Joanne (“JP”) Pizzino (real name) has a BA in Chemistry and worked briefly as a chemist. She has an MD degree, currently practices Occupational Medicine and Family Practice, has an MPH, is Board-certified in Preventive Medicine ,and has taught as an Assistant Professor. She has had several papers published and frequently gives talks at national conferences. Her experience occurred on March 22, 1997.
One aftereffect of Dr. Pizzino’s experience was that she trained in Reiki therapy, a form of “energy” healing. Basic information about Reiki can be found at several web sites: http://www.reiki.org/FAQ/WhatIsReiki.html , http://www.465.com/reiki/faqs.htm and
The Story of My Miracle
The story of “my miracle really began in 1984 while on a scuba vacation on Grand Cayman Island with Lee, a man who would eventually become my husband. The synopsis is that while enjoying a beautiful, deserted beach in this paradise of blue water, white sand, and palm trees, one of the island natives attempted to kill Lee and me in hand to hand combat that involved knives and clubs. Although the Caymanian legal process eventually convicted the man and sentenced him to jail, the reason for the attack was never revealed. I always hoped that the perpetrator, P. R., rotted in hell. The extreme physical and psychological trauma that resulted from this led to my difficult marriage and subsequent divorce in 1994, at which point I felt that I had been reborn.
The physical level of the miracle has to do with neck pain that I had had intermittently for at least 13 years. To my best recollection, it began before the incident in Grand Cayman, but did coincide with Lee and I deciding to move in together. I thought it was just part of the “discomforts of life,” a “crick in the neck,” or due to sleeping wrong. Sometimes it was bad enough to need a physical therapy treatment or two. I began to have a bout of this pain around Christmas time (also my 40th birthday) in 1996.
As 1997 started, the pain became more and more intense, in fact, much worse than it had ever been. At the beginning of February, I awoke one day with complete absence of sensation in my right thumb and index finger. Over the course of one week, this spread up my arm in the distribution of the 6th cervical nerve. Although I thought it probably was a cervical radiculopathy, I am not easily daunted and continued to run and lift weights until I dropped a barbell on my chest, discovering that I also had profound weakness in the arm. This progressed to the point I could barely hold a pencil.
The pain was much more severe when I sat, so I did not sit for three weeks. Travel by car was excruciating, so I had to stay out of work, alternately standing or lying on the floor. In addition to seeing a physiatrist and getting physical therapy, I tried many alternative medical techniques: acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, chiropractic. The pain was so bad at that point that I could not even lie down and stood up without sleeping for three days. I got an MRI which showed bone spurs at three levels in my neck, one of which was pressing on the spinal cord, distorting it. I went to see a neurosurgeon who told me I had a myelopathy with positive long track signs. He advised me to have urgent surgery to avoid becoming quadriplegic. Although I scheduled the surgery, I was extremely frightened and very reluctant to risk this drastic alteration to my anatomy. I have had many patients undergo spinal surgery who were no better and sometimes worse, so I considered this a last resort.
Finally, nine hours before my surgery, on the advice of a friend from residency days, I canceled the surgery. I called a lady who had been recommended to me who does Reiki. I had no idea what this was or even how to spell it, but I was desperate. I went to see her instead of going to the hospital for surgery. I told her I needed a miracle.
She and several other people did energy work, including Barbara Brennan’s energy healing on me for two weeks. The energy healing practitioner told me that she saw a medieval ax in my back and a knife in my neck. The is exactly what it felt like. I didn’t really know what to make of this, thinking maybe it was related to a “past” life I knew about in which I ax-murdered my wife. (That’s a whole ‘nother story.) The Reiki practitioner also sensed a connection with a “past” life and told me that my condition would change for the better within five days.
On the fifth day, I was lying on the floor listening to a Carolyn Myss tape on ” Why People Don’t Heal.” She said that sometimes healing is about the need to forgive, and that sometimes one individual can forgive for their whole tribe. Thinking myself basically a “good” person who doesn’t hold grudges, I asked myself: “Who do I have to forgive?” In that instant, I had a blinding flash of light and thought of P. R., the man on the beach in Grand Cayman. Although I had previously wished him dreadful tortures in prison, I was more than willing to forgive him and, in fact, thanked him for setting into motion all the events of my marriage and divorce that had led me to where I was that day. In that instant, my pain disappeared and I was able to sit up and do all the things I want to do. Although I had never been a particularly religious person, during the healing service at the end of the tape, I was overtaken by a joy more profound than any I have ever known. I felt that knives would no longer be a part of my life. I believed that the bone spurs had been “zapped.” While that may or may not be true, I now unshakably know that God exists.
The real miracle is the number of spiritual principles I experienced through this. I feel I was very lucky that nothing “caused” my physical problem, so I was not distracted by focusing on a car wreck or workers’ comp. injury, for instance. I don’t even have arthritis in my family, so I couldn’t blame my genes. Instead, I was able to focus all my attention on the possibility of divine intervention. Although I didn’t believe in it, I was somehow willing to stake my health on it.
Through expanding my spiritual knowledge, I have noticed how many of the writings refer to ” being healed” although they are not necessarily referring to the sick, but rather to our “wholeness” as in the ancient meaning of “health”. It is interesting that the root of the pain had nothing to do with current stress, a symbolic link to the incident in Cayman, or anything else to which the “mind” might have directed me. I asked only to be told what the illness was about and what I had to do to heal it. When I stopped looking outside myself to be fixed, “God” (whom I had never previously acknowledged) answered me promptly within.
One of the most striking of the spiritual principles is the Holy Instant. While I was wondering how I would find time in my life for yoga, various treatments, or other modalities to fix this, the miracle occurred in the infinitesimal instant in which I made a choice to forgive. I am not sure why I also chose to thank P. R. for all the pain that he had caused, but it clearly illustrates to me the great circle of this “relative world,” that there is no blessing that cannot be a curse, and no curse that cannot be a blessing, the melding of the yin and yang.
It also shows me how inextricably our lives are linked. As I strive to experience the Divine Oneness of All That Is, I’d like to think that my forgiveness (which A Course in Miracles defines as just the realization that we are not separate) also released P. R. from some torment from which he suffered. The obvious link to knives/axes in my “past” life has led me to understand that these lives are not really in the past, but going on simultaneously, further evidence that time is only an artifact of this “relative world.” I have since been able to contact several other of my “lives” and am seeing how profoundly they affect what is going on with me at any particular moment. The next big step for me is to be able to forgive myself in all these lives as profoundly as I did P. R.
I have contacted the joy of the Divine many times since then as I actively work to live in that moment-to-moment reality of All That Is. I now believe that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and that probably all illness is merely one of the few ways that the Spirit has to get in touch with us. I never did find out why P. R. tried to kill us that day in “paradise” but I now believe it was part of my Soul’s Purpose to bring this miracle to me. It is now my profoundest desire to facilitate this process for others who suffer, and to “hold the space” that will allow them to be touched by God, as I was.
Epilogue: I offer my deepest appreciation to Carolyn Myss for being the catalyst in this miracle. I offer this story to anyone in the hope that it can open a similar connection to the healing Love of the great unknowable we call God. I also thank the Divine Oneness of All That Is on a daily basis for sending me the Grace that allowed me to learn forgiveness. I most humbly pray that Grace may open my mind and heart to greater Life with the Absolute.
Contributor’s Comments on the Experience
This experience has affected everything about my life, as noted above. It has completely changed the course of my professional life, as I quit my job last year to try to pursue a more holistically oriented practice. Unfortunately, for various reasons, that did not work out, so I am back to practicing rather routine allopathic medicine. However, I now consider myself to be a spiritual seeker 100% of the time, and would like to pursue a career in researching the mind-body-spirit healing paradigm, as well as the nature of consciousness from a scientific perspective. I have used my real name here because I believe we all need to start to acknowledge our “human experience as spiritual beings” in order to bring this into common acceptance and usage in our Western culture. Although I am naturally curious as a scientist about what happened to me, the main reason I would like to scientifically research these phenomena, is to make them less “phenomenal”, and therefore part of our usual and customary approach to health and healing. I acknowledge that Western society “worships at the god of technology”, therefore, I believe it is useful to utilize that “religion” as the medium to get more people’s attention.
I certainly bring up the mind-body-spirit connection with those patients who at least seem open to the concept. Unfortunately, they seem to be few in number, and fewer still are willing to put for the effort required to pursue how the paradigm may help them. I have developed an approach to surgery and chemotherapy which utilizes the current research on how to connect the mind, body and spirit for more rapid healing. I would like to see a world where it is just as common to “wrap someone in a blanket of love” prior to surgery as it is to give them pre-op tranquilizers.
I am interested in working with others who have been able to incorporate this into their work.