Now that I’ve had a week to digest, both literally and figuratively, my New Orleans trip I am ready to post about it.
IT WAS AMAZING.
I can’t post anything else without shouting out to the best friends and support I could have ever asked for! Not only did they leave their families and sacrifice family time to come with me, they were there to make me laugh and relieve any stress or tension I felt in the actual center. I’m so forever grateful for these two! And so so so happy they like to eat as much as I do.
We got into New Orleans at about 6 PM Sunday night. From there we went directly to the hotel after a few missed turns, and a blessing from the universe in the form of Matt Nathanson. We suspect that the building was an old mental hospital but google cannot confirm or deny that suspicion. The hotel itself was nice and clean. We changed quickly and then headed out for dinner. Mister B’s Bistro was our destination. It was delicious. We shared the gumbo and fried green tomatoes for appetizer and then each got the shrimp and grits because we didn’t want to share! We ate and then walked down Bourbon street, stopped in a voodoo shop and then went to Cafe DuMonde where we were able to walk right in and sit down with no wait at all! (relatively pro tip, go at night!) There was a band playing just outside and the atmosphere was so cute! It started drizzling at that point so we opted for a cab ride back to the hotel. Also, random question, do you wear your seatbelt in a cab?
In the morning we got ready and then walked to Luke. We had the best French Pressed coffee, it almost made me want to try using my French Press…almost. We shared out breakfasts. I ordered chicken and waffles, Jana the shrimp and grits and Geri a hot buttered crawfish and burrata tartine. ALL WERE SO GOOD. We then walked around some more and ended up at Cafe Beignet. Just gotta say Cafe Beignet > Cafe DuMonde! Cajun bloody mary?! And absolutely fresh beignets! The line was just as long as the morning line at DuMonde but I would definitely make it a point to try both for your own scientific research.
Then it was time for my appointment. I was so nervous. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be a candidate for the reconstruction I had been planning on, or that something was going to go wrong. Or I’d flip a coin and somehow lose. None of those things happened.
I met with the breast surgeon first. He’ll be performing my mastectomy. He was very kind and answered my questions mostly before I even had a chance to ask. My biggest question going in was why am I keeping my nipples? Like I’m doing this somewhat radical preventative thing to leave this source of potential breast cancer? It didn’t make sense to me…until he explained the procedure for removal of breast tissue and that the remaining tissue would be so little that IF I were to get breast cancer in it, the cancer would be immediately felt. And, I asked about nipple function. Because I don’t want to have headlights ALL of the time, ya know? And he explained that it’s a muscle reaction instead of a nerve reaction. That matters because my nerves will be severed during the mastectomy and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll regain sensation in my breasts. After a quick breast exam that appointment was done.
Then I sat out with my friends for about an hour until my plastic surgery consult. They were seriously so patient just waiting while I bounced in and out. LOOOOOVE.
I met my plastic surgeon in a sort of conference room. I was impressed with the number of chairs in the room because it was just he and I. We talked about my options, which are limited due to the prophylactic nature of my reconstruction. Both. Only option. As far as reconstruction it’s implant or autologous (my own cells). He said the implant option would likely be uncomfortable, painful, cold and animated as they’d have to use the largest implant available. (He’s clearly not Dolly’s surgeon, ok!) It would be sewn under the muscle and would ripple or move when I used my muscle. He explained the DIEP flap procedure, drew me pictures of what would happen and then told me he would get rid of all of my stretch marks! Which is exciting and also a little sad. E won’t ask anymore if she maded this one or that one. I asked if there was anything I could do to not have to get a small implant for projection, and I even asked if I could just eat tacos. He said tacos aren’t even that bad for me but beignets and fried chicken would do the trick. Ha!
After the consult I went into the room and had to get naked, but for some cozy socks that they provided and a gown, open in front. They took photos and then my surgeon came in to assess the situation. He said we are going to go a little smaller and lifted which is A-OK in my book! Bye bye DD! Said I should be good belly wise, thanks four children, and said we may need a super small implant for projection but he thinks it’ll be fine! He told me I should be out for a total of four weeks but said they would write a note for six weeks if necessary. I told him that my boss was actually out in the waiting room and that she’s unbelievably understanding.
The facility is, just, well incredible. It’s beautiful and welcoming and not antiseptic feeling at all. It feels comfortable and homey. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have such an incredible place just a few hours away. I’m so grateful to Mackenzie for being so vocal and open with her journey and for encouraging me to check them out! I now know that I belong there.
Billing told me what she expected our cost share to be and while it’s more than I initially thought it is still so so so incredibly low! I’m grateful for insurance and the Army and the sacrifices that Barry makes to take care of our family. I’m not exactly EXCITED for September 11 but I’m excited. (Which makes zero sense, I know!)