Claudia Martinez is a fourth-year medical student in Houston, Texas. Her experience at medical school has been more gruelingly profound than most, because she’s also a patient there. She has undergone six brain surgeries at the same hospital where she’s studying to become a doctor.
Claudia has a condition called Chiari Malformation, which involves brain tissue extending into the spinal cord. She was diagnosed while she was an undergraduate student.
During her first year of medical school at the University of Texas at Houston, Claudia suffered a seizure, and she had to undergo experimental surgery. Then, in her third year, she suffered a stroke that rendered her unable to move from the neck down. She had to learn how to walk and feed herself all over again.
The 28-year-old has survived six brain surgeries so far, but she’s not letting her health issues stop her from pursuing her dream. If anything, she wants to use her experiences to be a better health care provider.
“If I can set a trail to guide others so they don’t have to suffer as much as I have, then it will all be worth it,” Claudia said.
“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.”
Claudia’s journey has been long and hard, she says, but the thought of her future patients gives her the energy to keep going.
She plans to graduate in May 2020.