This avid cyclist is so thankful his family doctor found trauma specialist Dr. Coufal, who knew the best treatment after Andy’s nasty wipeout on a routine ride.
It was a day that seemed like every other, as Andy was doing his normal bike ride in the Oakland Hills on Skyline Boulevard with a couple of buddies. But as soon as he turned a corner he has been around 10,000 times, something shifted. His wheel caught loose gravel and his bike flipped out from under him, causing him to fall and land straight on his hip.
He went directly to the emergency room where he was stabilized for a fractured hip, medically called a fractured acetabular. The hospital staff sent a physician consult from a local orthopedic practice. Andy listened but was not very happy about what he was hearing.
“No one I was talking to was a specialist in this type of injury,” says Andy. “Luckily my family doctor said we should not listen to their recommendations and looked for an orthopedic trauma surgeon who specialized in hip trauma.”
Recommended MOS trauma surgeon acts fast
“By the time I saw him, it was almost a week after the accident and I was pretty miserable.”
With an examination Dr. Coufal was able to quickly understand the problem. He explained the nature of the injury and said that he wanted to get Andy into surgery the next day. Dr. Coufal said that the operation was needed to ensure his continued mobility.
Being an avid cyclist and wanting to get back on his bike as soon as possible, Andy knew surgery was his best option and was pleased he found the doctor who had the experience and skill to complete it.
“He was really clear, really straight-forward and very transparent, which was wonderful!”
Andy went in for surgery where they restore the normal anatomy of the hip and stabilize the hip joint using plates and screws.
“Dr. Coufal has the art, science and technique needed to repair this extremely difficult break.”
Andy was especially thankful because the first orthopedic surgeon that the emergency room recommended was not even sure if surgery would be the right option.
“I found it amazing that in the Bay Area you can get such bad orthopedic advice as well as have someone who has this unique specialty such as Dr. Coufal.”
Dr. Coufal’s surgery went smoothly. Andy was sent home to recover and traded in his two bike wheels for two crutches.
“My world had shrunk to a single room, a tiny little world.”
Twelve weeks after surgery when the bone was healed, Andy was able to start putting pressure on his legs again. His world slowly started to expand.
Working to get back on a bike
Because Andy knew he needed to get back on his bike, he worked hard at physical therapy. As soon as he got the green light to get on a stationary bike he did. Then he progressed to his old bike, sort of.
“I had my bike brought up to my bedroom and placed it on a bike trainer to just get my legs moving. It did not work out so great the first time, I think I fell off of it,” Andy laughs.
When he finally brought his bike back outside he was a little shaky and much slower to start out. But he stuck with it, gradually got back to a level of stability, and now a few years later he is back to cycling multiple days a week. His speed has returned but he still slows down when he goes around the corner that caught his wheel and caused him to fall.
“You can’t go slow all the time and worry about everything that might happen in life, because it is not going to be the things that you worry about that will get you. It will be something else.”
Knowing a good orthopedic trauma surgeon may also help with Andy’s confidence.
Back to traveling on a bike after a fractured hip
Prior to his injury, Andy spent most of his vacation time biking around the world. A few years after surgery Andy was biking around Italy. He was so grateful to be back on a bike, riding in places all over the world, so he wrote a thank you card to Dr. Coufal that read, “I will be forever thankful for you for helping me get back to doing the things I love in life.”
This year Andy is heading to northern Morocco. He hopes he can continue to do cycling trips for years to come. And thanks to Dr. Coufal, that dream may well be a reality.
“It sometimes feels like nothing ever happened,” rejoices Andy. “Honestly, I feel like Dr. Coufal saved my life in terms of getting me back to the activities I enjoy.”