Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Diva Refusing To Bathe?

It is not the first time in her nearly 15 years that she has gone through a "no thank you" bathing stage. Over the past month or so, I have offered her numerous baths. She showed a reaction that bordered on aversion at times, so I did not push things. Concurrently, I have been sick and not nearly as fastidious about keeping the fine white powder cleaned up in the bird room.


Several days ago, I came home from work, went into the bird room, and my mother's ears perked up. I thought I heard some nare noises coming from Coco. Something did not sound right to me. I grabbed my flashlight to shine it in her nares, and saw that one of the nares was almost entirely stopped up and had some wetness around the small air opening remaining.

At times, feathers (or even food) can find a way into the nares. But no matter, it cannot remain. Sadly for The Diva, this meant an unpleasant experience of being toweled and having her nose cleaned and flushed. While in the neighborhood, the other nare was flushed with saline for good measure. I removed a piece of something resembling a slice of fingernail or skin from her nare, and all was well?? Except me.... feeling a little (naturally) panicked....


The first thing that occurred to me is that I may have transferred my winter illness to Coco. Despite having written many posts on zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transferred between humans and birds), and fully understanding that there are very few diseases that can be transferred to birds, I still felt a bit of anxiety. In observing her, from what I know of my bird, I saw nothing else that would cause alarm.

So, the first thing that came to my mind was dust - a dust reaction due to her refusal to bathe, combined with my having not kept up with the cleaning and the natural dryness/lack of humidity that exists during the winter.

Not for nothing, any discharge from a nare or blockage in a nare is something worthy of note and concern. A cloudy discharge earns an immediate trip to the vet. I have seen instances where birds have an occasional wet sneeze from dust, but I was not pleased to see a near complete blockage.

At that point, Wednesday night, I decided I would need to keep an eye on it and see how it was in the morning. Thursday morning came, and her nares were open and dry. I breathed a sigh of relief. I couldn't have taken her to the vet at night, and now with the morning there were no further signs of worsening or other symptoms of sickness.
Fortunately, she did not hold the toweling incident against me. The trust account balance was high, and although she was not amused, she did not even growl. She did chew on the towel. And, had I been stupid enough to get my finger in front of her during the nare-cleaning process, she would have not been able to help herself from taking a swipe at me.

It is not easy to make a decision if or when we should go to the vet when the symptoms are not acute and obvious. I had to make a judgment call, and I decided she needed a bath first and foremost. But through circumstances beyond my control, I got home too late on Thursday night to give her one.... but she was not going to get out of a bath so easily on Friday....

Friday morning came, and upon awakening and going into the bird room, my mother's sense again was alerted. Something did not sound right. This time, the opposite nare had wetness and a drip coming out of it. Both nares were still open. However, this just is not good. Not good at all. I had to make a decision - either take her to the vet right then, or give her a nasal flush and a bath right then. Based upon knowing my bird, and making a judgment call, I chose to give her a nasal flush and a steam bath. She again took it well considering that she is The Diva.... and all this was a bit presumptuous of me first thing in the morning... ! She actually enjoyed it... (the steam bath part that is)! She steamed for 15 minutes and did a little self-bathing, but not a thorough soak. However, I was satisfied she was wet enough, and lightly towel dried her and she returned to Fort Coco.

That day while at work, I called my husband numerous times, directing him to shine the light in her nares and give me a full, detailed report. The Diva does not even like him approaching within 3 feet of her, so this was an endeavor on his part that brought much trepidation. But he was more afraid of what I might say if he didn't follow my instructions, so he complied!

Throughout the day Friday, all was well. On each report, her nares were open and dry. She had dried nicely from her bath, and had spent the day vocalizing, eating and otherwise acting normal for The Diva.

Meanwhile, I have a vet that is open 1/2 days on Saturdays for emergencies, so I knew I had a fall-back position if things went downhill.

Since the situation first presented Wednesday night, we were now two (going on three) days into the incident. I admit it was a big judgment call on my part. If I was wrong about the symptoms being a reaction to dust, and she was truly sick, then getting a bath would have been the wrong thing to do. And waiting could have made matters worse as well. We all have to make these judgment calls from time to time and they are rarely cut and dried. I would not want to make that call for someone else though.
Erring on the side of caution and taking a bird to the vet is never the wrong thing to do.

By Friday night, her nares were still open and dry. Thus began a weekend long cleaning fest! Everything in that room was cleaned, from the curtains to the budgie-boys! No surface was left untouched or unwashed. We also rearranged the room and removed several items to make future cleaning a bit easier. It was during this marathon cleaning event that I realized just how much powder there was in the room! I picked up a throw pillow that had been sitting on a chair and wiped it against my black pants and it left a trail of white! So everything was washed. We have since applied sheets to all the largest surfaces, and sheets covering the bookcases, to make it easy to once a week remove them, wash them, and then replace them. This will cut down on the surface area that needs to be wiped down. With the amount of powder I found, I was truly surprised that both The Diva and I did not react sooner!

But for a couple of wet sneezes during room cleaning, all has been fine. My husband and I gave her quite the show with all the room rearranging, dusting, vacuuming... she loved it! Every time intermission came, she just sat there and screamed until we returned to restart the show!
Knowing your birds habits, patterns and normal behaviors is not a guarantee that illness will be caught, but it is certainly a help. Beyond that, we have to do the best to assess each situation that arises, and react accordingly. It is not to say that every clear, runny nose is a reaction to dust. I just believed that this one was, with all things considered, and reacted accordingly with a back-up plan in place. But it was still difficult for me. I still second guessed myself, and spent several days checking on her and relentlessly flashing a light in her nares! At this point, it does appear that my judgment of the situation was right - and this I believe is almost entirely due to knowing my bird. We are the only one who is an expert on what is normal/abnormal for our birds.Through this, I was also reminded of the value of keeping the trust account level high. Needing to towel Coco twice to flush her nares resulted in withdrawals from the trust account. Fortunately, she took it well, and shortly after was cuddling with me and asking for scritches. In the times when we have to wear our mother/caregiver hat, which are hopefully few and far between, it is handy to have the trust account padded so that a withdrawal will not result in the account going into the red. This will ensure much less of a strain on the relationship and much less anxiety for the human.Meanwhile, another Diva Spa Treatment (steam bath) is planned for Tuesday!


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2 comments:

Deep Thinker said...

What a gorgeous girl! I'm glad she's a-okay!

Arlene said...

Robin I'm glad you were feeling well enough to tackle a job like that. You are right about knowing your bird and making a judgement call.
I'm so glad she wasn't seriously ill. And too bad you were.
Birds make a lot of dust. Not only is it not good for them to breath but it's bad for humans with breathing disorders.
Coco looks so fluffy. Must have been like sitting in a spa for her.
Glad you are both doing better. :)

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