Posted on October 29, 2020

Amherst firefighter, Nick Chirekos, drove to Greenwich for ONS care. firefighter, Nick Chirekos

For nearly 3 years, Amherst, MA, firefighter, Nick Chirekos, 30, sought treatment for his lower back pain with local practitioners but could not find lasting relief.  As the scope of the pain increased and radiated down Nick’s left leg, his quality of life took a turn for the worse too.  The pain inhibited his day to day movements. It  eventually eliminated his ability to work out and rock climb, two of his favorite activities. More importantly, Nick’s back problem threatened to ruin the career he loved because he found it impossible to perform his duties as a firefighter and paramedic.

“I eventually got to the point where I had decided I was a liability to my fellow firefighters,” Nick said of his decision to leave the squad in October, 2018.

It was at that point that Nick knew he had to turn to ONS.

Nick trusted ONS to get him better.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable that my local doctors could really fix my condition,” said Nick. “I grew up in Larchmont and had only heard good things about the doctors at ONS. I made the appointment with Dr. Apostolides and made the nearly 3 hour drive  to Greenwich .”

Nick knew immediately that he had made the right decision. “Right off the bat, it was a day and night difference from the care I had been receiving. From making the appointments to the nurses and staff, and of course, Dr. Apostolides, I had complete confidence that ONS was the right place to be.”

After reviewing Nick’s MRI and discussing the non-invasive options that had failed, Dr. Apostolides diagnosed two problems with Nick’s lumbar spine. The first was spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the canal where the nerves live, that can cause back pain, leg pain, and difficulty walking distances. The second was a left sided L4-5 disc herniation that was compressing the left L5 nerve root and causing left leg sciatica. Dr. Apostolides recommended a bilateral laminectomy (making a window in the bone) to enlarge the spinal canal and make more room for the nerves, and a left L4-5 microdiscectomy (to remove the disc herniation and relieve the pressure on the left L5 nerve root).  Nick scheduled the surgery for January 2019.

In January, 2019, Dr. Apostolides performed the procedure with precision at the Stamford ASC, the ONS ambulatory surgery center. Nick was impressed with the environment and level of care he received throughout his experience at the ASC.

“The facility was immaculate, and the staff was fantastic from the beginning to end,” he said.  He was up and walking just 2 hours after waking from the procedure. and t the pain shooting up and down his leg – which he described as “the most uncomfortable pain” – had vanished.

A life and career recovered.Nick Chirekos and family

Nick began his recovery at home on the same day as the 3-hour procedure, walking a little bit each day, feeling better and better.  He began physical therapy near his home 10 days post-op to strengthen his core and back muscles. ONS made it easy for Nick to recover close to home. Dr. Apostolides and Nick’s physical therapist had regular contact to discuss the progress of his rehabilitation and Nick was able to have most of his post-op appointments with Dr. Apostolides by phone.

By the following August, Nick had returned to full duty status and the activities he had been doing before his back became an issue.  One year later,, he was in great shape for  a new sort of heavy lifting:  Twin baby boys named, Patrick and Henry.

“Dr. Apostolides, the nurses and all the other staff at ONS 100 percent saved my career,” Nick said.  “It was totally a team effort and I am incredibly grateful!”