PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Six years ago, 26-year-old Thyda Kiev first stepped foot in the Providence Planet Fitness.
But she didn’t actually step, because she was bound to a wheelchair.
Now, that wheelchair is an accessory, not a necessity. In fact, it’s part of her workout.
A life-threatening moment at 11 years old threatened to sideline the Cranston native forever. On July 19, 2003, what started as an excruciating headache quickly escalated.
“Every footstep I took, my head would hurt even more and more,” Kiev recalled. “My dad laid me on his lap and I had blood, vomit, whatever, all over me and then I fainted right there.”
Kiev later learned an aneurysm in her brain had burst. She underwent brain surgery to relieve the swelling and was in a coma for three months. When she woke up, she was told she’d never walk again.
Fast forward to high school, where Kiev said she was constantly picked on.
“I was overweight,” Kiev said. “I was really round. I was teased.”
When physical therapy failed, Kiev decided to try something different.
She says watching other people use their legs at Planet Fitness inspired her to use hers and now she’s inspiring them too.
Her goal now is to work on her balance and continue to get stronger.
When asked what she would tell an 11-year-old going through what she went through, she said it’s important to keep your head up.
“Everything happens for a reason. You’ve just got to be patient,” she said. “I wish back then I had someone to tell me that. I thought my life was over, I thought it was done for me. I wouldn’t get better, I wouldn’t get stronger.”
But Kiev has come a long way since then. She may not be small anymore, but she’s strong, in more ways than one.