I don’t normally do year-end reviews, even in my personal journal, but this year warrants it, I think. 2018 was the typical even-numbered year, which in my world means “not all that great.” It’s weird, but looking back on my life, odd-numbered years have always been better.
This year started with a herniated disk with severe nerve impingement, a carry-over from the end of 2017. Ye gods, what a world-rocker that was. It’s still not 100% right, and is a little wonky right now from all the resting for the pneumonia. The doctor gave me prednisone for the pneumonia, which I am a little hesitant to take because it puts me in Hulk-smash mode, but maybe a happy side effect will be to turn the back down a notch.
Next, my little buddy, Inigo the Nanday, was diagnosed with a testicular tumor in February. It’s so big in his little body that his veterinarian asked me if I was sure of Inigo’s sex because it looks like an egg on the X-ray. But I had Inigo DNA sexed when I got him. At the time of the diagnosis, his vet gave a prognosis of a few months to a year, which would get us to February. Last August, the vet added up to another 6 months beyond that, which would take us to next August.
If you know me, you know how devastating this news was. But I’ve also made it a point not to “pre-grieve” him. Nandays usually live to about 25 years, and he’s 17, so we’re getting robbed of time, but it would be tragic beyond his shortened life-span to spend the time I do have with him thinking about the time I won’t have with him. Instead, I’ve focused on cherishing every moment with him and ensuring that he is as comfortable as possible until he decides it’s his time. I firmly believe he will let me know if and when he needs help on his final flight.
In the meantime, he gets a shot of Lupron every 4 weeks or so to turn off his hormones, and for pain control he gets meloxicam (an anti-inflammatory) and gabapentin. The tumor presses on a nerve in his hip a lot like a slipped disk gives humans sciatica, and he cannot unfurl his right foot on flat surfaces. When he’s on the couch he walks on his balled fist, what vets call “knuckling,” but when he’s on his rope perch or hanging out on the top of his open door he can grip well. He can still climb with his foot, and hold snacks with it, too.
At night he sleeps in a special birdie box. He has a shelf in his house that I cover with several layers of towels, and he rests there during the day sometimes as his legs are malformed to begin with, but with the box there is no chance of him falling and injuring himself at night. Here he is, offended by the price.
Like anyone with a tumor or cancer, or any chronic or terminal illness, he has good days and bad days. I’ve noticed that he’s a lot happier and more active when it’s warm, so my heating bill is a bit outrageous and I’ve been wearing shorts indoors for much of the winter. But if it keeps him this active, curious, and silly, it’s a small price to pay.
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Thank you everyone for your amazing comments! 💞 Inigo had a short shower tonight. Showers always make him playful. 💜 Plus, he heard the washing machine, and that always makes him want a bath. He is preening and being silly. Thank you again. We love you! 👱♀️🐦 #birds #birdsofinstagram #conures #conuresofinstagram #nanday #nandayconure #pets #petsofinstagram #bestfriend #mylittlebuddy #togetherforever #wetchicken
If you notice the caption below the video, let me add that the bird community on Instagram is AMAZING. His followers have been so supportive, and there is no way I could cope with his illness without them. Some of them have been through the same illness with their birds and their words of wisdom have been a comfort. Others have been with us from the day I created the account, and they have been right there with words of encouragement and love. He has followers in nearly every state, and on every continent except Antarctica. I lost count of the number of countries, but it’s a lot, maybe 20 or so. We follow those birdies whose accounts are not private, plus other pets of the furry variety. That’s the silver lining in all of this, the spirit of friendship from the community.
Next, I changed jobs a few months ago. The new job is challenging and enables me to do a lot more with my skills than I had been, and the pay enables me to live a fuller life than I had been. I do miss my former coworkers though. The old gig had some great people, and I like to think I made some friends there. I’ve seen them a few times since, and will see them again soon. No job is perfect, and the camaraderie we shared made the tough times more bearable.
And now I’m closing out the year with pneumonia.
All in all, 2018 was a mostly stressful year, one that taught me how to make tough decisions and dedicate myself to seeing trying situations through to the end. That will continue into the first half of 2019, as next year will most certainly bring loss and a tremendous amount of sorrow—I got Inigo in 2002, when he was six months old, and he has been my constant companion through thick and thin—but the most valuable thing I learned in 2018 is to live in the present. I have travel plans for 2019 and much to look forward to later in the year, but I stop short of saying “I can’t wait for that” because, knowing what will come first, I can. Today is its own gift, and I will make the most of it.