This story was written in June 2015. Amelia sadly passed away in September 2016, and is dearly missed. Her family want us to continue to share her story to help make others aware of the symptoms of a heart attack so they can catch it quickly.
Amelia Thompson’s family remember the weekend she had her first heart attack, as it was the day after daughter Hazel’s wedding in 1987.
Hazel explains, “Mammy had been running around getting everything prepared for the wedding. Despite feeling unwell, she had been so busy, as mums are when their daughters get married, so she had ignored it. Besides, she did not want to bother anyone. She didn’t want to spoil my day.”
Amelia takes up the story, “All day at the wedding, I felt lethargic and unwell but I didn’t know what it was. By the time I was going to bed, I had pains in my arm and chest but just took a painkiller and went to sleep. Over the next couple of days I was still tired and even had to go to my bed with a house full of visitors, something I would never normally do. Finally on the Monday, a friend called the doctor and he sent me on to the hospital. The doctor there told me that I’d had a heart attack.”
Over the next two weeks, Amelia had two more heart attacks, one so severe that the family were all called to her bedside. Over the next few years, she had bad angina, a number of heart attacks, a triple bypass, and finally, last year, was fitted with a pacemaker. She has also had a stroke and been diagnosed with a condition called Atrial Fibrillation (AF) which is an abnormal heart rhythm.
Hazel continued, “Mammy has had a number of health issues over the years but is a fighter. She has been through so much and yet she still has a smile for us all. She has arthritis and sometimes the chest pains can be confused with arthritic pain, but over the years she has learnt that when the pain goes down her arms, it is a heart attack and she has to phone 999.
“She will be 81 this year. She is an inspiration to us all. She has 6 children, 11 grandchildren and now has one great–grandchild. I am so proud of her. She inspired my son to do medicine and he has just completed his first year at Queen’s University.”
Hazel also paid tribute to her father who, at nearly 78 years of age, cares for his wife. The couple are looking forward to celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary next year.
Hazel concluded, “We also want to use our experience to tell others how important it is to act when the symptoms of a heart attack appear. Mammy was so busy preparing for my wedding that she kept her health worries to herself. Other Mammys may not be so fortunate so I really want people to know the symptoms of a heart attack and call 999.”
Find out more about the cardiac support services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.