Meet Trish Kilby: dedicated fitness instructor (her spin classes are killer!!!) and GRACEDBYGRIT influencer by day; mom, wife, and survivor of a heart attack by night. Trish is sharing her story with us to raise awareness for heart disease and inspire other women to continue living their lives to the fullest, even through hard (or, we like to say, gritty) times. Read on for a chilling story that will remind you to appreciate each and every day, no matter what.
Why is this so important for you to talk about?
I am 47 years old. Women in my age bracket are married with kids, are constantly busy, and keep going and going without stopping to think about their own wellbeing. We never put ourselves first or just stop and listen to our bodies. We push off things like check-ups, mammograms, and physicals because we are just so busy. I want to raise awareness for heart disease and inspire other women. Every woman needs to check in with herself and take care of herself. Listen to your body, listen to your heart, listen to your head and always listen to your gut!
How did you realize you had a heart condition?
It all happened on a Sunday morning 1 1/2 years ago. I was in Laguna having a spa day with my sister-in-law and we did a little workout. I felt a pain in my chest. I thought to myself, why is this happening? The pain lasted for a few minutes, maybe about 15, then it went away. But, the pain continued for a couple of days and it became more present. On Wednesday night I woke up at 2 AM with chest pain. It just wasn’t going away. I tried yoga, even meditation, but nothing worked. I sat on the couch and turned on a movie, trying to ‘check out’, but 2 and half hours later I started feeling nauseous and lightheaded. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Everything was white, white, white. It was now 5:15 AM. I was supposed to teach a class at 6 AM. I knew something was not right and went straight to the hospital.
What happened next?
I had an angiogram. They drugged me but I was still awake. Before this happened, the nurse was describing what they were going to do and the side effects. My husband came in and saw me just staring like a ‘deer in the headlights’, crying, and panicking. They started wheeling me down the hall and I thought to myself, “Did I just say goodbye to my kids last night? I don’t want my daughter to walk down the aisle without me there.”
Now, I know I need to make sure I’m doing the best to take care of myself first. I’m not going to be as good of a parent if I’m not taking care of myself first.
I had an event monitor for 2 weeks or so after that and had another one put on last month in July. The event monitor I wore in July was just to make sure that everything was ticking away as it should be. I will be wearing one of these once a year for 2 weeks as a precautionary measure. Luckily they did collect an event that occurred and I am now taking meds for it.
How do you feel about all of this now, a year and a half later?
Just because something like this happens, it doesn’t mean your life is over. You want to keep going and pushing through like you used to. There is so much doctors can do for heart malfunctions. This hasn’t slowed me down at all. If anything, it’s made me more aware of living each day to stay positive and strong.
Do you feel okay now?
Totally. Every now and then, I will feel my heart do weird things though. What happened a year and a half ago only lasted 3 seconds but it felt like my heart was slowing down and being pulled backwards. The doctors called it a heart attack. I had a vasospasm. It is a condition that is very hard to catch when it happens. People with this condition can have mini heart attacks without even realizing.
Why is it important for women to hear your story?
Heart disease is the number one killer of women and many women don’t realize that. There are a lot of athletes that this is happening to now from marathon runners to triathletes. When this happened to me, every doctor, every nurse, and every everybody was shocked. “You’re a 46 year old athlete and fitness instructor and YOU have a heart condition?”
It really can happen to anybody. Unfortunately, it’s happening to these women who take care of themselves. I can’t stop thinking about the women who don’t take care of themselves…
What advice do you have for women who may be at risk or who may not even know if they are?
Well, genetics does play a big part. Heart disease is in my family so I was very aware of it. If you have heart disease in your family, get checked out by a cardiologist and get an EKG while you still can, while you still feel good, so you have a baseline. A year prior, at 45 years old, I went in to get set-up just in case. A year later, I walked in there with heart trouble.
For women with no family history of heart disease, if you are feeling any kind of chest pain or heartburn, pay attention. If the symptoms turn into nausea, paleness, lightheadedness, and/or tingling in the fingers, just go to the hospital. Money cannot be a factor. That’s why we have insurance. We have insurance for a reason.
Life is more important. Wouldn’t it be great to know that it was just nothing? To put your mind at ease? Get rid of any fear and just go get checked out. You can’t be afraid of what the answer may be.