CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - "Been a while but I wanted to give you an update on Zach."
Now, 14-year-old Zach Casillo lives in Fort Mill and we haven't heard anything about him since April, so I'm thrilled his mom Billie Jo wrote. There was lots to say.
Zach is one of our #MollysKids who lives with POTS. Since introducing him in April, he has been at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and started seeing specialists in Charleston at MUSC. Lots of travel and almost two dozen appointments - none covered by insurance and all out of network - but his mom says things are starting to fall into place.
"Lots of tests," Zach's mom said. "But we're finally getting answers to how POTS is affecting Zach's heart. Turns out he has multiple issues and lots of side effects. Sometimes he'll just pass out. Sometimes he can't walk. He's crawled into see me before saying, 'mom, I can't feel my legs.' There are many things. He's amazing for how he handles them all."
Next Friday – the 15th – Zach has a huge surgery planned in Charleston.
In fact, someone offered me Carolina Panthers tickets for Sunday's game to give to one of our #MollysKids. I called Billie Jo to offer them to Zach. The whole family is so determined to keep Zach healthy for next Friday's big surgery that he had to decline.
"We appreciate the offer," Billie Jo said as kindly as possible. "But we can't risk him getting sick by being outside, then having to reschedule this surgery. But thank you and the Good Samaritan anyway."
While on the phone about the game, something else came out... something Billie Jo tried to glaze over… she had a stroke. I probed. (Hopefully not in a rude way.) But I did ask her lots of questions and she finally admitted that when mom – the all-around caregiver and "it" person – goes down, everything else falters.
"For months I haven't been able to drive and often need assistance too," she said. "I've been in-and-out of the hospital, myself."
Zach, in the meantime, kept hanging in there. He let himself be poked, prodded and took it in stride. Proud mom Billie Jo said, "he just keeps going!"
The Casillo family – Billie Jo, husband Frank, older brother Matthew and Zach – is nervous for next Friday's surgery but they also feel like they're in the right place getting Zach the care he needs.
"We are grateful for what we have," she says. "We have love and support from so many people. Thank God for friends and family."