Frank Zotti doesn’t typically get headaches, so when he had a severe one after his wife, Tamara, left the house on the morning of Aug. 16, he knew he needed to call for help. The phone call to his wife ended up saving his life.
The headache was actually a brain bleed. He made it to the hospital, and through a battery of tests, doctors were able to locate and coil the aneurysm. Frank Zotti remained in the hospital for 12 days — a much shorter stay than doctors expected — while he was treated for a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
“He said he felt the pressure go up his spine and his head filled with fluid,” Tamara Zotti said.
“Doctors and nurses all said that if he didn't call me to come and get him, and if he had just taken a pain reliever, he would not have survived,” she said. “When released from the hospital, Frank will be unable to work for at least a month, maybe two — if all goes well.”
Frank Zotti, 49, is the owner of Zotti Woodwork & Design. Tamara Zotti previously worked at Windermere Prep and currently is active in volunteer work in the community.
OUTPOURING OF SUPPORT
Friends jumped at the chance to do something for the woman who always is doing something for others.
Family friend Sarah Ruggieri has organized a GoFundMe page for the family.
“Let’s pull together and support this amazing family as Frank, Tamara and their children navigate through the healing process from this experience,” she wrote on the fundraising page. “Let’s pull together and ease the inevitable financial burden the Zotti family will be experiencing with loss of work and mounting hospital bills.”
“The doctors are telling him, ‘I don’t know how you’re able to get up, how you’re able to walk this floor.’ They said, ‘You do realize you are a small miracle sitting here with us.’”
— Tamara Zotti, wife of Frank Zotti
Donations have been pouring in — but the medical bills are coming in just as quickly.
Two others who have been there for the Zottis are Danielle Newbold, of Miles to Go, and Shannon Connelly-Gunn.
Tamara Zotti has been amazed by the outpouring of support from the community. One sizeable donation that came in was from the family of a former student.
“For what we’re going through, it definitely makes you see there are so many good people,” Tamara Zotti said. “You just pass people and you think, maybe I smiled at them. But … you definitely sit back and think, wow.”
The women in their neighborhood organized a meal train and offered to pick up her children from school.
“We are very grateful, and it’s extending a lot of grace to us,” she said. “I can’t describe the feeling of what I’m feeling from friends and community as far as the GoFundMe page. It’s pretty humbling to have friends — and people you don’t know — try to get you out of this situation.”
‘YOU ARE HERE’
The Zottis received good news on Monday: Frank’s bloodwork was normal, and he was released from the hospital and able to go straight home, bypassing all rehabilitation centers.
Doctors have not cleared him to return to work yet, and that could be one or two months from now.
“The doctors are telling him, ‘I don’t know how you’re able to get up, how you’re able to walk this floor,’” Tamara Zotti said. “They said, ‘You do realize you are a small miracle sitting here with us.’
“He said, ‘If I’ve been given a second chance then I need to fight,” she said.
Frank Zotti was still mourning the recent death of his mother, so he is dealing with a several things.
“When I say his mom was in that room protecting him, making him strong, I believe it,” Tamara Zotti said. “I tell my friends he’s like an enigma right now. First, he survived it. I pass people in the halls and they’re on respirators. Then I look at him and think that could have been you. I don’t know what happened, but you are here.”
Doctors have told him that the headache actually saved his life. They have done numerous tests, and nothing came back out of the ordinary.
“I don’t know where the fight came in him,” Tamara Zotti said. “Maybe because his mom passed away and we have two children and he’s like my little enigma, I tell him.”
On Saturday, Aug. 28, Tamara Zotti posted an update on her Facebook page with some good news — her husband was home:
“Frank came home today! He walked out of the hospital — he said no thank you to the wheelchair. What could have been a three-week stay in the hospital ended up being 12 days. We appreciate all the prayers and love that you all have sent us. It is clear that prayers are answered.”
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.