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Jeff Pio

Mendham, NJ

I began having lumbar pain and severe sciatica around 2009. At first I attributed it to piriformis syndrome and spent a lot of time stretching the muscle, but it never provided more than temporary relief. The pain gradually kept getting worse and I experimented with other treatment options such as physical therapy, meloxicam, acupuncture, chiropractors, inversion benches, and lumbar injections. I tried not to let the pain dictate my activities but the downside was that my posture and the way I walked began to change dramatically to compensate for the pain. My kids and any of their friends would comically imitate my unorthodox method of walking. Eventually I developed quite a severe curvature in my spine from compensating. I also wasn’t sleeping. It was ruining my relationships and my job. In 2016 I decided surgery might be necessary because I was also tripping a lot when my left ankle would give out, and my left leg would routinely go completely numb after a short walk or stand. I was initially able to get a referral to the fine people at HSS through my employer. After x-rays, MRI, and neurological testing, they were absolutely certain they knew the problem was stenosis and slipped vertebrae. The stenosis could not have been clearer on the MRI. I was told the muscle atrophy in my left leg would continue if I did nothing, but they were equally confident I was a good candidate for corrective surgery. I was nearly 50 years old and had never even had a minor operation in my life and was now contemplating a major surgery. I was terrified, but felt a lot of comfort in the confidence that Dr. Rawlins displayed on both knowing what the issue was and his ability to fix it. Right up to being wheeled into the operating room in Feb 2017 he gave me the option to change my mind. I am so pleased I did not. After a 5 hour surgery where he fused my L4-S1 and cleared the stenosis, I awoke in the recovery room, probably even more scared. However, when Dr. Rawlins visited me that evening I knew as soon as he touched my left foot that he corrected my back problem. I recalled it as clearly as my children being born. I was in the hospital for 5 days and could not have been in better care. The entire staff was excellent. Upon discharge I was immobile for days at home but soon began forcing myself to walk. Within a month I was walking up to 4 miles. Within 10 weeks I was on my boat and enjoying pain free days that I hadn't experienced in years. At 5 months I was wakeboarding again and knew that I had my life back - the life I had when I was 10 years younger. I can't emphasize enough how scared I was to have the surgery, particularly after reading all the negative stories that populate the internet. I now wish I would have done this 8 years ago. I just saw Dr. Rawlins for my 6 month checkup. I hope he realizes the gift he gives people. He has changed my life.