HOUSTON (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - It's safe to say that Claudia Martinez is a miracle medical student.
Martinez is set to graduate from the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth next year, but while she studied to be a doctor, she was also coping with being a patient.
I wish I could thank each and every one of you for all the support you have shown me these past years. I wish I could respond to each of your messages, but for now I am learning how to voice text. By far having my last brain surgery and then suffering the stroke has been the hardest battle we have faced. We take for granted what we have each day. But we always have to be thankful because things can always be worse. This shirt speaks volumes and I am sad the nurse had to cut it off the other day. But no matter what I will never give up and nothing will take this smile off my face. Now that I am at TIRR Memorial Hermann, I am ready to learn how to hold things, write, type, eat, dress, shower, sit up and walk etc on my own. #feedingtube #medschool #premed #brainsurgery #stroke #claudiastrong #uofh #medicalstudent #hospital #doctor #nurse #medicine #chronicillness
While as a student at the University of Houston in 2012, Martinez began blacking out and having severe headaches. That's when a neurosurgeon gave her a life-changing diagnosis: Chiari Malformation, a condition that involves brain tissue extending into the spinal cord. Left untreated, it could cause paralysis.
The doctor told her she needed to have brain surgery right away or face the possibility of being paralyzed from the neck down. A week later, she was on the operating table.
Unlike many people who may have let such a procedure keep them down, Martinez went on to graduate from college and attend UTHealth McGovern. She's had 5 more brain surgeries since then.
A couple of weeks ago I received my Step 1 score. I scored higher than I expected (see my step studying post). • Since I was 8 yrs old I wanted to become a Neurosurgeon (it’s ironic that I later developed Chiari Malformation and Hydrocephalus and needed multiple neurosurgeries myself). So for my entire life I worked as hard as I could to see this dream through. • There on the computer screen was the score I needed to be able to do Neurosurgery. When I saw my score I had the biggest smile and I whispered to myself, “You did it...”. But tears immediately filled my eyes knowing I can never be a neurosurgeon bc I’m missing the main thing I need to pursue Neurosurgery as a career, the functioning of my hands. • I’ve made an incredible recovery from my stroke, but the biggest deficit by far remains in my hands. • I only share this with you bc I honestly think everything happens for a reason. Today I look down at my hands and thank God for my deficits bc I like to think He redirected me from having a career in surgery and opened my eyes to the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and Neurology by taking the one thing I really needed to perform surgery, my hands. • Thank you God for taking away something I thought I wanted and introducing me to a field of medicine that I’d have otherwise never been exposed to, one that is perfect for me. Thank you for always preserving my intelligence during my many brain surgeries and for using my brain, even though at times my biggest defeat, as my biggest ally. #collateralbeauty #embracethejourney
Her Instagram page is filled with inspiring photos and videos of her journey. Some even show her in her hospital bed, surrounded by school books. After every surgery, she says she had to re-learn how to do simple tasks, like brushing her teeth, dressing herself and walking.
One surgery she described as particularly scary was when she suffered a stroke.
Today I used Rex, a robotic exoskeleton. The session I had significantly improved my gait and helped teach my body how it is supposed to move and where it is in space. Research is continuously being done on it and I am blessed to be able to use it. Rex has helped me each time I have had to relearn how to walk. #exoskeleton
"Initially, I couldn’t function from the neck down," she wrote.
Healthy and ready to take on the world, Martinez recently posted on social media about her future.
"This part of my life is called happiness. I officially finished my 3rd year and have started my 4th year! One more year left of medical school and in May 2020 I will get to be called Dr. Claudia I. Martinez."
____________ I am officially off my feeding tube feeds after 3 years! • In December I had surgery on my stomach for my Gastroparesis (partial paralysis of the stomach). The surgery was a great success and I have been able to maintain and gain weight eating orally since then, while weaning off the feeding tube. I am hoping to get my feeding tube removed in the next couple of months, but it has to stay in for now. • Now I have to follow a special diet because my stomach is still partially paralyzed, but at least now I can eat a good amount of food and just supplement with liquid calories. • I still use my port in my chest quite often to receive IV fluids for my Gastroparesis and Dysautonomia, but I am glad to be off one source of artificial nutrition. • Life has been really busy as I am finishing up my last couple of weeks as a 3rd year medical student, but we have been working on a very special project close to my heart that I hope you all will help me with soon. 💖