By Dawn's Early Light: Being smart about staying alive with disabilities along with renewed focus on making each day count

Headline Surfer photo by Sera Frederick / Photo: Henry Frederick is being prepped for life-saving surgery to repair an ascending aorta aneurysm and replace a torn aorta valve cover to his heart in 2016, at Orlando Regional Medical Center, in Orlando, Florida.

Henry Frederick going into surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center in 2016 / Headline Surfer

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer
Column: People, Places & Things
 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- There's nothing more promising in my life than the beauty of the morning sunrise.

And with each successive day, after two years of life-threatening health issues and the reality of permanent disability.

I am starting to feel better, physically and mentally, in dealing with past, present and future challenges that have become the new normal. 

Having turned  56 on Feb. 4, Super Bowl Sunday, and in the middle of 14 days in hospitalized,  now more than ever before, I have to really pay attention to the warning signs in learning to live with disabilities, primarily with two vital organs -- my heart and lungs. 

I am happy to report I am feeling much better now that three weeks have passed since four successive hospitalizations totaling 14 days due this time around to bronchitis and the strain on my already weakened heart.

Things got so bad the final time when my doctor called for an ambulance to transport me from his office to the hospital, during which paramedics had to stick an IV into the top of my foot because my arms were so swollen from previous sticks. 

Nothing can be worse than the life-saving operation I endued two years ago for an ascending aorta aneurysm and torn aorta heart valve after four weeks in ICU with pneumonia.

Fortunately, I haven't had a heart attack and no appreciable blockage. But my heart is enlarged and the central muscle is weakened.

And I have had a lifetime battle with asthma, which has morphed into COPD due to restrictive airwaves. And to complicate things, I had been on maximum dosage of Adderall for five-plus years to deal with severe ADHD. 

In November after being rushed to the hospital with severe dizziness,  migraine and vomiting, as well as extremely high pulse rate, cardiac arrest was averted. But the Adderall was cut off immediately and that resulted in being bedridden for weeks at home.

In the last couple of months, it has been restored, but at half strength so focus remains a challenge, but at least I can function.

I also have had to deal with pain in my lower extremities and recurring headaches with blood flow slower due to the heart's struggle to pump the blood through my body, especially at night. However, a combination of lowering the Adderall and increases in heart medicines is starting to give me some relief.

The Adderall is vital in my focus on life's daily chores, staying on task and getting things done. 

The last of my medical issues is morbid obesity. At the beginning of the year, I weighed 255 pounds. I have since gotten my weight down to 233 pounds.

I need to shed close to another 70 pounds to get to the medically-desired weight of 165, and I don't have a lot of time to make it happen. 

My doctors say it is critical to my survival beyond a year, but more likely, the window is a mere 6-9 months.

Among the disabilities I am battling are congestive heart failure, an enlarged heart, hardening of arteries, COPD, ADHD and morbid obesity -- all of them markers for death. 

The reality is I am disabled, but it doesn't mean that I can't appreciate and make the best of my life with whatever time I have remaining. 

My doctors say it is critical to my survival beyond a year, but more likely,  the window is a mere 6-9 months.

Among the disabilities I am battling are congestive heart failure, an enlarged heart, hardening of arteries, COPD, ADHD and morbid obesity -- all of them markers for death. 

The reality is I am disabled, but it doesn't mean that I can't appreciate and make the best of my life with whatever time I have remaining. 

I have focused on changes in my diet, clearly with an emphasis on healthy eating with an emphasis on avoiding foods that are high in fat and sodium.

I am walking every day now -- even if it's slow going, I'm getting exercise and I'm building some endurance. In a matter of weeks, I'll be in the community pool where my wife and I live.

I've returned to my studies with four courses left to complete my Master of Arts in NewMedia Journalism online at Full Sail University. I hope to graduate in June with high honors. I had to withdraw from classes for three consecutive months due to my health or my graduation would have been next month.

And with the reality of my heath, I have to be realistic that earning a living through journalism supported by advertising solicitation or any other similar career move is no longer in the cards.

I will be able to continue with Headline Surfer, but my doctors have made it clear that it cannot be anywhere near the intensity of the daily grind. The advertising on the site is comprised of expiring contracts. 

I am thankful that I am not relegated to a hospital bed or worse -- hospice. So whatever I am doing now with the journalism is akin to a hobby.

I haven't gone out to a crime scene or other breaking news event for the better part of a year now and but a few times in the last couple of years. I was unable the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway for the second time in 20 years. I missed the Great American Race back in 2016. 

Likewise, I have not attended a government meeting now since the summer. And I won't be moderating any public candidate debates as election season nears. 

But thanks to advances in social media, multi-media and even electronic access to some public records, I can get visuals, sound and sense of place as well as quotes, and other building blocks to stay relevant in my journalism  and not compromise my health.

I believe most people who have followed my career understand and appreciate what I provide, even as limited as it has been in the past two years. I have been very open about it on social media and I believe it has endeared my to many of my readers (followers).

As demonstrated with my awards, having amassed dozens, far more than any single reporter in Central Florida since 2012, my writing remains potent -- thanks in large measure to my reporting instincts.

I believe most people who have followed my career understand and appreciate what I provide, even as limited as it has been in the past two years. I have been very open about it on social media and I believe it has endeared my to many of my readers (followers).

As demonstrated with my awards, having amassed dozens, far more than any single reporter in Central Florida since 2012, my writing remains potent -- thanks in large measure to my reporting instincts.

I rarely drive any more due to the headaches and dizziness (the latter I have pulled over with until it has passed). I try and avoid distances beyond a half hour and arrange doctor's visits and my visits to the heart and lung clinics I go to on a regular schedule mostly around Sera's work schedule.

Our finances are stretched to the limit, and a couple of people have helped along the way. Hopefully, Social Security disability will start (was told it would likely be approved due to the extensive medical diagnoses -- anywhere from April to year's end.

My loving wife, Sera, has had to work extra hours, and thankfully, student loan subsidies have enabled us to cover the rent to June. It could be a tough summer, but I am hopeful it will all work out. 

All is not lost and life goes on.

On April 7, Sera and I will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Headline Surfer®. And on April 19, we will also celebrate our ninth anniversary of marriage.

My son, Little Henry, 24, is living in South Daytona, and even though I don't see him as much as I'd like (it's a 30- to 45-minute commute on I-4, which is difficult for me to drive. He'll be buying his first car in the next couple of months so that will mean better interaction. For the time being, we stay in touch a couple times a week with a phone call, texting or private messenger on Facebook.

I am feeling better emotionally about my life and though I don't want to die anytime soon, if that is my fate, then I feel like my life has had a good deal of personal accomplishment and positive meaning -- that I've given back to society as a father, husband and provider. 

I was the first in my family to go to college, get a bachelors with high honors, and I'll be the first to obtain an advanced degree, again with top honors when I graduate from Full Sail University this summer with an MA in New Media Journalism.

I've had a long and prosperous career in journalism -- 20 years as a newspaper reporter and the latter decade as an internet reporter and online publisher.

I have close to a hundred award-winning stories split between the two mediums.

I raised my son to adulthood where he's making his way in the world. And Sera and I are happily married and sharing our lives tother in our apartment in a gated community in Seminole County near Sanford, Heathrow and Lake Mary, with our Yorkie, Napoleon, and mini macaw, Paulie Wally, ages 9 and 10, respectively.

The squawking bird will definitely outlive all of us. As for me, I am thankful for however much time I have in my journey through life: I am making each day count as a building block to the next sunrise.

Prayer, love, a renewed focus on my heath and moving away from the daily career grind are key ingredients to better days, months, and hopefully, a few years more of life with my family, friends and journalism passion. The latter within limits, of course. 

The squawking bird will definitely outlive all of us. As for me, I am thankful for however much time I have in my journey through life: I am making each day count as a building block to the next sunrise.

Prayer, love, a renewed focus on my heath and moving away from the daily career grind are key ingredients to better days, months, and hopefully, a few years more of life with my family, friends and journalism passion. The latter within limits, of course. 

GENERAL NEWS:

Southern rocker Gregg Allman, who spent part of his childhood in Daytona, has died at age 69
http://headlinesurfer.com/content/southern-rocker-gregg-allman-who-spent...
May 28, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: New Smyrna Beach's Bob Tolley grieving for NYC firefighter-son who fell off roof of 5-story building to his death during fire in Queens
http://headlinesurfer.com/content/breaking-news-new-smyrna-beachs-bob-to...
April 21, 2017

Mini horse attacked by loose dogs in Lake Helen succumbs to injuries; owner seeks help via GoFundMe page to defray medical costs
http://headlinesurfer.com/content/mini-horse-attacked-loose-dogs-lake-he...
December 29, 2016

PUBLIC SAFETY REPORTING:

INVESTIGATIVE: Nearly 4 months have passed and South Daytona cops have no solid leads as to who gunned down a man in cold blood
http://headlinesurfer.com/content/investigative-nearly-4-months-have-pas...
December 27, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: New Smyrna Beach's Bob Tolley grieving for NYC firefighter-son who fell off roof of 5-story building to his death during fire in Queens
http://headlinesurfer.com/content/breaking-news-new-smyrna-beachs-bob-to...
April 21, 2017

Sanford Cops: 8-year-old boy dies from gunshot wounds inflicted allegedly by boyfriend of mother, also killed; kid brother, grandfather remain critical
http://headlinesurfer.com/content/sanford-cops-8-year-old-boy-dies-gunsh...
March 28, 2017

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.