Resilient councillor warns of silent symptoms

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 30/07/2013
Leonie Gill
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
HOSPITALISED: Wellington City Council candidate Leonie Gill is back in hospital.

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Three weeks after being shocked back to life in Wellington Hospital's accident and emergency department, Leonie Gill is back discussing trees and rubbish bins with constituents.

The 65-year-old Southern ward councillor is still planning to contest this year's election, despite suffering a heart attack.

"As long as I'm well enough, I'll be working for the constituents," she said yesterday.

But she's also calling on other women to be aware of the symptoms, after agreeing to go to hospital only at the insistence of her children. "I'm incredibly grateful [to my children], especially when I'd been arguing with them a bit - no, no, no."

However, about three weeks ago, when she had been feeling pains in her arms - her only symptom - her children called an ambulance.

About three hours later, while she was being monitored in the emergency department, a clot caused her to go into cardiac arrest. "The next thing I knew I was being shocked," she said.

She always thought heart attacks would be like they were portrayed on television, with people clutching their chests and falling down, but she had since been told that many women did not experience chest pain at all when having a one. "It's something that women should be really aware of. I had no chest pain, I just had sore arms . . . They're called silent heart attacks."

Many people did not remember being shocked but she did - and it was very painful.

She is now back home after spending about 10 days in hospital. While she still gets tired, Mrs Gill said she was improving every day, and was still working to help people in her ward.

Yesterday, she said she'd been helping a resident with a tree dispute and she had another sitting in front of her talking about the need for more rubbish bins in a local park.

"It has only one rubbish bin for the entire park. The officers think that that's enough, I don't," she said.

She still plans to contest this year's election in October.

"I don't want a whole lot of people ringing up with sympathy . . . the moment I can't work for them is when I can't stand."

News this week that Wellington Airport had backed down on its plans for a five-minute dropoff limit was something she had fought for, and there were still other things she wanted to achieve, she said.

That included ensuring that Rongotai residents were not adversely affected by airport development, and pushing for the beautification of Lyall Bay beach.

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- The Dominion Post

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