The 'Selling Sunset' star opened up about her support system while hospitalized for a bone infection this summer and why she didn’t want her kids to know the severity of her health condition
Amanza Smith is reflecting on the support she received as she underwent two invasive spinal surgeries this summer.
The 46-year-old interior designer was diagnosed with osteomyelitis in early June, a potentially rare and life-threatening bone infection that was attacking her lower vertebrae, leaving her hospitalized for a month. During an appearance on Friday’s episode of the Tamron Hall Show, Smith said her longtime friends and Selling Sunset costars Jason and Brett Oppenheim were by her side every day.
“My little brothers, my besties. These guys have been my really close friends for 22 years,” she said. “Jason was there every day. Visiting hours start at 10 a.m. and he was there at 9:30 a.m. like, ‘I need to be on the early visitation list.’”
Smith also explained that it was good having her friends there as she was away from her children, daughter Noah, 13, and son Breaker, 12. The single mom told Tamron Hall that she kept her kids away from the hospital and in the care of a friend because she didn’t want them to know the severity of her health condition.
“I FaceTimed them every day,” Smith said before explaining her reason for keeping her children in the dark. “It got so much worse. It just looked way worse than it did at home. I had oxygen, several IVs. After my surgery, I had tubes coming out of my back. I just didn’t want to freak them out.”
“As long as I’m good, the house is good. As long as mama’s good, everything’s good. But they love me so much and it’s just the three of us and anytime I’m stressed, that’s when they start to stress,” she continued. “So I just wanted them to see me good and it just didn’t look good in the hospital….and now I'm good.”
But it turned out the osteomyelitis, which can result from contamination during a medical procedure or an injection (in Smith’s case doctors couldn’t determine a cause) had also infected another area at the front of her spine. The section looked too dangerous to operate on initially. "It was close to my aorta and my kidney," Smith explained.
Doctors hoped antibiotics would stop the infection, but her vertebrae continued to deteriorate. "The risk was the antibiotics wouldn't penetrate the bone, and my entire back could collapse," she added.
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Smith underwent a second surgery lasting six hours, in which doctors inserted a titanium mesh cage in her back, with rods and screws keeping her spine together. "I am an iron woman, with rods and screws," she joked.
The reality TV star finally returned home on July 3. Her road to recovery includes six more months of antibiotics, along with physical therapy and treading lightly on her feet.
"There are so many things I can't do, because I can't lift more than five pounds," she explained. "Sometimes my purse is too heavy. You can't speed up time, but I'm very anxious to be able to do the things that I love to do. I like to decorate. I like to rearrange. I want to be able to hang things, but I'm very limited right now."
Despite the challenges, her health scare has given her a new perspective.
"You know who your friends are when you become a burden," she told PEOPLE. "It's like a rebirth. I will never take my mobility for granted again. When I can walk and jog again and do Pilates or ballet, I hope I stick to them because I plan on living to be 107."
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