“The Oppenheim Group is really like family,” the reality star tells PEOPLE
Amanza Smith’s costars were supporting her like family 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.
“I mention a lot on the show…The Oppenheim Group is really like family. I don't have my family out here. I don't have a lot of super close family. I've known Jason and Brett for 22 years, so they've become family,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “My kids call them Uncle Brett and Uncle Jason. We always do Friendsgiving together. I know their mom and dad very well, cousins, all of that."
During her 31 days in the hospital, the brothers "came a lot," she says. "Jason lives really close to the hospital too, so I was like, 'You know what? This is a convenient location.'"
Smith says everyone was “really supportive” as she focused on her health, noting some of the sweet gestures from her friends.
“Jason brought me headphones at one point because I was talking about the noises you hear in the middle of the night,” she explains. "At one point there was a patient. who sounded like he was in my closet, that's how loud it was — but he was in a different room. He was coughing and coughing. It was hard to hear people in pain. Or you hear 'code blue' often. Obviously it's not something you can sleep through easily, It's a lot of things you don't want to hear, so he brought me headphones."
Her friend Chelsea Lazkani brought sets of pajamas: “My stay just kept getting longer and longer, so I would run out of clothes. Nobody's doing your laundry there. People were really supportive and sweet.”
The reality star says she had everyone from the Selling Sunset production staff to Netflix producers checking up on her and "people kept sending flowers," she says. "The nurses would come in and they were like, 'It smells so good in here.'"
At one point, she even had to turn potential visitors away. "It got to a point where it was too much. It was exerting too much energy to have visitors after the second surgery,” she says. "I had to tell them, ' I can't do it. It's too much energy to have to give out.'”
Smith finally returned home on July 3. The road to recovery includes six more months of antibiotics, along with physical therapy and treading lightly on her feet, but she’s grateful for the love she received throughout the health scare.
“It was nice that everybody was there," she says. "You know who your friends are when you become a burden. You see who has your back."
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