Keep it coming, keep it coming, it’s working!
We had a big breakthrough today. Little Noelle did her ‘food dance’ all on her own!
When she was 10, I taught her to turn in a circle to get a treat. There is a special hand signal to get her to do this. At some point, she jumped to abstract thinking and made the connection - wait, if you give me food when I do this dance, then if I do the dance, you have to compensate me. (Trigger: chocolate chip cookies, no part of which she was given).
My hubby was bringing her some blueberries, which she has not been eating for at least the past week. This is the saddest thing in the world, when your beloved pet refuses even a nibble of their favorite food.
Either she just had no appetite, or she couldn’t balance on one foot to hold the kinds of things that she eats with her toes. Both possible, both sad.
So he was bringing her the blueberries, and she turned around all on her own, and then she said, “Whew!”
It is hard to express what a big quantum leap this is in her behavior since the stroke.
Everything about the dance and the berries and the Whew sounds 100% normal.
Then she had some lettuce and some carrots.
It was a good day.
I’m still trying to get my head around it. She went from ‘not being able to groom herself properly’ to doing a little Rockette number - that fast?
Not sure about the grooming yet. I won’t believe she’s really better until I see her combing out her glorious little red tail with that little black beakie.
But I do believe that she is getting better, that healing is possible even after catastrophic illness, and that positive thinking helps.
How? Why? Who cares?? Just keep it coming, it’s working!
If she was healing anyway, even without anyone “sending her thoughts,” then surely it wouldn’t be wrong to keep up the harmless activity of sending those thoughts? (Always keeping in mind that we prioritized top-level mainstream veterinary care and that her vet is touching base every day).
Surely we are allowed to be glad when this bit of feathered sunshine is having an easier day?
With all the problems in the world, at least someone is...
I think of everyone at the veterinary hospital, and how much pain, misery, injury, illness, and death they must have seen in their careers. What a labor of love it is for them to put on their scrubs each day. What pure delight it must be when a cute li’l critter beats the odds. They sound genuinely glad when they call to check in and I say she was climbing around or vocalizing more.
Okay, so let’s talk about what all this means for people, rather than a simple morale boost.
What does it mean if a nine-inch-tall bird of mature years who weighs around 400 grams can survive a stroke and regain her balance and speaking ability?
What does it mean for us, since she’s not even a mammal and all that?
I’d say it means something. A stroke is a stroke, after all. Everyone in this story is a warm-blooded vertebrate. Apparently every creature that enters the veterinary clinic has a brain and a heart and the ability to form potentially lethal blood clots. That includes us as well as birds, cats, and dogs.
The main difference between Noelie and us, besides the fact that radishes are her favorite food, is that to the best of our knowledge, she is not capable of worrying about the future. She can’t psych herself out. She can’t delude herself about what the doctor told her, or forget what the nurse said.
In other words, she can’t overthink things.
All she can do is keep on waking up, nibbling on whatever someone else put in her food dish, and trying to scramble to her water bowl. Apparently she has had so much trouble with dizziness that sometimes when she drinks and tries to shake her head to dry her face, it throws her totally off balance.
She’s just in survival mode, not ‘search the web and scare herself reading articles late into the night’ mode.
All she can do is live, or not live.
We humans have choices. Unfortunately we abuse most of those choices. We start with confirmation bias, wanting to seek out information that matches what we’d most like to believe. We round that out with pessimism, believing that most of our problems are genetic or that nothing can be done or that we’ve Tried Everything (TM). Then we finish out with noncompliance, simply fading out on whatever dim intentions we may have had to make a couple changes.
Ask any nurse - people aren’t very good at following instructions.
It’s my practice to listen carefully when people start griping and groaning about their health complaints. If I happen to develop one of these issues myself, I’m going to find that information very useful. For instance, I vividly recall someone telling me about getting chiggers for the first time, and that was at least a decade ago. Note to self: do not get chiggers. I believe it’s possible to avoid certain health issues with a bit of foreknowledge.
Not that any of this will help my little parrot, who is not in charge of her own diet, unless she plans to cut back a bit on the shredded cardboard.
What it might help is anyone who learns about her stroke and her eventual recovery. I would hope her story would give a bit of hope to anyone who also had a stroke, or some other cardiac or neurological event. If this little bird can do it, then maybe I can too.
We could still use a return to her ability to turn around to the side and groom her tail, her ability to walk across her ladder bridge, and her ability to call out a cheery Good Morning!
Until then, we can pause to give thanks that this sweet, loving fluff ball is still here and still improving, a little more each day.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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