I came to HSS and Dr. Milani during the height of the COVID pandemic for NYC in the late spring of 2020. I was experiencing utterly excruciating, electrocuting back pain that prevented me from being able to sit down. I was frantic and growing desperate at the painfully slow process of scheduling an appointment with a back surgeon in the area. I started searching for other options and eventually I stumbled upon an 800 number for HSS online offering concierge scheduling service for back pain during the pandemic. I called immediately and a very, very supportive and helpful person answered the phone, steered me through a series of questions, and scheduled an appointment right away for me with Dr. Milani.
The results of a previous MRI read like I would be crippled for life and I was extremely concerned about my long-term prospects, very worried that my ability to be active and pain-free would be compromised for the rest of my life. As a runner and very active person who relies on physical activity for fitness and well-being, I was deeply concerned. Dr. Milani reassured me he could help me. He insisted I did not need surgery, that surgery in fact could increase the chances of complications and not prevent a herniation from happening again. He prescribed nerve pain medication, an epidural injection, and physical therapy.
Dr. Milani was extremely patient and supportive. He put me at ease and made me feel cared for at a time when I was in personal turmoil and the world around all of us was in turmoil with COVID. The medication and injection alleviated the majority of my pain and allowed me to sit down again. Dr. Milani suggested I work with Meghan Lamothe in physical therapy, and I began a weekly regiment with Meghan to learn how to move my body to prevent stress on my back, and to learn how to strengthen the muscles around my spine so I could regain previous levels of physical activity and prevent a similar injury in the future.
I was deeply worried that the lingering back pain, and previous chronic, nagging pain in my piriformis would never resolve and I’d have to actively make an effort to live with those symptoms somehow forever. But Meghan is absolutely excellent, and she diligently educated me on the spine, my injury, my body and how it moves, and she very supportively coached me through the process.
Dr. Milani and Meghan encouraged me to stay active during my recovery. I stopped running for a few weeks to eliminate stress on my body, but I replaced that with long walks. By mid-August I slowly started running again a couple of days a week at about a 10-minute pace. I kept up my PT exercises and gradually increased the running as I felt ready. At 6 months out from the epidural shot I was able to run 5-6 days every week, between 4-6 miles a day, at an average pace of 8-8:30 minutes miles, with the fastest miles closer to a 7:30 minute pace. I have no pain at all. Chronic piriformis and sciatic pain and discomfort that plagued me for the last 5-6 years is completely gone, and there is literally no back pain at all. I feel like I’m in my 20s. I feel agile, limber, strong - and really, really happy.
In all the whole experience has changed my life. I am grateful every day to wake up and run and be pain free. I could not have more gratitude that I wound up at HSS in the care of Dr. Milani and Meghan Lamothe. They make an excellent team.