Hey, everyone. I'm not sure how many of you are still reading due to my absence and the demise of Google Reader. But, I know there are a few Monty fans out there and in the spirit of documenting my important life events, here I am. And unfortunately, I am not recording a happy event, but a heartbreaking one. My Monty is on borrowed time. He has an enormous mass that I only discovered on Sunday night. My heart is breaking. Out of my four pets, this is the one that was going to be around the longest. Monty was going to see Elsa off to college. But before then, they were going to watch movies on Saturday nights together, sharing popcorn and snuggling. Elsa was going to show her friends who came visit her cool little conure who sits on your shoulder and gives you kisses. And after Lola crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Monty would be an only bird and would be given that much more attention that he absolutely deserved.
But, none of those things are going to happen. Last week, I noticed that Monty had a bald patch on his lower belly. I started mentally preparing for another round of feather picking and what we can do to change the behavior. I kept an eye out the next few days for feathers in the cage and on the ground, but didn't see any. On Sunday night, I flipped him over onto his back and held him in the palm of my hand, something he used to do voluntarily, but now I have to be sneaky to grab him. But, once he gets on his back, he relaxes and enjoys beak rubs and feather grooming. I noticed that his lower abdomen, just below the keel, was extremely distended. And my heart just sank. I had bought a scale a few months back to weigh them periodically and put him on there. 105 grams. He's normally around 80. And that's when the panic really set in.
I only slept about 3 hours Sunday night because I was so worried about Monty and the fear of the unknown. I raced him to the vet at 7:00 to take an emergency appointment. The best case scenario was that Monty was egg bound, or had an egg stuck internally. Monty is actually a female, but has never laid an egg and so I knew this was an unlikely outcome. The vet palpated his abdomen and no egg was to be found. The next step was to try an ultrasound to figure out what was going on and maybe an x-ray if it wasn't too stressful. They took him off to the back and I waited to find out what came next.
The vet came back and told me there was no need for an x-ray-the ultrasound revealed a huge mass that was growing up the abdomen and behind the keel bone. I couldn't help but start crying right there. It was just such a shock, especially when we've only been together 12 years and I expected another 12 or more. The vet told me the choices were to just let things happen in due time, to do an aspiration to collect cells for cytology, or to do exploratory surgery.
I told him I needed some time to decide, so I left the clinic and sobbed all the way home. I talked to Jason and then I had to go to work, but luckily I am surrounded by people who are animal lovers. I talked to a few colleagues, a vet and a vet tech, who have a lot of experience with exotics. They assured me the aspiration is really not a big deal and it would be very fast. My vet colleague contacted one of her vet friends who had great things to say about U of I's vet school and the avian surgeon there. In my mind, it was worth doing the aspiration because if the mass was operable, we had options for surgery. So, we elected to do the aspiration.
Last night, Jason took Monty in for the aspiration. I tried to keep myself busy at home as I waited to hear. What if he died during the procedure? Would I ever forgive myself for putting him through an elective procedure? Jason called me upset and I knew things weren't good. The vet wasn't even able to aspirate the mass because there was so much fluid in the way. He did drain fluid and took blood and we should have the results tomorrow. But, the vet thinks that since the fluid built up so quickly, the tumor is likely on the liver or heart, meaning it can't be surgically removed. And so now we just wait.
My brain is telling me it can happen any time, but it is so difficult to process. Monty is acting completely normal. He's eating, playing, vocalizing, trying to snatch food out of my hand, and begging for baths. How could a bird that is so sick be acting so normal? I am just preparing myself that I could come home one day and find him dead or that he could go downhill very quickly. His body condition is good, other than the mass and so I'm hoping that we have some quality time left together. We're just going to spoil him and take lots of pictures and video especially with Elsa so that we can show her later what a cool little bird she had that she shared her cookie with once upon a time.