Late mom's birthday time to reflect on healing & appreciate sanctity of life

Henry Frederick hospiyalized for upper ascending aneurysm / Headkine SurferHeadline Surfer photos / Henry Frederick is shown at left before life-saving surgery and at right after the surgery to repair an upper ascending aorta aneurysm and a heart valve flap replacement, following five weeks of hospitalization, initially for pneumonia, then treatment for the flu, and finally the operation and recovery.
 
Henry Frederick / Headline SurferBy Henry Frederick
Headline Surfer
Column: People, Places & Things
 
SANFORD, Fla. -- Though I am in overdrive in reporting news of the day, I would be remiss not to take a break and share with you why this day was one of great personal reflection: It's my late mother's birthday.

Below is a vintage photo of my mother, Anna Marie (Moreira) Frederick, date of birth Oct. 30, 1939, and date of death Aug. 27, 2003, back home in Connecticut. She was 62 when she died, and of all dates for her death to occur, it happened on on my father's birthday. He is now 78 years old. I am the second of their seven children.

As most of you know from my frequent postings, this year has been among the most difficult of my life. 

Before sunrise on Super Bowl Sunday, my wife, Serafina Frederick, rushed me to the Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford -- my pillow drenched in blood and mucous. It was obvious in the ER that I was very sick and the preliminary diagnosis was pneumonia.

But even more frightening was what else the doctors discovered the next day -- a massive ascending aorta aneurysm and defective heart valve flap that meant my life was on the line and the only option was invasive surgery.

First, though, my wife was on her way to work at 4 a.m. when something inside told her to turn around. Had she kept driving, I likely would have died in the bed. The hospital was less than 2 miles from where we lived. 

YouTube download / video by Mike Pastore / Henry Frederick is visited in the Seminole County Regional Hospital in Sanford by Pastore Mike Pastore, an advocate for the homeless prior to transfer to Orlando Regional Medical Center in Orlando, for life-saving surgery to repair a massive aorta aneurysm.

The doctors discovered I had a massive "ascending aorta aneurysm" that also had me knocking on Heaven's Door (or Hell for that matter to those who truly despise my award-winning reporting). Thankfully, the latter are in limited numbers. But there would be no invasive surgery for another five weeks - the first four for the pneumonia and the fifth having caught the flu, discovered in a second hospital (mistakenly sent there in an insurance screw-up).

Then came the operation in a third hospital -- Orlando Regional Medical Center. And to this day, I'm not quite recovered, but far more along with the prospect of a long life.

A cow's flap was used for the defective heart valve flap once the aorta was repaired. The surgery took longer than expected with some complications, but I made it.

I've been told it is going to take a good year to fully recover so I have to be patient.

 I also agonized over my slow health recovery and the scar on my chest that looks like a zipper from being sawed open in surgery. After awhile, I resented prayers offered by well wishers on Facebook because they didn't understand how conflicted I felt about what I went through.

There was that stretch of a couple of months after the surgery where I felt sorry I was even alive, but the doctors have told me that's not out of the ordinary for someone who has gone under the knife, especially when the patient survives and a parent in similar situations in the past did not make it. But I have since thanked them for their well wishes and prayers.

Henry Frederick after surgery for an aorta amerysm / Headline SurferThe doctors discovered I had a massive "ascending aorta aneurysm" that also had me knocking on Heaven's Door (or Hell for that matter to those who truly despise my award-winning reporting). Thankfully, the latter are in limited numbers. 

But there would be no invasive surgery for another five weeks - the first four for the pneumonia and the fifth having caught the flu, discovered in a second hospital (mistakenly sent there in an insurance screw-up).

Then came the operation in a third hospital -- Orlando Regional Medical Center.

And to this day, I'm not quite recovered, but far more along with the prospect of a long life.

A cow's flap was used for the defective heart valve flap once the aorta was repaired. The surgery took longer than expected with some complications, but I made it. I've been told it is going to take a good year to fully recover so I have to be patient. 

Henry Frederick, invasive surgery / Headline SurferI also agonized over my slow health recovery and the scar on my chest that looks like a zipper from being sawed open in surgery.

After awhile, I resented prayers offered by well wishers on Facebook because they didn't understand how conflicted I felt about what I went through.

There was that stretch of a couple of months after the surgery where I felt sorry I was even alive, but the doctors have told me that's not out of the ordinary for someone who has gone under the knife, especially when the patient survives and a parent in similar situations in the past did not make it. But I have since thanked them for their well wishes and prayers.

On this special day, my mother's birthday, I am beginning to understand and appreciate the sanctity of life. For the longest time, I felt guilty about surviving the surgery when my mother hadn't a dozen years earlier when she, too, had invasive surgery (not going to get into specifics here out of respect for privacy of siblings and father).

Suffice to say, I also felt bad that she had died a slow death once hospitalized and having undergone invasive surgery and yet I lived. And I knew that her life was difficult from the onset of adolescence by the fact that her father was taken by sudden illness at age 40, when she was merely 12 years old.

Mother an early influence in reading and writing

Henry Frederick ready for invasive surgery / Headline SurferSerafina Frederick assures stepson, Henry Frederick IV, that his father will be ok with surgery / Headline SurferWhile Henry Frederick is readied for surgery, his wife, Sera Frderick, tells his son, Henry IV, who is out of state (in a social media private message) that he will be Ok. The son says he's sorry for difficulties a few years erlier as a teen, but is re-asured tha is Ok, too.

It was my mother who taught me how to read and write at age 3. And she saw me graduate from college, the first in the family, with top honors. My brothers and sisters are all either college-educated or recipients of a trade. 

My mother is in Heaven knowing we are carrying on the Judeo-Christian values and work ethic she and our father instilled in us from the cradle. And we in turn are instilling these values and faith in our children - my namesake, Henry IV, now 23 and making his way in the world, too. It is because of her and surviving this operation that I have decided to pursue a master's degree in journalism. And I have my wife's blessing, for she and my young adult son are the two most important people to me in the world. 

Thirteen years have passed since my mother's passing and I cherish what was ingrained in me long ago with a mother's love, patience and virtue. And those building blocks remain with me as I continue to recover and geal from this operation. 

Henry Frederick's late mom, Anna Frederick / Headline SurferHenry Frederick & wife, Sera; and his son, Henry IV / Headline SurferMy mother, shown here in this vintage B&W photo, is in Heaven knowing we are carrying on the Judeo-Christian values and work ethic she and our father instilled in us from the cradle. And we in turn are instilling these values and faith in our children - my namesake, Henry IV, now 23 and making his way in the world, too. It is because of her and surviving this operation that I have decided to pursue a master's degree in journalism. And I have my wife Sera's blessing, for she and my young adult son, both shown here, are the two most important people to me in the world. 

Thirteen years have passed since my mother's passing and I cherish what was ingrained in me long ago with a mother's love, patience and virtue. And those building blocks remain with me as I continue to recover and heal from this operation. 

For those of you who have recently lost a close family member -- mom, dad, son, daughter -- or perhaps a close friend, I offer you Psalm 18:28: “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

-- Posted Oct. 20, 2016
2016-10-30 20:38:59 -0700
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 since 2008. 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 close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.