Read the full article in the Independent Journal here.
Life on the surface for Amy Oestreicher appeared to be close to perfect. She was a straight A student, applied to 17 colleges, and was signed to a talent agency based in New York.
However, beneath the surface was a different story. The 17-year-old high school senior was secretly being molested by a close family friend for the last six months, Seventeen reports.
She used the thought of college as a way out. After being accepted into the University of Michigan’s selective theater program, Amy knew she would be leaving town soon, away from her abuser and away from all the pain and suffering.
Little did Amy know, her fight was only just beginning. On her 18th birthday, she admitted to her mom that she was being molested.
“[My mom] listened and took some steps to get me into therapy,” Amytells Seventeen. “But before I could see anyone, my stomach exploded inside me.”
Her stomach didn’t explode with a feeling of relief—Amy’s stomach literally exploded inside of her. It was just two weeks before senior prom, and the pain started out as a stomachache.
Soon after the stomachache began, Amy’s belly became distended, and after heading to the hospital to get X-rays, her doctor believed it to be “just gas”. Then she collapsed.
Doctors cut her swollen abdomen open on the spot, revealing large amounts of fluid, dead intestines, and two collapsed lungs. The high school student was given 122 units of blood, more than double the amount a patient with a gun shot wound would receive.
“Later, I learned that if they [had] waited another minute to cut me open, the fluid would’ve poisoned my other organs and killed me on the spot.”
Doctors couldn’t figure out why Amy’s internal organs gave up on her. She wasn’t sick or diagnosed with any diseases, but once she was stablized, the 18-year-old slipped into a coma that lasted six months.
When she woke up, she was left with an empty hole where her stomach used to be, meaning a bite of pizza or even a drop of water would kill her. Amy was fed 3,000 calories a day through a large IV, and she faced numerous reconstructive surgeries to make it possible for her to eat a normal meal again.
Five years and more than 13 surgeries later, Amy could still only eat a bite of real food every four months or so. Suddenly, the hunger and the thirst that controlled Amy made her snap.
“I was shopping with my mom, I grabbed the water out of her hand, ran to the parking lot, and screamed, ‘I’m going to chug this! I don’t care what happens!’ I drank the whole bottle, and…”
Nothing. She was perfectly fine, and that was that.
Although Amy, now 25-years-old, still gets sick from time to time, she has finally regained control of her life. She enrolled in college, got married, and is able to tell her story through her one-woman show, Gutless and Grateful.
The actress has since made it her mission to provide valuable resources to other people who may have gone through their own medical and personal ordeals, through her personal website.
Amy admits this wasn’t the path she choose for herself, but if it wasn’t for her “insane freak medical condition”, Amy would have never learned that hardship is a beautiful chance to go down a path you never expected to go on.