Things have come full circle for a Texas doctor who has beaten a rare brain condition.
Back in 2011, 31-year-old Dr. Claudia Martinez was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, an abnormality where portions of the brain extend through the natural opening at the base of the skull, which also creates pressure on the brain.
After surviving six brain surgeries and a stroke in the span of five years, Dr. Martinez now works as a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) third-year physician resident at TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital, the same place she was once a patient.
“You learn so many things in medical school but one of the things you don’t learn is how to be a patient,” Dr. Claudia Martinez told Good Morning America. “What they’re feeling, what they’re thinking, what their families are thinking — and we went through that for so many years, me and my mom, just navigating the medical system from the other side and seeing all the barriers we had to go over.”
Although Dr. Martinez’ experience was a scary one, she now has a better understanding of what her patients go through and is better equipped to help them get through this difficult time in their lives.
Looking back, Martinez recalls many moments when she didn’t think she’d ever make it this far. After her stroke, she was unable to walk or function from the neck down. That’s when she was transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann, where she received physical, speech, and occupational therapies for an entire year.
Despite the long road ahead, Dr. Martinez refused to give up and worked as hard as she could to prove to herself that her disability or medical illness would not define her.
After her recovery, she finished her degree program and graduated from UTHealth Houston McGovern Medical School. She matched with TIRR for her residency, where everything has now come full circle!
Hear more of Dr. Martinez’ inspiring story in the video below: