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Joel B - Grateful Stroke Patient at Pacific Neuroscience Institute
April 7, 2021

Patient Story: Fighting for Life After Stroke

by Zara Jethani

A patient recollects a profound set of miracles at the worst time of his life in 2020 when he experienced a rare kind of stroke.

Joel Bautista is a forty-nine-year-old, extremely active father of four. But when a stroke hit, all of a sudden, he realized that health is a gift not to be taken for granted. Here is his story.

Joel’s story

Joel B - Grateful Stroke Patient at Pacific Neuroscience Institute

“For some, the year 2020 could not have been worse. For me, that year was the year that I experienced one of the most profound miracles that I have ever been a part of. On the twenty first of August 2020, I woke up with an excruciating headache, much like the ones that I have experienced before. However, this episode deviated from previous experience in a sense that it was accompanied by dizziness and some peripheral vision loss.

Being the person that I am, who is incapable of finding an excuse not to workout (doing push-ups in the back of a plane during long trips was not uncommon for me), I decided to go on with my day and run on the treadmill. My condition turned from bad to worse, so I decided to stop. I stumbled towards my son’s room to ask him to take me to the emergency room. Miracle number one was that my neighbor, who frequents my house, luckily happened to be walking in at exactly that time, so she was able to take me to the hospital instead. 

On the way to the hospital, my condition progressed to vomiting uncontrollably and I thought to myself, wow, this COVID thing is serious! In what now seems like a blur, it turned out that I was not experiencing COVID. I was having a stroke.”

The biggest fight: surviving a basilar artery stroke

Joel B - Grateful Stroke Patient at Pacific Neuroscience Institute

That was the beginning of the absolute biggest fight of my life. The manifestation of the miracles continued as that is how I met Dr. Iyer, or I should say, that’s how he met me.”

What Joel didn’t realize was how serious his condition was. Dr. Adi Iyer, an expert neurosurgeon and neuro-interventional surgeon at Pacific Neuroscience Institute saw Joel at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, California. “Mr. Bautista came extremely close to not surviving,” said Dr. Iyer. “Joel presented in bad shape. He was comatose having survived a basilar stroke.”

A basilar artery stroke occurs when a blood clot lodges in the basilar artery. If not treated immediately and appropriately, a basilar stroke can cause a host of serious symptoms including paralysis, breathing and swallowing difficulties, vision problems, coma, and even death. 

Another miracle and expert stroke care

And then another miracle. “Most patients with this problem don’t make it,” Dr. Iyer commented. “Thanks to Joel’s strong will along with our excellent team at Holy Cross he has made a complete neurological recovery.”

In a grateful email to Dr. Iyer, Joel wrote:

Perhaps, for you and your exceptional team, this was just ‘another day at the office,’ or just another surgery. Dr. Iyer, I guarantee you that as far as I am concerned, that day, when God decided to bless me with another crack at life, you stepped up to become His ‘angel-in-charge.’  

On the road to recovery

Joel picks up his story. “As I continue with my recovery and journey through my second lease in life, my appreciation for Dr. Iyer and his team has only gotten stronger. Having been under Dr. Iyer and his team’s care during this time in my life is the epitome of what it means to be blessed. Because of his expertise, brilliance, and compassion, I AM ALIVE.

It has been six months since my stroke and I am happy to have the opportunity to share my experience and to expand on my gratitude for Dr. Iyer and his phenomenal team.”

Joel is working out again and building up his strength. Take a look.

About Dr. Adi Iyer

Adi Iyer MD

Adi Iyer MD, MS, is a fellowship-trained neurosurgeon with a focus on vascular diseases of the brain and spine at Pacific Neuroscience Institute. As one of California’s few dual-trained neurosurgeons, Dr. Iyer is able to offer both minimally invasive open surgical techniques as well as incisionless catheter-based procedures to treat patients with strokes, aneurysms, AVMs, tumors and pain. He brings leading-edge technology and minimally invasive approaches to help his patients treating them with a philosophy of respect and compassion.

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About the Author

Zara Jethani, MS, MBA

Zara Jethani

Zara is the marketing director at Pacific Neuroscience Institute. Her background is in molecular genetics research and healthcare marketing. In addition, she is a graphic designer with more than 20 years experience in the healthcare, education and entertainment industries.

Last updated: April 15th, 2021