Why ‘Selling Sunset'’s Amanza Smith Kept the Truth About Her Health Crisis From Her Kids (Exclusive)

The reality TV star explains to PEOPLE why she was ‘omitting’ details about her serious health condition

While Amanza Smith was hospitalized for a month this summer, the Selling Sunset star kept her children at a distance.

The reality TV star, 46, was diagnosed in early June with osteomyelitis, a potentially rare and life-threatening bone infection that was attacking her lower vertebrae. After being put on IV antibiotics and undergoing two surgeries on her lower spine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Smith spent 31 days recovering in the hospital.

As doctors worked to repair the damage from the infection, Smith worried about her kids. A single mom to daughter Noah, 13, and son Breaker, 12 (her ex-husband, former NFL player Ralph Brown, went missing in 2019 and hasn’t been heard from since), she kept her children away from the hospital and in the care of a friend. “I had tubes coming out of me — oxygen and an IV, one in my arm, one in my hand, and a catheter,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I was like, ‘They can’t see me like this, because it’s going to scare them.’”

<p>Courtesy Amanza Smith</p>

Courtesy Amanza Smith

Related: ‘Selling Sunset’ Star Amanza Smith Says She Was 'Two Days From Dying' From the Spine Infection That Hospitalized Her for a Month (Exclusive)

For 31 days, all she could do was FaceTime them. “At home, they saw me in so much pain, so I didn’t want them to come,” she explains. “At moments, they thought maybe I was lying to them. I was omitting things because I didn’t want them to think something worse was going on.”

When Smith finally returned home on July 3, she had an emotional reunion with her children.

“When I saw my son for the first time, he fell into my arms and started weeping,” she says. “He said, ‘Mama, I was so scared you weren’t going to come home.’ I had never seen him cry like that. I realized he was holding it all in — and they don’t have their dad. That fear of a parent leaving and not coming back is in there because that’s what happened with their dad. I would’ve picked him up if I could have, to let him know I wasn’t going anywhere.”

<p>Matt Sayles</p>

Matt Sayles

Related: 'Selling Sunset's' Amanza Smith on Her Hospital 'Sexy Vending Machine Date' with Her New Boyfriend (Exclusive)

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Smith's road to recovery includes six more months of antibiotics, along with physical therapy and treading lightly on her feet, but the interior designer should regain full mobility. If there's a silver lining, however, her health scare has given her a new perspective.

“I don't know if 'reality check' is the word, but it makes you want to change things in your life to make sure that you are alive forever for your kids,” she explains. “I want to eat healthier. There's the person that I am, and there's the person that I want to be. 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.”

For more on Amanza Smith, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

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