Joliet motorcyclist is optimistic about his ‘new normal’ following devastating accident

Tim Flannery: It’s ‘just a new turn in the road’

The Joliet-area Big Hearted Bikers organization is hosting a spaghetti dinner Friday night to help a fellow biker with his medical bills.

Tim Flannery, 61, of Joliet was thrown off his motorcycle and 50 feet in the air near Broadway Street in Joliet about 11:30 p.m. July 8, when he was riding home from work, according to Joann Flannery, Tim’s wife of 36 years.

He’s hoping to come home by early 2022. Medical bills are in the millions, Joann said.

“Between July 8 and Aug. 1, the hospital bill – not the doctors or specialists, just the hospital bill – was well over $2 million,” Joann said. “Luckily, his insurance is pretty good; however, he’s on short-term disability, which will end Jan. 11.”

Randy Jones, a member of the organization, said once someone messaged him about Tim, he knew the Big Hearted Bikers had to help.

“We see people in need, we try to raise money,” Jones said. “We also do a lot with animal rescues.”

Joann said a phone app had alerted her of the accident and it showed Tim’s phone was in a ditch. By the time Joann reached the area, Tim had already been transported to a local hospital and was being airlifted soon to a trauma center, she said.

By then, Tim had received 10 to 15 units of blood and had coded three times en route, Joann said. Tim had shattered his pelvis, which was bleeding in six different places. He also had broken both arms and legs and six ribs; had swelling in the cervical and lumbar parts of his spine, an open fracture in his right elbow, and his left shoulder “was completely gone,” Joann said.

Tim also had a “touch of pneumothorax,” Joann said.

“And so they rushed him into emergency surgery,” Joann said. “The doctor told me it did not look good and that I should probably call family and have them come in.”

Tim spent seven weeks at the trauma center, moved to a “step-down hospital” and then went to another hospital in septic shock, Joann said.

Over the last few months, Tim’s had serious heart arrhythmias, a perforated bowel that required two emergency surgeries (Tim now has a colostomy bag), nerve damage, kidney issues and an infection in his gall bladder, Joann said.

Tim also is now an insulin-dependent diabetic, Joann said. He’s had a total of three surgeries: on his pelvis, elbow and shoulder, she said.

“He developed pneumonia and eventually had to be put on a ventilator,” Joann said.

Tim also has been rushed back to the hospital because of breathing difficulty and low oxygen, Joann said. For a while, Tim had limited ability to communicate, she said. He recently had his first shower, Joann said.

She and Tim also do daily devotionals together, pray together, and she’s hung a garland of cards well-wishers sent to encourage him, she said. Many of those cards are from strangers, she said.

But Tim especially loved his recent visit with his nearly 4-year-old grandson, Colin.

“I love Colin so much,” Tim said. “He climbed up in bed with me and it was just ... oh my gosh! It was so uplifting. It made my day.”

Tim said he doesn’t remember the accident; his first memory was waking up in the hospital. He’s struggled with depression since that night, but said he really wants to create a new normal for himself, which he calls “just a new turn in the road.”

“Sometimes I lay in bed and feel sorry for myself, but I think, ‘God’s going to push me tomorrow to do some physical therapy harder and make myself better,’ ” Tim said.

That’s why Tim celebrates each milestone: being able to raise an arm, the removal of his trachea and then his feeding tube. He is in a subacute center and will be moved to a rehabilitation center in a week or so, Joann said.

Still, Tim never will regain movement to the point where he’ll walk, significantly move his arms or take care of any of his personal needs, Joann said. But Tim is choosing not to focus on that.

“The past is the past. I can’t change that,” Tim said. “But I’m going to change the future. I’m going to work hard at my therapy and get the best I can out it.”

Tim’s fundraising spaghetti dinner will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Dale Athletic Club, located at 704 Moen Ave. in Rockdale. Dinners are $10 each and carryout is available. There will be raffles, too.

Can’t attend the spaghetti dinner? Donate directly to the family through Zelle at momthegreat75@yahoo.com and Venmo at @Joann-Flannery-1.