From LA to the LA...
How to get to LA from Louisiana for your surgery.
Hello. I am 38 years old, I was age 36 diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, stage 3b. If you would have told me then that I would be cancer-free and living my life right now, I would not have believed you.
Here I am cancer-free and continuing to survive this journey I am on thanks to my team of doctors. There is a comfort and trust that only you and I can relate to when you can continue treatment with your dream team. My dream team includes Dr. Jamie Zampell.
I needed another revision surgery from having 2 prior. Dr. Zampell moved on from Ochsner to Beverly Hills, CA. Fancy, right? In my last follow up visit with her she mentioned if I were ever in LA she would do my nipple reconstruction. And, I jokingly responded back with “I’ll come”. After a few months passed my right breast dropped significantly. Leaving me disproportionate. Unfortunately, that meant another revision surgery. Ochsner contracted Dr. Z to come and finish up some patients but I didn’t make the cut in time for her to do my revision. I was able to see her when she was here at Ochsner and I think she was just as sad as I was that she couldn’t get me in. COVID prevented a lot of things from happening in the surgery world. Again the conversation came up about me coming out to LA. I knew since I met most of my insurance deductible it could possibly happen. I crossed my fingers. Dr. Z and her office manager, Natalie worked hard to get me scheduled. Within one week I was out in LA. I’m still in shock that I went. And let me tell you, WELL WORTH IT. I would do it a million times over. Dr. Zampell’s work ethic, her fight for you, her bedside manners, and talent is like no other and it’ll have her soaring through her career in LA. She’s a rockstar.
Q. When and how is the best way to make sure there are no snags with insurance?
A. Dr. Zampell’s office manager, Natalie (the best) clears procedure with insurance. Gets approval. I did all my clearances that you need prior to surgery with my primary caregiver in my hometown.
Q. Are there any special circumstances with scheduling?
A. Schedule surgery and commit to the date with Natalie. I needed to be there for 10 days prior to surgery due to COVID. And Dr. Zampell said I would be able to go home 48 hours after my surgery. Disclosure: every procedure is different and your recovery may not be the same as mine.
Q. Who handled your travel accommodations?
A. I booked flights and hotels.
Q. Does Zampell Plastic Surgery provide any special deals for making the stay more affordable? What accommodations did they make and do you have any tips on saving money?
A. St. John hospital has some contracts with local hotels for a more affordable rate. One of the hotels was the Gateway in Santa Monica and the Ambrose in Santa Monica. Both hotels are within walking distance to St. John hospital. How do you choose? Depends on your budget. If you drive a Chevrolet, stay at the Gateway. If you drive a Mercedes stay at the Ambrose. Even the Shore hotel would have given us a good rate which is across the street from Santa Monica beach. Gateway was really nice and wanted to be accommodating. They even let us view the room prior to staying there. We ultimately chose Ambrose. Great experience. No complaints at all. We did ask for an extended stay rate. They also gave us free parking. You can connect Netflix and Hulu through their TV’s. Refrigerator: this was a bit of a challenge, they have one in the hotel but it’s very small. We bought an ice chest at Walgreens (look, we know how to manage from these hurricanes right?) and we left it for the staff when we departed. Remember, I was there for 10 days bc of COVID.
Q. Do you need to rent a car?
A. No. You can Uber and walk wherever you need to go. there are scooters all around the city to use but ultimately it’s like taking an Uber cost-wise. Most hotels charge a rate of $45 a night to park. We decided on renting a car because we wanted to drive out to the beaches. Like Malibu, Long Beach, Laguna Beach, etc. that doesn’t cost anything. I knew if we shopped or ate out every day we would blow through money very quickly.
Q. Did you eat out the entire time? What did you do for food? Any recommendations?
A. Eating: We did eat out a few nights. We stayed at the Sixty hotel for 2-3 nights when we first arrived. We literally got off the flight into Uber and went straight to Dr. Z’s office. The Sixty is minutes from her office so we walked there. The rooftop restaurant/bar is beautiful. Go up there when the sun is setting. Stunning. You can even eat there if you’re not a guest. The Sixty in BH is probably geared towards the younger generation. I loved the vibe. Not the marijuana smell. But that’s LA. My suggestion is to order with DoorDash, subway, pizza, etc. the restaurants in California serve plenty of food you and your guest can eat off of one meal. Trust me. Their portions are huge. We ate at Paradise Cove in Malibu. It was my favorite, but that was also a treat. We mostly ordered from Doordash and ate in the beautiful courtyard at the Ambrose for dinner.
Q. Should we have booked an airb&b?
A. Maybe. We did need to wash clothes but there was a laundry mat around the corner from the hotel. They washed and folded the same day for $12. Score.
Q. What and how did you pack?
A. We packed lightly. But it’s cooler at night you definitely need warmer clothes in the evening. Just a casual jacket is fine. The city lights and weather will leave you never missing home in the big easy. If you are a runner, love to walk, LA is your jam! There’s just nothing like it.
Q. How did you get from the airport to your next location?
A. There are shuttles running all day from your airline to the rental car places. Or, you can arrange Uber.
Q. How were your Uber rides in LA?
A. We had all positive experiences with Uber-ing.
Q. What fun attractions did you visit while there? Any recommendations for must-see or must-do?
A. We walked the Santa Monica strip which was nice. There was live music, affordable food, and plenty of shopping. Like, Zara (my fav) or Louis Vuitton.
Q. With COVID-19 going around were people out? Were there people on the beach? Which beach was your favorite?
A. Santa Monica beach is beautiful but people are out when the weather is nice. It was packed on the weekend. We stayed clear of it due to COVID. People are practicing social distancing and wearing a mask for sure.
Q. What was the hospital facility like?
A. St. John hospital was great. Nurses, staff, and anesthesia was excellent. Even though my fiancé couldn’t come in to wait for me due to COVID. Everything went well and I felt great being there alone. I was able to see Dr. Z before they took me to surgery and I saw her immediately after surgery in recovery. She called in and the nurses kept her up to speed with my progress. My recovery nurse was so good to me.
Q. How was follow up care?
A. Dr. Zampell will help you with this. Whether it be someone from Ochsner or your primary caregiver.
Q. What about drains?
A. I had (2) Dr. Z was able to remove the day after surgery. But again that’s not saying your situation is the same as mine. I would have had no problem flying back with the drains.
Q. How soon did you leave? How was traveling after surgery and do you have any recommendations for accomodating post-surgery travel?
A. I left CA 48 hrs after surgery. The plane ride wasn’t that bad but prepare yourself for it. I didn’t take any pain medication because I personally feel out of it when taking it. I bared through the soreness. It wasn’t terrible. I wished we wouldn’t have flown spirit only because the seats are small. Make sure you have upgraded seats on the way back, you don’t want anyone sitting next to you guys on the plane - but that’s just my preference. I did it with small seats and a 6’2 guy on the side of my 6 ft fiancé. Getting a wheelchair from off that plane to your vehicle is a great idea. I walked LAX but when I arrived in Nola spirit airlines, it was the last terminal and the walk left me breathless with a mask on. I waited for a wheelchair halfway through the walk. I pushed myself hard but I was doing too much and I know my limit.
Q. Post-surgery transportation arrangements?
A. If you are not renting a car, just do so on the day of surgery. Do not Uber from hospital to hotel. It’s just not recommended.
Q. How is the recovery going?
A. I’m now 3 days post-surgery and I’m doing great. No issues, no complaints, and no regrets! Dr. Z and Natalie have checked on me every day.
P.S. I didn’t see any celebrities. But my results are AMAZING!
Original Blog: https://nicolesheaoncale.blogspot.com/2020/07/from-la-to-la.html?m=1