Locals rally behind 'battler' after critical head injury
HELEN Flanagan is every day defying the odds.
Less than a month after she suffered critical head injuries falling down a flight of stairs walking home across the Oakey railway overpass, Ms Flanagan, 57, is taking her first steps towards recovery.
Her son Darren Flanagan described his mum as a "real battler" who, despite suffering major trauma, was defying doctors' expectations after the harrowing accident.
"They weren't sure she was going to pull through at all," Mr Flanagan told The Chronicle.
"To get to the point where she is now, where she's awake and can speak and walk, very gingerly, is pretty amazing.
"As soon as I found out, I flew out from the US the next day and the diagnosis was pretty grim."
She will undergo her final surgery next week to reinstall the skull plate which had been removed after the swelling on her brain went down.
Ms Flanagan's short-term memory is significantly impacted and, to a lesser degree, her long-term memories but the doctors see her early progress as a strong indication of her ongoing recovery.
But going forward she will need daily support and help - something Mr Flanagan said his "fiercely independent" mother would never ask for.
He said family and friends had been by her side since she was taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital from Toowoomba the day of her fall on June 28 and her other son, Joe, and sister Cheryl Morley had been pillars of strength.
Mr Flanagan said his mum thanked the men who came to her rescue when she fell.
Now, and to Ms Flanagan's astonishment, the wider Darling Downs community has rallied for her with an online fund raising more than $1300.
"She's a typical old-school woman, very independent, works really hard," Mr Flanagan said.
"She's a really hard worker, a good person and is just fun to be around so what has happened to her is a real tragedy."
While she has a long road ahead of her, the support of the Oakey community, her friends and family is keeping her going.
"She's a tough old girl and I think the big thing here is mum has always been a bit of a battler for Joe, my brother and I, and now it's time for us to help her out and do the right thing.
"It's one of those things that when you're a kid you don't really take it all in and what it means, but she did all of that for us, and now it's our turn to make sure she has everything she needs."
Support the fund online at gofundme.com.au/helen- flanagan-recovery-fund.