UPDATE: Monday, June 26, 3pm
Nancy Small is on her way to Gunnedah.
Her husband, Colin, said she is being transferred to Gunnedah District Hospital in a patient transport vehicle.
Colin said “she’s going to have to build her strength” before she can be transferred to Tamworth Base Hospital for rehabilitation.
“She’s talking but very soft,” he said.
“She’s going one for the dozen but she can’t get all [the words] out.”
Colin said all was clear following her operation on Wednesday.
“They did a cat scan this morning and everything was good,” he said.
UPDATE: Wednesday, June 21, 3:30pm
Nancy is recovering well from an operation she had on Wednesday.
Her husband, Colin, and their daughter, Jodi, have been with her at John Hunter Hospital today.
“As soon as I got there, she said hello to me. Hello, as plain as anything,” Colin said.
“She was sitting up well. She was eating tinned peaches.”
Jodi said Nancy had spoken a few words during the day.
“She’s very bright, very alert,” she said.
“She looks really well. I’m so happy.”
Colin said Nancy wasn’t returned to her room until late last night and would be tired today.
Waterways Wildlife Park volunteer, Karen Fox, checked in on Nancy today, having a brief chat over the phone.
“I put the phone to her ear, and she said it real plain – she said, “How are you?’,” Colin said.
Colin and Jodi are waiting to find out what’s next for Nancy but all goes well, she should be able to get a transfer to Tamworth Base Hospital in about eight days.
He said he was hoping the doctors would be able to tell them about the next step later today.
UPDATE: Wednesday, June 21, 11:10am
Nancy Small is recovering from an operation at John Hunter Hospital.
The Gunnedah woman went into theatre on Tuesday afternoon to have the top of her skull reattached.
Her husband, Colin, not long arrived at the hospital today and is in good spirits.
“She’s sitting here really, really good. Her eyes are open,” he said.
“They said the operation went really well.
“She’s really looking good; the best I’ve seen her.”
More soon at nvi.com.au
UPDATE: Tuesday, June 20, 3:30pm
Nancy Small is being operated on at John Hunter Hospital.
The local is having the top of her skull replaced after it was removed a number of weeks ago.
“I spent yesterday with her and she should be having the operation now,” her husband, Col, said.
“Jodi, the nurse, rang Jodi, my daughter, today and said everything was ready to go at 2pm.”
The three-hour operation was meant to take place on Friday night but was put off for a few days.
“They thought there could have been a bit more infection. I asked the nurse yesterday,” Col said.
“She had a urinary infection last Friday. They had her prepped and everything to go up at 7pm and they thought, no, they’ll take another test.”
Col said he will spend tomorrow at the hospital.
The Namoi Valley Independent will have another update on Wednesday.
UPDATE: Thursday, June 15, 9:15am
Nancy Small is set to go into the operating theatre on Friday morning to have the top of her skull put back on.
Her husband, Colin, said she had a lumbar puncture last night and she has been given the all-clear.
“Everything was alright. They wanted to double-check,” he said.
“They must have had a little bit of doubt there.
Despite the delay, Colin said their daughter Jodi had been told that Nancy can still be transferred from John Hunter Hospital to Tamworth Base Hospital next Wednesday for rehabilitation.
“When I was there yesterday, the throat specialist for voice made her swallow and he said everything seems good in the throat, so no reason why she shouldn’t talk again,” he said.
“The doctors did tell me that voice is always the last thing to come back with the operation in the brain.
“It’s marvellous what that hospital does down there.”
UPDATE: Thursday, June 15, 9am
Nancy Small has experienced a set-back, with Wednesday’s operation postponed.
Her husband, Colin Small, was at John Hunter Hospital all yesterday, waiting to find out what was happening.
“We saw the nurse and she went and had a yarn to the big nurse then the ward lady came and they were going to do another lumbar puncture last night because they thought she might have had another virus of some sort where they took the skill out,” he said.
“If it was clear last night, they’re going to operate today.
“I should know by this afternoon.”
Colin said he will stay with Nancy all of Friday.
He is disappointed about the set-back, and said Nancy seemed well yesterday.
“I stayed with her all day yesterday,” he said.
“She ate really well yesterday. One of her best days, I reckon.
“And she talked a little bit yesterday.”
UPDATE: Wednesday, June 14, 10:20am
Nancy Small’s operation was cancelled at 7.30pm last night.
Her husband, Colin, said he is at John Hunter Hospital and is still waiting to find out why the operation to replace the top of her skull was cancelled.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said.
“Jodi, [our daughter], hasn’t been able to talk to any of the doctors.”
Colin said Nancy’s right knee was very swollen and she was taken in for a lumbar puncture last night.
After fasting all of yesterday, Colin said Nancy had a big appetite this morning.
“She sat up and had a good feed her this morning – a big plate of porridge,” he said.
More soon at www.nvi.com.au
UPDATE: Tuesday, June 13, 4pm
Gunnedah’s Nancy Small will go into the operating theatre tonight for surgery.
The local remains in John Hunter Hospital where the top of her skull will be put back on. Her husband, Colin, is on the road to see her after surgery.
“They’ve pegged Nancy to go in to get surgery. She’s second on the list,” Colin said.
“She’s had no breakfast, no lunch. She’s sound asleep there now.
“Jodi said yesterday she was in pretty good humour. Still not talking but she was pretty good.”
Colin said some friends visited Nancy on the weekend and took her outside into the sun in a princess chair.
If Nancy responds well in the week after the operation, she will be transferred to Tamworth Base Hospital.
“They’ve already told Jodi she’ll be in Tamworth a week tomorrow,” Colin said.
UPDATE: Thursday, June 8, 10am
Nancy Small has been moved out of the ICU at John Hunter Hospital and there are hope she will be sent to Tamworth shortly.
Her husband, Colin, said their daughter, Jodi, had spoken to Nancy’s doctors on Tuesday regarding the top of her skull, which was removed a few weeks ago.
“They just wanted to discuss putting back her skull on Tuesday. Wednesday at the latest,” he said.
There has been a delay in performing the operation because pockets of fluid developed around her brain a week ago, but now there is very little fluid.
“[They’ve] only been getting little dribs and drabs of the fluid out. And they’re going to put a little stint in there to drain it if necessary,” Colin said.
“After they put the skull back in there, they like to see her stay another seven days.”
Colin said after the top of Nancy’s skull was removed, the skin was stapled back together.
“They cut a 30 staple cut in here. It’s from the left ear right over to the halfway mark,” he said.
“It’s about 3.5 inches long, and an inch, inch and a half wide; that’s the hole that’s in Nancy’s head. You can see plain as anything and when it was full of fluid, it bubbled out.
“As it is now, you can see the brain working because there’s no skull there.
“I know when she gets headaches over it, she puts her hand up over her head.”
Colin said it had been a tough few weeks but Nancy was making good progress and had received a steady stream of visitors, both friends and family.
“She’s eating by herself and drinking. She’s talking very soft but she’s talking,” he said.
“She’s had nothing but visitors right through.
“My mate and his wife were there last week, and she had a good chat with her but she had to listen real close.”
The family hopes Nancy will soon be closer to home.
“Within two weeks, Jodi’s asked them to send her back,” he said.
“They were going to put her in rehab in Newcastle somewhere and Jodi asked them if they could put her in Tamworth somewhere.”
Colin is on his way to Newcastle today to see Nancy and tomorrow more family members will travel to see her.
“When she gets home, we’ve got to do some support to get this park back on the road for her sake, for the people. It’s been for the people right through,” Colin said.
“Everything’s going to be fixed, surely.”
UPDATE: Tuesday, June 6, 5pm
Nancy Small continues to make small improvements at John Hunter Hospital.
Her husband, Colin said Nancy started eating solid food this week with the help of their daughter, Jodi.
“She's going well,” he said.
“I spent three hours with Nancy last night and she had a full container of custard, sitting up by herself.
“Then she drank a fair bit of [liquid] with a straw.”
Nancy has also started talking again in the last two days.
“She says hello and that and goodbye but it’s very quiet,” Colin said.
“[Last night] I gave her her phone and it’s got a cover on it, and she opened the cover and she switched it on herself and she rang my mate Allan and put it up to her ear and just couldn’t talk.
“She’s not smiling enough and she’s very serious but she’s read all the cards that have been going there.”
Colin said he was going to have a talk with Nancy’s doctors tonight to see where things are up to.
“They’re going to put her skull back in,” he said.
“They had a CT scan yesterday and the doctor came up and told us last night there was a little bit of fluid building up on the brain and they drained it out of her back.
“They drained 30ml out.”
Colin is currently back in Gunnedah and said he would travel to Newcastle on Thursday to see Nancy.
UPDATE: Tuesday, May 30, 3.30pm
Nancy Small is now breathing completely on her own at John Hunter Hospital.
Her husband, Colin, returned to Newcastle on Monday after a few days in Gunnedah, and said he had seen a lot of change in her since he left on Friday.
“Nancy is very much alert. She’s watching TV all the time and playing with one of her get well cards and little teddy,” he said.
“She’s got no tubes in her mouth now. No oxygen. The only one she’s got is the one in her nose, which is used to feed her.
“She’s not talking yet. She’s trying to talk. She’s coughing better and there’s hardly any fluid on the lungs now.”
Colin said Nancy will move her arms and legs most of the time when asked but doesn’t always seem to comprehend the requests.
“My sister-in-law was there and as she was going, she said ‘Goodbye, Nance’. And she said as she was going, [Nancy] picked up her arm and waved at her,” he said.
Colin said despite the improvement in Nancy’s condition, there was still some uncertainty.
“She’s not out of the woods yet,” he said.
“It’s a long road because they’ve still got to wait until she’s talking to see how her brain’s been affected.”
UPDATE: Monday, May 29, 10am
Nancy Small is showing more signs of activity following an operation on Friday.
Her husband, Colin, said she went in for surgery late Friday afternoon because she had “pockets of fluid develop on her brain”.
“They put drain holes on both sides of her head to bleed fluid from her brain,” he said.
Colin said she was on oxygen but was “a lot better”.
“When she can do without that, they’re going to be a hole in her throat,” he said.
Colin said Nancy woke up on Saturday and was “looking around”.
“She watched TV for about an hour and a half yesterday,” he said.
Colin is currently in Gunnedah and is returning to Newcastle today.
More this afternoon at www.nvi.com.au
UPDATE: Tuesday, May 23, 5pm
Nancy Small remains in a critical condition in the ICU but is now off life support.
Her husband, Colin Small, said she had picked up a “bug” overnight, and samples were sent away this morning with results expected late today.
“They said they should be able to clear that big up fairly well once they know what it is,” he said.
Her right lung is still retaining fluid as a result of pneumonia.
“She is still in a coma but she is hanging onto my hand a lot harder,” Colin said.
“She’s opened her eyes for a minute or two minutes, which is the longest.
“She seems to have more strength in her left arm because she really squeezed my hand today when I was talking to her.”
The Small children are keeping vigil by Nancy’s bedside while her granddaughter, Cindy Whitfield, manages the Waterways Wildlife Park.
Colin said the support from Cindy and the community has been great.
“Volunteers, they’re coming from everywhere,” he said.
“They were 11 cars [at the park] today.”
Colin said community members were lending a hand at the park and dropping in hot food.
“It’s fantastic of the people of Gunnedah and the council sent us a big beautiful bunch of flowers today,” he said.
“They sent it to the bedside.”
Colin said family members had also received free parking at the hospital which eased the strain.
UPDATE: Tuesday, May 23, 11am
Nancy Small remains in a critical condition on life support at John Hunter Hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm last week.
The Gunnedah local was moved from ICU briefly on Monday but was rushed into emergency when she stopped breathing following chest x-rays.
“They worked on her for some time, half an hour, and then she started breathing a quarter of her own self,” her husband,” Colin said.
“At this stage she is still on life support for just a couple of days to see how it goes.”
Colin said her right lung was drained after x-rays confirmed that she had developed pneumonia.
She is currently in ICU and has been put into a chair to help her breathing.
“She’s not awake,” Colin said.
“She opened her left eye for me today for a couple of seconds.”
Nancy had an operation last week in which the top of her skull was removed and clips were inserted so no more blood could enter the aneurysm. Colin said she didn’t suffer from a stroke.
“It’s perfect now. No infection or anything,” he said.
“It was a successful operation.
“They did two scans since then to check the pegs were still intact.”
Colin said the top of her skull had not been replaced at this stage because of swelling in the brain.
“[We’re] just waiting now for the signs to improve,” he said.
UPDATE: Tuesday, May 23, 10:35am
Nancy Small remains in critical condition in the ICU at John Hunter Hospital, according to a Hunter New England Health spokesperson.
UPDATE: Monday, May 22, 10:25am
Nancy Small will be moved out of ICU today, according to her granddaughter, Cindy Whitfield.
“She was awake all night last night and she’s just progressing a bit more every day,” Cindy said.
“She’s opening eyes more and moving her arms.
“I actually went and saw her yesterday myself.”
UPDATE: Friday, May 19, 8:30am
Well-known Gunnedah woman Nancy Small is in a ‘critical’ but stable condition at John Hunter Hospital, according to a Hunter New England Health spokesperson.
The Gunnedah community continues to pour out its concerns, well wishes and support following the Namoi Valley Independent’s article on Thursday.
Thursday, May 18 12:15pm
Gunnedah local Nancy Small is in a stable condition in the ICU in John Hunter Hospital.
The 69-year-old woman was airlifted from Gunnedah District Hospital by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter on Monday with a medical condition.
Nancy’s granddaughter, Cindy Whitfield contacted the Namoi Valley Independent on behalf of Nancy’s husband Colin, and her family on Thursday morning.
“We don’t have much to go on but she is doing fine,” Cindy said.
“She’s passed one hurdle.
“Thank you to everyone for their calls and food and flowers. We appreciate it.”