Tag Archives: Dr. Mark Oestreicher

“Gutless & Grateful”: Amy Oestreicher’s Amazing Story And Show

In 2005, Amy Oestreicher’s life was good.

After years of acting and singing locally, and auditioning in New York, she had just been accepted into the very prestigious University of Michigan musical theater program.

Suddenly, Amy suffered a major blot clot.  Her stomach exploded.  She lapsed into a coma.

During the 1st week of that nightmare, she had 10 surgeries. Doctors removed her entire stomach. Her coma continued for months.

Amy Oestreicher

Amy Oestreicher

Through her long siege in ICU, “my father saved my life,” Amy says. (He’s Westport dermatologist Dr. Mark Oestreicher.) Her 3 brothers were constantly by her side. (The experience helped one decide to be a doctor. Jeff is now in his 1st year of residency — as a pediatric gastroenterologist.)

For nearly 3  years, she could not eat or drink. Not one morsel of food, or a drop of water.

The Oestreichers moved to a smaller house near Compo Beach, where they could better help Amy.

She was hungry and thirsty. But as soon as she realized what lay ahead, Amy vowed not to be a permanent patient. “I wanted to live life,” she says.

Curtain Call in Stamford had a casting call for “Oliver!” “I couldn’t eat or drink, and I was as skinny as a pole,” Amy recalls. “I had tubes and bags all over. I could hardly walk.”

But she got the female lead — Nancy — and managed to do the show. By the end of the run, she was drinking 2 ounces of water a day.

The next summer, she landed a role in Staples Players‘ production of “Cats.”

“I was still starving,” Amy says. “I just needed to be around people. Doing that show was great.”

Surgeries continued. One took 19 hours, using 3 shifts of doctors and nurses. The outcome was not as good as expected.

Finally, though — 27 surgeries later — Amy can eat and drink.

She’s also — at 26 years old — just been accepted at Hampshire College.

Before she goes away to school, though, she’s working on another project. “Gutless & Grateful: A Musical Feast” is Amy’s 1-woman show.

First performed last October at the Triad in New York, it’s been called “a moving personal history told with grace and humor, and garnished with great songs sung from the heart.”

“Doing that show meant so much to me,” Amy says. “I had been so isolated. For 7 years I talked only to my parents and my doctors. Then to perform, and have people I don’t know hug me! It was so rewarding to share my story, and know it inspires people.”

Amy Oestreicher onstage.

Amy Oestreicher onstage.

Written by Amy and Jerold Goldstein — based on hundreds of pages of her journals — it returns to Bridgeport’s Bijou Theatre June 1 and 2. On June 16 and 24, Amy takes her show back to the Triad, and on July 16 to Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

“I’ve always written and performed,” Amy says. “So many things have happened to me over the years. I just wanted to tell my story.”

You and I may not call the past 8 years of Amy’s life “funny.” The fact that she does — and sings and talks about it with such intimacy, gusto and pride — is reason enough to put “Gutless & Grateful” on your calendar now.

(For information on the June 1 and 2 shows at the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport, click here or call 203-332-3228. For the June 16 and 24 shows at the Triad in New York, click here or call 800-838-3006.)

Amy Oestreicher poster

Best Of The Rest

Last week, “06880” lamented the lack of respect for Westport restaurants in Fairfield County Weekly’s annual readers’ poll.

The 2nd part of the survey is out — covering stores, banks, even doctors — and we’ve fared a bit better.

Winners include:

The incomparable Sally White.

Sally’s Place for “Best Independent CD/Vinyl Store.”  Such shops are fading faster than Donald Trump’s presidential hopes, but as the Weekly notes, owner Sally White is “one of a kind…. Die-hard music fans love Sally’s, and because White’s operation is so nimble, she can accommodate the special orders bigger stores can’t.”  The Weekly‘s readers nailed this one — as Sally’s fan Keith Richards also attests.

Plumed Serpent wins “Best Bridal Salon.”  I know as much about this category as Pakistan claims to have known about bin Laden, but here goes:  “Plumed Serpent, a multiple-year winner, is renowned for its selection of tasteful, stylish, higher-end dresses and excellent customer service.”  That’s almost enough to make me want to walk down the aisle, in a gown.

But a guy’s gotta look good too.  Fortunately, Men’s Wearhouse (4 locations, including Westport) wins for “Best Place for Tuxedos.”  The Weekly cites the chain’s “broad selection of styles and prices and oodles of shops.”  Sweet.

Bonnie and Rick, the great team at Great Cakes.

Speaking of sweet — and weddings — the “Best Place to Buy Your Wedding Cake” is Great Cakes.  I’m more into the  early-morning coffee — and the chance to see everyone from builder Bill Kashetta to surgeon Alan Meinke — but the crew in the back turn out awesome wedding cakes, all from scratch.  Owner Rick Dickinson is often told that his creations taste as good as they look — and how often do you say that about a wedding cake?

Another entry in the okay-I-believe-you department is Soleil Toile (“Best Lingerie Store [Non-Chain]”).  The Weekly praises the store’s attention to proper fit, and “very broad array of sizes and body types.”  O-kay…

Moving quickly along, the “Best Bank” is People’s United.  Ours shares the honor with other locations in the county, but New England’s largest bank earns props for their many locations, community service, and “expert bankers who can do loans and investments.”  (Um, isn’t that what bankers are supposed to do?)

Westport’s final winner is Dr. Mark Oestreicher.  He’s Fairfield County’s “Best Dermatologist.”  Once again, the Weekly voters have made a thoughtful, inspired decision.  Nothing rash about this one at all.