I grew up in New York City, the only daughter of Romanian immigrants who came here with a Visa entry as political exiles from a place known as the Iron Curtain, a Communist regime in its most extreme and brutal form. I quickly learned from my parents and the NYC Romanian community, the dangers of Communism from my birth in NYC, and through its demise in Romania on December 21st 1989.The Romanian people, like the Polish, and East Germans, actively rebelled against the regime, and so it was a transformation whereby the army turned against their leader. I was 19 when all this went down. December 21st 1989. My parents would always tell me how lucky I am to be born in America. I was quite a gift to them, and so the journey of my life began.
I will rewind to earlier days that shaped my future as an adult today. I was 6 years old when I watched the gymnast Nadia Comaneci wow the world with an unseen ever perfect 10 occurring multiple times, and 5 gold medals earned. Nadia instantly became the Queen of artistic gymnastics, where millions of little girls like me, believed that we as women can be famous and change the world with talent.
I was partially correct. The sacrifice, emotional, mental, and physical tests would begin soon enough in order to reach elite level gymnastics. I accepted that sacrifice. We all did as gymnasts. All my accomplishments are amazing and a testament of an athlete born of true grit, capable of endless perseverance, dedication to the love of the sport, and sacrifice of lost childhood, friendships, and absence of social events never experienced by dedicated gymnasts. I didn’t even know what a homecoming is, until my own children grew up and attended these social events!
The mentality back in the 1980’s as a gymnast was to keep pushing. When my body started to give up on me, I pushed harder. When you get this far you keep going, is what I used to say. It’s like a drug addiction, there is no turning back. A lot of people admire athletes, but inside us, our body and mind, we are not balanced, our soul suffers. I saw so many athletes turn to food, alcohol, and drugs as a way to deal with the pain inside. For me, I chose a different path. I turned to working towards my goal of becoming a doctor. The obsession to work and accomplish, was my addiction.
Back to the late 1980’s- In 1989, I was free from gymnastics, and the country of Romania was finally free from the Communist dictator on December 21st 1989. I was pre-med, and nothing was going to stop me from gaining entry. I took the trip to Romania in 1991, once in my entire life, and met extended family there. That was the first, and last time I went to Romania. The summer before starting medical school. When I quit gymnastics in college back in 1989, it was like a part of my soul was ripped away from me. Now, in 1991 armed with a Biology degree, I was entering another chapter in my life. I had to channel that energy, dedication, and perseverance, to get through medical school at any cost. I borrowed maximum loans with the promise and goals of a bright future as a foot surgeon.
I went to Podiatric Medical School from 1991 to 1995, which then continued with a three year residency from 1995-1998. I met my husband in December of 1994, and married him 1997. From 1998-2004, I worked very hard to get all my surgical cases to become board certified in August 2004 as a Board Certified Foot Surgeon, all while birthing three babies 1999, 2003, 2004. There are many gaps in memory from sleepless nights, and 12 hours of work as a doctor those years. I had help with babysitters and nannies.
My Podiatry career never truly launched even by the decade of 40, due to moving from New York to Florida, the environment of managed care, lack of business skills, and trying to find my niche in Florida without any built reputation. All these factors made it quite challenging, not to mention three little children to tend to. I felt very much as an outsider from New York. A car accident set me back in 2008 even a bit further. It was also a major factor that changed everything. It’s as if the Universe had another plan for me.
I could not have even imagined my destiny until my heart and soul was exposed to it. The final blow to my Podiatry career was the threat of government control of specialists, with fewer referrals from primary care physicians. The evening in December 2011 congress passed health care reform act. It was the day I decided it was time to let go and jump into the unknown variable.
As one of my clients said to me: when everything changes, change everything. By 2012, I was out of Medicine and 100 percent into the world of Yoga and Wellness. I was in my forties and already said goodbye to Gymnastics at 19, at 34, I said goodbye to my beloved indigenous connection to New York, and now at 42, I was saying goodbye to traditional Allopathic Medicine. How did I get here, I would ask myself for many years. How do I get it to, where I need to be in my life?
I will outline the transition away from medicine by prefacing that exercise and wellness was going to surface as the key element to changing my lifestyle and career path. In my twenties, physical exercise for me was hitting the dance club scene in the 1990’s during the med school and residency years, often with my boyfriend, and now husband. After medical school and residency was completed, my body was yearning for some sort of balance.
I was 27 in 1997, and second year of Residency. My body and mind were burned out, yet I was a new wife and soon the days of becoming a busy working mother had arrived. I had to make my way in the ranks as Physician to get all the surgical cases I could, in order to have enough cases obtained to gain the privilege of taking the oral examinations as the final path for certification. All this while trying to be a mother to my babies. I still could not find any balance yet.
I was dealing with physical challenges having one pregnancy after another, and three children born 1999, 2002, and 2004 very close apart. My first child was born when I turned 30. I had postpartum depression. I was working 12 hours a day working for a Podiatrist, not sleeping, and breastfeeding. I ended up in the ER from dehydration. No balance to be found yet. I did leave the practice and purchased a part-time practice in 2000. That practice in New City, New York did not last long. From 2000-2003. I went through 9/11 and its trauma; lost a friend. I lost patients, and struggled with the practice while dealing with my second pregnancy. The tipping point was our third child Lia. We were living in New York as two working Doctors and soon to raise three children, yet it was physically, and mentally unsustainable with all the school loans, high taxes in New York, unless both of us worked 12 hours a day, and never saw our children. We sold everything and moved to Florida.
We arrived in Florida July 2003, and happily lived a slightly more balanced life since then. Essentially we pressed the reset button at 34. However, it took a physical, mental, and spiritual journey from 1987-2004, to finally discover the body, mind, and soul connection I received from yoga.
I taught aerobics in the late 80’s early 90’s.
I practiced Tae Bo in 1999 while pregnant with my first child.
I practiced Pilates after the birth of my third child in 2003.
I discovered yoga in 2004. No form of exercise stuck with me until Yoga.
I had just finished becoming board certified as a Foot Surgeon August 2014, and Yoga was an outlet for stress relief. The children were growing and thriving, and I thought everything will remain the same. The plan was altered, and it was quite a plot twist.
I was about to be sidelined and I did not see it coming at all. In May of 2008, I was rear ended in front of Florida hospital (now called Advent Health) at the Altamonte Springs campus after completing a surgical consult. At that time, it was only my neck hurting. One month later, I was performing a trans- metatarsal amputation on a diabetic patient. What transpired the next day was unreal. I had severe back and hip pain with sciatica left side. The severe pain sent me to the ER. I could not even place my left foot down without excruciating pain. A few week later, the Podiatric Physician I was working for let me go. I could not find employment as a Podiatrist, unless I started from scratch on my own.
Prior to this when I was in New York, my spouse and I bought a part time practice with some build in patients. Eight years later, and three children later at 38, I was pigeon holed into starting yet again from scratch in a place where I did not have any professional reputation which goes a long way in the medical field. What I had to do was monumental. I met my now longtime friend Dr. Melissa Verde, and off we started with me renting one of her rooms so I can see some patients.
Despite grandiose efforts and working 7 days a week, I let it go when I realized I was juggling both the Yoga studio I started in 2010, and the Podiatry practice seeing patients while maintaining a family was brutal on myself and family. It was brutal on my body, and mind numbing most days. I started in 2010 with the Podiatry and Yoga practice all in one location. It was an insane level of imbalance typically ranging from dealing with teachers calling out sick and having to sub, to getting calls on Saturday night to see a septic foot which usually ended as an emergency case of incision and drainage of an abscess, or a full on amputation the same night, or next day Sunday. I was teaching 11 yoga classes, running a studio, and seeing Podiatry patients while trying to balance a family life. This was a far cry and a long journey from the balance I sought in teacher training for yoga in 2008.
These life altering changes occurred from 2008-2012. All the years of gymnastics, medical school, residency, childbirth, 12-14 hour days for so many years, and many weekends spent working, I was ready for change. My body, mind and soul was screaming for it. I stopped practicing medicine in 2012.
I decided to take weekends off and went to New Smryna Beach every single weekend. We bought a beach cottage in 2013. I began following my passion and started teaching Science fulltime at the college level in 2012. I taught Anatomy & Physiology and Medical Terminology at Herzing University 2012-2015 full time.
All I wanted, was to feel the same feeling and inspiration I had during yoga teacher training back in 2008. I had quite a “seminal” experience my last day of training where tears rolled down my cheek feeling my body so relaxed and hearing the song “Imagine” from the Beatles. It was a “seminal” moment in my life realizing that I have found some semblance of balance.
The Universe had more planned for me. I met Ann Bondi a licensed nurse who at the time was working at South Seminole Hospital. She introduced me to Energy Medicine healing through Reiki in 2011. She had patients that benefited from this hands on healing technique. I became interested in learning Reiki.
I embarked on another path that would soon complement my yoga practice and bring complete healing on all levels body, mind, soul, and spirit. From 2011 until 2018, my spiritual, mental, and physical growth improved. Yet my imbalanced view of work was still there.
My body by 2013 was visibly suffering, as I was able to facilitate healing for others through group yoga, private medical yoga, and energy healing, but my own physical body was deteriorating fast at 45. I sought an orthopedic consult back in 2014. I was told it’s a hip Labral tear that can be treated with stretching, NSAIDS and Dexamethasone steroid injections.
The pain worsened, it was unbearable alternating between back pain, and hip pain. My chiropractor would patch me up, but I would go back to my studio teach Yoga, Ballet Barre, see Medical yoga clients, Reiki clients, and go off to Anatomy lab to stand for three hours. Yoga has helped others at my studio, but as studio owner for me, it had become a difficulty due to chronic pain. I began to have difficulty just standing or sitting. To walk was to expose myself to three days of nagging pain as my back and hips would flare up. I carry this pain knowing that I became a better yoga practitioner, and can facilitate healing for clients very much like me with chronic back, knee, and hip pain. I have received energy healing from both Reiki practitioners and Pranic Healing Practitioners, all with powerful pain relieving results. Underlying condition was still not discovered however.
In my continued abuse and use of my body, it was just one side of the story that remained unresolved. My story and journey with the root chakra (center of stability in earthly realm) is the background music just like my pain. It is a never ending feeling of not being secure or grounded. It stems from my family background as immigrants who started from scratch and grew up in World War 2 Europe. It is the indoctrination model of working no matter what, sometimes blindly at the detriment of one’s health, and wellbeing.
If I had stopped for one day, maybe as a gymnast, or as a med student, or as a resident, or as a mother, or as a doctor in my thirties…..my physical conditions would have worsened at a much slower pace. My body pain situation and physical challenges along with meeting medical yoga clients like me, has been a blessing in disguise. The car accident was also a blessing in disguise. The obstacles I met in my Podiatry career, was a blessing in disguise.All these events have brought me down a more balanced path of Restorative Yoga, Medical Yoga, and Reiki.
I am forced to be abiding by my body cues, and keeping a healthy balance. Listen to your body is my constant self-talk in anything I do throughout my day. Breath and activate my core is my second mantra. I finally trained myself to avoid pushing like a bull through pain because that’s what gymnast’s do. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I have released all outdated thinking that is detrimental to my health. I honor my body mind and soul.I use discernment and clarity to know what is best for me.
I am Dr. Dacia Felix Milescu.
I have been diagnosed with congenital hip dysplasia at 48. It took all my life until 2018 to discover that I was born this way. It is now too late for me. Even if I would have been diagnosed early, surgeons do not look at joint resurfacing and re-alignment as valid surgical options. They usually wait until the patient gets “old enough” for a hip replacement. When I did have hip pain, I was told to take Motrin, stretch and get steroid shots when the pain was unbearable. That does not stop the progression of traumatic arthritis and eventually hip replacements. The life you lead in between, the doctor does not care. That is your responsibility. That is where I come in and use my experience and insight to steer others away from the path of self-destruction that I took. It is up to the individual that needs to slow down a certain activity, in order to slow down the onset of arthritis.
To all the little girls out there pursuing gymnastics. Please honor your body. We are not robots. We have abilities and physical challenges that are individually unique, and so we need to address them, and not over stress, over use, and overstretch, if such underlying conditions exist. I participated in competitive elite level gymnastics, and competitive figure skating.
As an adult, I taught Ballet Barre, and Vinyasa/Power Yoga for years which only aggravated my underlying condition not because they are not great practices. The abuse and overuse is where the danger lies. Some of us are exercise addicts. The right dose it is good. Too much, it is detrimental to the joints of the body. I did not know that I was physically challenged. I did not limp. I mowed through pain that was invisible to society as an adult. Why is it that society only pays attention to someone when they limp? It is too late to fix or slow down what damage has been done once a visible limp is seen.
Only three percent of infants are properly diagnosed with congenital hip dysplasia. Most women go undetected due to “flexibility”. I was born with a shallow hip socket (acetabulum), and a very large ball joint (femoral head) that does not fit well in the hip socket. Nothing could have stopped this from happening. Not even me. I had no pain as a young gymnast, but my hips “clicked” a lot with movement. I was told that “everything was normal”. If I don’t limp, I don’t get an X-ray, so I continued to stretch or over stretch oblivious to my congenitally malformed hip joint.
The pain in my hip I attributed to over stretching at a very young age.
I am a Doctor, a Yoga Teacher, and a Professor.
I have a physical disability: Congenital Hip Dysplasia.
I remember in the 1990’s while dating my now spouse. My own family, and my spouse’s ex-girlfriend judged him because he had a visible limp. The greatest irony! The whole time, I was in the same situation, however I just was not as obvious in the absence of a limp. I have not just one hip, but both hips shaped in this way that leads to degenerative changes, whether I would have been an athlete, or not.
My athletic ability helped give me strength and flexibility to adapt to my miss- shaped hips. In the end, as athlete’s age, we pay the price for the damage we did in our youth. My healing journey began in 2018, as I journey back to health, and leave the darkness of chronic pain that has plagued me since 2012. I will be getting hip replacements for both hips. First surgical implant was May 27 2018. Right Hip Replaced and it was successful. I began teaching yoga again August 13th, 2018. The second hip was replaced May 28, 2019.
As I write this account now, I am 2 weeks post op and moved through Low Blood pressure (hypotension), asthma issues, and a nasty chest cold. I have successfully transitioned to a cane, and wish to transition to teaching my end of July or August. The healer needs healing. I want to heal myself first, then inspire others like me out there and provide insight, hope and healing. I have every intention to contact Yoga Journal and share my story. Maybe even if 10 people with back and hip pain pick up a mat and take steps to healing, I have made my mark and completed my Divine purpose for living on earth in this timeline.
I know that there must be some bilateral hip replacement Yogis and Yoginis out there! The medical yoga I facilitate with others, will finally be infused with much insight on the mental strength, grit and emotional stability to dig your way from learning how to walk again, to practicing Yoga, and enjoying life that others take for granted.
Your health is truly your greatest wealth. I say that at the end of each yoga class that I teach. The energy healing that moves through me as Holy Fire II Reiki Master will be used in my own healing and healing others. I am in Gratitude to Source (God).
I am forgiving myself for all that has happened as a gift of learning and growth which has unleveled me to a higher Consciousness, and made me compassionate to every soul that comes to me for medical yoga and energy healing.