Young Medical Student Fortunately Survives after 6 Brain Surgeries
An Aspiring doctor, Claudia Martinez beats the odds despite chronic health issues and series of surgical treatment.
The Texas resident who has always dreamt of becoming a doctor since childhood did not have it easy as she battled and took trips down to the hospital a good number of times.
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____________ 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. 💖
After she got admitted to the University of Houston, Martinez started experiencing a series of migraine, and fainting spells. Doctors, after carrying out tests, diagnosed the young lady with Chiari Malformation — a condition that causes the brain tissue to extend into the spinal cord which in the long run, could lead to paralysis.
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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.
Doctors carried out brain surgery on the undergraduate, but it seemed like her ailment was malignant as five other operations were later performed on her.
Albeit such a severe condition, Claudia remained strong as she accepted the situation and used it as a source of strength. She graduated from the University of Houston with a sterling 4.0 thereby securing a chance at her dream medical college, the University of Texas, Houston.
These were the words of Martinez who is and continues to be a fighter despite undergoing six cerebral surgeries:
“My journey has been long and at times has felt impossible, but what keeps me going is my future patients.”
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The first morning I visited my patient in the Neuro ICU she looked so afraid. I introduced myself and told her I was going to examine her. As I was performing a neuro exam, I couldn’t help but see myself in her the entire time. When I was done I held her hand and told her I’d be coming back to check on her again with the attending. But when I tried to let go she wouldn’t let go and kept shaking her head. Again, I tried to reassure her we were going to take very good care of her and I’d see her in about two hours, but again when I tried to let go she wouldn’t let go of my hand and squeezed tighter. • She looked so scared. I could feel she was trying to tell me something, I just wasn’t quite sure what. With my free hand I grabbed my feeding tube and my IV tubing. I held it up and told her, “Mrs. ______ I have some of the same tubes you do. I used to be in a bed just like this one many times. I know how scary it is to one day wake up and not be able to move. To have everything taken away from you in an instant. I know you are scared. And I know you are frustrated. I know it’s uncomfortable to be attached to all these machines and tubes. Things are going to take time, but they will get better and we are going to do our best to help you to get to enjoy the things you used to love to do. I will be here everyday checking on you, you won’t be alone.” Mrs. ______ was tearing and smiled. She let go of my hand with a big squeeze as a sign of thanks. • Before I saw my patient I was warned that she can’t speak so don’t expect much. But since the first day I saw her she has communicated with me very well. I agree, she can’t verbally speak, but if we took just a moment to listen with our eyes, our hands and our heart what a different world this would be. • Now most mornings she greets me with a smile. I have yet to see those eyes filled with fear. Stop and listen, just for a moment. Stop and listen. •
Martinez told “Fox News”:
“I've learned we don't necessarily need a cure. We need inclusion, we need patience, we need accessibility, and we need individuals who are willing to work with us to give us the reasonable accommodations that, by law, we are entitled to.”
It seems her ordeal wasn’t over yet, as after Claudia got into medical school, her condition worsened. In her first year, the 28-year-old lady suffered a seizure which led her into surgery once again. During her third year, she suffered a stroke that left her in a vegetative state. She lost control over her body from her neck down.
This development did not deter Martinez as she even became more determined. Doctors transferred her to TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital, a neuro-rehabilitation center. There, Claudia went through a rigorous routine to get her body parts functioning again.
The Brawley Calif native will graduate from medical school in 2020. She has decided to focus on the area of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Neurology instead of being a neurosurgeon as her hands have lost some level of ability.