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Monday, May 15, 2017

AJ Died

Corinne came into my office Saturday evening and said, “Your bird is acting weird.”

“He’s always acting weird,” I said, but I came out anyway because obviously she meant weirder than normal.

He (AJ) was at the bottom of his play stand having a hard time keeping his balance.

I picked him up and brought him to his cage so I could evaluate him a little. Gave him some treats (nuts and sunflower seeds). He tried to open a pistachio but couldn’t keep his balance on one foot: that's not good, balancing on one foot is what they do.

He said, “Hi baby,” which is his normal thing to say, but it sounded very off: slightly deeper and a little drawn out. Something was definitely wrong. In fact, the way he said it is what made me realize we were probably going to lose him.

He was panting. I laid down on the couch and put him on my chest; this is his idea of paradise. He loved nothing more than sitting on my chest and making sure I was paying him maximum attention. I rested one hand on his back to help keep him steady, and waited to see if he was going to improve. After a few minutes, Corinne brought me a hand towel to drape over him and help keep him warm (parrots seem to love being covered up anyway).

I was listening to him, reading a little, and talking to him. Soon I realized I was hearing his heart beating. Very arrhythmic, and loud. “thump thump thump pause (a few seconds) thump long-pause thump thump pause” etc. I shouldn’t be able to hear his heart beating at all (and when healthy, the rate is 340-600 beats per minute), and honestly I’m still not 100% sure that’s what it was, but it wasn’t in time with his panting so it wasn’t some kind of lung rattle. I think he had some sort of a heart attack and it was, uh... sputtering?

He was getting worse, and I accepted he was going to die. I started telling him (mostly for my own benefit, I guess... he can talk but he’s not a person) that he should let go, it’s almost over. He grabbed onto my thumb a few times with his beak, but didn’t hurt me. Just held on.

After laying there on my chest for a little less than an hour, getting weaker and weaker, he stretched his neck way out and then tightened all his muscles up for a second, Then he just stopped breathing, and the heartbeat stopped.

I didn't sleep much that night but had to exhort Sunday morning. Ugh.

Sunday afternoon I buried him in a deep hole in the back yard. I miss him.


The closest emergency vet is about a 50 minute drive. (This was a Saturday night.) I hope nobody thinks badly of me for not rushing him over there. I believe it would have been a traumatic and expensive last hour of his life instead of me providing what comfort I could as he died.


May, 2017
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