It's a momentous day today in more ways than one.
Today Al and I celebrate 20 years of marriage. It's nothing short of a miracle that we have weathered two decades without murdering each other. Or at least needing a rolling pin.
They say that it takes just two words - 'I Do' - to create the world's longest sentence.
Sentence or not, the occasion has me pondering the basis of a basically successful marriage - with all its highs and lows.
Al and I have certainly been through thick and thin: richer, poorer, sickness, health.
Before I married, my mum - an inveterate matchmaker - used to tell my sisters and I that the secret to a good relationship could be nutted down to one thing: a commonality of interests.
I hope she is right because to this extent, Al and I have ticked a few boxes. We met about 23 years ago when, after returning to Brisbane after a sojourn in London, a mutual friend, Jeff, told me about the need for a flatmate in the house he shared with Al.
Very soon after moving in, I discovered Al and I had a record collection that was almost identical. I discovered we both loved throwing parties. We both enjoyed what was, back then, an occasional hit of golf. We also discovered a mutual love of art (creating it, admiring it). And of course, we are from a similar profession: I work with graphic designers, and he works with PR Consultants.
Philosophically too, Al and I seem, in the main, to connect. We both agree that birds should not be caged; spiders and snakes should not be killed; animals should not be hunted. We agree that U2 is overrated; that the best hotel in the world is in Sri Lanka (the Kandalama designed by Geoffrey Bawa); that Malcolm Turnbull should be Prime Minister; that the Coen Brothers rock; and that 'Black Comedy' actually translates to 'Not Funny'.
But we have our differences - and plenty of them.
For starters, I think being 'hot in bed' is a menopausal symptom and Al, well I don't think he would be too impressed to find George Clooney (in a G String) lying spreadeagled between us. :-)
Al doesn't like coriander (heresy to an Asian) and I despise parsnips (that horrible root vegetable that looks like a pale, geriatric penis and which Englishmen like Al insist on roasting).
I believe in reincarnation, the hereafter and chiromancy while Al rolls his eyes seeing death as final and Evolution making a monkey of religion.
He likes fishing while I would rather watch Clive Palmer playing strip poker. (Fishing is sooooo cruel!) He likes buying everything second hand (except maybe for undies) while I do actually like a new thing or two (especially undies!).
His idea of relaxation is soft music, a massage, and candles. Mine is abseiling down a cliff. With a dagger in my mouth.
But in the main, I think Al and I make a relatively good match. 20 years since we walked down the aisle, we are relatively comfortable with each other.
And that's a really good thing because today is momentous in another way.
Today I pay another visit to my plastic surgeon, Dr Lily V.
Following my SatNav on my way to Sunnybank, I am pleased when I remember which way to turn on Beenleigh Road to reach her office. Not so long ago I would have driven aimlessly the wrong way and got half way to Ipswich before realising...
When I arrive it is all very familiar - the waiting room, the receptionist. I flick through a copy of 'The Breast is History' while I wait. (It's part of a sales pitch I will deliver to her in the hope that she'll BUY A BOOK).
I have to wait about 15 minutes before Lily can see me. She hasn't changed at all. She is still trim, beautiful, professional.
When she asks me how I am, I slyly tell her I have WRITTEN A BOOK, she makes an appearance in it.
But it really is important to explain why I am really here.
Today I explain to her that I have decided that I don't really want to go through any major operations for the sake of two lumps. I tell her about how my sister Fiona had breast cancer (it's all IN MY BOOK) and had a 'oncer' and I was wondering if I could have the same thing.
I am only interested in an 'instant' reconstruction if possible and, if not, I want her to just tidy things up around my scar and I'll call it a day.
Lily asks me to remove my top and expertly feels around my chest.
There is an unsightly piece of skin hanging under my arm that I would like removed if I am unable to have a reconstruction.
Lily says this is called a 'Dog Ear' and is quite common.
After I put my top on, she says that it is unlikely I will be able to have an implant on the radiated skin.
She says she can cut away the dog eared bit under General Anaesthetic. She said the scar will extend further under my arm.
I will need two weeks to recover as she says radiated skin does not heal very quickly.
In the mean time she notices the way I am scratching the cheloid scar on the other side. She says that, if I like, she can inject that with cortisone while I am 'under' as this can settle the itching.
She says it cortisone injections have to be given under anaesthetic because they are very painful. That is, in my view they most likely hurt like both fuck and buggery combined. Two or three injections will be needed to completely stop the itching and apparently, my scar will go purple!
I ask her if there is anything she can do to help get rid of the cheloid scarring.
'Do you know why there is no cheloid scarring on the other side?' Lily asks. When I shake my head she explains that apparently, the way to get rid of cheloid scarring is actually radiation.
The problem is that, while the radiated scar looks nice and pale, radiation has otherwise fucked my skin. In fact, the radiated side seems to sag much more than the other side. It is much too loose (if not Lautrec) to be able to hold up a silicon implant. The only way I can have an implant is with the help of a created or introduced 'muscle'.
In other words, the chance of an instant implant are pretty much zilch.
As I have been expecting this news, I am neither upset nor surprised.
We agree that I will have my 'Dog Ear' tidied up.
Lily writes out a few instructions and tells me she will leave it up to me as to when I will have the operation.
As I rise to leave, I decided to forget all that subliminal crap. I overtly pat the cover of my book. 'So are you going to BUY MY BOOK? YOU CAN BUY this on my website. The Breast is History.Com' I tell her, staring into her eyes hypnotically.
Lily blinks. "Yes" she says, zombie like. "I plan to buy 1000 copies. In fact, I plan to buy 10,000'.
Unfortunately, I made that up. What she really says is: 'Sure'. Meaning, 'as soon as you have left my office I will forget about you completely, you pathetic and desperate dog-eared bastard.'
At the front desk, the receptionist tells me Lily has only charged me for a follow-up visit ($90) as opposed to the $220 that is a new consultation. Yes, that is very sweet of her... But I take this opportunity to tell the receptionist that I have WRITTEN A BOOK and how difficult it is these days to SELL A BOOK.
I hope this means the receptionist too will BUY MY BOOK but she appears to be obstinately disinterested and wants, instead to tell me about her friend who wrote a film script in French. Who fucking cares? I want her to BUY MY BOOK!
In the car on the way home, while I wonder why no bastard wants to BUY MY BOOK, I think about the fact that in possibly a few months, the whole saga of Nicky and Paris will be well and truly over.
Making this decision has taken me months and months. Al has said that he is going to leave it all up to me. It is all about how I feel about it, he has said.
So how do I feel? How will I feel knowing that I am never to have breasts again?
I think I feel OKAY (especially if more people, you know, BUY MY BOOK).
It is true that sometimes I do feel a bit sad about the memory (Mammary?) of breasts and what they represented - that whole idea of being still healthy, carefree, unaffected by cancer, unaffected by much at all.
It would be a total lie to tell you that I am completely and totally fine with everything that has happened.
It is true that, just the other day, I shut my eyes and rubbed my chest, trying to remember what it felt like to actually have a breast.
It is true that I am sometimes startled by the lack of sensation on my chest - the fact that it feels basically numb.
But it is equally true that I don't sit around pining for what I was before all of this.
It is true that I have come to acceptance. Of my ruined ice creams. Of it all.
My Buddhist forebears would be proud. Especially if Dr Lily, her receptionist and everyone reading this blog BUYS MY BOOK!
Yes you can BUY MY BOOK at www.thebreastishistory.com. It is also available on Amazon so if you live in Outer Timbuktu, you too can BUY MY BOOK. And, after you have READ MY BOOK, I would appreciate it if you would leave a review.