Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Medical Frustrations and David’s Birthday

Tuesday January 6 –Thursday-January 8, 2015
Oscar Scherer State Park



Most of our time for past the few days has been spent trying to jump through the hoops to get David’s new medications.  First it was the doctors all on vacation for 10 days after his December 22nd appointment at which the new treatment was determined.  Then it was getting the on the road pharmacy all the paperwork it needed from the doctor.  We thought we had everything worked out and the drug would be coming when on Thursday the pharmacy, RXtoGO, called and said they’d submitted the paperwork for the delivery and had been told our Part D insurance no longer carried their pharmacy.   WHAT?

Wish we’d known this in November, I’d have changed insurance since they have upped the cost of everything this year by a serious amount.  They’ve added a co-pay and upped the deductible.  We stayed with them solely because of this relationship with this great pharmacy which we were able to use through them.  To say I’m furious is an understatement but it’s really our own fault.  We should have checked this specifically at reenrollment time but at that time, he was on infusions not on an oral drug.   So as the days click by with no medication we seem to be back to square one.  

Not much of a birthday present to be told by your insurance company that you will no longer be able to use the fabulous pharmacy RXtoGO which has done an amazing A++ job of getting your medications to you for the past 3 years. 

So what did we do between our wonderful Monday sunset and moonrise and David’s birthday?   Here’s a quick summary for the record.



We walked up to the coffee social held in the visitor’s center at the park.  We met some nice people and one man had some great advice for us on where to do some mangrove paddling.   I was amazed at how many people were from Ohio.   They were all thrilled to be out of that midwest winter.

We spent the rest of the day running errands to Detweilers Farm Market and CVS for drugs to accompany the chemo one he can’t seem to get.   Then it was phone calls by the score to try to light a fire under the powers that be to get this drug.




David went for blood tests to see how out of control the myeloma has gotten while we wait for the drug.  We won’t have the results we need for at least a few days.  I seem to be much more worried about this than he is. He says he feels fine so I guess that’s really all that matters although he does appear much more tired and naps a lot.

After the blood tests, he makes MORE phone calls to try to push some buttons on getting things going.  All this of course is before we know that our great pharmacy is no longer ours.  We only have 700 minutes a month on our plan for which we pay Verizon an outrageous amount so if this never ending phone calling continues we could be in trouble.



We spend the afternoon getting all of his blood numbers into the sheet I created and have kept for the past 3 years of all his blood results.  I have flagged the ones that are out of range which is many of them.  Some of those, like the M spike and his white blood counts are concerning but the sheet does make it quick and easy to look back historically and see what’s going on.

I’m typing, he’s looking them up from all the pounds of medical paperwork that make up part of Winnona’s weight problem.  Drugs and prescriptions on the table.   What a life!




But now it’s finally on to the fun part except for the bummer phone call which starts off his birthday but we’ll forget about that for now.



Happy Birthday David, Your Birthday is TODAY.


As usual, David’s birthday is mostly about food.   Are you surprised?  Not if you know him or have been following us for a while. <grin>

First thing today is pre breakfast toast.   One has a tiny layer of honey and sliced strawberries.  The other has tomato paste and Italian herbs.   The Italian one doesn’t sound terribly breakfasty to me.   But I’m not eating it LOL.   He follows that with a Red Naval orange.  I had one of those too.  Now that’s delicious.  No picture, it disappeared too fast.



Former work friends from Charlottesville call to wish him a happy day!  That would be you Marty and Pam.




Then it’s time for breakfast with oatmeal pancakes, strawberries and raspberries. 








Duly fortified, he wants to visit some potential kayaking spots to check them out for when the weather warms up.  We are optimistic here.  So far it’s been a chilly winter in the Sarasota area.

First we visit Snook Haven which was once a private camp but was purchased by the county of Sarasota in 2006 to provide more public access to the Myakka River.   I laugh at the contrast of the sedate county sign and the more accurate sign for what is clearly a party spot with music being played nearly nightly.






The restaurant has a few indoor tables and a lot of outdoor tables where people are partaking of down home food – BBQ, fried green beans, collard greens, deep fried potato chips and beans and ham.   David says it’s a heart attack spot.





I took this picture because of the dog keeping warm but then I noticed the electronic cigarette and wondered if this fellow might be from Colorado?



We check out the public boat dock and the nice woman booking spots on their boat tour tells us that it is open Monday, Tuesday,  and Friday during the day.  Those seem to be the days they aren’t playing music during the day since right now you’d have to drive over picnic tables to get to the launch.  I think they have music every night.




The River looks lovely here.  I’m wondering if you could put in at Myakka River State Park and paddle down for a high cholesterol lunch and paddle back to try to get rid of it.




Among the “unique” decorations at Snook Haven was this dock side alligator.  He’s wired for light.  I’d love to see him then.



There are two launches at Snook Haven, the larger one just behind the restaurant and the one you can see from there as you look down the river.  It’s to the left of the rental canoes and luckily you can use it any time.





We head over there to take a look.  Looks great and would be my launch of choice for sure.




The road into and out of Snook Haven is actually Venice Avenue a main road through town which at this point turns into a dirt road and is exactly like the old Florida I remember from visiting my Aunt Carrie in Ocala.  It’s tree lined with dripping spanish moss and made of sand.



Next on the list is to check out Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and its paddling potential.   This one is tricky to find since the sign is off the side of busy Rt 41 and the road is only accessible if you are traveling north on the divided highway. 




Like at Myakka River State Park, there is a weir here too.  Weirs are smaller than dams but do the same thing, they alter the flow characteristics of the river and often cause the river below the lake created by the weir to be dry and unnavigable.  Sadly this is very often the case inside the state park so the kayaking on the Myakka there is iffy. 




Here the river below the weir looks fine but there’s no put in here.  You can only put into the lake.  I assume you must be able to paddle up river from here.




Here’s the lake/river.  There is a very small put in right beside the weir.  You can see it in the lower right of the picture above of David walking on the weir.  On a day like today with pretty strong winds you’d have to be careful to make sure you got up good speed going against the water or you’d find yourself tumbling over the weir.  Might have to check further around the lake to see if there is a better place to put in but this is clearly one that people use.

See that black mark in the middle of the lake about 3/4 of the way back in the water?  That’s the cormorant who has just caught a catfish and works for quite some time trying to figure out how he can eat it.



Hope you’ll find this excess of pictures of the cormorant as amusing and amazing as I did.

He’s got the fish


Opps, dropped the fish.  He actually dropped and recaught this fish at least a half dozen times while I tried to follow him as he went under the water to get it and resurfaced at a distance from where he’d just been.


Got him back.  Look at the size of this fish.  How can he possibly get that in his mouth let alone down his throat?





He’s nothing if not persistent.  Doesn’t seem to fit does it?



Does his whole head look like it swells up to get this thing in his mouth? 


He actually swallows the thing whole and there it is in his neck.   Boy I’d think that would hurt.  Have you ever swallowed something too big?



But mere seconds later he doesn’t seem phased and I have visions of this fish now running the length of his body.  How does he digest it?   He swims around a bit and then he actually takes off and flies up into a tree with all that extra weight.  Nature is just flat out amazing.



After that great show, we walk on down from the weir to take a look at what is the “official” canoe and kayak launch into the river below the weir.




It’s a long portage and a muddy one.  If it weren’t for the weir I suppose all this would be under water.  I’m not sure if the river is tidal up here.




Our last stop is at the Venice Area Audubon Rookery which is also off of Rt 41.  I understand that the birds really fly in here in the early evening and fly out in the early morning and it’s something to see.  We aren’t here at either time but there are definitely nesting birds on the island in the small lake.




We see nesting great blue herons, anhingas and great egrets.  









Other birds are just grazing like this glossy ibis.



I’m going to stick my neck out again since you can’t learn anything without being wrong a time or two or three so Judy is this a black whistling duck?  In my elderly Peterson’s guide he’s listed as an accidental in Florida from the tropics but on line at the allaboutbirds.org site they say these ducks occur in several southern states and are expanding northward.  There are quite a few of them around one of the fenced in sewage treatment ponds until they decide to fly outside the fence.  We listen for them to whistle but I guess they aren’t into it today.  Darn!




It’s a really lovely spot.  You can walk around the lake and see the island from all sides although it is closer to the shore on the parking lot side.







We walk up to the Audubon Society building but it’s closed.  The butterfly garden is not so we take a brief stroll through this nicely laid out spot.  No butterflies today.  Not enough sun and too cold is my bet.




In our former life as farmers, we had a dozen raised beds with drip irrigation and we really like the set up here with the closed rain barrels taking water off the roof of the building and routing to an underground system in this garden. Great decorations on the barrels too.






A few flowers including the  shrimp plant are in bloom.







By now it’s time for an early dinner at Rosebud’s.  David picked this restaurant because he wants prime rib.  I get the early bird special but he goes full force. 








Sorry there aren’t any pictures of the dinner but the birthday cake made me sit up and get out my camera.  Take a look at this desert try.  That’s a double chocolate cake about 8” tall and a mile high carrot cake as tall.  There are other deserts as you can see from the tray but I don’t remember what they are except for the chocolate peanut butter cake and the cannoli.


After such a big meal David chooses the peanut butter cake which is a special today and not always on the menu like the other two cakes which seem to me could feed 4 people. Wish we could return and split a piece of either one or both but we’ve had enough food extravagance in our diet for now, especially since I think we have a breakfast out date at the end of the week-end.

Here’s what the cake looks like before he digs in.  The size of the peanut butter cake is very adequate for two.

And here it is near the end.  I admit to helping him a bit with it but not even close to half.  Too much food already for me.  But David has a limitless capacity.





After we arrive home, Carrie calls to wish him a Happy Birthday and he has a much looked forward to imperial stout while talking with her.   See what I mean by limitless capacity?


Time for presents.   He says who me to the giant bag.   Well who else here is having a birthday?



Reaching into the bottom.


Oh boy!  How can you get excited about a fancy pop rivet gun?  But he is.



He pulls out another gift, it’s a big set of sockets and the packaging is screwed closed with 8 screws.  You have to use a tool just to get into it.  Too funny!





So here’s the entire haul for you other tool collectors.  It’s a tool birthday and he seems very pleased.  This is what happens when he goes into Harbor Freight and spends hours saying “Oh now this is great.  Boy I could use that.  Isn’t that cool??” 







So Happy Birthday David!
Your birthday WAS today!


  1. I can't get past your reference to Red Navel Oranges and how much I miss being in Florida in January solely for the citrus and strawberries! Bill's birthday is next weekend and I have no idea what to get him, but thankfully, no tools or trips to Harbor Freight will be involved!

  2. What a day! Glad it turned out so fun despite the pharmacy news. You worry enough for two! The bird eating the fish is amazing. Wow! And that cake at Rosebud's looked amazing too! A sunny day of food, tools, phone calls and birds. Sounds good to me!

  3. Absolutely love the year bird pictures. It's a little late, but happy birthday David!

  4. Big hugs to David and a belated Happy Birthday. You know, your photos of David always show him happy and looking content, never bothered about much. That could just be you taking the photos at the right time, but for those you have not met you two in person, I can vouch for the fact that David really IS like that. Such a sweet man. And yes, you can worry enough for both of you! He probably stays stronger because he doesn't worry. Although how you could NOT worry with that stupid pharmacy issue is beyond me. Ugh. Great photos, but my most very favorite is the old florida feeling sandy road with the overhanging trees. Brought back my love of Florida, that kind of Florida.

  5. Good job David ! I knew when I read the title of the post it would have food pictures ,......I wasn't disappointed.
    I'm glad your day was special and spent just the way you wanted it. You have a lovely special wife....

  6. Health Insurance companies are becoming more and more compassionless. Rate Jacking is here to stay unfortunately…ours took a big jump too. Good luck with getting the meds!!!

  7. I tell you what. . .that David is always a happy looking man when there is food in front of him. . .I do believe he had a wonderful birthday from beginning to end.

    Sorry about the insurance snafus. . .it's just impossible to keep up with all the changes. . .goodness! Hope you get everything worked out soon.

  8. Looks like David had a great birthday in spite of the insurance issues. Boy do we feel your pain! Hope you've gotten things ironed out by now.

    1. Happy Birthday to David. What a feast! The birds you saw are incredible in how different they were and so many!

  9. Judging by the photos and David's ear to ear grin, he had a wonderful birthday despite insurance issues. Belated Happy Birthday David!
    Great cormorant pictures, I too can't believe they can swallow that big fish!
    I will poke my nose on the duck id, yes that is a black bellied whistling duck and there's plenty here in Port Aransas.
    I will continue to say that despite all challenges David faced, he managed to put out big smiles and not let medical hiccups ruin his day.

  10. Happy Birthday David!

    What an amazing series of photos you got of the cormorant! Wonderful! It is amazing what they can get down their throats!

  11. How much fun David had on his birthday! I don't think I could have had that dessert in its entirety, especially after having prime rib!

  12. Would love to visit the Venice Rookery!! That was one persistent cormorant...just amazing;o))

    Yep, we believe David had the perfect birthday for him, Food & Tools & Imperial Stout while talking to Carrie, just about covers it!!!! His smile says it all:o))

  13. We have been full timers for 8 years now and use Humana for our drug coverage. We then use Wal Mart as our pharmacy. Wal Mart is great for people who move about during the year. You can have a prescription placed at any Wal Mart store and then go to a different Wal Mart store and they will call and transfer the prescription to the new store. Then you can do it again and again as you move to other cities. Most times I can get a refill transferred and filled in 2 hours to one day. Rarely does it take any longer. Another convenience to this is that you don't have to stay in one location waiting for the prescription to come via mail.

    1. Thanks Doug - I do use Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens and they will all fill refills wherever you happen to be unless it is a drug on a schedule that cannot be transferred across state lines - like sleep medicines. With my Part D company both Wal-Mart and CVS are "Preferred Network" phamacies and for the drugs they carry, they are both great and have the same copay for me. Thanks for your comment!

    2. I just want to clarify that the cancer drug we are having trouble with is not something that any local pharmacy can supply. It is a specialty drug and can only be supplied by specialty pharmacy. The cost is between $7,000 and $10,000 a month depending. So that's why we are having trouble. He could never get this from any store front pharmacy.

  14. Happy birthday to David. You guys will have to try the Amish restaurant- Yoders- famous for pie :)

  15. Happy Birthday, David! Looks like a yummy day:)

    We have eaten at Snook Haven twice and had a wonderful time. Everything our group ordered was very good. The music both times was very adult friendly and we enjoyed sitting and listening. It wasn't loud and we had no trouble talking. Now we were there during the day so I don't know if it changes during the evening but the place is very family friendly and has tons of us "older" folks, many dressed up.

    Love all the shots of the cormorant enjoying its meal!! Great job capturing the fun of eating:)

  16. What a birthday David had!! A belated Happy Birthday David!. His Positive attitude and good eating habits (well, most of the time anyway....birthdays don't count) seem to be working well for him. I'm sorry about the pharmacy issues. We went from $0 premiums to a total of $94 a month this year and was told it will go up again the next year and the year after that before it evens out. I hope things work out for you and soon. It sounds like you need some coconut to help soothe those frayed nerves :) And I agree.... I almost gagged watching that bird trying to down that huge fish!!!

  17. I love the multi-use patio for both tables and boat launch - so smart :-) The cormorant pics are worthy of David's Nat Geo magazine - you really caught all of the action so beautifully. I thought it was incredible he could eat all of that fish until I saw David tackle that cake and stout after prime rib........of course David didn't then fly into a tree so the bird may have him there :-) Hopefully the Rx issue has been resolved and peace returned to the castle. If not, I know that sometimes the physician's office will get involved when critical meds are being delayed.

  18. tough cormorant to swallow that big of a catfish with all those spines...

  19. Happy Belated Birthday David! It looks like you had a wonderful day!
    Hope the insurance snafu is rectified quickly.

  20. That is MORE than frustrating news about the pharmacy. I would be absolutely furious, just like you. I am so sorry! Regarding your phone calls if you need more minutes you might consider a really cheap Tracfone or Straight Talk phone. The Straight Talk is $45/mo for unlimited minutes. The Tracfone is pay-as-you-go. You can buy yearly bucket of minutes for the Tracfone that will cost you pennies per minute, and just use them as you need. We have a Tracfone as our backup for this very purpose.


  21. Damn insurance companies seem always to be playing games with us and our health. Hope you've solved this problem. However I have to say that David always looks so happy, especially when eating and cooking, and hiking and exploring, and.... Despite all that, looks like a great Birth day of exploration. How does that cormorant do that? I can only see a bird with a fish shaped body. Too funny how the tool package is screwed shut. I could use a few of those tools. Happy belated Birthday David!!!!

  22. Oh, one other idea for phone calls is to buy a bunch of minutes on Skype and just use your computer to call. Or download the Skype App on your phone and call there. It'll cost you way less than whatever overages Verizon are charging.

  23. Dealing with insurance, of any kind, always an exciting and new experience. Sitting in all those beautiful buildings, and lets face it when you see a beautiful building as you travel down the highway nine times out of ten it is an insurance company, you would think there would be one person who could figure out how to make the whole process less complicated. Hope you have been able to get it straightened out by now.

    Just the same looks like David enjoyed his day!

  24. Happy, happy birthday! I hate dealing with insurance companies. It seems to me they work for the benefit of the company rather than the insured. A whole industry gone bad. I found myself gagging as the commorrant struggled to swallow the catfish. Amazing.

  25. Happy Belated birthday David. Looks like you had a fantastic day and got to check some possible kayaking spots and see lots of bird life and enjoy a ton of food. The scenery there is beautiful.

    Sure hope you are able to get your drug issue sorted out, I would be very frustrated as well!


  26. Happy belated Birthday David ... love your sunny disposition. SandyW

  27. Happy belated birthday! We chose Walgreens for our on the road pharmacy needs and that worked well until Express scripts dropped them because of a pricing dispute. So now we use CVS and so far they have gotten right wherever we are. I am not encouraged by the way the health care system is going.

  28. Happy Birthday David!!! Sorry for your pharmacy issues, sure hope things get sorted out.

  29. A big happy birthday wish to David! He sure has a great appetite.

    I love the rain barrels, and of course the cormorant swallowing the catfish. I bet David could do that, if he wanted to, although catfish filets would be easier!

  30. The bird shots are beautiful, and that cormorant was determined. Even with the insurance issues, it looks like the birthday was a good one for David.

  31. Well, I must say that it's nice to make the blog for the second time. :-) The joy was all ours to be able to talk to David any time, and especially on his birthday.

    All of these pictures makes me happy, but I must say that the dessert one is the best. That piece of cake is outrageous. I kept thinking that there would be a trip to a bakery somewhere along the day, but I guess that y'all made up for it with the dessert at the restaurant. By the way, does that black whistling duck have pink feet? I've never seen such a thing and if so, that is now my favorite duck -- not that I had a favorite duck before!

    I hope that it will warm up more for y'all. It was 9 degrees here this morning. I didn't pay attention to the forecast having expected it to warm up and it was a shock to the system, to put it mildly. Hope that all of the pharmacy issues are resolved by now. Stay warm and have fun.

  32. Yep, all you left out was the 'bellied' part. ;) I sure would have liked to seen a picture of the prime rib. Can't remember the last time I had one of those, but it makes my mouth water just the same.

    We are having a nice long steady rain here this evening. I sure hope that portends a beautiful desert bloom next month.

  33. Thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes! Yes, I am happy every day to be alive and feeling as well as I do. And I am especially pleased that my sweetheart has documented our day so nicely for that rainy day when I want to look back and remember. Thank you dear!!

  34. Happy birthday to David. Sorry about the drug problem....errrr...better stated as a Pharmacy problem. We use Walgreens ourselves....have had our drug prescriptions filled in California, Oregon, Arkansas, Arizona and, of course, Florida. Our doctor has them filled for 3 months at a time, and it sure works for us. (Did you get the email I sent about links within comments?) --Dave (GoingRvWay.com)

  35. Happy Birthday, David! You have a great gift for enjoying the simple pleasures of life, including food, beer, and tools. :-) Love the rookery photos of the cormorant and heron on their nests. And the great egret with the green-eyed breeding plumage! I'm glad you guys didn't let the pharmacy/insurance issues ruin your day. I really dislike dealing with bureaucracy, and can only imagine how challenging it is to keep up with all that you're managing. Keep on keeping on!!


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!