LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 20, 2020) — 172 triathlons. 50 states. Six continents. One brand new hip.
Doug Morris is not the type of man to step down from a challenge. As an avid triathlete, Morris is constantly pushing himself to feel his best. In 2015, things started to feel different – which caused him to worry.
“After about 165 triathlons, my groin was tightening and I was starting to limp a bit,” said Morris. “I actually crashed on the workout room floor because I couldn’t get on my bike. I knew something was wrong.”
As a triathlete, Morris is not used to throwing in the towel when things get tough. He wanted to push through the pain, keep training for his next race. After his fall though, he knew he needed to take a step back.
Over the next two years, Morris saw three different surgeons for his hip problem; each with a worse prognosis than the last. He was looking for a treatment plan that would allow him to continue doing what he loved, but things were looking grim for the future of his triathlon career.
“I was truly in denial. I really didn’t want to give up on competing in triathlons,” said Morris.
That’s when Morris decided to call Dr. Stephen Duncan, a surgeon at UK HealthCare Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. He read the story of Patty Lane, a former patient of Duncan’s and fellow triathlete. After her treatment, she was able to get back out there and compete – all that Morris could have hoped for. When he finally got to meet Duncan, it was a perfect match.
“From the get-go, Dr. Duncan said, ‘I know you’re a triathlete. I will do everything I can to get you back to doing what you love,’” said Morris. “None of the other doctors I saw did that for me. That’s how Dr. Duncan stood out.”
Duncan, who is also an associate professor of orthopaedics, developed a plan with Morris that allowed him to travel to Lexington from his home near Chicago for appointments. Duncan quickly diagnosed Morris with hip osteoarthritis and in Oct. of 2018, performed a total hip arthroplasty on Morris.
“We placed a titanium stem coated with hydroxyapatite, the same substance that makes up our bones, inside of his femur,” said Duncan. “Then we placed a titanium implant in the socket of his hipbone, which is also coated to allow his bone to grow in the cup.”
This type of dual-mobility hip replacement would allow Morris more durability in his future races. It proved to help in his everyday life too — he was up and walking around that same afternoon.
After Morris’ successful surgery, he was eager to get back to competing in triathlons. After some post-op visits with Duncan, physical therapy and rest, Morris was cleared to run by April of 2019. Then in June of that year, just nine months after having major surgery, he traveled to Europe to compete in three IRONMAN 70.3 triathlons over the course of three weeks. Being able to race again made Morris feel more like himself than he had in months, and he had Duncan to thank for it.
“When I got back stateside from the European trip, I wrote Dr. Duncan and the whole team. I got emotional because they don’t understand just how much they have brought back into my life,” said Morris. “If I hadn’t found Dr. Duncan, I’m not sure what I would have done.”
As grateful as Morris is to have had Duncan as his provider, Duncan felt lucky to have Morris as his patient.
“If you want to still be active, there are solutions we need to provide to give patients a better quality of life,” said Duncan. “All providers treat patients differently, but my belief is: Carpe Diem.”
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.