Lynn Hanninen's Testimony



My name is Lynn and I'm paralyzed from the neck down and I can't speak. I
would like to tell you a little about myself and what happened to me.

I had a brainstem stroke. For two weeks before my stroke, my neck hurt. The
day of my stroke I started out feeling like I had the flu. I was 27.

My brother and wife and two month old son, Christopher, lived in the same
apartment complex. That Sunday afternoon I went over to their place to watch
something on television with my brother. I had chicken noodle soup.

When I left I was very dizzy and nauseous. At home I watched television and
started vomiting. At first I thought I just had the flu. But then I got so
dizzy I could not walk. I crawled from the bathroom to my room to the
telephone and called my brother to tell him I was REALLY sick and to ask if
he could he please come over.

My memory after that is kind of sketchy.

I know he and his wife came over and I started having seizures. They kept
asking if they should call an ambulance and I kept saying no. Somewhere in
there , they called my Dad and an ambulance. I was only semi-aware. They
asked if I was on drugs. my sister-in-law said NO WAY. My Dad was not so sure
of that. (By the way , I wasn't, but Dad had reason to suspect)

The rest is REAL sketchy. I was in what is called a vegetative state - it's
like a coma. My eyes were open and I would be semi-aware sometimes , but I
could move NOTHING, not even my eyes. I was on a ventilator for a while
because I could not even breathe on my own. The doctors thought maybe it
was meningitis. I was expected to die, not that they really knew what I had.
My whole body was "shut down."

I was taken to a big hospital in Philadelphia where I was given CAT scans
and MRIs, and things I don't know the names of. They could find nothing
wrong: no clots or aneurisms or anything. I started breathing on my own and
then I kind of got some control over my eyes. I could blink my right eye on

So, I was living.

They fed me through my nose (that is GROSS!) and they put a hole in my neck
so they could inflate my lungs every so often , so I would keep breathing.
And so they could suction out the gunk that would collect in my lungs. (I
have what is called "locked-in syndrome." My mouth was locked shut and a
ventilator could not be used through my mouth. They had to have a hole in
my neck so they could attach me to a ventilator when necessary. I think my
mouth opened a little , but not much.)

I remember trying to tell my Dad that I was encased in mud and I could not
move and I thought the doctors were doing strange things when my family
left. My Dad had written all the letters of the alphabet on a board and he
would point at them and I would blink or look up when he got to the right
letter. (talk about having patience!) I was so looped out on morphine that I
could hardly communicate.

I can honestly say that I have no idea how I lived through those first six
months. It took me a couple months before I could even turn my head. People
had to turn my head so I could see them. (Now, I think I have the strongest
neck of anyone I know!)

If you had seen me about one week after my stroke you would have bet large
sums of money that I would not live out another week!

My life before my stroke and how I came to know Jesus after my stroke:

I was born and raised in Upper Michigan. I lived there between birth and age
12. My family and I lived for a while in Madison , Wisconsin and Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania during that time , but most of that time I was in Michigan. I
think of Michigan as my home state.

I was a Lutheran as I grew up. My parents were really nice people and we
went to church EVERY Sunday , and we went to Sunday school and we did all
the right things and we were the "perfect" family. I really had a wonderful
childhood. BUT my parents did not really have Jesus as the center of our
family. I can say that I have a Christian upbringing and I have always
believed in God and Jesus but I can't say that I had a personal relationship
with Jesus.

When I was 12 we moved to New Jersey and when I was 16 we moved to
Pennsylvania. When I was 17 I was friends with a girl in my calculus class.
Chris. She was , and is , a REAL Christian. (I can see now that I had little
idea of what it meant "to be a real Christian.") We had talked a lot , about
lots of things including the concept of "being a Christian." I had this
vague idea that it had something to do with accepting Jesus into your life.
(I'm sure Chris explained everything very well but at the time I can
remember thinking it was more important to address "deep" theological issues
than get all worked up about Jesus. To me Jesus was just THERE and not
something I needed to think about much.) I thought it sounded like a good
idea to give my life to Jesus (I didn't think it meant I had TO DO much of
anything , so why not?) So I asked Jesus into my life. I went to Bible camp
that summer ('78). I went away to college that fall. I lasted about six
months and then I kind of just started ignoring my new friend , Jesus.

I flunked out and returned home to go to community college. I tried that for
almost two years and then flunked out of there too. So that summer I went to
a local college to see what I wanted to do. I took a little of everything. I
liked psychology but I managed to flunk out of that college too.

BUT, I had decided what to do: psychology! I talked my way into yet another
college. I came THIS CLOSE to flunking out , then my mom was killed in a car
accident. I was 21. I guess that shook me up. I settled into school and
ended up getting a B.S. in psychology with over a 3.75.

Then I decided to go to graduate school. I don't remember quite how that
happened. I started doing lab work with a professor at another University
over the summer (because I had to get a couple more credits and there was
nothing for me to take at the college I was at). We decided I should stay
and go to school there.

I was working on my M.S. for about a year and then my best friend was killed
in another car accident. My friend was a guy. I loved him very much and I
hoped we could be more than friends someday. It was very hard on me when he
died. It was almost as bad as when my mom died.

I stayed in school for about a year and then decided I had to take a break
from school. I got a job working for a company that managed community
residences for the mentally ill. One year into that , I had my stroke.

It took about a year for my head to clear after that. By that time , my Dad
had gotten me into a "good" long term care facility (i.e. a nursing home).
The residents were disabled and most were people between 21 and 50. It was
really a nice facility but I did not intend to live like that for the next
40 years , or longer!

No one thought I could ever live on my own. Most people thought it was a
ludicrous idea. I would grit my teeth and determine even more to get out of

I can't say I knew God but I talked to Him a lot about leaving and how all
these nay-sayers were really getting me annoyed! The more vehemently that
people said I could not do it , the more I wanted to go!

There was one social worker who thought I could do it. She helped a lot with
getting people to help me work out the technical stuff, and she did a lot of
the paperwork. I wrote LOTS of letters. I had a computer. I started by
having someone put my computer keyboard in front of me and I would type one
letter at a time with one finger. (I can move my right arm with the help of
something called an arm support. That is not how I use computer now , but
that is another story)

I arranged with Lehigh University to move on campus. They took a suite that
was meant for four people and remodeled it for me to use myself. It was
pretty nice! I moved in there and went to work on finishing my M.S. I had my
lab work done so I had to take some classes and write my thesis!

I was there for a year when a young man named Jason moved into the room
across the hall. He introduced himself and I found out he was in psychology
too. I asked him to help me with some stuff for my M.S. and somewhere in
there , we started talking about God. He was in a Bible study and God had
always interested me. I had always been interested in God, REALLY, but to
tell you the truth, at that time I think I was more interested in finding a
good excuse to spend time with Jason. He was really nice , and really CUTE!
(Jason is no longer cute. After a certain age a male becomes handsome, or
good looking. But when I met Jason , he was CUTE!) I could just look at him
all day. And he was SO nice. I could just sit and listen to him talk all
day. What happened is we ended up talking about Jesus. We went to Bible 
study and church and Christian activities on campus. We became friends. We 
would rent movies, go shopping , go to other interesting 
things....just stuff.

I had a "crush" in a big way. I told Jason. He took it well (he took it so
well that he can't really remember it). He decided that we should still be
friends and what is most amazing is that I went along with that. I think it
was probably around that time that I truly KNEW Jesus. Jesus was someone who
wanted to be my friend! (What a concept!)

At that time , I didn't really have any friends. All my friends had fallen
away since my stroke and I had not yet made any new friends. I had been too
intent on getting out of that nursing home proving everyone wrong. Jason was
my first friend.

When it came time for him to graduate I thought he would return home to
Connecticut and get a job out there. One day shortly before graduation, he
was over and told me that he and some friends had decided to stay in the
area. I was so surprised but I was very happy. I would have missed Jason a
lot. Jason and I have remained good friends , though we're both out of
school and living our own lives.

What is more important is that Jesus is my friend and constant companion. He
is with me every second of the day , every day! I think you could say that
God used the stroke to get my attention and then used Jason to show me that
Jesus wants to be my friend. There were , and are , many other people who
God has used to reveal Himself to me. I praise God for every one of them.

I urge you to look for the people in your life whom God is using to reveal
Himself to you. I know they're there. I think we need to look for them, with
the expectation of seeing and experiencing Jesus' ministering to us. I can
feel His love and care through people! My earnest prayer is that everyone
finds and regularly attends and is actively involved in a local church body.

God Bless You
Lynn Hanninen



Previous Testimony

Next Testimony


Back to Testimony Contents