So Long Krusty
One of the budgies in our household has been sick for some time. She’s always been a little idiosyncratic, but more recently she lost the ability to fly and put on weight. Then, she started to totter instead of walk, then limp and then stopped walking. Eventually, she started to lift her left leg in pain and not hold onto the perch anymore. We thought she’d broken her leg, so we waited to see if she would heal a bit, but she kept getting worse.
We took her to the vet this last weekend and found out it wasn’t a broken leg. She was riddled with cancer and was in great pain. The degree of her cancer was breath taking. The Avian specialist vet said he was shocked to see a bird so sick – that in 20years of practice he had never seen a bird so ill. We tried giving her antibiotics to rule out an infection but she did not respond to the treatment, thus confirming our worst suspicions.
This morning the vet ordered me to bring in the budgie where upon he explained that she had to be put down. An animal can be lame in his view, but it could not and should not be in pain, he said. I concurred, and that pretty much was that. I had a weird flashback to my days as a medical student doing the rounds at Royal North Shore Hospital – but felt a squeamishness about death I actually treasure. There are more ins and outs to it, but the details would bore you all. The main point was that the bird doctor felt compelled to summon me and the bird so he could put her down. She was that ill.
I am on the whole, a supporter of euthanasia. It was definitely the right choice for poor Krusty. However my instincts as the carer of Krusty were to see if we could keep going with treatments. That maybe there was hope. It’s hard to reconcile these things on the spur of the moment. Not everything we do or choose to do can be ruled by reason. What we feel is so much more complicated than the straight lines of what we think.
In the last moments before the vet took her away, we said out goodbyes to the little bird. She was eating from a seed stick. It was her favorite thing to do – eat – and it seemed terribly ironic that whatever life-affirming thing that was going on with her eating, it was going to be futile in a matter of minutes. I watched as she nibbled on and I pondered about death and religion and our inability to understand death itself. I thought of a lot of things in that long moment as the bird doctor prepared the anesthetic for Krusty’s overdose but it essentially came down to the fact that her moment had arrived.
She passed away at 10:30AM. She was roughly 3 and a half years old. She is already missed.