Grit. Perseverance. Strength. Faithful. Just a few ways to describe Stephanie Durr.
Life in her 20's was somewhat wiped-out with painful surgeries, lengthy hospital stays, and rehabilitation. Now Stephanie shares her healing journey from a serious car accident five years ago to help encourage everyone to keep their eyes on the road to avoid the pain she's been through.
Plus, she shares uplifting advice to anyone going through a hard time.
Five years ago, Stephanie had recently graduated from college, she was enjoying graduate school and she was working as a substitute teacher in Louisville, Kentucky. Then early in the morning on her way to work, another driver veered into her lane and slammed into her car head-on.
"It was about 6:45 in the morning. I remember having my music playing and I was finding the perfect song to get me pumped up for the work day to go in and work with the young kids for the day. It was almost like, in a blink of an eye, one of those experiences that I can't fully remember, but I'm thankful that I can't at the same time. So, I remember driving down a dark street on my way to a rural community and when I opened my eyes, I was laying on the steering wheel. I saw smoke. I leaned over and saw the gentleman who had hit me head-on," says Stephanie, reliving the accident.
Emergency responders quickly rescued her and whisked her away from the smoking vehicle.
"My natural instinct was to put my foot down to walk and it was at that moment that I realized something wasn't right with my leg. They put me on the stretcher and when I looked down on the stretcher, my legs were uneven," states Stephanie.
She knew then she would now be navigating a long road of recovery to get through this. X-rays revealed she needed a series of three surgeries to repair the serious damage.
"The acetabulum, which connects the femur to the pelvis, was cracked in the front and the back, so everything that holds the hip together, was now injured. My pelvis was fractured and shattered in some places. When they saw the picture, they knew that they had to stabilize my hip and so the first surgery was to put a rod through my right leg right above my knee to stabilize my hip, and it had about 15 pounds of traction on it," explains Stephanie.
Internal injuries also sent Stephanie into a spiral with a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot to her lungs. Her family and friends continued to lift her up during this scary, trying time.
"I really think that the tribe of people around me made a huge difference: my parents, my grandparents, my siblings, cousins, friends, I'm in a sorority, so my sorority sisters, people from my job. My spirits were raised because I had so many people rooting for me, and it's easy to say be strong in a situation where you're not experiencing it, but it’s a different type of love when you're not even expected to be strong because everyone else around you is holding you up and they're strong for you. It was a very vulnerable time in my life because I felt as though I was ripped out of so many things, my independence, my education, my early 20's," says Stephanie.
Three years after her accident, Stephanie underwent a total hip replacement in 2020. That took away another layer of pain.
"My walking is better, my functioning is better. My mobility and flexibility have increased tremendously. Because of the surgeries and how severe the injuries were, my bones begin to go lose the cartilage and so after two or three years, it was really just bone on bone from the trauma of the accident and the surgeries and so forth. So, it was the best choice for my quality of life and to really close the chapter honestly," says a smiling Stephanie. She believes that surgery was symbolic of giving back balance in her life of everything she lost in that accident. "It was an opportunity to flip the page and talk to folks about my story and through the voice of a conqueror, through the voice of someone who was victorious, through the voice of someone who has exceeded every expectation that any doctor had about me walking again or driving a car again or being able to wear a bikini again because of scars," says Stephanie.
Her scars are deep, not only in her mind but on her skin from all the procedures she endured. She has also worked through the stress of the other driver at fault not having insurance, but she has learned now to just let it go.
"It was poisoning me. It was really impeding on my physical progression and my mental progression after all the other traumatic things I've had to experience. Tragedy doesn't have to make you change everything about you. It shifts your perspective, but it really gives you an opportunity to forge a new path for yourself a growth of self-awareness and just total healing," explains Stephanie.
Now she works hard to not only think positively about her situation, but to share encouraging words to others going through a hard time.
"Have faith in yourself. Really speak positivity, healing, growth and development over whatever situation you're going through and act in what you seek the outcome to be," states Stephanie.
It can be hard to think positively during tough situations. Click here for some more suggestions to help.