Doug Bernat is a bit of a daredevil. He enjoys mountain biking, mountain climbing and he is a pilot. Name any adventure and Doug is usually up for the challenge. He attempted the trek to Mount Everest base camp and biked Mount Ventoux in Provence three times in one day, which is one of the climbs from the Tour de France. So when his active lifestyle was almost taken away, you can imagine his fear.
Doug was riding his road bike in Boone County for a long Sunday morning cycle with his best friend, Bruce. After a miscommunication, Bruce turned right in front of Doug. This caused Doug’s front tire to hit Bruce’s rear tire. Because Doug was wearing new clips, he was unable to unclip from his bike during the fall. Immediately, Doug knew he was in trouble.
“I could not walk one inch without being in the worst pain I have ever experienced,” said Doug. “We both did not realize the severity of the injury. I even tried to get back on the bike as we were 5 miles away from our cars in Whitestown, but couldn’t do it.”
Luckily, Bruce hurried and made the trip back to their car to pick up Doug. Doug drove to St.Vincent Level I Trauma Center. Doug was immediately brought in and underwent a variety of imaging tests.
The morning after Doug’s accident, OrthoIndy Trauma Surgeon, Dr. Renn Crichlow walked into Doug’s room after assessing his situation. Dr. Crichlow recommended immediate surgery to fix Doug’s fractured acetabulum. An acetabulum fracture is a break in the socket portion of the “ball-and-socket” hip joint.
“By doing the surgery, I would get back to work much earlier than if I allowed my body to heal on it’s own. His confidence sold me instantly, and I was ready to begin my lengthy recovery,” said Doug.
Most acetabulum fractures are treated with surgery. “Because acetabulum fractures damage the cartilage surface of the bone, an important goal of surgery is to restore a smooth, gliding hip surface,” said Dr. Crichlow. During the operation, Dr. Crichlow reconstructed the normal anatomy of the hip joint by aligning the bone fragments to restore the surface of the acetabulum, and fitting the femoral head into the hip socket.
Once surgery was complete, the severe pain in Doug’s leg was instantly gone.
“The nurses encouraged me to take the pain pills for the physical therapy, but to be honest I did not need them as the pain was gone,” said Doug.
Doug is a corporate pilot and was off work for almost 10 weeks and was homebound for six of those weeks. However, with the support and help from his wife Laura he was able to return to his normal life much quicker than he originally anticipated.
“I have the utmost respect for Dr. Crichlow as he allowed me to return to the same life I had prior to the accident. I could not have been any more fortunate to have had such a qualified surgeon, on my worst day ever,” said Doug, almost one year after his surgery. “My recovery has been amazing, I have absolutely no pain in my hip or pelvis. I can do everything and more post surgery without any restrictions.”
Life after treatment
Doug’s accident hasn’t stopped him from returning to his old adventures post surgery. After trekking in Nepal, he became very interested in mountain climbing and has started a new hobby. With his friend Bruce and Bruce’s wife Katie, he completed a three-day Alpine Mountain climbing course in Yosemite. He also summited Crystal Crag in Mammoth Lakes, which involved about an 800 feet almost vertical rock climb at the summit.
Recently Doug attempted to climb Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental 48 states, via the Mountaineers Route with SWS Mountain Guides. Next, he plans to return to Nepal for a three-week trip with Bruce and Katie to trek again.
According to Doug, he owes Dr. Crichlow all the thank you’s in the world for giving him his life back so he can continue to mark goals off his bucket list.
“I truly feel that I was the most fortunate one that day lying in the hospital bed the morning Dr. Crichlow walked into my room,” said Doug. “I thought my bike riding, trekking and flying career might all be over, but I was fortunate enough to get a second chance. I hope hearing my experience will motivate Dr. Crichlow’s patients when they are feeling down and not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The body’s ability to heal is an amazing feat, when given the opportunity.”