Patient Stories

Lois’ Restored Faith After Successful Throat Procedure

Feb. 21, 2020

Lois Cone has always been known to be ahead of her time.

Lois' Throat Procedure Heals her Zenker's Diverticulum

Over the past 40 years, she has focused on expanding her knowledge base in natural healing and works as a teacher of the Alexander Technique, an educational method on naturally improving mobility, body posture and overall way of living. Her interest in holistic therapies and practices intensified after she began yogic studies at age 15 in 1967 in South Africa.

Lois also has a good understanding of healthcare. While working as a manager in a Cincinnati hospital, she served as a principal investigator in research studies in order to learn more about how healing touch blends with traditional medical practices. She has even been able to publish research manuscripts with help from others.

About 35 years ago, Lois was in a ski accident and tore all of the ligaments in one of her knees. Since then, she’s gone through many complicated surgeries at other health systems.

Eventually she would have a knee replacement surgery that seriously worsened her condition. After an unavoidable knee replacement revision in 2017, she lost her equilibrium when she discovered a significant difference in the length of each leg that wasn’t there before the revision surgery. She has had to work tirelessly to regain muscular strength and continues to work daily to restore balance to her system.

“It changed my whole life. It changed some of my relationships. It changed my ability to do some of the things I love,” Lois said.

Lois had lost all faith in her ability to find a doctor who could heal her. She feels grateful for her movement training and the rich toolbox, filled with ideas and healing strategies to access so she can one day do what she enjoys — which is to dance.

A few years ago, Lois discovered a new issue, but this time in her throat. She saw her primary care physician. An endoscopy would show she had Zenker’s diverticulum, a pouch in the upper part of the esophagus that makes swallowing difficult. Although Lois’ father had the same condition, it’s not known to be familial.

After her past unsuccessful procedures, Lois was hesitant to do anything about her condition. She didn’t want to go through any more traumatic surgical experiences.

“When I found out what was going on in my throat, I had just decided to live with it,” Lois said.

But her children convinced her to receive another opinion at a different health system after becoming aware that her symptoms were interfering with her ability to sleep.

In the summer of 2019, Lois came to UC Health and saw Chad A. Zender, MD, ear, nose and throat specialist and associate chief medical officer at UC Health, and professor of otolaryngology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

“People are amazing. They learn to adapt to conditions and don’t realize how much it is impacting their quality of life,” Dr. Zender said. “The pouch can lead to inhaling food and saliva and can cause life-threatening pneumonia.”

The Best Otolaryngology Care in the Region

Dr. Zender and his care team assured Lois that she was in good hands at UC Health, home to highly trained physicians who offer the most complete, sophisticated otolaryngology testing and procedures. Lois quickly realized she was in better hands.

“I went to see Dr. Zender and met a man who is sincere and speaks the truth,” Lois said. “I found him, in addition to his entire staff, to be phenomenal.”

Lois would return to UC Medical Center for her procedure. She was worried about having surgery on her throat. Instead, however, Dr. Zender was able to use a unique approach to treat her condition—all done endoscopically, or through the mouth and down the throat. Lois doesn’t have any scars as a result of this procedure, which was important to her because she has many as a result of her past knee surgeries.

“It’s one of my favorite procedures because it’s a short, minimally invasive surgery that has a huge impact on the patient’s quality of life,” Dr. Zender said.

Dr. Zender restored Lois’ faith and gave her hope. She doesn’t have any more severe symptoms and is now able to sleep through the night.

“I hold Dr. Zender in the highest regard. I thank everyone there,” Lois said. “My whole care at UC Health restored faith I had completely lost before.”

Lois has thrived since her procedure. Although she continues to battle her knee issues, she’s able to live a happy life.

“I’ve done well. I’m a really strong person,” Lois said.

Throughout her journey at UC Health, she had the greatest support from her healthy, beautiful family, including her husband, daughter and two sons. Her daughter teaches young children in Costa Rica while her sons work in the financial industry in New York and Chicago respectively.

She now feels comfortable that if anything with her health goes wrong in the future, she has a place to go that will make her feel safe and confident.

“UC Health was open to me holistically. They gave me the freedom to be who I am,” Lois said. “I had a 100% positive experience.”