Monday, November 26, 2018

Patrick Tsotaddle, 45, has been patiently waiting on the call that a pair of healthy lungs are ready for him for 10 months. In the meantime, he’s been preparing his lungs for his surgery with biweekly trips to Norman Regional Health System’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Tsotaddle became sick two years ago with shortness of breath and feeling overly fatigued. He thought he had asthma and went to visit his doctor, and then had to have a biopsy. He was diagnosed with usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP), a rare form of lung disease characterized by scarring of both lungs. Tsotaddle was told the disease usually affects elderly people, and has a life expectancy of three to five years.

A lung transplant wasn’t always the plan because Tsotaddle was told how it difficult it is to be put on the lung transplant list, but he was determined to have a better chance. Sure enough, Tsotaddle got put on the list and said he “passed with flying colors.”

Tsotaddle chose Norman Regional’s Pulmonary Rehab because he lives in Blanchard and it was close to home. Tsotaddle doesn’t drive, but his father-in-law volunteered to drive him to and from every visit.

Tsotaddle was required to complete 36 sessions at Pulmonary Rehab as a pre-requisite for his transplant, but his insurance company approved him to continue attending until he could receive a transplant in order to maintain his health and be ready for surgery. The Pulmonary Rehab staff recently celebrated his 100th session. For the celebration, they brought in cookies that said “Sweet 100! We love you” that had lungs on it.

“I didn’t know it was my 100th visit. I felt surprised, but I felt happy. It’s been really beneficial. It’s strengthened my lungs so I’m able to get out of bed every morning. I’ve lost weight since I’ve started and it’s helped me keep it off. Anything I can to help the surgery,” Tsotaddle said. “One hundred visits is not normal, but getting a lung transplant is what it’s all about, so I want to do everything they ask of me.”

Sandy Baca, Cardiopulmonary Rehab specialist, said Tsotaddle has a great presence in class and always supports and offers his experience to the other patients.

“His attendance in Pulmonary Rehab is a testament to dedication, by not just him but his entire family. It’s a family commitment that is paying off,” Baca said.

Tsotaddle said another reason he keeps coming every week is the staff.

“They truly care and are always happy to see me, just as I’m happy to see them. They’re more than nurses, they’re my friends too. They’re all so caring and compassionate,” he said. “I love it here. It’s nice to have somewhere to go with people you trust.”

Tsotaddle got the call once that they had a pair of lungs for him. He was prepped for surgery and was within 30 minutes of going back when it was determined the lungs could not be used.

“It was really sad and depressing—being so close and it not happening, but then I remembered that other people had already told me that happens sometimes. I have to just accept it, but hopefully next time it’s a yes,” he said. “I’m being patient, but I’m hoping for a call soon and hoping it won’t be another let down.”

Tsotaddle was told he could get the call any time between now and through Christmas, and fortunately, he received the call and it was a yes. Tsotaddle underwent surgery for his lung transplant the morning of Nov. 14. 

Bobbiejo, Tsotaddle’s wife, said they were surprised by how quickly everything went, but that Tsotaddle is in good spirts and is doing really well.

“It’s like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders—it’s a blessing really,” she said. “Before the holidays too, it’s amazing. I just think that God has answered all of our prayers. I feel terrible that another family had to lose someone for him to be getting the transplant, but I promise he will do everything he can to appreciate this gift—we all will. I don’t know what we’d do without him. He’s like the glue that sticks us all together.”

Bobbiejo said she encourages everyone to be an organ donor.

“You don’t even realize how much of an impact you have on someone’s life. We’re just so grateful,” she said.