I’m enjoying my first genuine health crisis. That I made it this far in life without one is my luckiest break. I, literally, haven’t slept through the night since mid-August. I wake up two or three hours after I go to bed with stabbing pains. I move to the floor next to the bed so as not to disturb my bride. I curl up like the family dog and try to go back to sleep. The floor is hard so I’ve set a couple sleeping bags and blankets down and that helps. I usually fall back to sleep around 3:30.

I wake up shortly after that with terrible dreams. In one, the cure to my ailment could be found if I gathered one million gallons of water. I called everyone I know to help me gather water but nobody had the time to pitch-in. Another was a work-nightmare (of course). An excel spreadsheet with indecipherable numbers, endless tabs and an impossible deadline. One morning, the pain was worse than usual. I was scared and dreamt I’d better call someone in case I was dying but there was no one to call. I didn’t know my doctor’s number and knew he wouldn’t pick up at that hour anyway. Who else could help me? Who had the knowledge to alleviate the pain? No one. That’s who.

These other-worldly dreams would be interesting if they weren’t accompanied by the very real pain. I think it might be the meds. None of the pills I take do a damn thing for me but I keep swallowing them anyway. They’re about as effective as eating M&Ms for medicinal purposes.

The fall theater season is underway. I’ve had to eat two previously-purchased play tickets because the thought of sitting for 2+ hours in one of Broadway’s Marquis de Sade seats is unbearable. I couldn’t do it. This Friday I have a ticket to a production starring Glenn Close down at The Public Theater in the village. It’s a tough ticket to get so I’m going to try and suffer through. I can always bail out at the interval.

I used to have remarkable recuperative powers. I can’t imagine what’s happened to compromise them.


The Alberto Giacometti exhibit at the Guggenheim surprised me in the bad way. I’m a fan of his work but seeing the rotunda filled with it was numbing.

I’ve always loved seeing one of his slender man pieces at an auction or museum. I love that they sell for tens of millions. That shouldn’t have anything to do with the aesthetics of the piece but it all factors in.

It was too much. Half as many pieces would’ve been fine.


I’m genuinely sad to see summer end. I like the longer days, the life in my backyard, the beach. But I won’t miss the overly-air conditioned venues. My office and bus are like meat lockers. My bride keeps the thermostat set to Pluto. Plus, I look forward the the aforementioned theater season. And football.


58 thoughts on “Hallucinate

  1. I love the cat pictures – they are darling!!

    And what’s up with suffering through this pain? Is there a specialist in your future? We’re all getting older, and the mysterious pains and aches are a part of life, but pain that causes you to sleep on the floor and induces nightmares? That’s awful. I hope you find the answer soon.

    • Those cats—hell, ALL cats—are highly photogenic. I think they actually enjoy it.

      That’s exactly it. I’m getting older. I kept hearing from “old people” about their aches and agonies. Ha. That’ll never happen to me. Shows you how smart I am. I hit a birthday in July and it made me so sad. Young is better. It just is!

  2. Sorry to read about your pain and the associated nightmares. It sounds bad, m’dear, especially as the meds aren’t working. I hope that whatever ails you buggers off and leaves you alone.
    Meanwhile, above the cat on the windowsill – the patch of blue sky looks like England without the West Country!! Perhaps I am being fanciful.

    • Thanks. For someone like me who’s been luck enough to her healthy his whole life it seems extra cataclysmic because I have nothing to compare it to. I know people out there are suffering more than I am. But my suffering is personal and special to me.

      You aren’t BEING fanciful, you ARE fanciful.

  3. I hope it isn’t kidney stones (my own cross to bear in life). Pain is awful and when meds don’t work it’s even worse.

    The close-up flower pic is perfect. It’s always bothered me how I’ve never been able to take a good picture of one. That you caught the bug makes it even better.

    • It isn’t kidney stones. It’s a slipped disc and sciatica. It never doesn’t hurt. Sometimes the pain subsides but it never goes away entirely. It’s driving me mad.

      Thanks for your kind words. Take a look at that bug picture. Look at his antenna. Three times length of his body!

      • I have seen chiropractors. And sports med doctors. And MDs and pain management. Meds too. One of them is bound to work sooner or later, right? Thanks for the link. Will start to employ those stretches as best I can which is, not very well.

        I’m surprised at the number of people who left comments with the same ailment. You think you’re suffering is so special but it isn’t.You’re suffering as a dime a dozen.

      • Yea man, your suffering ain’t special and don’t you forget it! Lol. I fondly recall the conversations pre-kids (aka, pre-old): all about doing stuff and, basically, the endurance and resilience of our bodies….skip ahead 10+ years and it’s all comparing notes: “I’m trying to lose weight”, “I need readers” or “I threw my back out, too!”

  4. I had to eliminate all the rusty nails and glass shards in my diet to avoid similar pains. Oh, and the 1/2 pound bacon cheeseburgers. 😉

  5. My sympathies to you, whatever it is that is hurting you. Must be an absolute bugger.
    Your cats are…well, I’m a cat person so you k now what I mean. My Man returns today after a couple of weeks away so I daresay he’ll be flavour-of-the-moment and I’ll be off the list. Fickle creature!

    • Oh it’s a bugger, alright. It occupies every thought in my head. Send flowers. Or tea.

      Can I admit to you that I actually feel kind of stupid posting car pics? I mean, c’mon. What kind of MAN posts cat pics? Good thing I’m so old I don’t care about my reputation.

  6. Oh lordy that is terrible you’re suffering like that! I’ve had my share of unrelenting gnawing pain that makes me want to scream (but I’m usually too damned tired to even get the energy for that) So sorry you’re going through this pain. Getting old blows. (I must say that line 1,000 times a day) I’ll have to dig up an old post of mine about my sciatic pain I dealt with for years. (Of course, I had to make fun of it on my blog…because as the ol’ saying goes, if you don’t laugh, you’ll drink too much wine.)

    On another note…your photos are stellar, as usual.

  7. If it’s a slipped disc and sciatica then try acupuncture.
    I sodded up my back many years ago and was in hideous pain for some six months so when acupuncture was suggested, though I had no confidence in it, i accepted. Anything was worth trying.
    It worked like a dream…..though I quite missed the effects of the painkillers I had been taking…..

    • I actually went to an acupuncturist. The first session was nice but the second was one of the most painful things I’ve ever been through. I never went back. I’d be up for trying a different one but they’re hard to find and not many are in-network.

      I have shitty pain killers. They do NOTHING.

      • IK ewould not know a good from a bad acupuncturist…I must have been lucky. He was a friend of a friend who lived nearby so I dropped over while he was visiting and the job was done on the terrace.
        My pain killers were wonderful…they had me floating on air. No doubt now banned as being too effective…

  8. I’ve had your pain. Suffered for years taking too many pills that gave me other ailments. Eventually, when I could barely walk I was sent to a physiotherapist who while almost killing me with pain with his manipulations of my body over six sessions, did actually solve my problems! Go man.

  9. Oops, aging as they call it is straight from hell, believe me, I have been to hell and back for the past six years. I can verify for you, since I am old as the hills and have an untold number of diagnoses. Afib., gerd, hypothyroidism, glaucoma, hypertension, many allergies, depression with anxiety, insomnia, and Lord help me, I hope no more ailments. Anyway, I had awful sciatica and back pain in my thirties, forties, fifties and sixties and I went to a chiropractor each time I was in pain until the treatments worked and then I’d be good to go for several months or maybe years. When the pain returned I went back again. Funny thing happened after I retired at 73 years of age- I discovered that the pain was no longer there. Maybe all the sitting at the computer to chart plus a good bit of walking and using a spade to dig in my flower beds at home, were contributing factors.

    Please give a “good” chiropractor a chance to see if she/he can relieve your pain. On an interesting note- all chiropractors are not cut from the same cloth- same thing for acupuncturists and physicians.

    It makes me glad to see that you have more than one cat. You seem more “human” to me when I see the pics of those gorgeous cats. Keep posting photos of them, please.

    • I definitely think that working can be a contributing factor to physical misery. Let’s face it, no one in their right mind want to sit at a desk all day. That’s going to manifest itself in some unhealthy way. My problem is my impatience. If I go to a chiropractor and don’t see results after three visits I’m out. That’s not giving them a fair chance.

      One cat is not enough. Three is too many. Two is the sweet spot. I’ve always had two.

  10. I agree with Ross, hope it just goes away. Doesn’t sound existential, sounds worse, if that’s possible. Hoping to hear good news, soon. Bill

  11. Hey Mark, genuinely sorry to hear about your pain. Hope you recover. Age sucks doesn’t it? It compromises our good sense and sound body. I hope you get to see Ms. Close perform and that you’re able to share a review.

    • Thank you, sir. I am on a road to recover but, holy Christ, is it taking a long time. I have no idea why. I’m so sleep deprived I can’t think straight.

      I did get to see the Glenn Close thing. My two friends loved it but I thought it was just okay. It didn’t know if it wanted to be a comedy or drama about a woman being burned to death. The actor playing Joan of Arc was the weak link and if the play is about Joan of Arc, that’s a problem.

  12. I’ve had that gut wrenching pain. Fortunately only a handful of times over a few months. It would slowly start, then reach it’s peak pain in about 2 hours and stay for about an hour, then slowly dissipate in the next 2 hours The stress of knowing it is going to get a lot worse before it goes away is mental cruelty. The only same activity I did each time this occurred was eating a cheeseburger from any Hardee’s drive-thru (coincidence?). I went to a doctor once and a Emergency Room while traveling in Georgia. Doctor said possible gall bladder, ER said possible kidney stones, but I never passed a stone. It just went away, after I quit eating Hardee’s cheeseburgers (coincidence?).
    You gave us an opportunity to talk about our aches and pains! See how we can get!
    Your pics are so HD looking. Did you ask permission for the pic of the 2 guys on the Boardwalk? The cats look like they commanded you to take their pics.

    • I wish I could nail it down to something bad I ate but I’m afraid it might be from running outside, which is something good for me. Wouldn’t it be a riot if I started a slovenly lifestyle and ate bad food and recovered almost immediately? Oh, boy, would I feel stupid!

      I didn’t ask those dudes playing backgammon if I could take their picture. I suppose I should’ve but it never entered my mind. I’m too much of a narcissist to consider their feelings. Those cats are very photogenic and have good attitudes. For cats, that is.

  13. At 6’4 i’m intimately acquainted with back pain. Remember the spasm post? of course that was caused by a knucklehead who wouldn’t stop his workouts even though they were hurting him but since then i’ve learned a bit. First find a good chiro who uses trigger point and gentle manipulation and possibly some e-stim, shit works man, don’t find one who cracks and the like cuz it’ll just make it worse, second, look into yoga and pilates and things to strengthen the core, i’m sure this has already been mentioned but i just love my two cents…

    And of course stay away from the meds maaaaan!!! cannabis is the key, preferably a good indica or indica hybrid, i know you freak out but you’re not a kid anymore so start slow, if you can find edibles try those as they are great for pain, believe me i’ve tested this out extensively, lol!! and if you find yourself freaking out here’s the tip, CBD gummies helfp level you off and the old black pepper trick endorsed by both Neil Young and kono, the chemical make-up in black pepper is very similar to thc and helps alleviate any anxiety or panic you might have, just grind it up and take a few breathes, drink a glass of water and voila!! pain is gone and you’re not a wreck… and you’ll discover how awesome your stereo is!!! Dr. Kono signing off.

    • Does that black pepper trick actually work? It sounds like something that you’d come up with when your high, which makes me suspect about its authenticity. If it’s true, I sure could’ve used it when I was in Midpark. Way too late. I wonder where I’d get weed if I wanted it? I think it’s on the road to legality here in the Garden State but to just walk outside and buy some is a mystery to me.

      I was going to post a pic of all the meds that have been given to me since this problem started. There are several bottles. Some of it is pretty heavy shit and none of it works. I’m off to physical therapy in about an hour and I’m getting sick of the LACK of results. And it’s $50 a pop to boot, which is starting to hurt. I like the yoga idea. Maybe it’s time.

      • The black pepper trick works, i’ve tried it lol!!!, i know you’ll find this hard to believe but there are times when i get a little overzealous on the bong rips. It’s down to science and the chemical compounds in black pepper are closely related to those in the weed, it’s the CBDs that do it, that’s why the CBD gummies work too, you can also chew a black peppercorn instead of breathing in the scent of the ground up version. I don’t completely trust modern medicine as sometimes there are ulterior motives when it comes to things being prescribed, plus even though i enjoy the odd sweetie (see opiate) while relaxing on the couch, when it comes to pain nothing has worked better than cannabis in it’s many forms, add the fact you can’t OD on it and sooner or later you ingest enough to pass out or alleviate the pain. Look into yoga and pilates too my friend, it does work, i need to get more into it as i sort of half ass it but what i do do (i said do-do, beavis moment) has worked well. Does Jersey have medicinal weed? Speaking of Jersey i was at Rider University last weekend for the boyo’s futbal tournament.

      • Sometimes I watch the national news in the evening. My favorite part of the program is the Rx commercials. Towards the end of the program the come on fast and strong. The list of side effects is what’s best. Over angelic music or images of suburban fantasies comes a roster of ailments and destruction that could lay a man flat. You’re damn right there are ulterior motives.

  14. I keep telling myself that no matter what, consider the alternative. Sometimes it helps, but…I hope you feel better soonest, sweetpea. I have a 4PM appointment today and it’s a push me/pull me situation. The MITM is going with me. xoxo

    • Believe me, I don’t need to look far to see people who have it much, much worse off than I. You suffering is special to you but it’s all about keeping your perspective. Having said that, it sure will be a treat to sleep through the night again. Sometimes I wonder if it’ll ever happen again. I’m getting kind of blue over the whole mess.

  15. Oh no, this is terrible, I wondered why you hadn’t posted for so long, damn! I have no experience of slipped discs, so can’t offer any help whatsoever, but I do hope one of those professionals you’re paying so much can do something soon.

    You’re getting so good at this photography thing, I particularly like the spider web, and the reflected cats.

    • It sure does suck. When you have some pain, it’s pretty much all you think about. It robs you of your time and attention. Thank you for your good wishes. They are appreciated. Truly. And I’m not paying hardly anything to the professionals. My insurance company is paying about 90% and I cover the balance, which can still stink, but I want to get better, so what choice do I have?

      I’ve loved photog for a long, long time. When I was in high school we had a photo lab and I used to develop my own black and white pics. That’s when we had film. I still remember the chemical steps. Develop, stop, fix, wash, treat and dry. I wonder what they did with that lab?

      • I’d love to have a go in a photo lab. And it’s looking like the young are returning to film (much like they are vinyl and real books) so I might get a chance one day. I still have my old Pentax 35m.

  16. Sorry to read of your health issues – I hope you find relief soon. I know what you mean – I was recently taking a collection of pills at various times throughout the day and then still having exactly the same issues as before! I worked in a pharmaceutical company for nearly 20 years, I’ve seen the effort and dedication thousands of professionals put into seeking a treatment, refining it, testing it and getting it to market. Then I’m one of the patients who just wants to scream at them all “None of this shite does any good you fools!”

    • Boy, am I glad to see you. How are you feeling? Look at the two of us. We got old and now were damaged goods. I knew this day would come but never thought it would actually get here.

      You should see the collection of pill bottles I have. I didn’t take all of them. I don’t like being medicated. I don’t understand how people can do it recreationally. I have a good friend who is an executive at a pharmaceutical biomed. It’s gratifying work but success is hard to come by.

      • I’ve been ok the last few days – compared with where I have been which is good. Now I don’t drink I’m very very wary of medications being concerned I don’t find a secondary path for my addictive nature to flourish in. However recently I have accepted I should use as instructed and as long as that’s all I do I’m fine. And as I said last few days have been better. Probably not unrelated those two things. See my latest post for how age is making me feel!

    • II don’t need to go to the bowery for drugs. The doctors and hospitals in suburban New Jersey are all too happy to hand them out like JuJubes. You should see the line of pill bottles I have on my dresser. It’s impressive. I haven’t taken many of them.

      • Good for you. I had minor surgery in 2008 and was given 60 — 60 !oxycontin pills, with a teenager in the house!

        My husband manages his back pain with a lot of lidocaine patches and creams, and exercises.

        Hope you feel better!

  17. Thank you for the fabulous photos, Mark. Hurting and still serving us our soul-feeding art images.

    I hope your body moves into its less-painful stage as the weather cools down.

    Yes, football season makes me happier as well.

    • Thank you, sir. How do people with constant pain handle this?! It’s a terrible state of mind. It takes up all your energy. But, yes, I still like to keep the art flowing. Otherwise, it’s just me bitching and who wants to hear that? Even for free?

  18. I’d love to read your riffs on medication side effects (read quickly in a low monotone as wondrous images of healing fill the screen). Pain’s no fun, though. Hope you get to feeling better.

  19. Weed. Good for pain management, anxiety and helps you sleep. i’ve been really enjoying edibles since i retired… never have slept better in my life. Works on my old, creaky, cranky hip, too… either takes the pain away, or makes me stop giving a shit.

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