Giftgown's Hospital Experience Series - Patient Spotlight: Julie

Up next in Giftgown's Hospital Experience Series is Julie!  Julie is battling a number of illnesses, but keeps on fighting with a smile.  We're so excited to be able to share Julie's story with you, along with her tips and tricks for staying positive during a hospital stay!  

The Basics

Name: Julie Schmuttermair       

Location: San Diego, California

Social Media Handle(s):

Instagram: cathairinmymouth

Tell us More!

Giftgowns: Tell us about yourself!

Julie Schmuttermair:  I have battled chronic illnesses since the age of 11. I was diagnosed at age 12 with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSDS), better known now as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) after a year of misdiagnoses and doctors telling my parents I needed to be in a psychiatric treatment facility because I was an overdramatic child and couldn’t really be in that much pain. At age of 15, I began having stomach issues and it wasn’t until 12 years later that I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis. I currently have a G tube for venting and a J tube for medications.  I have a port and get infusions 4 days a week, every week for my mast cell and gastroparesis.  recently (after searching for answers for many, many years), was diagnosed with POTS, Mast Cell, and Dysautonomia. I also have a lot of things wrong with my back, so to say the least, I have lived most of my life in pain.

GG: In three words, how would your friends and family describe you?

JS: Loyal, Compassionate, Dependable

GG: Have you ever had a long term stay in the hospital? What was it like and how do you think Giftgowns could have made the situation better and more comfortable?

JS: I have stayed more than a month in the hospital on many occasions. Recently, I was in the hospital for 29 days and during this stay I was gifted with a wonderful Giftgown hospital gown. But, I wouldn’t really describe it as a hospital gown because the fabric is much nicer, softer, and more comfy, and you feel like a human in it. You don’t feel like a sick patient, because it feels more like you’re wearing a long nightgown than you are a crummy, been-used-many-times-by-other-people hospital gown! For me, having a sense of normalcy in the hospital is my number one priority (next to getting better of course!)! Anything I can do to create that for myself, I do, and it mostly starts with having my parents bring me clothes from home. When I am dressed in comfy clothes and out of a hospital gown, I feel less sick, and less depressed. And this giftgown is one more item that I have added to my hospital bag! I’ve gotten so many compliments on it, and not only did receiving it brighten my mood, but wearing it made me feel more human and less like a patient!

GG: What is your favourite Giftgown?

JS: I really like the one I received—the navy blue peace sign!

GG: What are tips and tricks for those who are currently going through treatment?

 JS: I think the number one thing to have in your toolbox when going through treatment is a good support system. While I have an amazing family and group of friends, I know for many warriors out there, family is what you make of it. You create your own family based on those who love, support, and accept you. So finding your source of strength in the people you surround yourself with is a big contributor to helping you get through treatment in the most positive way possible. Another tool in my box is having a doctor who will fight for me. It has taken me a long time to find one, but having one doctor who is your CHAMPION (that is what one of my favorite hospitalists called it), who will fight for your needs tooth and nail, who will reach out to other doctors when he/she isn’t sure of the next step, who will advocate for you whenever you need it. I know that it may sound like an impossible task to find a doctor like that, but there is one out there for each of us. It has taken me a long time to find her, but I can count on her, and I know she has my back. And it has made this whole process so much easier in the sense that I don’t have to worry that she will give up on me and turn me away. I know I have someone holding my hand (literally and figuratively) every step of the way. So keep searching If you haven’t found your CHAMPION yet!

GG: Do you have any tips on making a hospital stay more pleasant?

 JS: Real clothes! My number one thing I have to have in the hospital is comfy clothes from home that are not necessarily pajamas, but not necessarily jeans either! And my RZMasks! If I am going to be in the hospital for a while, I always have my parents bring my own shampoo and soap from home. I’ll bring my Ipad/Tablet so I can watch movies and do work if I’m up to it, and even above real clothes, I have to have a good blanket from home! I have 2 hospital blankets and 1 infusion blanket (thanks to BraveSoul Blankets) that I bring with me to every ER trip, Every Hospital stay, and every infusion (which I go 4 times a week every week). There is something so soothing and comforting about having pieces of home in such a crummy situation and place—no matter how nice your hospital/hospital room is, there is nothing like home!

GG: Do you have any special routines or mantras that help you cope?

JS: Never, Ever, Give Up (NEGU). I practice meditation, hypnotherapy (not the “you are getting very sleepy” kind, but the guided meditation kind), and biofeedback. All of these tools I have mastered and do on my own now (and I recommend anyone and everyone look into these tools and make appointments to learn how to do them because before I learned these practices, my life was unmanageable, and so was my pain!) and they help immensely in my day-to-day life! I would not be where I am today, mentally and emotionally, especially, without having learned these practices.

More Fun Questions!

What’s your zodiac sign? Cancer

What’s your favourite candy/treat? Gummy Bears and Nerds---I eat gummy bears like they are going out of style!

What’s your favourite vacation destination? Mammoth Mountain, California. It has been my second home since I was a kid—we spent all summer vacations there growing up, and being there provides me a sense of normalcy, a sense of safety, and a sense of calm. I would move there if I didn’t need to be near a major hospital!

Thanks so much Julie! We hope you love your Giftgown!

Shop Giftgowns here