A Walking Miracle
"My faith in God got me through this."
- Connie Steinhouse
She wasn't supposed to live. Looking at the photos of Connie Steinhouse's 2001 car accident on the highways of Texas on a highway in Texas, one can see why rescue workers expected to find fatalities. Her SUV was a totally mashed, tangled, smoking heap.
Connie was returning from San Antonio where she had been visiting her mom, who'd just had a stroke. A 77-year-old friend of the family was driving when they became aware of a full-size Chevy pickup careening towards them from the opposite side of the highway.
"He was just in a hurry, trying to make a U-turn," said Connie of the unlicensed, uninsured driver who caused the accident. "There was dirt flying all over the median strip. He hit us head-on, and all I remember is hearing a sound like a loud explosion - that was from the collision. Then I woke up in the hospital; it was three days later."
Connie remembers the initial feeling of peaceful calm that enveloped her when she came to - until they moved her and the reality of her injuries set in. She had three compression fractures in her spinal column, two broken knees, a broken right foot and ankle, a crushed right shoulder, broken ribs and a gash that left her head open from temple to crown.
"The doctor told me the good news was that they could replace my crushed shoulder with an artificial one," Connie remembers. "The bad news was that I'd never walk without assistance again. I called him a liar and said I was walking out of there. I'm a very determined person, and I used to be a firefighter; they didn't know who they were dealing with."
Though it would take her a year and a half to recover, today Connie not only walks, she runs her own hair salon, Connie's Creations in Bluffton. She categorically refused any surgeries, including the shoulder replacement, saying that she "wasn't going to be cut on" unless it was absolutely necessary.
"I did it all through the power of prayer and a lot of physical therapy," said Connie, who still suffers from back pain, trouble walking, optical migraines and even occasional vision loss. "I have good days and bad days, but it's given me a new outlook on life. It makes me appreciate things more. I was always a good person, but I think now I'm a better person."
Since the accident, she has found many ways to help others and share the unique outlook that a second chance at life has given her. In addition to being a hospice worker, she also cuts hair a couple days a week at the Carolina House and does a lot of fundraising for cancer patients and other people who could really use the help. Not to be overlooked is her job as a hairdresser, which she says is kind of like being a psychologist.
"When I talk to people, I can tell if they are down or having difficulties," she said. "I can kind of pull it out of them, and I try to make them feel better, brighten their life a little bit. My perspective is, there are ways to help somebody without them even knowing that you're helping."
Hometown: Charleston, SC Came to Bluffton: five years ago Has been doing hair: 30 years Opened Connie's Creations: five months ago Married to: Bernie Steinhouse Hobbies: sewing, singing, drawing Favorite holiday tradition: setting up the Christmas village that she adds to each year Natural high: seeing people be happy Just one good deed she's done: held a cut-a-thon in which she raised $8,000 for a seven-year-old child in hospice On being a hospice worker: "Seeing the pain that these people go through has changed me a lot. You can't show any emotion; you have to be their rock. But I would do anything to ease their pain or make them happy."