Sunday, April 26, 2009

Good days, Bad days...

It's a feathered roller-coaster. Each day I watch closely to see how Tori is doing. Some days it seems as if he is better. Last week I became very alarmed because I could tell that he had lost a significant amount of weight. I was terrified. I told Joe about it. He thought I was imagining it. That he was fine. But I could feel it. He wasn't as heavy on my hand, he felt smaller in my grasp when I gave him his meds. Some days he had more energy, it seemed, some days, he seemed so quiet. The moods varied throughout the day.

At work I struggle with the constant anxiety burning a hole in my gut. Trying not to worry about him, or jump to conclusions. I had myself convinced that he has bird wasting disease. A horrible affliction that, basically, starves birds from the inside. They eat and eat, but their bodies don't digest the food, and instead it eats away at the birds muscle, etc., until they die. They lose lots of weight, become weaker and weaker. I did some research online. Cried and cried. Not my baby. Joe said to stop reading the stuff as I was making myself crazy. He has a bacterial infection that is really hard to beat, it will take a while, but it's not wasting disease.

I had set up an appointment with the vet for my day off. We went. I was so nervous. I immediately told the doctor about my worries. He said that wasting disease is still pretty rare, that Tori would not have been exposed to it where I got him (and the rest of the birds), and that I should put it out of my mind. I told him he might have to take MY pulse in a minute, since my fingers were tingling, my stomach was burning, my cheeks were hot. I felt sick to my stomach. He checked Tori over. They found bacteria, still, which wasn't a surprise. And some yeast. So, they cleaned out his crop (not fun for Tori), and added another, anti-fungal, med to his regimen for the next couple weeks.

I took Tori home relieved that he didn't have this horrible disease. He slept quite a bit that night, and I chalked it up to the trauma of the crop-cleaning. It's stressful on a bird. They are fragile creatures.

Over the past few days Tori has been playing with the rest of the gang quite a lot during the day, but by evening, he seems quite tired, and goes off by himself sometimes. I've been trying to get them all to bed a little earlier. Tori needs the rest, and with the extended daylight, they've all been extra wild. So, a little extra rest won't hurt them either.

Today Tori seems very, very quiet. I gave him his meds. Took two tries to get it in him. I put him inside the big bird house with the heating pad dialed up a notch to keep him warm. He wants to come out, but I think he needs the rest. I'll keep him in there a while, just so he is undisturbed.

My fingers are tingling, numbing. My stomach is in turmoil. I am trying to think positive. I love this little guy so much. I hate to see him miserable. He is such a good thing in my life. Such an angel. I'm praying every day now. Over and over. Please save my Tori.

Please, save my Tori.

Friday, April 17, 2009

On the road to Wellville...

It appears Tori is getting better. I've decided to go the long, extended route with the meds just to be sure. Doc said we could do 2 to 4 weeks of antibiotics. We're going with the 4. As stressful as it is to get the meds in him, I want to wipe this bug out so that my baby can stay healthy.

He seems to be playing more. He's more playful. Hasn't thrown up in a week now. Thank goodness. I just pray he continues to get better and better.

The rest of the gang are good. Mouse and Blogger are coming out to play more often. Blogger is quite a good flier and isn't far behind the rest. His landings are still a bit rough sometimes, but he's definitely getting the hang of it. Mouse still flutters to the floor a lot. He's making it short distances, though. And he loves, loves, loves spinach!
I suppose, to many people, they make a lot of racket. But their calls, chattering, and fluttering are music to my ears. Sometimes I watch them fly and play and sing and, corny as it sounds, it just makes me happy.
Just thought it was time for an update...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tori, Tori, Tori...

That's my Tori, as a baby, enjoying his first bit of cucumber. It is a favorite of his, along with broccoli and carrots. He's an expert food flinger. Well, they all are. But Tori can fling with the best of them, I'll tell you that.

This morning I was troubled to see that Tori was vomitting again. He's been on the new anti-biotic four days now, and I was hoping he was feeling better. I could tell by watching him that he was trying hard to stifle the need to vomit. Finally, it won over. This was even more upsetting as I had to leave for work, and couldn't stay with him. I tucked him in with his buddies, kept the heating pad on low, and went to work.

I cried on the way there. I cried once there, telling my boss and co-workers about Tori's further ailment. I called the vet and asked what next. When I talked with him this afternoon we recapped the last time out with this infection, and how we ended up doing two meds simultaneously, an anti-biotic, and a med for helping to curb the vomitting and nausea. I queried him like a frantic mother, asking what might I doing that could cause this. What if this, what if that...he reiterated that last time we used this combination it worked.

I picked it up after work and just gave Tori his meds an hour ago. He is sitting atop one of the playgyms now, chattering with the rest of the gang. Google is next to him, singing and whistling, too. Maybe he will feel better. I have to admire his determination even in distress. He wants to be out and about with the other birds.

But tonight, I will tuck him in a cage on his own, with the heating pad going and a nice cozy blanket to keep out any cold air. He needs rest.

God, I hope this works. The thought of him not being with us is just too hard to bear. I'm saying another prayer (and another). If anyone is reading this, would you mind saying a prayer, too?

Thank you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Little Victories

Progress. That's what little Mouse and Blogger are making. Aren't they cute? Blogger was sharing some seeds with Mouse when I took this photo. They bicker sometimes, mostly when fighting for the same spot on a perch, but otherwise, they are tight. And these days, they are both coming out to play with Tori and the gang. In fact, tonight Mouse climbed out and up to the top of his house, and Blogger flew out, around the room, and up to one of the playgyms. Twice. Both even took the time to explore Google's new house, too.

Now when Mouse flutters to the floor because he's still light on flight feathers, he allows me to pick him up. Or, really, he steps up onto my hand and let's me escort him upward. It's amazing progress. They still don't like it when I try to go inside their house to bring them out, but, if I'm patient, that will come in time. It took a long time for Texter to allow me to do that. He let's me bring him out, and tuck him in at night. Other than that, he makes the call. So, I'm feeling encouraged at this progress. A week ago I was feeling a bit sad and overwhelmed. Wondering if I would do them justice. Presently, it seems, we're doing OK.

Tori seems to be feeling better since starting the new meds. At least he hasn't thrown up since Friday. It's only been a few days, but I hope this continues. He looks a bit rough. He's got some new pin feathers around his face, and the rest are kind of mucked up from the sticky medicine. I'm trying very hard to get every drop in him, but it's a challenge. The vet tech showed me a better way to administer the meds, and it's helping. I hope. I'm trying not to obsess about the lump the doc talked about. Hoping that it's just a wayward fat deposit and it will go away with time, exercise, and more fruits and vegetables. I'm praying.

Tomorrow I'll go and donate blood, try to keep the good karma flowing.

The rest of the gang seemed to have a good day, too. Pumpkin and Google seem to be trying to become friends. One or the other will make an effort, it seems to take for a moment, then one of them gets skittish. They're still getting there, I think.

Texter seems to delight in "stalking" Miss Pixel. His games of "I'm not touching I bothering you?" seem to irritate, and delight, her at the same time. Ah, relationships...

In our neighborhood there is a family that has a parakeet. During the summer I would drive by their house and notice they had their parakeet, in it's cage, hanging outside on their porch. It always caught my eye. I worried they wouldn't bring it in soon enough. That the temperatures would drop in the evening, the bird would get a chill, then get sick. I'm aware that a lot of bird owners/lovers take their birds outside. There are differing opinions on this, and I can respect that.

However, on my way home from work tonight, nearing 7pm, I drove by their house and saw their parakeet outside. Officially, it's spring, but weather-wise, it isn't. The temperature at that time was a mere 36 degrees (F)! I damn near slammed on the breaks a-la Fred Flinstone. I thought, maybe they cleaned the cage with bleach and water and put it outside to air out or something. But it was nagging at me. I drove around the block and went back. Sure enough, the bird was in the cage.

I was fuming. Shaking, even. There was no way I could go home without taking action. I parked the car and walked up to their front door and rang the bell. A young woman answered. I'm not sure how much english she can speak. It was a short conversation. I simply said hello, and that I noticed their bird was outside. Somehow she misunderstood me and thought I said their dog had gotten outside. She went to look for the dog. I tried to explain, pointing, that I was concerned about the bird (I could hear the dog barking inside). She said it was her brothers. He came out. I greeted him. Explained that I live in the area, that I have many parakeets, and that it was too cold for the bird to be outside today.

He insisted, the bird is happy. He likes to be outside. I said, "Yes, but not today. It's too cold. Not until it's warmer." Then I just asked him, "Please, please take him inside. It's too cold. I don't want him to get sick." He humored me. He took the bird inside. I said "thank you".

Perhaps they think I'm crazy. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe parakeets can withstand those kinds of temperatures. I have to admit, the bird wasn't puffed up like it was cold. But I did notice that, unlike my spoiled feathered children, he had no toys in his cage. I'm fighting the urge to gift that bird with a few.

I didn't get the impression that they didn't care about the little budgie. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they are putting the bird outside because it likes it. I admit, when I drove by in the summer, it seemed to be singing happily on its swing. But still, it was only 36. Near freezing. I couldn't, in good conscious, let it go. Maybe they'll wait until spring really does arrive to put him out again. I hope so.

I don't know if it's age, peri-menopause, life experiences, or just neurotic tendencies, but I'm finding it harder and harder not to act on things like this. I suppose I could just mind my own business, but I do like to sleep at night. And if I was wrong to butt in, well, I can live with that better than I can a frozen, innocent, little bird.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My heart is breaking...

Tori and I made the trip to the vet today to have him checked further since he is still throwing up large quantities of slimey seeds. The doc checked him over and found an excess of bacteria. It's the good bacteria, but way too much of it. Not a balance of good and bad. They cleaned out his crop again. Lots of slimey goo.

We discussed what could be causing this. I asked about a tumor as a possibility, thinking he would just say no, not causing this. Instead, he said it might be a possibility, and that he does feel a small, movable something below Tori's crop. That possibly it could be obstructing the drainage of his crop. My stomach fell, my head got warm, my heart started breaking.

We discussed the fact that this same scenario took place last spring. We started with one anti-biotic, and within weeks had to try another. After that it was a good five months before Tori had another slimey episode. We traced it to a possible side-effect to a stressful molt. His immune system weaker, stressed, the bacteria took over. I am praying like crazy that's the case this time. And, knowing that, once we have this cleared up with the new meds, that he'll be healthy and happy for a long time. Maybe we can head it off next molt with special molting foods, vitamins, or something like that.

But the tumor thing stuck with me. I asked the doc to show me what he meant when I picked Tori up at the end of the day. I couldn't really feel it, but the doc felt it was there. Sometimes a benign, fatty tumor can show up and not cause any ill effects for a long time. But the position of this, if it is one, could be problematic. I went overboard and imagined losing my baby, my Tori. I feel lonesome already. My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying. The possibility of it all.

Maybe things will clear up, and nothing further will develop with that "thing". I pray so. My gut tells me otherwise, but it's been very wrong before. I hope to God it's wrong this time.

I know it's key to live in the moment. To appreciate today, live now, love now. I do try. I will try. But that doesn't mean I won't go through a box of Kleenex while doing it.

So, tonight we gave Tori his first dose of the new meds. I brought him home, and he spent the evening playing with the gang. He seemed to have energy, appetite, and was particularly attentive to the youngest, Mouse and Blogger. In fact, he seems to be mentoring them a bit.

Mouse flew down to the floor (he hasn't much flight yet), so Tori flew down to the floor to watch over him. Pumpkin joined them, too. Tori seemed to be trying to teach Mouse how to take off, fly upward. Mouse tried, he just doesn't have enough flight power yet. So, Tori hung around down on the floor with Mouse until I went over to help them both up. Mouse has been very shy about getting on my finger or my hand. Tori, as sweet and clever as ever, demonstrated for Mouse what to do. Lo and behold, Mouse followed Tori's lead! See what I mean. He's damn special, Tori is. One of a kind.

I know to some people Tori is "just a parakeet", a "silly little bird", but let me just say that couldn't be further from the truth. He's an amazing, living, breathing, sensitive, sweet, and loving creature and to lose him would wound me profoundly. So, I'll just pray and pray that won't happen. And, I'll tell him I love him every day.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Angel...

Tori. He's my angel. The first parakeet we brought home that led us to five more, plus cockatiel, Google. Tori is my sweetheart. I love them all, deeply. But Tori is absolutely special. Sweet. So much personality. Sometimes so serious. I fell for him pretty hard. The first week we had him I kept him with me every moment I was home and awake. He napped on my shoulder, in the crook underneath my chin. Joe had to insist that I put him to bed when it got to be midnight. I didn't want to let him go.

He learned to talk quickly. Seems like it only took weeks before he said "Hi!". Then, "pretty bird", then "Tori", then "Tori, Tori, Tori", as it was part of a refrain from the "Tori Song" I sang to him so often Joe probably heard it in his sleep. He would sometimes sing along with me, with an extended refrain of "pre-tyyyyy bird!" After awhile I would just listen in wonder as he sat on my knee, or my shoulder, or my nose, and chattered away. He added "sweetheart" to his repertoire, then "how was your day". I felt guilty leaving him home alone all day while I was at work, so we adopted Pumpkin and watched as he and Tori became best friends forever. Their friendship was instant. Day one. Tori didn't speak "people" as much after that, but he and Pumpkin are such great companions, I can do without it.

Every so often Tori seems to become ill. Parakeets tend to hide it when they are feeling poorly, an inherent trait, but I have gotten to a point where I can tell pretty quickly if he's not feeling right. Like parents do with their children, I suppose. He puffs up, keeps to himself. Sometimes he naps on my shoulder. Then I really know he's not feeling well. Then, he does this thing where he throws up slimey, seedy, foamy goo. He gets very upset when this happens, and tries to fly away from me. But once he's done, he's back to sit on my shoulder (and wipe his slimey face on my shirt, or my chin).

I've taken him to an avian vet for this a few times over the past year. We thought we had it figured out. Stress from the big "spring molt" weakens his immune system, and he is overrun by bad bacteria. A course of antibiotics should do the trick. But it keeps coming back. And, though I'm diligent about administering the meds, he sure doesn't like it one bit. It's not easy on either one of us, but at least I can see that he's feeling better.

Just over two weeks ago I could tell he wasn't feeling right. He'd gone through a major molt, all the 'keets did, but he is the only one who seems to suffer the stress of it. I took him to the vet. He checked him over. Slimey crop. Bad bacteria. Antibiotics were prescribed. Two weeks worth. We started right away. Within 24 hours there was a major difference. Within a week Tori had more energy than it seems he's had in a long time. Ah, all we had to do was get through one more week of meds and we were done. He'd hopefully be healthy and wise for a long time. At least until the next big molt got his immune system down.

But tonight, I came home from work to find him sitting, puffed up, by himself, out of touch with the others. He didn't even want to come to me. My stomach fell. Not again. We've barely been done with the meds for 48 hours. My poor, poor baby. I finally got him to come to me, sit on my hand so I could talk to him. It wasn't long before he threw up. That was about two hours ago.
I've already called the vet to see about bringing him back in tomorrow morning. He seems to have rebounded for the moment. He's playing with the rest of the gang. He's flown over to my head several times, hopped down to my hand, told me a story or two. I don't know what to think.

I think of all the possibilities. Maybe he's just got a tender tummy. Hmm, probably not. Another infection? Yeast infection post anti-biotics? Tumor? (please, no...) I go over and over, in my head, what he might be eating, or drinking, or picking at that might cause this. But, over and over, I see that anything he eats, or is exposed to, is the same as the others. And they have all been fine. I clean every day. Fresh water, every day. Rotate water dishes, food dishes, clean ones for dirty. Unlike Texter, or Miss Pixel on occasion, Tori doesn't eat his own poop. So that can't be it.

I know I'll just have to wait and see what the doctor says. I won't be sleeping much tonight. But as long as I'm awake, I'll say a little prayer. I 'll make a wish. Hell, I'll make two. My little angel deserves it.