...and it was okay.
I experimented with a little make-up (thank you to the very helpful ladies on Mumsnet, who gave me some advice) and ended up with a little eye make-up, mascara on the top lashes only and I taped up my forehead (as I do every day) and my cheek as well. Travelling up to London was quite challenging, especially the Tube, where it was crowded and I felt as if people were staring at me. It was very hot and stuffy too, so I started worrying that I was going to faint or something equally embarrassing. However, Neil was looking after me and made sure I got a seat and generally took care of me. We arrived at the hotel (finally! the building numbering was very peculiar, so we ended up walking in different directions before going back in the direction we first went in!) and walked into the drinks reception. That was quite challenging, as it was very crowded and I am not good with crowds at the moment. However, there were plenty people I knew there, including several who hadn't seen me since September and who were impressed at how much better I look now compared to then.
Of course, there were loads of people who hadn't seen me since last year, and didn't know what had happened in some cases, so I did have to explain a few times - which I always find tiring and which carries the risk of bringing my emotions to the surface. However, I managed to hold it together. We went into dinner and I was talking to a friend, whom I hadn't seen for a couple of months, and she offered us a lift home in her cab, all the way from London to Oxted - fantastic! It meant I could relax and enjoy the evening without worrying about travelling on the tube and train again.
The meal was lovely and I was very touched and surprised to be presented by the Chairman, whose guests Neil and I were, with a beautiful bouquet and a bottle of champagne in recognition of what a bad year I'd had and that they appreciated me being there. It was so kind and entirely unexpected - and made me even more glad we were going home in a cab, rather than manoeuvring everything home on the Tube, especially because I discovered en route last night that my feet appear to have shrunk as I have lost weight and my shoes come off really easily (found this out when we rushed to get on the tube train and my shoe came off! Luckily it didn't skitter across the platform and fall under the train, or we could have had a problem!).
I managed to eat almost all of the starter, which was a salmon and crab mouse and the perfect texture for me. The main course was small rondelles of chicken with a creamy sauce and pastry, mushrooms, beans and artichokes. The chicken was a bit too much for me so I ate the mushrooms, beans and sauce. I ate the mousse part of the pudding but the berries were a bit too difficult for me. All in all, not a bad effort, I thought. I managed a few sips of champagne before it started tasting acidic so I just switched to water. Neil was drinking red wine, which normally I would have enjoyed, but even the smell of it made me think of vinegar so I didn't bother even tasting it. It meant when I got home I was able to take a sleeping tablet, safe in the knowledge that I hadn't really had any alcohol.
So, overall, a good evening. I didn't get up to dance (very unlike me!) because I didn't feel I wanted to put myself quite so much in the public eye. I had already asked the official photographer not to take any photos of me. I have to admit, my dress looked very funky and I would ever have worn it if I hadn't lost so much weight and felt that my legs don't look quite so much like tree trunks! I was very tired by the time we got home (just after midnight) but I feel that I have made a good social effort and I did enjoy seeing old friends - including one very old friend with whom we had lost touch about 10 years ago; it was great to see her again and we have promised to meet up soon. I am glad to report that her glorious red hair, of which I have always been supremely envious, is still gloriously red. I am still supremely envious :-)
I am booking an appointment with Looking Good, Feeling Better - they provide beauty workshops for women with cancer so that we can try and make the most of ourselves and try to soften the effects of surgery and treatment. Many people have also suggested going to a big department store and asking advice from MAC or Bobbi Brown, so I shall try to do that when I feel up to going to a big department store. I am hoping that will be soon.
I was tired today after the evening's exertions, so I have been taking it pretty easy. I went to a craft fair this morning with my friend Sally (it was in the local school, so literally round the corner from our house) and apart from that I have just relaxed. I didn't even have to cook dinner, as Neil created a masterpiece in the kitchen. I could get used to being waited on like this, you know.
Tomorrow, Remembrance Sunday, I would normally be running the Sodbury Slog - my absolute favourite race. Nearly 9 miles of off-road mud and mayhem - just the best fun! I shall miss it terribly. I was going to go and support but realised firstly, that I would find it hard seeing everyone and second, that I would find it weird watching rather than participating. Next year I shall be back, waist deep in mud and loving every minute.
I've managed to get through today without so far taking any co-codamol - this is real progress, although I have used the instillagel syringe in my mouth, as my mouth is still sore from mouth ulcers. I think the swelling in my neck, under my chin, has started to go down a bit. These are all good signs!
So, overall - a tiring but successful evening last night. I worried beforehand but enjoyed it once I was there. Next time, it will be easier.