Skip to main content

Billy Pirie


In early January 2016, I sustained a pretty nasty back injury. I suffered a lower back disc herniation that was accompanied with a tear in the muscle wall behind it. In addition to arthritis in L4 and L5, my neuro strongly suggested that I do WHATEVER it takes to lose weight and get to physical therapy to avoid surgery because that would likely lead me down the road to more arthritic issues, surgeries, fusions, etc… He said I’m pretty much destined for a fusion. I was scared to death but I decided not give up. Pretty much immediately, I sought out the services of Athletico Third Lake’s Leon (Leonid Cherbukhovsky, PT, DPT), who was referred to me highly.

After two epidurals within a couple weeks of each other to help me try to walk again, I was in excruciating pain almost 100 percent of the time. During my first visit in January seeing Leon, my pain was at about an eight. I really thought the worst in those early times – that I was destined for the knife at 44 and prepping myself to be ‘that’ back problem guy (you know that EVERYONE has a back problem of some kind in just about any conversation if it comes up – BEWARE!). Those initial visits were pretty painful. To lay on the table, flip over and do basic movements (which the very thought of this being difficult haunted me from my VERY athletic past) was almost unbearable. After the first couple of weeks, I wasn’t feeling much relief. Then something changed close to a month in… I felt a little stronger. At the same time I was going to therapy I was also changing my life at home. Eating 100 percent clean, lots and lots of water, no more beer and diligently sticking to the exercises Leon gave me to take home – some relief started much to my surprise. From there, more exercises were added and the pain level gradually began to come down.

I am thankful I have a great job because they allowed me time away as well as the ability to work from home so I could try and get healthy. For that first 4 to 5 weeks I didn’t miss a physical therapy session and worked hard to keep the momentum headed in the right direction. Of course there were set backs and painful days and nights, however, ‘THAT’ pain started to continually lessen. Leon never let up on me. I remember one time I did have to cancel a session due to a family conflict and I thought he was going to jump through the phone – which showed me he was in this with me, 100 percent.

Leon and I developed a pretty cool little friendship. I trusted him. I told him at the beginning that I wanted someone who cared. If you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about. No professional distance, no overly college-educated answers and real human who has feelings and concern. Leon delivered on every level. Attentiveness, caring, attention to the details and superior concern for well-being and future outlook are qualities that define him. These are the qualities that college can’t teach and what sets people like Leon FAR apart from the pack.

Dry Needling: Ladies and gentlemen – this is bliss. A little unnerving but about the best thing I’ve ever experience that deeply helped the problem area. After we got past getting the initial, general day to day mobility back to say 30 – 40 percent, Leon used these needles regularly. From there everything changed for the better. I could get around again. It was easier to get out of bed, walk, sit down, hug my kids, drive, etc. I started going back to work downtown on the Metra and walking 1.4 miles to my office – SLOWLY… I’ve regained my day-to-day and can confidently get around. I’m not cured and still hurt from time to time, however, I can say with confidence that I CAN do life without worrying about being in ‘that’ pain anymore.

Leon stuck with me and pushed me and pulled me into his world for a minute and changed my life for the better. I was in a really really bad place when I first met him and thought he wouldn’t be able to help me. I was wrong. Leon helped me. More than just my physical therapist – he became my friend and showed spirit and compassion all with steadfast accountability that he’s gonna get this guy back on his feet and out of pain. He even came with me to my neuro dr appt. I about lost it when he said, “I’ll go with you”. Really? Yeah, really.

So, did Athletico cure me? They sure did UNDOUBTEDLY help – all of the great people there. Alex, Katie, Ami and of course, Leon. I really can’t say thank you enough. You did amazing things and coaxed amazing things out of me too. You are truly amazing, compassionate people. I hope you are recognized regularly for going above and beyond and operating a place that creates and inspires positive change in peoples’ lives.

Thank you – sincerely!

Find an Athletico.