Women Who Tri

"You're Nuts..."

Today I had a new partner as my most recent one has left me for Medical School (Yes, Ed.  I am still holding a grudge until you return)

While it was just for today, Art and I seemed to have an immediate understanding of each other.  Our Medic numbers are only a few digits off and we both have experienced what life is outside of EMS.  We enjoyed our day, we had great conversations, saw a few patients, had a lot of laughs and because of him, I actually enjoyed my first day back to work since July 24th.  This was a relatively benign for a Medic Shift in this area (Lakewood, NJ).  So it was an easy day to ease back into the Medic saddle.

For those who don't know me...I am a walking talking shit storm when it comes to bad EMS calls.  The Nurses at Jersey Shore UMC in Neptune always give me a side smile when I walk through the doors and say "we should have known you had something to do with this" It makes me smile at times and others it makes me shake my head.   There is a lot of pressure in my job.  It's a job where you usually only see the worst things life has to throw at another human.  Let's face it.  If you have ever called 911, it wasn't because something good happened.  It was simply a cry for help in desperation or something life altering had just happened. 

After almost 20 years on the Medic truck, I still call my Mother, Joan every night on my way home.  It has become our "thing".  When she sees or hears my name being announced on her caller ID, she always answers the phone in her very upbeat voice and asks "How was your day, honey?" There is always some kind of snarky answer or a long drawn out silence, groan or grumble. (Anyone who has worked in public service knows those answers can vary greatly depending on what the universe has decided to throw at us in between punches of the time clock.) You see, I can talk to my Mom of the things I see, hear feel and experience "on the job".  She understands pressures of the job.  After some persuading by me in the early 90's, she went through EMT school and found her passion.  She loved every minute of it.  But she also got a good taste of how stressful the job can be.    

Today, my answer to Joan was: "Relatively benign for a Sunday in Ocean County, NJ".  Mom giggled. (She does, in fact have the best giggle ever next to Courtney's). While chatting with my Mom and her giving me the run down of her day, she states: "Well, now you can go home, peel off your uniform, climb into your comfy's and go to sleep". I unwittingly let out a sarcastic giggle. "Wait. What?! Why are you giggling??"  "Mom, I decided to sleep in today 'cause it was my first day back to work so I have to do at least part of my circuit tonight".  Mom:  "You're Nuts!" Me: "Well, kinda.  Yeah."  (It takes a nut to know a nut, Joanie)

My Mom and Dad have always been my own personal cheering section.  There were 7 of us growing up.  With my Dad working so much to support us, she tried her best to get to every sporting event and cheer us on.  Now, at 84, it's no different.  When I post something about my Tri Training on social media, she always chirps up with a "That's MY GIRL!" comment.  I think she lives her life vicariously through me and my adventures, I don't blame her.  I have a pretty amazing life. My generation of female athletes is only possible because of hers.  She has taught me to recognize and respect that, I do.  I go on to explain to her the amount of pressure I have put myself under as I am 27 days away from my first Ironman 70.3 and I am in fear of not being able to finish it as my body hasn't been cooperating.   She tells me she loves me, tells me I can do it, tells me to please be safe and call her tomorrow during my shift at Jersey Shore.  "I love you too, Mom".  Sleep well, beautiful. 

I disconnect the call through the magic technological person called Siri in my phone and much to my surprise what is on the Radio? Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen.  It's Jake's favorite song.  I have listened to the words for what could possibly be a million times.  I know them.  But I never really listened to them.  Until tonight.

"Pressure pushing down on me, Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure that brings a building down, Splits a family in two, Puts people on streets.  It's the terror of knowing, What the world is about, Watching some good friends
Screaming 'Let me out', Pray tomorrow gets me higher, Pressure on people people on streets, Chippin' around - kick my brains around the floor, These are the days it never rains but it pours."

All of a sudden, I got it.  Pressure comes from all sources, both Internal and external, some in our control some completely out of our control (like my job).  My fear of failure is my own personal pressure.  It's pressure I don't need.  None of us do.  So yes, Mom.  I'm Nuts.  Im Nuts if I don't think I can do this.  So even though today is one of those days where EVERYTHING HURTS, I'm swollen and exhausted, I put on my sneakers, my beats and my flasher (a gift from Michael for when I run at O'Dark-Thirty in the morning) and I ran.  Only two miles.  I did it for me.  Most importantly, I did it for you, Mom.  I love you. 


Stay safe everyone and be good to each other. ~ T


Well, here we go.

So let me start off where most people do.  With me introducing myself.  My Name is Tracy Connellan.  I was born and raised in Wall Township, NJ falling in at lucky number 7 of 7 kids.  I was not necessarily shy or quiet, just the kid who did her own thing, surrounded by Brothers and Sisters who loved me and taught me all of lifes lessons. I was the littlest one of our clan in both size and birth order.  I grew up busy, involved in sports of all kinds and suffered chronically from Asthma, which I to this day have to struggle to manage on some days.

I went to college, I travelled, I worked, I met a guy, got married, had two pretty amazing humans, Jake and Courtney (Ladybug) and got divorced.  Then, I met my Soul Mate, Michael. 

At some point in my 20's, I made the genius decision to leave my crazy good paying job at UPS for a job being a critical care EMT. I wanted to go back to school to be a Paramedic.  "Are you for real?!" My Father asked.  Yes, Dad, just trust me on this one.  My grandmother, Helen told me on hearing my news, "You know, Tracy.  Sometimes, in life you just have to jump off that bridge and build your wings on the way down" "Besides, God made Paramedics for a reason.  That reason is that they do things that no one else can do, ask Grandpa!"  She was right.  It was my life's calling.

I started my career in 1997 and put 100 percent of everything I had into it.  As a Paramedic, I wanted not to be liked so much as a person, I wanted to be the Paramedic that other Paramedics wanted treating their family.  It has been 20 years.  I have become that Paramedic and my Grandmother was right.  God made Paramedics for a reason.

My whole life, when things got bad, stressful or just all out annoying, I turned to running.  There is something to be said about running alone, It's just you and the road, some really angry music, feet pounding, listening to your own breath and plenty of time to fix all of the worlds problems.  I wasn't a great distance runner, you see.  I was always the 200/400 hurdles kind of runner.  Short, quick, explosive with a general point to prove.  I was little, but damn I was quick.  I had to work really hard to do distance.  It didn't come easy.  

In January 2010, I had a very significant injury to my right leg.  I fell out of the back of a moving ambulance on a CPR call.  Flying out of the back of the bus like Superman, I broke my leg in grand fashion, tearing all the ligaments and tendons in my ankle requiring multiple surgeries to repair all the damage.  I was told I would never run again.  

Well, Shit.

In October of 2011, I got the go ahead with a LOT of not so gentle persuading of my Surgeon to start to jog again.  RIGHT.  I am Lion, hear me roar, I'll show them!

I started out pretty slow but was able to get myself back to an 8:15 mile for those 5k's that I loved to do.  By December, however I noticed that was getting harder and harder to do.  I watched my times gradually creep up to the high 11's, eventually not able to finish even a mile on a treadmill without being completely gassed and in terrible pain.  What. The. HELL, Over.

To the Doctor I went.  "It's your Epstein Barr, It's active again".  No.  I knew that feeling all to well from college and having suffered occasional flare ups.  That wasn't it.  I kept going to the Doctor.  "Something is really wrong here.  I can't think, I feel like my head is in a fog all the time.  I can't stay awake, I only want to sleep.  My joints are inflamed, my hair is falling out, not to mention the chicken skin and rashes and...LOOK AT THIS EDEMA!.  Please help!" More and more blood work.  I was then asked to come back to the office to review.  I had a diagnosis: Hashimoto's Hypo Thyroid Disease with Auto Immune. The best part? I was allergic to Wheat.  Wait, no more hot bagels for breakfast on the Medic Truck?

Well, Shit.

I went from a respectable, healthy 124 pounds in October 2010 to a bloated, puffy and painful 178 pounds in February 2011.  

This is where my good Friend and confidant, Kate Palmer, APN from Jersey Shore University Medical Center came in and saved me from myself.  She set me up with an amazing endocrinologist, Svetlana Fomin helped me set up a meal and exercise plan and I was on my  way.  A few changes in diet and daily medication (switching from Synthroid which has a wheat coating to Tirosint which is a gel cap) and I was well on my way to being a brand new me.  

If it was not for Kate listening, guiding and most importantly believing me, I would not be where I am today.  (You will hear from Kate in a later blog)  I am going to listen to my body and rest now.  This was a long two weeks for me!  My Family and I went to Lake Placid for two weeks for our annual pilgrimage.  I'm Signed up for Lake Placid Ironman 70.3 on September 9th.  I got in lot's of Ironman training for 14 days! 

I'll tell you all about it in my next blog post.  Until then, Stay safe and lead by example. ~ T