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.
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?
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