My daily routine

(May 2005, revised Sept 2005)

Rigid adherence to my beloved daily Routine is the most essential aspect of not letting stress into my life. I will tell you about it. All times are "-ish" - I don't have bells ringing in monkish fashion, although in other ways it does have a monkishness about it. Especially because I need/want to be on my own for all but a small chunk of the day.

6.15. Get up, bring a pot of tea up to bedroom, and smoke a joint. (I have a vaporiser from which to consume my cannabis doses more healthily, but have not yet got into the discipline of using it regularly.) Change my bed linen - it's very normal to have big night sweats when you have cancer. Get the washing into the machine. These activities exercise my arms which I think is a good thing after lying still all night. And give me the opportunity to assess what level of slow-release morphine I think I need to get through the day comfortably. So far, it has always been clear by this point in the day whether or not I'm likely to be confronting significant pain, and I mentally prepare myself accordingly.

6.45. Back to bed for an hour's formal meditation practice, lying on my side. I can no longer do a sitting meditation comfortably. This is the time of day when I'm best able to maintain the necessary alertness for "proper" meditation whilst lying down.

8.00. Shower. I love the hot water running onto my shoulders.

8.15. Down to the gate at the bottom of the lane for a bit more of a meditate looking at Highlow. Then walk across the fields to Leadmill bridge and back for a bit more leaning on the gate to meditate Highlow. Usually stop for the odd bit of gossip with passing neighbours in the course of this outing.

9.00. Breakfast of all-bran, banana, extras such as berries from the garden, semi-skimmed milk, fruit juice and cups of tea. (Sometimes when my body advises me I drink hot water instead of tea.)

9.30-11.30. Another joint. Mix of doing things on computer, light housework and gardening. I try to discipline myself to keep moving around and not spend too long doing the same thing. Sometimes a 20-min coffee and chat with a chum from the village, but I like to be mostly on my own in the mornings and this is also the only part of the day where I'm in good creative mode to do writing. A large chunk of this is social time nonetheless, spent reading and writing emails.

11.30-1.00. Time to treat myself to another joint, along with a teaspoon of Oramorph, to ensure best value from my rest in bed. I love my morning rest as well as it being essential. I don't go to sleep, and I don't try to do formal meditation, but I do very enjoyable breathing/relaxation as I lie there with my piece of yew tree in my hand and my lavender bag tucked close to my nose. I experiment a lot with the general principle of mindfulness of breathing, and the ways I can use it to handle pain. Compulsory to have the window open. I love the breeze and the sounds of the village and the countryside. If I'm having difficulty feeling comfortable (which I usually don't in the morning) then I listen to music while resting, but mostly I like to listen to the sounds of outside.

1.00-2.00. Lunch of wholemeal toast and hummus or somesuch, followed by fruit and a dollop of the excellent Greek-style Rachels Organic yogurt. This is usually when I get my dose of news from the radio - although often, I don't bother.

2-5.30. My afternoon walk takes up at least two hours of the afternoon and is always around 4 miles long and including some steep climbing. I haven't yet missed a day whatever the weather and don't intend to until I am no longer capable. I now carry a dose of Oramorph in my pocket so that quick action is possible if pain strikes - backache does sometimes set in quite badly towards the end of a walk. This is my sociable time, when I'm usually accompanied by one of the children or perhaps a close chum who I'm comfortable to be with. If I'm feeling on less-than-good form, I try to talk as little as possible because it's tiring and leaves me with some very unpleasant pains in my neck if I do too much of it. Rest of the afternoon I do much the same as in the morning.

5.30-7.30 or 8. Afternoon rest in bed, as in the morning accompanied by joint and teaspoon of Oramorph. 5.30 is the time when even limited sociability to all intents and purposes ceases. I am usually pretty knackered by now and if I shortcut this rest I don't have the energy and appetite to eat my tea. It's not got quite the same delightfulness as the morning rest because my body feels so weary by the end of the day. But pleasant nonetheless. I have a "rest from my rest" in the middle, mainly because I need the moving around but also because it's a chance to fit another twenty minutes low-level brainwork (e.g. composing emails) into my day.

7.30 - 8.30 Meal. My fresh greens are the bit I feel a really strong urge to eat. I stick to very simple things like jacket potatoes and cottage cheese and a very limited number of other vegetarian dishes which also appeal. Pudding of fruit and yoghurt often goes down much more easily than the "proper" bit of the meal. But I'm not being at all sick or nauseous or losing any weight, it's just that my appetite has become a precarious thing which can easily disappear by the end of the day.

8.30 - 9. In summer, evening stroll and meditate on Highlow as in the morning. Plus such things as leaning on the rail in the greenhouse drinking tea and watching the sunset, or slug picking and pouring on of boiling water. For the first months I often enjoyed a game of backgammon but I'm past that now - I don't know if it's because it uses too much brain or because I can't sit comfortably for long enough, even on my excellent kneeling chair.

9.15-10.30. Bath and reading time. The bath is the place which I find most comfortable to read in, and this is usually the only chunk of reading I do in the day. I read a spate of biographies and autobiographies with great relish, and then went into a lull of not being able to get stuck into anything. Have now decided to do a cluster of classic novels and Thomas Hardy is figuring heavily. Not such a bad idea when designated a "terminal", to read books the ending of which you know already!

10.30-11.00. Bedtime joint and cup of milk (which I really enjoy, although hitherto I wouldn't dream of drinking milk). A bit of a meditate looking out onto the night sky, then take my very welcome Zopiclone sleeping pill, which sends me pleasantly off to sleep. I don't have any qualms at all at this stage in my life about doing this thing. Initially (even with Zopiclone) I was waking up after 4 hours sleep quite often, but now I always sleep 6 or 7 hours - my sleep pattern is much more settled now than it has ever been in my life before.

So that's it. Every day the same and that's how I want it to be. The great unknown is of course how long it can keep up for.

Add a comment in the Terminal Thoughts Discussion Forum

Terminal Thoughts homepage