Robert R. Cawley, D.O.
Dover, NH 03802
“I now have a different outlook on life,” he said when asked what’s changed since August, 21, 2008 - the day Jimmy Nightingale, now 37, almost lost his life in a motorcycle accident.
“It was a pretty routine day. I was heading home from work on my motorcycle, and - like they say, I was just a mile from my home when disaster struck. I looked away for a second, and when I looked back, the car in front of me had stopped. I had nowhere to go. I remember hitting the back of the car and flying head over heels over the roof, landing in the roadway, and seeing the front bumper of a Ford F-150 truck coming the other way inching closer to my body lying in the middle of the road. I couldn’t get away. There was nothing I could do.”
In seconds, Jimmy’s life changed forever – in more ways than he could have imagined. After paramedics stabilized him that day on the road, he was transported to a local hospital, then to Boston where he remained for several weeks for treatment for a crushed pelvis, broken femurs, broken ribs, skin lacerations and more before heading to a facility in New Hampshire for another 6 weeks of rehabilitation.
“I was told I may never walk again, never work again and that I may even lose my left leg due to the damage I received. That moment right there, I told myself whatever it takes, I will walk again and return to the life I once had. I don’t like people telling me I can’t do something. I have two kids – they were 11 and 9 when this happened. I thought to myself what kind of role model would I be if I just gave up? It was my driving motivation. I changed my tune to what kind of role model would I be if I stood up and kept going?”
His legs were spared infection and they started to heal. He credits the doctors in Boston for saving his life. But it was his own mindset that got him moving. He put himself on a track to get better, get home and get back the life he once had.
Six months after the accident, Jimmy was back at home, out in the yard changing the motor on his drag car. But the pain was still severe and the fatigue was burdensome. He couldn’t stand for more than 15-20 minutes at a time without feeling intense pain. Things he used to love, like snowboarding and riding his ATV, were quickly becoming faded memories.
Jimmy was referred to the Seacoast Pain Institute of New England and, subsequently, the Center for Pain Management at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital for treatment of his constant pain, which he described as “a flaming truck with 16 penny spikes laying on top of my legs."
But now he isn’t in constant pain anymore, thanks to the collaborative team who cared for him.
Fast forward to a beautiful summer morning in August, 2015 almost 7 years to the day of his accident. Jimmy Nightingale is sitting at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital waiting for a treatment that he says, changed his life. The scars, visible on his legs from the accident, pale in comparison to the unwitting enthusiasm he shared that August day. After working with the Pain team to find the right treatment, the pain is now a distant memory that surfaces once in a great while, and is something that serves only as a reminder of where he once was — and the scars, a trophy to celebrate his new life.
His team spent many months trying to find the right treatment option that gave Jimmy the best opportunity to live a normal life. They worked with him on different methods and with different medications and didn’t give up until they found the right solution.
“The staff here is phenomenal,” he said. When asked why, he beamed, “I feel like they are family.”
“I was a tough patient to deal with. I was in pain, I was scared to be in the hospital, I was having flashbacks. I was not in a good place - but they stayed with me. They tried treatment plans to ease my pain, to get me to a comfortable level. Nothing was working, but they didn’t give up. Most importantly, my doctor listened to me. He didn’t force me to try treatment options that didn’t work for me or my lifestyle.”
The right solution was eventually found. Thanks to Dr. Nathan Jorgensen, his staff at Seacoast Pain and the team at the Center for Pain Management, the pain is now faded to a point where he is back working for the Kittery Public Works Department, where he can be found grading roads, fixing culverts, plowing snow, and many other high intensity activities, including volunteering for the Kittery Fire Department.
Jimmy still experiences some pain, but it is very manageable. He is not taking any pain medication. He is back to work, back to doing the things he loves and back to enjoying life. He now comes to the Center only when he feels the pain start to escalate to a point where help is needed. At the time of this interview, it had been almost a year since his last treatment.
Claudia Hunt, RN, at the Center smiles when she talks about Jimmy. “He was frightened, he didn’t know what to expect and he was reluctant. But we continued to work with him to find the right treatment plan for him. We didn’t find a magical answer overnight. Dr. Jorgensen continually worked with him to find the right solution. With all that Jimmy has been through, and the time he has spent at the Center with us - he has become a great friend to all of us. We have seen him through some of the darkest times in his life. Now when we see him - which isn’t very frequent - and that is a good thing, it means things are working - he is smiling and talking about all of the great things he is doing. In fact, he just shared pictures with us from a 5K race he just participated in!”
While Jimmy no longer drives a motorcycle (his wife forbids it), he does still live the carefree lifestyle. He lives for the moment. He appreciates things like sunsets, walks on the beach, and knows it was his stubborn tenacity that helped him through the biggest challenge of his life.
He did most of the work to get where he is now, but he thanks the team at Wentworth-Douglass for not giving up on him, and helping him meet the challenge head on, and win.
“I consider them friends. They are great people.”
For more information about the Center for Pain Management, call (603) 740-2276.