Teah Bautista

Teah Bautista lives a very active life, working for Amazon, studying criminology, and creating art in her spare time, including painting. But one day at work, everything changed rapidly. In the middle of her shift, Teah began to feel off-balance, overheated, and “all around bad.” She went home, thinking she had a cold or the flu.

Shortly after arriving home, Teah’s ears and throat began to hurt, prompting her to reach out to her primary care physician. Teah’s PCP prescribed antibiotics to help speed up her recovery. But a few days later, Teah began vomiting and could barely get out of bed. Teah spent the next few days excessively sleeping and consistently vomiting before her parents took her to the emergency room at Kaiser.

After being seen by the doctor at the ER, Teah was diagnosed with an upper GI infection and sent home with instructions to stop taking the antibiotics. But things only continued to worsen for Teah. She began to lose sensation in one of her legs, preventing her from walking. Teah couldn’t do things for herself, was unable to empty her bladder, and experienced “so much pain” due to the swelling.

Concerned for their daughter, Teah’s parents returned her to the emergency room. Teah’s father had to carry her onto the exam bed. The ER staff helped empty her bladder, releasing over a liter of urine via an in-and-out, then sent her home, recommending physical therapy.

Unfortunately, it was more of the same for Teah, as her arm function began to dwindle away next. No longer able to move her limbs and losing the ability to breathe on her own, Teah’s parents returned her to the emergency room for a third time.

This time, Teah was placed in the ICU, where she was intubated for three days and underwent many tests over the two and a half weeks that followed. Finally, Teah received a definitive diagnosis: Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein Antibody Disease (MOGAD).

MOGAD is a rare neurological, immune-mediated demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system. The disorder causes inflammation and on the brain, spinal cord, and/or optic nerves. MOGAD shares some symptoms with multiple sclerosis, and may sometimes be misdiagnosed as MS.

With a clear diagnosis in place, Teah could now begin treatment, which involved intensive inpatient rehabilitation to regain her strength, function, and independence. For this phase of her recovery, Teah transferred to San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Fresno.

When she arrived at SJVRH, Teah couldn’t even roll herself in bed or prop herself up. After a month of intensive physical, occupational, and speech therapies, Teah could perform transfers independently and had begun taking steps.

“Just look at me!” Teah exclaimed. “I came in not being able to even roll myself in the bed or lift myself without using the hand railings. If you really want to make a change in your life, this is the place to come because they will get you back on your feet.”

“The staff here is amazing. They actually get to know you,” Teah said, reflecting on her experience at the rehabilitation hospital.

“They aren’t just in and out. They tend to your needs. I’ve had amazing experiences with so many staff members here.”

“My first night, I was so scared,” Teah recalled. “The night nurse saw that I was religious. He said, ‘I’m Catholic as well. Do you mind if I pray with you?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, of course.’ Because I was by myself, and I was just so scared. He said, ‘Don’t be scared. God has a plan for us. I see in you; do not be scared.”

“I am so grateful for this place,” added Teah’s mother. “The nurses, the staff, everyone was great here!”

Teah’s recovery from MOGAD will be a long one — an estimated six months to one year. But she will make a full recovery and has acquired many tools to help her thrive while she continues on that journey back to her prior state of function and independence.