“Inhalers and medication just weren’t working,” she says. “Finally, after so many failed treatments, my pulmonologist in Kentucky found that my airway was collapsing.”
Altizer says she was referred in December 2014 to Sadia Benzaquen, MD, assistant professor at the UC College of Medicine and UC Health interventional pulmonologist, who confirmed the diagnosis.
“As a schoolteacher, this was really hindering me,” she says, adding that she had to take sick leave because of her inability to breathe well. “I was coughing all of the time and wheezing. I couldn’t breathe or lie down to sleep. My husband, Shawn, would wake up in the night to make sure I was still breathing.”
After seeing Benzaquen, Altizer began the process that would lead to the first tracheobronchoplasty in the city, performed by Julian Guitron, MD, UC Health thoracic surgeon and assistant professor of surgery at the UC College of Medicine. A tracheobronchoplasy involves the surgical remodeling of the airway to reinforce and prevent its collapse on every breath.
“First, a stent was placed in May; they told me if the stent helped, then the tracheobronchoplasty would work,” she says. “It definitely helped. I could tell a difference instantly.”
Altizer says she had “the big surgery” on June 1, and now she feels wonderful.
“I was able to return to the classroom this year,” she says. “Prior to the surgery, I wasn’t able to do my job the way I wanted. I was constantly coughing to the point where I’d pulled muscles and even cracked ribs, but that’s no longer the case. I couldn’t do housework—maybe laundry. I couldn’t do much of anything.
“The UC Health team was so wonderful that I can’t even put it into words. They all went above and beyond to help me and check on me, and I felt so comfortable with Dr. Benzaquen and Dr. Guitron. They made what could have been a difficult, long process easy on me.”
Media Contact: Katie Pence, 513-558-4561