Refine Aesthetics Owner Reflects on Starting Med Spa After Rare Heart Attack at 34
Courtney Gill survived a sudden coronary artery dissection two weeks after giving birth
By Courtney Gill PAC, Owner; Refine Aesthetics
February is American Heart Health Month and this past year it really took on a whole new meaning for me. At the age of 34, 2 weeks after my daughter was born in October of 2019, I experienced a rare heart attack called SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection). The root cause is unknown, however, a combination of hormones, stress on the body through pregnancy and likely a few bad genetics caused the 4cm arterial dissection in my heart. This in turn formed a blood clot that narrowed my artery by 90%. Reflecting on this turn of events, I am lucky to be alive and wow, what a roller coaster it has been since.
I have always considered myself a healthy and athletic person as my wellbeing has been a top priority. When I entered the University of Texas at Austin, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare and decided that a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies was the best route for me. Following my dreams of pursuing my career, I did not expect to become a congestive heart failure patient right after giving birth, nor did I expect to battle postpartum/post heart attack depression in the midst of a world pandemic. And I, of course, did not expect my husband to raise our 2 children on his own.
This past year for the most part has been about trying to catch my breath and realize what I want for myself … What does my family life look like? What does my career look like in 5-10 years? What are the personal goals I have now that I have come so close to losing my life? I have tried to answer these questions while the uncertainty of the world is at play. In July of 2020, I decided to quit my job as a PA in Dermatology—a position I’d held the past 8.5 years—and take a 6-week road trip with my husband and two children to really envision my goals. At the end of it, I decided to lean in because why the hell not! When you are no longer the person you were, why not face fears of doubt and uncertainty. I made the decision to create my own vision with my own vibe, my own people, and from there I formed Refine Aesthetics—a boutique medspa in downtown Austin offering services to help people feel better about themselves. The name Refine comes from the desire we all have to make subtle improvements in ourselves and I, fortunately, have the privilege to help people execute these desires. Cosmetic Dermatology is so fulfilling for me as I literally get to see the change, see the smiles on the patients’ faces, and build relationships that have helped me stay sane in all this craziness.
I hope that we all continue to strive within this new normal—that more research is conducted to help us understand SCAD and therefore gain more knowledge of cardiac health. I also hope that I continue to have the drive to pursue my dreams of being a business owner and help build a space I am forever proud of.