Urgent Ortho Care in Wilton will be closed on Saturday, July 13th. We invite you to visit our Greenwich location, which will be open for Urgent Ortho Care from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Catwalks and Courage: A Model Turned Military Member’s Path to Pain Relief

Priscila Mallman was a jet-setting model in her 20s when a fall from a horse during a photoshoot left her with debilitating pain. Priscila’s pain was so excruciating that she had used prescription painkillers and injections to manage it. After nearly a decade of failed attempts at pain relief, her suffering reached an all-time high, and she was desperate for a solution.

In 2018, Priscila moved to the United States from Brazil. As a foreigner on a work visa, she was wary of navigating the American healthcare and insurance systems, so she was reluctant to seek medical care and hoped the pain would eventually go away. “I kept thinking I’m going to get better,” explained Priscila. However, after another fall exacerbated the pain significantly, she sought medical attention at the emergency department at Greenwich Hospital on a Thursday in March 2021. Priscila was seen by Dr. Scott Simon, orthopedic spine surgeon at Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists (ONS).

“I was in the worst pain of my life,” shared Priscila, “Dr. Simon explained that I had a herniated disc that was pressing on the nerves in my spine and right leg, and that is what was causing the terrible pain. He said I would need emergency surgery, and we scheduled it for that Saturday morning.”

Priscila couldn’t believe she’d need spine surgery at only 31 years old, but the pain was debilitating. She told Dr. Simon that she wanted to do so much in my life. Priscila, a political science student, wanted to join the military. She worried that her dreams would never be realized.

“Everyone was so kind to me. I didn’t have anyone but Dr. Simon, the hospital staff, and my immigration lawyer. Dr. Simon reassured me that everything would be okay, but that I’d need the surgery to feel better and accomplish my goals.”

Dr. Simon performed the surgery successfully, which included a minimally invasive discectomy and bilateral minimally invasive laminectomy. This procedure decompresses the nerves in the spine in order to relieve pain, numbness, and weakness without injuring the surrounding tissue and without requiring a fusion or hardware.”

Priscila stayed in the hospital for five days before going home. She then went home to her New York City apartment and regularly went to physical therapy nearby. She found support in a few of her friends, her English pointer puppy turned service dog named Leo, and most of all, Dr. Simon.

“The pain I had before the surgery virtually disappeared and the scar was practically nonexistent. Dr. Simon was amazing. Knowing that I was essentially recovering alone in a foreign country during the COVID-19 pandemic, he personally reached out and supported me through the recovery. He gave me care and attention not only as a patient but as a human being,” Priscila said.

A few months after surgery, Priscila was feeling good enough to travel to Spain. She stayed active to help with her recovery and was able to begin the process to enlist in the Army with medical clearance in March 2022—exactly one year after her surgery. She joined the Army National Guard by July 2022.

“Dr. Simon sent my medical information to the recruiter. The military doctors saw my spine and told me I looked better than a lot of soldiers they had there who were 19 years old… The military doctor also noted they would have never guessed I had spinal surgery,” explained Priscila.

Priscila not only achieved her goals but exceeded them. She went through rigorous training for the National Guard and passed all physical tests. She was deployed from September 2022 to June 2023 in Fort Jackson in South Carolina and Fort Gregg-Adams in Virginia. Priscila is at the top of her company for physical aptitude and enjoys long-distance running.

Priscilla is grateful for the exceptional care provided by Dr. Simon and his continued support during recovery and beyond.

She hopes to be deployed overseas to see more of the world and one day work for the United Nations.