By Larry Gordon
It occurred to me the other
day that aside from the circumstances surrounding
this pandemic, I do not write
much about subjects pertaining
So here is a story about two
medical practitioners who are
friends of mine, and how I have
become familiar with the medical care they dispense and its
impact on me as well as countless others.
We were in Israel last winter at the edge of the pandemic
(which we were unfamiliar with
at that point). We were there
with three grandchildren, ages
12 and 13. They are very energetic, and between the touring,
visiting the holy sites, and the
shopping, we were exhausted.
I recall the moment I felt that
I pulled something in my back.
We were leaving Hebron for
a fairly long ride to Bnei Brak
where we would have the opportunity to meet with Rav Chaim
Kanievsky, shlita. I felt a sharp
pain as I was getting into the car
but thought little of it. We’d be
back in the hotel in a few hours,
would get some rest, and would
be good as new in the morning.
A few days later we flew back
to New York, but the nagging
pain in my lower back was still
there, occasionally traveling to
my neck. It was painful and annoying.
Advil helped, but only for a
few hours here and there. I went
for X-rays and then for an MRI.
The diagnosis was a disc in my
neck hitting a nerve and—hello, where have you been all my
Since this wasn’t going away
on its own, it was time to deal
with the pain.
Jeff is a pain management
doctor associated with Mt. Sinai South Nassau Hospital. I’ve
known him for decades because
he lives here in the Five Towns,
and before he went to medical
school we used to attend Rabbi Nayman’s shul together in
Sutton Park. I knew his father,
Yitzchak, who passed away in
2001, and I know his younger
brother Dov, as well as the rest of
I can recall the time in shul,
probably over Kiddush, when
Jeff announced that he was considering going to medical school.
We discussed which school he
would attend. As I recall, it was
not in New York, so I did not see
Jeff for the next few years as he
dedicated himself to becoming a
He has been in practice now
for 19 years as an anesthesiologist who specializes in pain
management. So after I came to
the conclusion that this pain was
hanging on, I visited a local orthopedist, Dr. Anthony Horvath,
who sent me for an MRI, which
was quite an experience that I
will detail someday.
The MRI showed what was
going on inside my back and
neck, and, whether or not it was
something I did that aggravated
whatever injury existed there, it
was clear I needed help.
Dr. Horvath recommended
that I look into getting a cortisone shot to address the pain,
and that is when I called Dr.
Rauchwerger. At first I visited
his office in Rockville Center
where he administered what he
called trigger point shots in my
upper back and near my neck,
and the next morning I woke
up pain-free. This is fantastic, I
thought to myself.
Jeff said that the trigger shots
were preliminary, and that for
the best result I would need a
real cortisone shot in a hospital
setting. The only issue was that
this was last May, and hospitals
were dealing exclusively with
COVID-19; something like a
shot to alleviate what was turning into chronic pain was not to
be dealt with.
Things began to open up
in hospitals like South Nassau in June and that is when I
scheduled the cortisone shot. A
few days before being allowed
into the hospital, I had to get a
COVID-19 swab test, which I
did at one of those drive-through
facilities in the parking lot of
South Nassau Hospital. You
might recall, as I reported here,
that I tested positive in late
March, but all subsequent tests
have come back negative.
The trigger shots were no big
deal. Jeff gave them to me in his
office, and it was an uneventful
and helpful experience. He explained to me at the time that
the in-hospital cortisone shot
would be more effective in addressing the pain.
I have full confidence in Jeff,
though I have to say I was not
expecting such an extensive
and thorough workup just for a
cortisone shot. But there I was
in a hospital gown on a gurney,
which was then rolled down
the hall to an actual operating
Once inside, I was flipped off
the gurney onto my stomach,
stretched out with my head
down. As far as I could tell, there
were two nurses in the room
along with an anesthesiologist
(there was no anesthesia but
the presence was still required)
and Dr. Jeff who was going to
administer the injection. The
entire procedure was smooth
According to Dr. Rauchwerger, cortisone works gradually in
the system. So about five weeks
later I went back for another injection. This time it was less of
an ordeal for me because I was
familiar with the protocol. The
fashion in which Jeff talked me
through the whole process was
comforting and made dealing
with what was previously unknown to me much easier.
At one point after one of the
shots we were chatting, and he
said to me that I should look at it
this way—he went to school for
ten years so that he can give me
a five-minute shot. I think that
He did a great job, and if you
are dealing with pain, Dr. Jeff
Rauchwerger is the man to see.
So what do you think I know
about Chinese medicine? Other
than the fact that the methods are
over 3,000 years old, I know basically nothing at all about it. But
after a half-year or so of dealing
with my back and neck situation,
I know the most important thing
about acupuncture—it works.
Acupuncture addresses many
medical issues. Stated as simply
as possible, Chinese medicine
addresses the so-called electric
circuitry of the human body and
how to route that electrical flow
so that there is a balance achieved
that has the complex mechanism
working properly and effectively.
Being treated with acupuncture for any number of medical
concerns or ailments is the polar
opposite of what you are accustomed to if you always seek the
assistance of conventional medical practitioners.
Deborah’s interest in acupuncture was motivated by
personal experience. Today she
treats a broad array of ailments
and conditions naturally, in a
safe, drug-free, and effective way.
Those conditions run the gamut
from common pain, depression,
diabetes, and much more.
So I’m not just writing from a
distance about what acupuncture can accomplish—I am right
there on the table every week,
working with Deborah and discussing what she should address
at any given visit.
Right now we are dealing with
my occasionally aching neck
and upper back. Sometimes it’s
about my eye that drips from
time to time. To deal with that,
Deborah places one of her needles in my tear duct and in my
eyebrow. For my neck, the needles go into parts of my neck and
on the back side of each hand.
The little that I’ve read and
learned about acupuncture is
about the complexities of the
connection between various
parts of the anatomy and how
they correspond to various parts
of one’s internal mechanism. As
far as I can tell, the human body
works very much like any type of
Perhaps the most interesting
part of how acupuncture interfaces with our bodies is through
the ear, which laymen like us
would never have thought possible.
Those needles in or around
our ear lobes deal with things
like vision, memory, knee pain
or sciatic nerve pain, skin disorders, and much more. Recently,
she began using electromagnetic acupuncture—she attaches
a low dose of electricity to the
needles, which helps with the release of endorphins that address
pain by releasing chemicals in
your brain that help to negate
the pain or general bad feelings.
AcuZen is located in Lawrence in a newly constructed facility on Mulry Street off Rockaway Turnpike. After many of my
sessions I walk downstairs to a
very impressive salt room where
one can sit on a recliner and relax while inhaling the thousands
of pounds of Himalayan salt.
Just sitting and breathing in a
salt cave helps with respiratory
and skin conditions. Visiting the
salt cave once a week or more
can help with allergies, asthma,
bronchitis, ear infections, hay
fever, sinus issues, and many
more such conditions.
Deborah Rothman studied
Chinese medicine for years, and
for the past eight years she has
been applying her vast knowledge of the human body with
alternative drug-free methods to
My suggestion is a free consultation as a way of getting
started. You’ll be won over immediately by Deborah’s personable approach and deep insight.
It will be a new, safe, and effective means to relieving your pain
and other concerns.