Stroke victim overcomes debilitating injury that was compounded by lack of accessible housing

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Travis Janvrin in the office of the Granite State Organizing Project. Photo/Pat Grossmith

MANCHESTER, NH – Travis Janvrin is a survivor, a man who at 29 suffered a stroke that left him hospitalized for three months, followed by a month-long rehab only to be released unable to walk and with no accessible place to live.

Seventeen months after that massive stroke, that left him 100 percent disabled and in a wheelchair “for now,” Janvrin is now living in a handicap-accessible apartment.

Janvrin suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on June 13, 2021.  He attributes the stroke to the stress of his job.

“I was working crazy hours as an assistant manager for T-Mobile running three different stores in Bedford, at the Mall of New Hampshire and in Haverhill, Mass.,” he said.

 The type of stroke he suffered is caused by a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue.  Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 40 percent of all stroke deaths, according to the National Stroke Association.

Youth was on his side, however, and on Sept. 2, 2021, he was discharged from Catholic Medical Center to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Concord.  Eighteen days later, he was released and he returned to Manchester to live with a friend.

“What ended up is his property manager kicked me to the curb,” Janvrin said. “He said I was a hazard.”

Having been hospitalized for nearly four months, Janvrin had no income but he still had a lease where his roommate was covering the rent.  The problem was it was a third-floor apartment that was not in compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

“So I went to the one place where I knew to go to get help and that was the City of Manchester Welfare Department,” he said.  “City welfare’s answer to my request for help was for me to call the fire department and have them bring me up and down the stairs anytime I needed to go out.”  

Janvrin, who said he has always advocated for himself, took his story to the Board of Mayor and Alderman. 

“Everybody was flabbergasted at that,” he said.  “Even the mayor was flabbergasted at that.”

Fortunately, he was in contact with Jessica Margeson, a tenants’ rights activist with the Granite State Organizing Project. By the end of that week, “thanks to Jess’ help and a few other people I got into the ERAP (Emergency Rental Assistance Program) and put into a hotel” – the Hampton Inn in Bedford.

He stayed there until January 2022 and then moved to the Fairfield Inn in Hooksett.  About that time, he received his Section 8 voucher, now called the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Luck was on his side when his previous landlord, who he had rented from for 10 years, called him around the same time to say he had a first-floor apartment that was opening up and, though it may be challenging for him, that it was his if he wanted it.

“So, I took the opportunity because I wanted out of the hotel,” he said. “I moved in that February.”

On Sept. 28, 2022, he received a call telling him he was approved for the Rev. Raymond A. Burns High Rise, 55 South Main St.  He dropped off the required rent check on Sept. 29 and then on Sept. 30, underwent surgery to have his gall bladder removed.

“So obviously, I couldn’t move right in because I was in recovery from the surgery,” he said.  He officially moved in Oct. 15, 2022.

Once he received his housing voucher, everything seemed to fall in place.  Through the state Health and Human Services Department, he was assigned a case manager through Crotched Mountain.  

“They are awesome and it opens me up for a lot of services, like home modification, different things I need,” he said. “Last winter, I told my case worker I didn’t have a winter jacket and she dipped into funds I have available and she went to Burlington Coat Factory and bought me a brand-new jacket.”

He has been going to physical therapy two to three times a week at Elliot Wellness on Holt Avenue.

“They have been phenomenal for me,” he said.  

The therapy is on hold for now because Janvrin said he expects to undergo a partial amputation of his left arm, which has lost all sensation.  He doesn’t want to use up the limited therapy sessions covered under Medicaid when he may need those to recover from the amputation.

“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” Janvrin said of the amputation.  Earlier this month, he underwent an EMG (Electromyography) to assess his muscles and nerve cells.  

“They stuck my arm with needles and shocked it.  People are usually crying when they do this but I didn’t feel a thing,” he said. The next step, he said, is to speak with his neurologist about a partial amputation of his arm for quality-of-life reasons.  “Then I can get my shoulder repaired and fitted for a prosthetic.”

It has been a long road to recovery, with a long way to go, but Janvrin is ready to give back.

He is part of the Granite State Tenants Association and the Manchester Housing Alliance, representing people with disabilities and helping them get more affordable/accessible housing.

“I am in the process of opening a non-profit organization for stroke survivors and caregivers to give them access to resources and everything they need,” he said.  “Many of these survivors don’t have someone advocating for them.”


 

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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.