Post stroke reality: Jeff Potts checks in on the triumphs and challenges.

Published 30, Jan, 2017
Author // Jeff Potts

Jeff Potts recently broke silence on social media to talk about his recovery and life in general post-stroke.

Post stroke reality: Jeff Potts checks in on the triumphs and challenges.

So... though not consciously, it seems that I have decidedly taken a break from social media interactions. Over the last few days, a number of you have reached out to me privately wondering what the heck is going on. Thanks for that... and I'm sorry to have been on the silent side. In answer to the questions I've been asked by a number of you, why not a missive to share this update about the post-stroke world I find myself living in.

First and foremost, my recovery is slow, but sure. A number of medical follow-up appointments and intensive outpatient therapy have given way to the following realities:

While neither the current state of the occlusion nor the arterial dissection are known with certainty, it seems that the medications I'm on now are making sure that a second stroke is far from even remotely possible. We've determined that, emotionally, I'm experiencing some PTSD (or, at least, some adjustment disorder)... but I have effectively evaded any post-stroke depression. Not a second passes that I don't thank my lucky stars, or that I don't thank so many of you for the incredible outpouring of support.

We are realizing true gains in terms of most of my motor deficits - I can stand from a sitting position and I am walking with greater and greater ease. But, there is little doubt now that some of my mobility issues are with me to stay. I still and will likely always struggle in significant ways in terms of negotiating reverse motor function (doing anything backwards is all-but-impossible). And, it looks like I will have a forever relationship with my cane. I'm still forbidden from driving and we won't know until at least the end of March when (or if) I'll drive again.

My swallow reflex issues persist (experienced a few choke episodes just in the last week), but they persist with less-and-less tenacity.

The damage to my eyesight is, regrettably, permanent... but my care team will work with me closely to ensure that impairments do not worsen over time.

My brain, while undeniably altered and constantly trying to find ways to re-wire, is experiencing foggy days less and less frequently, and any cognitive impairment that exists is likely carry-over impairment from before the stroke (you just can't fix stupid as a friend often quips...lol). And, my brain has not figured out how to repair the nerve damage in my left-side extremities (and won't recover at this point), so the sensory issues I live with now, I will live with always (e.g., my left arm will always feel, on the inside, like it's been hanging out a car window while speeding during the coldest winter's day). Could be worse... I could feel that while not being able to move the arm... I can still try to shake the feeling off... I'll take that!

And, finally, I'll reassess the state of my immune system when I meet with my ID doc in the next few weeks. My trip home from a much-loved ARV vacation may be imminent... but we just don't know yet. Especially now that I'm with countless others who live in a U=U reality, I want to be proudly undetectable!!

As always, I thank you for your care and for your compassion... not just for me, but for my rock, the one-and-only Paul Kenney, and for my immediate family and long-time friends (without whom recovery would hardly be worth it).

With much affection... there you have it. Now... how many of you regret asking why I've been AWOL from FB? LOL LOL LOL xoxo

You can find Jeff Potts on Facebook here where this entry first appeared.

About the Author

Jeff Potts

Jeff Potts

Jeff Potts was and remains motivated by his own HIV infection twenty-five years ago.  In his life and his career, Jeff is inspired by Helen Keller and shares this goal: "I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.  The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker." 

Jeff was a national programs consultant at the Canadian AIDS Society from November 2014 until January 2016.  Before that, he was a long-time public servant. His last position was with the Public Health Agency of Canada as the (national) manager of the Hepatitis C Prevention, Support and Research Program.  Before that, he held health portfolio positions at Health Canada and at Correctional Service Canada; and before that (way back), he was one of the earliest representatives of CATIE. Over the years, Jeff has spoken about and/or represented public health policy and programs on countless occasions across Canada, and at international meetings in more than twelve countries around the world.  Jeff is a proud and active member of the Canadian Positive People Network (the CPPN) where he shares unyielding resolve to improve and protect the health, quality of life and social condition of people living with HIV and HIV co-infections in Canada - and everywhere!