Transtracheal Oxygen (TTO) has fabulously enhanced my life ! - Roxlyn G. Cole

When I was first diagnosed with COPD, (borderline moderate) and was offered TTO…  I couldn’t quite get my head wrapped around the idea of adding another hole into my body.

As I regained my fitness with the use of supplemental oxygen, I rose to an exertion level that required a much higher flow of oxygen.  I anticipated having to carry around the larger and heavier portable tanks, and didn’t like that idea.
After four years, I was well accustomed to the cannula on my face, but my nose was getting sore more- and ears too, thus the arguments for TTO were greater.  What the heck– I decided piercing is “in” with young folks- why not for a good reason when older.

TTO delivered O2 is so superior at oxygenation, delivery right into the lungs, and no need to remove it to dress, blow nose, lots of plus factors, but what blew me away, was my amazing reaction when I got my face back.  I had thought I didn’t mind the cannula on my face, but wow, subconsciously I must have, because without my nose hose, my confidence soared! I no longer looked the part of a patient! (You can’t blame folks, they learn from TV, a cannula is a sign a person is close to dying).  Now for my general activities I can still use my small portable, a Caire Spirit-300.

Additionally, the TTO’s better oxygenation helps me do more and better exercise around my home at 5500 ft altitude.  When I walk half Marathons or go into the Rocky Mountains, I can require 15 liters and more. Yes for this I do need the larger tanks.  Granted I do this infrequently, but I can use 10-12 liters into my Transtracheal tube, and an additional 4-6 liters into a cannula, or the oxy-glasses.  Exercise has kept the progression of my disease at bay, so I love it.  

Thus, with proper oxygenation possible, I don’t see a limit as to what I can do, or where I can go… here I come, Mt. Evans, Colorado, 14,264 ft high. I’m ALIVE!

Before & After - Nick Jones

“How’s that thing working out for you, Nick?” is what I hear over and over from folks who haven’t seen me for a while, but are aware that I had the trans-tracheal procedure done over a year ago.  My standard answer is, GREAT!”

Prior to getting my TTO, my required O2 flow had risen to 3 ½ liters per minute while at rest and at least 6 lpm under exertion. This was having a detrimental effect upon my exercise tolerance and very active lifestyle.  As the president of our local COPD Support Group (The Villages Airheads) and chairing four meetings a month, being an elected official in our local government, serving on a financial advisory committee, holding positions in two social groups, serving on a County Department of Health Anti-Tobacco Partnership Panel, in addition to being a community activist, teaching, lecturing, advocating, and writing about COPD issues, I’m kept pretty busy.  It is wonderful to now be on 1 lpm at rest and 3 lpm under exertion.  I can again take my daily hourly walks at 5:00 a.m. and work out in the gym.  Not bad for an almost 75 year-old!

Oh, there were adjustments to be made, but I had done “tons” of up-front research and pretty much knew just what to expect.  The procedure was a non-event.  The three weeks of having the hospital change out the catheter was an inconvenience, but finally, I was on my own.  It took about a week for me to become proficient in changing it out by myself.  Getting used to the saline spray took a while, but I now look forward to it for the clean feeling that it provides.  A few minutes a day is all it takes for maintenance.

People frequently comment on how strong my voice sounds and that I no longer gasp.  I hadn’t realized that I was gasping.  What I do realize is that the discomfort of the nasal cannula is gone!  No more tender ears!  No more need for nose gels to clear up abrasions!  No more sinusitis!  No more having to explain to children in the grocery store that I am on my way to go SCUBA diving (actually, I kinda miss that).  In essence, I feel like I have been given a new comfortable life.  Being a “Necker” is a lot more fun than being an “Airhead.”  I truly love being a part of the TTO2 Team and believe that my decision to go with the procedure was a “GREAT!” one.

Sherry Stanley

"I was diagnosed with the big "E" in 1989.  Along with this news I was told my life was over, as I knew it, and the grim prediction of no real quality of life was now mine.  I would be put on oxygen and use a nose hose to breathe...attached to an oxygen tank.

My femininity was gone.  Being able to breathe did work, but I felt like a freak on display...people would stare.

On a visit to the pulmonary doctor she asked, "Where is your oxygen?"  I replied, "It's in the car."  I will never forget her words.  "Well, it's really helping you breathe out there, isn't it?"  I felt like a complete idiot...and after that, I never went without it again.  I'm a vain female, but that was just plain stupid.  This is how I got over people gawking at me.  I needed to breathe worse than worry about someone gawking at me!

My pulmonary doctor suggested a pulmonary rehab program at the Dayani Center at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.  I took the six week pulmonary rehab course, which also incorporated graduated exercises that are closely monitored by respiratory therapists, and education...which is a necessary and vital component.

You learn you're not the only one with this disease, and classmates have the same feelings I did.  Interaction with other patients helps a great deal.  You learn how to better function in life.  It was a tough course, but well worth the effort.  It dramatically improved my pulmonary function status along with the exercise.

My doctor asked me if I would like to take part in a study at Vanderbilt for an implant for oxygen.  I was over the moon with excitement.  I thought about nothing on my ears...and no nose hose.  It was a dream come true.

Just to show that everything does not go smoothly all the time, I had a small problem in surgery, and they had to insert a second catheter, which worked just fine.

At this point I was no longer part of the study, and I seemed to have fallen through the cracks.  My doctor had gone on maternity leave, so I too matters into my own hands.  I found Trans-Tracheal Systems on the internet  and was referred to a pulmonary fellow who, in turn, introduced me to Dr. Robert Miller at Vanderbilt University.  As a result of his care and guidance I have had no hospitalizations.  However, I did go back to rehab, and the pulmonary staff was amazed at the improvement in my numbers between my first rehab (pre-TTO), and my second session (post TTO).

No more gasping for air!

My workouts were so smooth...and indeed, I was a different person.  I also use less oxygen.

Since the TTO was put in back in 1991 I have been blessed to have Dr. Miller as my pulmonary specialist.  He's simply the greatest.

This small catheter, known as the scoop, or TTO, has given me a life.  I can taste and smell again, my energy is higher, I sleep much better, my color is good, I no longer look sick, I have my femininity back, I wear lipstick...and can kiss once again.  I simply cannot imagine life without my scoop.

Joe Walsh

To quote the late George Burns; "The secret to have a great sermon is to have a great beginning and a great ending; and to have the two as close together as possible"

With that being said I've had my TTO for 10 months now. The TTO has cut my oxygen requirements in half. When I looked at my reflection anywhere I was constantly reminded that because I saw a nasal cannula on my face I was reluctant to experience some challenges that I really was able to perform. Now, I no longer have that visual reminder to tell me I can't do something. I feel better about myself, I feel better physically, and I feel empowered to make a difference in my life and for others who need the assistance.

Thank you to all involved at Transtracheal Systems for a medical device that has given back some of the freedom I once upon a time thought I had lost.

Joe Walsh