PT, one of our little pet parrotlets (birds), is very ill.
We have two parrotlets- PT and Herbie. We adopted them in 2004. Herbie was about two or three, and PT was about one. They were a bonded pair, and very very shy (not the kind of birds who crawl all over you and want to make friends), so they were hard to find a home for. In addition, because they are both males, there was a chance they couldn’t live together in the same cage because males tend to fight, but because they were bonded, they literally couldn’t live without each other. So if they couldn’t stay together in the same cage, they needed to go to a home where it guaranteed that they would be in side by side cages for the rest of their lives. We were fine with that.
So they’ve been with us 13 years. They’re distinguished gentlemen birds, seniors now. They live in the bedroom because PT has seizures that make him lose his balance at night, and me keeping the light on is an asset to him- he can wait on the bottom of the cage until he gets his balance back and then climb back up to his favorite perch. We have two cages for them, side by side- we keep them together as much as possible in the same cage, but there are times when PT is a little grumpy with Herbie and we have to separate them. But they adore one another and spend all day talking to one another and mirroring each other’s behavior.
PT first started having seizures in 2007. When that happened, the vets weren’t sure what it meant for him (they are tiny birds- smaller than canaries), so we’ve always kept it in the back of our minds that one day he might have a seizure that he wouldn’t recover from.
But besides his seizures, I’ve been sort of observing PT slowing down the last few months. He’s been to the vet regularly and his weight has been good, his blood tests were fine, and he’s been eating and drinking so it was attributed to his age- small birds don’t have the same decades-long lifespan that larger parrots do, so they slow down a lot as the years go by.
He was at the vet last week for a beak trim and the vet examined both birds and was happy with how they were doing. But a few days ago I noticed PT hadn’t really bounced back from that vet visit- he was puffing up a lot and seemed to be breathing very heavily. So Tom took him back to the vet and the vet noticed that PT’s abdomen was distended, and an X-Ray confirmed something is going on inside- either a hugely inflamed organ or a growth. I had a parakeet pass away from cancer in 1997, and his belly looked similar to PT’s, so…
We brought PT home and got him back in his cage with Herbie- they are both happiest when they are together, even though they argue. It’s been about two days since PT’s vet appointment, and he’s on antibiotics just in case it’s some infection- he’s too stressed to take blood at the moment. We’re trying not to stress him out further so he can save his strength. If he does okay, we’ll bring him back for blood work to see if we can figure out what’s going on. There aren’t a lot of things you can do for smaller birds- surgery is out of the question, as is chemo, so you just wait and watch and alleviate their suffering.
A lot of the time PT naps, curled into Herbie.
BUT, PT is still eating and drinking, he’s still picking on Herbie, he’s still grooming himself, still pooping, and he even took a bath in his water bowl today. Those are all things that Sam, my parakeet, stopped doing weeks before he passed away. So every moment that PT still does those things makes me feel a little less in despair about everything. I just don’t want him to suffer. So we’re taking it hour by hour, keeping an eye on him, giving him tons of fresh food and water.
My heart is broken, but I’m trying not to let it be all-consuming. I’m just feeling things as they come up without letting myself go too far from the facts- we know PT is sick, but we don’t know the timeline- I’m trying to focus on that. My pets are like my children- I know I say this often, but I still haven’t gotten over the passing of Delilah (one of our kitties) four years ago. It devastated me, and just thinking about it makes me cry. You know how sometimes they say about people “she/he never bounced back from that…”- well, losing Delilah is my “never bounced back from that…” thing.
The idea of losing PT is almost too hard to handle, but I’m allowing myself to honor the sadness as it ebbs and flows. There are moments when I am almost at peace- I’m thankful for all these years we had with him, for what a brave little bird he was dealing with his seizures. I’m accepting that he’s older and that part of this whole thing with pets means having to say goodbye to them. But it still makes me so sad.
I was kind of “iffy” on the depression scale before we found out PT was sick, but now I’m just admitting that I’m in a state of depression (not severe, but enough to acknowledge it) and letting myself feel grief and sadness and all the other stuff that comes along with it. Oddly enough, admitting it out loud to Tom (who is also feeling similarly) felt like a good thing- like I didn’t have to pretend to be resilient and brave and okay right now. It also lets me just befor a while instead of grinding myself down on all the things I feel like I should be doing.
However, just because I’m depressed doesn’t mean I’m *not* okay. Because I am okay. I mean, with this kind of stuff, you either go forward or you don’t. I’m just exhausted and kind of done with the emotional upheaval and the unknowns and the fear. But here I am.
I’m trying to take it day by today- today PT was eating, he was drinking, he pooped, he took a bath and groomed himself, he got into an argument with Herbie where he wouldn’t let Herbie share a perch with him and flapped his wings wildly whenever Herbie tried to approach him. Those are all things that PT did today. As I write this, he’s still here with us, snuggled in for the night.
One moment at a time.