6 Brain Surgeries Later, This Med Student Is Excelling

0
90

Claudia Martinez was a college student chasing her dream of becoming a doctor when a neurosurgeon gave her alarming advice: Get brain surgery as soon as possible or risk becoming paralyzed from the neck down.

Within a week, she was in the operating room. That was in 2012. She’s had five more major brain surgeries since.

View this post on Instagram

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

A post shared by Claudia Martinez, MS4 (@claudiaimartinez) on

View this post on Instagram

Update: I’ve been doing very well! My most recent MRI scans of my brain are stable! I’m progressing well in PT/OT. With this new type of feeding tube that bypasses my stomach and my IV fluids I’ve been gaining weight and getting stronger as well. Overall this is the best I’ve felt in the past 7 years. • There is more testing I should be having done, multiple surgeries I can have that may or may not help me, more specialists I should see, but for now I’ve decided to not explore any of these. Unless it is an absolute emergency, I’ve decided to just receive basic follow up care with my doctors and maintenance care for my implanted medical devices. • I’ve fought for many years to survive. Now, now I just want to live. There is concerns my upswing may not last long, but one thing is for certain. If I let the magnitude of reality hit me, I will become stagnant in awe.

A post shared by Claudia Martinez, MS4 (@claudiaimartinez) on

“Hardships are often blessings in disguise,” she writes on her Facebook page.

View this post on Instagram

The first time I entered TIRR Memorial Hermann was a little over 2 years ago. I was strapped to a stretcher being wheeled in by EMS. I had just suffered a stroke to my brainstem weeks prior while undergoing an experimental brain surgery. – Initially, I couldn’t function from the neck down and so I was transferred to TIRR to begin my neurorehabilitation, but also, unbeknownst to me, a chance to immerse myself in the field of PM&R with the perspective of both a patient and a medical student. – Alongside several other patients, I started relearning how to do every single thing we take for granted in everyday life. From putting on my clothes, brushing my teeth, to feeding myself, bathing myself, using the bathroom, to opening doors, turning on light switches, carrying a cup, writing, picking up items from the floor, standing up from a chair and walking etc. Together we celebrated in each other’s progress. – After my stroke many around me were so focused on what I could no longer do that many told me I needed to seek another career outside of medicine. But it was my PM&R physician, who at my lowest point in my health functionally, saw my worth and instead welcomed me into her field. – As a medical student, I always wondered what happened to patients when we sent them to inpatient rehab. It took me having more brain surgery, a stroke and admissions to TIRR for me to find out first hand. I thank God everyday for what I’ve gone through, bc it is how I’ve found my calling. I’ve officially decided to pursue a residency in PM&R (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation). A field 62% of you haven’t heard of. – I want to be on the side of medicine that most people don’t see. I want to work with a population of individuals whose worth and potential is often overlooked and be their advocate. I want to help them see that even though it may be a little different, life can be beautiful again. – I’m looking forward to sharing my future specialty with you all and how PM&R restores lives. I owe all my recovery to my incredible team at TIRR. I’m a product of this institution and I can’t wait to return as a rotating medical student in May. – Hardships are often blessings in disguise.

A post shared by Claudia Martinez, MS4 (@claudiaimartinez) on

Before her first surgery, Martinez had been having severe headaches, loss of feeling in her hands and feet, and other debilitating symptoms. They stemmed from a little-known condition called chiari malformation. It’s a structural problem in the base of your skull and the part of your brain that controls balance, the cerebrum.

“Chiari malformation occurs when part of your skull is either too small or doesn't develop correctly. Because of this, the brain in the back of the head can extend down into the spinal canal,” says Michael Smith, MD, chief medical director at WebMD.

The severity of the condition varies. Some people with mild cases of it don’t have symptoms.

But “in more severe cases, the pressure that the back of the brain puts on the spinal cord and the brain stem — which controls many of our bodily functions like swallowing and breathing and heart rate — can lead to severe neurological complications,” Smith says.

Surgery is the main treatment to improve severe symptoms and stop the condition from doing more damage. But after her sixth brain surgery, Martinez had a stroke.

View this post on Instagram

Brain surgery #6 and a medullary stroke scar healing nicely. Shoutout to my brother @jamartinez32 for shaving my hair after it was growing out a bit after surgery. You don't realize how much hair bothers you until you have had brain surgery. #stroke #premed #medschool #brainsurgery #neurosurgery #nevergiveup #chiari #chiarimalformation #thelittlethings #scars #nurses

A post shared by Claudia Martinez, MS4 (@claudiaimartinez) on

“Initially, I couldn’t function from the neck down,” she writes on Facebook. She says she had to relearn how to do “every single thing we take for granted in everyday life,” such as putting on clothes, feeding herself, and using the bathroom.

View this post on Instagram

Because my goal was to run. • • • From not being able to walk to this, I am truly blessed. Thankful for all my therapy at TIRR for the past 2 years! ��������‍♀️

A post shared by Claudia Martinez, MS4 (@claudiaimartinez) on

Her gradual recovery through months of physical rehab helped crystalize her vision for the future, though. “I thank God everyday for what I’ve gone through, bc it is how I’ve found my calling,” she writes. “I’ve officially decided to pursue a residency in PM&R (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation).”

View this post on Instagram

Several months ago a mother and her son came up to me as I was walking to clinic. She told me she had never seen a “doctor” with a feeding tube or a port. Caught off guard I kindly introduced myself as a medical student and agreed that yes there aren’t many in the medical field walking around with these devices. – I kindly commented on her son’s. He had a feeding tube and central line as well. I said, “We are twins! Except you have a cooler backpack”. It had dinosaurs. He won. He smiled, but then started telling me that kids were mean to him at school and would make fun of him. His mom told me he stopped wanting to go to school and just wanted to stay home so she stopped me bc she wanted to show him he wasn’t the only one and that even doctors have these things. – I told him there is always going to be mean people in the world, but never let that stop you from doing what you love. – Looking back I didn’t know how to help him. I couldn’t find the right words, but I hope that by him seeing me with my own devices that he knows he is not alone. – Most of the time I have my port accessed, this is how I see patients. When I had my feeding tube I was connected to continuous feeds as well. Initially, I was self conscious bc I didn’t know how patients would react. But as I’ve worked with more and more patients, I’ve been able to educate them on what it is, only when they ask. It has even put patients who have these things and parents at ease knowing they are being cared for by someone who gets it. – Now patients who have seen me before know, my friends and family know, and when they see someone else with these things they now know what they are. To us it has become normal. – But, to most of society, these aren’t normal. – Eventually I hope we can normalize medical devices in society so no child or even adult feels like they don’t belong. As medicine advances so does the ability to live outside the hospital with illness that otherwise would keep us admitted. To that little kid out there, I’m sorry I didn’t have the words to help you, but I’m here trying to raise awareness and you, young man, are too. Without even knowing you’re helping so many other kids out there.

A post shared by Claudia Martinez, MS4 (@claudiaimartinez) on

Martinez is on track to graduate from UTHealth McGovern Medical School in Houston next year. In the meantime, she organizes the annual "Conquer Chiari" charitable walk in Houston each year. It helps raise money for research into the condition.

View this post on Instagram

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. #ms4 #godisgood

A post shared by Claudia Martinez, MS4 (@claudiaimartinez) on

“I want people to know there is hope,” she says on Conquer Chiari’s website. “There [were] times I thought I wasn't going to make it; times I thought, ‘If this is how I am going to live then I am in full acceptance of death.’ But no matter how bad the situation seems, you have to always believe that things will get better.”

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 23, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Michael Smith, chief medical director, WebMD.

ABC 7 Eyewitness News: “'Miracle' med student survives 6 brain surgeries to become doctor.”

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Chiari Malformation Fact Sheet.”

Facebook: Claudia Illissa Martinez.

Conquer Chiari: “Shhh Chiari… I’m Too Busy Saving Lives.”

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. '); } else { // If we match both our test Topic Ids and Buisness Ref we want to place the ad in the middle of page 1 if($.inArray(window.s_topic, moveAdTopicIds) > -1 && $.inArray(window.s_business_reference, moveAdBuisRef) > -1){ // The logic below reads count all nodes in page 1. Exclude the footer,ol,ul and table elements. Use the varible // moveAdAfter to know which node to place the Ad container after. window.placeAd = function(pn) { var nodeTags = ['p', 'h3','aside', 'ul'], nodes, target; nodes = $('.article-page:nth-child(' + pn + ')').find(nodeTags.join()).not('p:empty').not('footer *').not('ol *, ul *, table *'); //target = nodes.eq(Math.floor(nodes.length / 2)); target = nodes.eq(moveAdAfter); $('').insertAfter(target); } // Currently passing in 1 to move the Ad in to page 1 window.placeAd(1); } else { // This is the default location on the bottom of page 1 $('.article-page:nth-child(1)').append(''); } } })(); $(function(){ // Create a new conatiner where we will make our lazy load Ad call if the reach the footer section of the article $('.main-container-3').prepend(''); });Original Article

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here