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Tuesday, November 12 News

Book chronicles Westporter’s ‘beautiful detour’ in life

WESTPORT — The journey of life often provides detours even the greatest of planners could not predict.

Amy Oestreicher, a 32-year-old Westport resident, faced one such curve ball when, at 18, abdominal pains sent her to the hospital. What unfolded next would change her life forever.

While in the hospital a blood clot caused her stomach to explode and placed her in a coma for six months. For seven years she would be unable to eat or drink without medical assistance.

Nearly 30 operations later, Oestreicher has chosen to document her journey through adversity in her new book “My Beautiful Detour.” On Thursday, she held her book launch for her debut novel at Barnes & Noble in Westport.

Oestreicher said her book’s title encapsulated the philosophy she discovered while reflecting on her years in-and-out of hospitals in New York and Connecticut.

“Like a lot of people, my life was set out in my head. Some things happened in my life I didn’t expect and I had no choice but to follow that path,” she said. “Eventually, with a lot of time, I was able to look back and see those things made that path beautiful.”

Oestreicher’s time in the hospital led her to look at other ways of healing outside of solely medical methods.

“I realized once the surgeons had put togther the physical parts of me, I still had to get me together,” she said. “I still had to find out who I was.”

Her childhood passion for theater and the arts led to her focus on creativity to rediscover herself. Through painting and theater, she was able to find a sense of purpose and community.

“It was how I found the emotional healing,” Oestreicher recalled. “Creativity really helped me get there.”

In her book, she details how creativity not only helped her regain her voice, but also gave her a sense of spirituality. While in the hospital, her grandmother passed away.

“I elevated her to a guiding angelic status that could watch over me,” Oestreicher said. “She was another thing I could create I made fabric blankets out of her. I painted her. I created any kind of symbol of her to guide me on my way.”

Oestreicher has gone on to be not only a memoirist, but an Audie Award-nominated author, PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, award-winning actress and playwright. Oestreicher said what’s beautiful about creativtiy is that everyone had access to it.

“We all need it in some way,” she said. “It’s the ability to see things differently even when we think we’re going a certain way.”

With her new book, Oestreicher said she hopes her writing influences others to find the beauty in their own detours in life.

“I wanted to make my story relatable so others could find a way to figure it out as well,” Oestreicher said. “Sometimes we don’t have an exact game plan, but we can create our way there.”

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dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com

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