Having a Chronic illness and applying to Medical School

Hey there,

US applicant here and I have had a chronic illness that spiked the summer before my undergrad. I have spent undergrad in and out of treatments and as a result, have had many prescription meds with severe side effects. Currently, I am doing much better than my earlier years of undergrad and my GPA has an overall upward trend. However, as you can imagine, my grades have not been the best as I have been preoccupied with other things. My major is international affairs and minor in english as I have many other interests and love diverging in the intersectionality of medicine and the other aspects of study relevant in this world (politics in medicine!).
Two questions:

  1. Do med schools have access to my medical records? If they do, will I then not have to explain much of why my grades are the way that they are?
  2. If they do not, should I write about my illness in my essays? It is a large part of why I want to be a doctor as the death of my friend in treatment due to misdiagnosis has encouraged me to pursue a career that will help me be the doctor that we needed when I was in treatment (not to diss on all doctors! Just my personal experience and I currently have the best doctor that is helping me). I was deterred from my medical pathway (I “gave up” on the sciences when I was in treatment, as telling from my major/minor) originally but I came back to it when I saw that this there is a reason I went through what I went through.

—> side note: working with my physical therapist and recovering from my treatment, my chronic illness should not impede on my ability to be a physician in the future (fingers crossed!).

Thank you for your help. It has been a long and difficult journey to get here so any help would be greatly appreciated.