From a really young age, I had a hip problem; a problem I didn’t know I had until I fell and was badly hurt while skiing. I was 24 years old and it was only then that I found out I had congenital dysplasia, which means your hips are “open”, so they’re easily dislocated -they normally check for it and correct it when you’re born, but they didn’t find mine.
The injury caused sudden loss of cartilage in my hip- at 24 years old. If you’re older and this happens, they normally do a hip replacement, but I was too young because hip replacements don’t last long. So they reconstructed my entire thigh bone so that the hip would be shifted, and the piece of cartilage that was left from the initial injury would become the surface of the joint. I went through 18 months of rehab just to be able to walk normally.
Fast forward 16 years, I was 40, had two young active children, and my hip started failing again. I couldn’t play with my kids in the yard, I couldn’t get them from the bus stop. I was in debilitating pain. So, at that point I decided to have a hip replacement, even though I was still quite young to have the operation.
The timing of my hip replacement was right at the time my mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. She lived in Connecticut and we lived in North Carolina, so I was really afraid to have the surgery because I wanted to be able to travel and be with her for support. She encouraged me to go ahead with the surgery, and after having the replacement, I recovered quickly because I desperately wanted to see her. Five months after surgery I was doing fine, but she passed away. Our family traveled to Connecticut for her funeral and the very night we came home, I walked in the door, put my suitcase on the floor, and sat down to see the dog, when something popped in my hip. I couldn’t stand; I could barely move. I lived like that for almost two years, walking with crutches, traveling all over the country seeing doctors to find out what was wrong. Eventually, I found out that the hip implant was defective and recalled by the FDA. Most doctors didn’t want to tell me because there would be a lawsuit. A doctor in New York discovered the metal implant had ruptured my iliopsoas tendon. The illiopsoas tendon controls the hinge from knee to hip and which also is how the energy of our emotions travel through the nervous system.
The psoas tendon is one of the most energetically interesting tendons in the body, because it carries our emotional energy from the lower part of the body to the nervous system. A tight psoas tendon represents a blocking, a closing, a protecting and not allowing this energy to flow out. Energetic experiences can get stored in the body: in muscle tissue, when there is interruption of flow. It’s like getting stuck in fight or flight.
So, I spent months traveling all over the country, trying to find a doctor to help me. It always stuck in the back of my mind how strange it was, that the night we came home from my Mother-in-law’s funeral was the moment when everything went wrong. I had been doing so well after so many years of problems. I asked myself, “Why?!” …everything changed, just like that.
I had another hip replacement- a revision surgery, they took the old metal hip out, and when they went in to do this, they found dark metal particles in the tissues surrounding my hip. The implant was recalled because the metal was rubbing on another metal surface, creating these shards and debris, which are so small they travels through the blood where it is deposited into soft tissues and is extremely toxic to the body.
I’ve always tried to be someone who doesn’t look back. Or asks the questions, “Why me?”. But I did feel depressed and inadequate. I felt like everybody around me was healthy and ultimately, I kept making promises to my kids I couldn’t keep. Even before the hip first replacement, I would say things like, “You know things are going to be great after I have my surgery, I’m going to be able to go golfing with you!” or, “Mom will finally be able to take you to your tennis lessons”, or “We’re going to be able to travel and go camping, right?!”. So I made these promises, never thinking my replacement would fail.
The most suffering that I felt was as a mom and as a wife. Letting people down and taking help from others was so hard. I had wonderful neighbors who took my kids to school, lessons, practices, made me meals, one friend did grocery shopping for me for nearly 3 years. I really felt like I owed everybody all the time because I was used to being the giver. To go from being a giver to a receiver was a very hard shift for me. What I learned through that process though, is that allowing other people to help you, really helps them. It feels good for them to give, just like it does for you.
There was a limit to the favors and help and even to the phone calls and visits to see how I was doing. I lost friends and connections as I became isolated to the home. I ended up having four hip surgeries over the course of six years, so it was a long period of time. I lost a lot of friends, not only because they were exhausted from giving, but because they felt so bad for me. They would see me and ask how I was doing, and I couldn’t lie. I couldn’t even say I was okay, because I wasn’t okay in any way. I think it just became very difficult interpersonally for people to be around me. So, life got really quiet. Really quiet.
When I had the second hip replacement, it was in New York City at Hospital for Special Surgery. It was a really difficult surgery because my thigh bone had lost so much mass, it was intricate and not every surgeon would take my case. The doctor in New York had their technology department create a 3D model of my hip through computer animation and actually practiced the surgery to make sure he would be able to do it. So I had the “bad” hip taken out, and the new one put in. The recovery was very slow, pain became a daily experience, and ultimately the new hip implant would fail, the bone could not heal because of all the transient metal in the tissue and so I never got off crutches or a walker and went back 18 months later for another total hip replacement.
All of this time is passing…two years to four years, to six years. My doctor decided he needed to start all over; from the beginning. They removed the new hip and gave me third hip, this time I had a metal cage put in the pelvis because of bone loss.
It had been a busy surgery day. My surgery had been delayed, so at the point I was finally in the operating room, it was really late in the day. My surgery was complicated and I came out of the OR at the New York City hospital and was in ICU. I remember being in the room and I couldn’t feel my legs; my entire lower body, really. Hours had passed, and they were kind of concerned because I couldn’t feel my leg or move my toes. There was a lot of hushed talking. I started to have an anxiety attack, because everyone was talking and nobody was talking to me. The next thing I know, the bells are going off on my heart rate monitor. I look around the whole span of the room; it was dark, and nobody was there.
There were no other patients in the whole space. It was so late, and I’m thinking: the alarms are going off and there’s nobody coming, so I start screaming, “HELP, my alarms are going off, HELP!”. Nobody came. All of a sudden, a man comes over to me. He told me he wasn’t a doctor, he had heard me as he was passing through, but that he would sit with me and he was going to help me. He held my hands, my blood pressure is going crazy and the alarm bells are ringing. It’s dark, no one is there and he started telling me funny stories about his dog. He was just trying to calm me down until somebody came, but it felt like we talked for five or ten minutes. He had the deepest blue eyes. Just his physical presence calmed me down. As we finished talking the bells stopped, things began to come to life again. The lights were on and there were people around me, attending to things. It’s so strange, with anesthesia sometimes you don’t know what’s going on. Was it in my imagination, or was it real? I thought to myself: after I recover, I need to thank him for what he did for me. It was like our hearts were connected. He made me feel so calm and peaceful, like no matter what happened it was going to be okay. I never got his name. All that I so desperately wanted, was to thank him.
After having so many surgeries, heavy metal poisoning in the musculature and a ruptured psoas, I ended up with debilitating chronic pain. I couldn’t walk to the mailbox. That went on for eight more years. Eventually, I learned about a spinal stimulator implant which can be wired up the spinal column to help distract the body from the symptoms of pain. They put wires up your spine at the nerve root and a battery pack in your buttocks. You charge it and program it from a remote device and it sends a signal to the nerve route to distract the brain from the pain impulse.
So, I decided to have the pain implant. The neurosurgeon was in New York so I went there to have the surgery. There were very few friends and support systems left after all this time and my husband had taken so much time off work during my surgeries, he couldn’t come either. So I went to have the procedure by myself. I was wheeled through the airport and helped to the hospital.
I was alone in this New York hospital having another surgery. It was minor but still required anesthesia. It turned out to be the day of the Newtown shootings. It was an awful day, and I was watching the news with the other patients, crying. I was thinking to myself, what am I doing here alone, I felt so lonely and sad. It was dark after the procedure, it was raining, and there was an overall tense feeling in the City that day. I was thinking I was still loopy from the anesthesia and I had to manage to get in a cab and fly home alone. I knew I should have never put myself in this situation. I wish they had told me how extensive this surgery actually was. I felt like I couldn’t possibly do it; I was terrified and alone.
I was sitting in recovery contemplating what to do to get to the airport. I had planned on feeling well enough to take a taxi. It was a helpless feeling…I looked up and sitting next to me is the same guy who had helped me before in ICU, the nameless man who told me stories of his dog. But I was in a different wing of the hospital, a different building entirely. I asked him if he used to work in the orthopedic building years ago, and he said, “Yes, I was there years ago.” He looked completely different, but his eyes were the same, bright blue. He did the same thing; he sat and talked with me and I was instantly calm.
The hospital had an employee recognition program, so I asked him his name so I could nominate him. He had been so kind. He said his name was Michael Smith. Months later I filled out the form online to nominate him and there was no one named Michael Smith in Neurosurgery. I realized his blue eyes and his etheric calming nature- and I just have always believed he was an angel. Just amazing. Both times I was with him was when I felt desperate and alone, and it was like time stood still; a moment in time. I couldn’t explain either encounter, except that I was at the most raw places of my life and knew that he was a gift of support at the time I needed it.
Those experiences were the first of several amazing encounters which brought me to the belief that we are always supported by a team of angels and guides. Realizing, and acknowledging that these energies exist in our lives and that they are here to support us when we are in need and really, are always with us.
Well, so, the pain implant was not successful. It was helpful but not enough to really change my life back to what it was. While it was somewhat helpful, it felt uncomfortable to constantly have stimulation pulsing in my body. I felt like crawling out of my skin. I sank into a deep depression with the chronic pain and with not being able to be with my family as a mom and wife, or participate in things. My family would go on vacation during the summer to visit extended family in Connecticut or go to the beach and I could never go. I stayed home. I was depressed and at one point, suicidal. I continued to search for help and relief from pain, I went to every kind of specialist you could imagine- all over the country.
Looking back, it was really my severed iliopsoas that caused all these emotions, and ultimately the pain was stuck in my body. The iliopsoas controls so much of what goes in and out of the nervous system. I’ll never forget, one morning I woke up and I was having a really bad time. I heard as loud as day: “You are loved” like some man was sitting right there. “You are loved.” I was like, this is SO weird, I don’t get it. I was so numb it didn’t touch me. I started seeing 11:11 on the clock all the time. And once again I thought, this is so weird. I would be home watching a movie on the DVR, stop the movie, and the place would be 11:11 and the time would be 11:11. It was crazy. I looked it up what 11:11 meant, and it said: your angels are trying to get a message to you. It means you’re being awoken spiritually; your soul waking up. So I started reading since I was home all day by myself. I probably read 100 books on spirituality.
At the same time, I was continuing to try different things for the pain so I decided to try Reiki. For 15 minutes after the Reiki treatment, I was pain free. So I would go for Reiki once a week, and cherish every minute I was free from the pain. I could see the window of freedom. I would go week after week, for probably four months. Finally, I thought, if Reiki can allow me to be pain free for 15 minutes, this has to be energy. So, I started researching human energy, and began to see the references between energy and disease. Ultimately, I decided to study Reiki because maybe if I learned how to do it to myself, I could at least be out of pain every day instead of once a week. So, I started to study and found that doing Reiki on yourself doesn’t have the same impact on pain as somebody else doing it on you. As I was learning more about Reiki, I decided to go to physical therapy one more time. It was my ninth time. I was really drawn to yoga, so I found a physical therapy place that offered therapeutic yoga. At the time, I was walking with a cane, so it was a lot for me to even get there.
My first day of yoga, it was just the teacher and myself. It was supposed to be a class of five or ten people, but it was just the teacher and I which was so nice. I went three times a week and there was never anybody else there. I still wonder how they never cancelled a class because of turnout. They really were the nicest people. I was there for seven months one-on-one with my yoga instructor, Jacques Thillet and by the end of the class, I was able to move. I got rid of my cane, I started losing weight and my energy started shifting.
As I finally started to get better, other people began to drift into the class, which is beautiful the way that spirit winds these things for us. One of the people in the class was having arrhythmia and ultimately suffered a stroke. She went to all of these doctors and they couldn’t figure out why she had had the stroke. I asked her if she wanted to try Reiki, even though I had just gotten trained and received my certificate. So, I started practicing Reiki on her and long story short, she started to improve enough to get off of some very strong medications. It turned out, almost a year later, she found out that her husband had been cheating on her. She was empathic enough, that her body felt this without her actually knowing it. That’s just one more example of the connection with energy and how it impacts the physical body.
A couple more months in, I signed up for more of an advanced yoga class. Once again, I happened to be the only one in the class. The instructor’s name was Rachel Harper. She taught me all of these adaptations and variations for vinyasa flow, and eventually convinced me to go to yoga teacher training. She helped me to realize I could help other people who were struggling with pain management just like I was. So, I signed up for the training, which started three weeks later. At that point, I had taken only two adaptive vinyasa classes, so I had no idea what I was getting into! But I thought to myself, I’m just going to do it.
Two weeks before it started, I found out that I had breast cancer. I thought, I can’t possibly go through this training with all that I have ahead of me. So I explained that I was going to have to pull out of the class because I was probably going to need surgery and who knows what else. They just told me that I was in the right place: just keep going forward. It was a realization. I could do it. I thought back to all the things I had to cancel in my life over the last decade. I missed out on so many things, said no to so much because I “just couldn’t”. It was through their encouragement that I went to training.
I ended up having surgery, but only missed one weekend of training. Through my research, I decided that I didn’t want to do chemo, radiation or take drugs. I was going to become vegetarian and create a program for myself. During that nine months of yoga teacher training, I recovered with this group; with this supportive, amazing group of women, that just loved me and held space for me every weekend. I learned so much about my body and my health. It was perfect timing for recovery. Throughout training, I still continued to practice Reiki and my business was really growing. The space next to the yoga studio became available and we both knew it was a perfect combination for me to bring my Reiki practice to the yoga studio.
In the meantime, spiritually, Michael continued to visit me and teach me. Every day I wake up and receive a page and a half of writing from his guidance about techniques or energy. That’s how I’ve learned for the last three years- is just from guides and from my guidance. It’s how I live my life now. Just listening to what I’m given…understanding. I know it sounds crazy, but for now I’ve been reassured that I’m cancer free. All of this- this disease and imbalance; all of the obstacles are here for us to learn. Any time our energy is stuck, it stays as a filter. I teach a lot of people about protection because going out into the world empathic, you can so easily absorb the energy of somebody else and have your day, week, month or life shifted based on something that isn’t even yours. So, I teach a lot about creating healthy boundaries for the energy body, because it also allows us to feel our own energy. A lot of people can’t actually feel their own energy because they’re so giving. When you give, you’re also sort of taking on energy from somebody. There’s this reciprocity that happens. Yoga teachers’ boundaries are so important because we’re there, as you know, Jen, supporting and holding space for everyone in our class. So, you could be absorbing energy that people are leaving behind and feeling very drained from teaching.
As soon as we’re on the path of greater good, mastery of teaching and of giving back, life becomes easy. There’s this flow of energy that isn’t stagnant or stuck in the body anymore. It all goes hand in hand. Yoga continues to move the flow of energy, it keeps us balanced and it changes lives. There is not anyone that I have ever met, that has not either come back to yoga during a difficult time, or used it as a support who wouldn’t say the same thing. It’s there for you when you need it. Just like your guidance. I think if we leave, we come back over and over again.
I’m so lucky to be here because I was told to work with “Indigos”. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that term. There’s a whole generation of people here. You’re in it, Jen. This generation is here to bring love and light to the planet and to shift things in the world. They call them “Lightworkers”. I was told I would be here to help heal these people because they’re waking up so early and need support and guidance. I was 40 years old when I started waking up, but others are waking up at a much younger age. This as an opportunity and not a responsibility. And any time I’ve ever become a part of something to give to other people, it’s been the most transformative time of my life.” – Alison Pulito
Check out Alisons website, here: https://lightpathenergyhealing.com/about
Follow her journey on Instagram, here: @lightpathenergyhealing