Nicholas Gainer is a blessed man. And he knows it.
The 33-year-old New Franklin man would like nothing better than to line up the guardian angels responsible for saving his life to give them a friendly pat on the back.
Of course, that would be sometime down the road. Right now, the very thought of a pat on the back is painful.
That’s because Gainer is still healing from the big spill he took while riding his motorcycle, rounding a sharp turn and colliding with what witnesses estimate to be four deer on South Main Street, not far from where he lives.
Gainer, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, suffered 11 broken ribs (seven on the right, four on the left) and a fractured collarbone.
The accident happened Aug. 3, said Gainer, a veteran motorcycle rider.
“I had been out riding earlier. … I was about to put the bike away when I decided since it was such a nice night I would take it out again. … I took the curve and I remember seeing two deer and thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to hit them.’ ”
All he recalls after that is waking up in the ambulance.
Complicating an already grave situation is the fact that Gainer has cystic fibrosis (CF), a serious genetic disorder that causes thick, sticky secretions to build up in the lungs and digestive tract, and can lead to a reduced life expectancy.
While there is no cure, CF is treatable with medicine and what is referred to as chest clapping or percussion. This involves breaking up the mucus by having the chest and back pounded several times a day, by hand or with an inflatable therapy vest that uses high-frequency airwaves.
With the injuries to Gainer’s ribs, that traditional therapy is next to impossible, even with high-dose pain pills.
Gainer was initially transported to Akron General Medical Center but ended up at Akron Children’s Hospital’s Cystic Fibrosis Clinic, where he is known to the staff. “I’m there at least once a year or a year and a half for a two-week tune-up” with an IV, he said.
Fortunately for Gainer, the hospital’s CF Clinic also has a new piece of technology he credits with saving his life.
It’s called a Frequencer, also known as an electro-acoustical transducer. A wand is lightly moved over the body to break up those life-threatening secretions with sound waves, and most importantly to Gainer, without the threat of pain.
Gainer was first introduced to the Frequencer during his nearly two-week stay at the hospital’s CF Clinic. He was “blessed” by Clinical Technologies Inc., the Broadview Heights company that markets the device, to be able to use one for a month while his ribs heal at home.
The added beauty here is that Clinical Technologies agreed not to bill him.
Gainer was happy to demonstrate the device, which he uses three times a day on six different spots on his body, three minutes each. “It doesn’t hurt at all,” he said, placing the wand on his chest area. “But it definitely does the job! The pain-free aspect is really, really nice. Without it, my health would definitely deteriorate.”
Gainer is eternally grateful to Clinical Technologies for allowing him to use the device, which has a purchase price of $18,000. “Not enough data is known about it for my insurance company to support the cost right now,” he said.
Surprisingly, his bike, which he purchased in March, sustained only minor damage. “All it needs is an air filter and a mirror. It just has a few scuff marks,” he noted.
Gainer, who looks forward to getting back on his bike after he’s healed, has promised two things to his family, friends and the hospital’s staff: never again to ride without a helmet or ride at night.
He was diagnosed with CF when he was 5 months old. At that time, he said, the life expectancy was only six years.
Again, he says, “I know how blessed I am!”
Accident unites families
The family of Allyson “Ally” Supple, 13, has much to be thankful for, as she, too, was able to escape serious injury in an accident.
The Barberton girl was crossing Norton Avenue near Harvard Avenue on the afternoon of Sept. 4 when she was struck by a car, her head shattering the windshield.
Miraculously, Ally spent only one day at Akron Children’s Hospital; she suffered a concussion but will be returning for follow-up visits.
The driver was not charged.
Tony Supple penned these thoughts after his daughter’s accident:
“My daughter was walking home from school and went across the street at the top of Norton Avenue — on a hill — like four blocks from our house, when she didn’t see a car and he didn’t see her either. Needless to say she was hit, and her head shattered the man’s windshield. And then she flew under his car.”
Supple said he was asleep, as he had to work later that night, and his wife, Jacki, was upstairs when they heard a neighbor at the front door screaming that Ally had been struck by a car. “Not the way I wanted to wake up,” Supple continued.
“To make a long story short, she spent one day in Children’s Hospital with a concussion, her legs badly bruised, and her spirits crushed like it’s all her fault.”
Ally is still under a doctor’s care and has yet to return to school. She has headaches and some memory loss.
After Jacki got the police report, the Supples called the driver, Durwin Barkley, 42, of Akron, and offered to pay for his windshield. “He said, ‘No, I just want her to be OK.’ He even offered to pay for her medicine and other stuff.”
“What an amazing man and family,” Supple said after meeting him in person. “It was truly a God moment when he handed Ally a card and she handed him a letter she’d written to him. … Very hard not to cry. He said ‘I am your new Big Brother’ and he said he wants to stay in contact. … We left hugging each other. And we gave them a container of cupcakes and cookies that Jacki, Ally and [his other daughter] Lauren made for them. Truly a beautiful ending to a tragic event.”
Didn’t matter a particle to the Supples, who are white, that Barkley is African-American, or vice versa.
Jacki marvels how Barkley has called every day since the accident. “He’s never wanted anything from us,” she said. “Instead, he’s helped her alleviate the stress. He flat-out told us, ‘We’re family now!’ ”
Barkley said his main concern was and still is about Ally and how she’s doing. “She needs to get well,” he said.
“When I found out that the accident happened because she was trying to get away from some girls who were bullying her, that really bothered me. … I’m 6’1” and weigh 350 pounds and I’ve never bullied anyone in my life …
“Like I said, she’s family now. Anything I can do to help her I will.”
Barkley said he’s invited Ally and her family to his daughter’s birthday party next week. She’s turning 3.“I want them to celebrate with us.”
Tony Supple, who labeled Durwin Barkley a godsend, summed things up this way:
“We serve an awesome God!”
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.