Nicole shares her story of recovery

Content warning: This article discusses stillbirth and might be triggering for some readers. 

Read part 1 of Nicole's story 'Saving Nicole's life' here

“There’s not much I remember about the day I got sick or my time in ICU, but my husband Dave often tells me about the incredible staff who looked after me, he calls them angels,” Nicole said.

After Nicole’s time in ICU, she was transferred to Neurosurgery Ward 6 West.

“The team on 6 West went above and beyond for me.” 

“They even surprised me with a visit from my dog Lassy before my second brain surgery.

“Because of coronavirus, Lassy wasn’t able to come onto the ward, but they arranged to have Lassy meet me outside the Austin Health tower. This was so incredibly touching,” Nicole said.

What also stood out to Nicole was the incredible support both her and Dave received from 6 West Nurse Briana Wigginton.

“She was there for us and helped us through some pretty difficult conversations around the risks of my second brain surgery and what could happen in the worst-case scenario.

“This was very confronting, but Briana really helped us through this tough time,” Nicole said.

Briana and Nicole have a special connection

On Nicole’s birthday in April, Pastoral Care staff from Austin Health and Mercy Hospital for Women arranged for Nicole and Dave to spend some time with Ned.

“The staff were so kind and compassionate, and we thank them for giving us this opportunity to spend time with him,” Nicole said.

When Nicole left 6 West the staff made a guard of honour and sent her off with a standing ovation.

“I rarely cry, but this brought me to tears,” Nicole said.

Nicole is now receiving rehabilitation at Royal Talbot’s ABI Unit.

“I’ve had speech, OT and physio every day. This has been incredible for me and has made such a difference with my recovery.

“I am now going to upper limbs group, daily living group, doing PT, going to art therapy and music therapy.

“Everyone who runs therapy has been extremely kind and caring and has been there for me in ways that I cannot describe, I have really liked everyone who has worked with me. I am very grateful.”

Nicole recently took 45 unassisted steps, which was her personal best. She has now gone on to take 210 unassisted steps and is able to use a 4-wheel walker to get around on her own. The wounds on her head from her surgeries have also healed.

“I’m getting there,” Nicole said.

One of Nicole’s greatest supports throughout this journey has been her husband Dave.

“Before the changes to the visitor policy, Dave was here every single day visiting me and I could not be luckier.”

“Sometimes he would bring the dog and we’d eat outside. Sometimes I forget where I actually am. I love that he treats me as if we were at home,” she said.

“There are so many people I’d love to thank for helping me along the way.”

If you or a loved one has experienced stillbirth, newborn loss, pregnancy loss and would like some support you can contact SANDS Australia on 1300 072 637.