This next story is a very emotional one for me to share. 2 1/2 years later it still feels like yesterday. This beautiful boy touched the lives of dozens of people across the world – they followed his story and prayed as hard as we did. His life and death has touched my life in a very profound way and sitting here trying to select the photos has torn at my heart more than you can imagine. But its an important story for a number of reasons which I will share – with total candor, honesty, and love for this magnificent bird.
On a blizzardy cold weekend we made the trek 3 hours away to meet him – his owner was in hospice care and dying of cancer and the care center contacted us to talk to him and encourage him to give the bird up prior to passing away. Mango was not to happy with the amount of nurses in the room and the daily shots to his owner agitated him, he clearly did not like seeing anyone hurt his human! Mango is one of those birds you wish with all your heart you had found years ago – before things got so bad. Mango and his owner shared a unique and very close bond – although his medical needs were clearly neglected – the owner felt it was not as bad as it looked and only once ever sought out medical care for him.
The owner was not ready to relinquish the bird yet and another 3 months went by before we got the call that he was simply to sick to care for him in the hospice home any longer. Once again, we made the trip in brutal fog, ice and terrible weather in the middle of winter, round trip was about 8 hours.
These photos of mango were taken the following morning after he had a chance to settle in. At that time we were not aware of the extent of his physical issues, a large scab from self mutilating and some smaller ones on his back.
The timeline for the amount of vet visits he endured is extensive. We spent hours driving to and from the vet, at times every day for weeks. The hole in his chest was large, and in total, from start to finish, Mango underwent 4 surgeries to clean and repair the wound. I spent hours working on different dress designs to keep him away from this area, and just when we thought we finally had it, we would wake up to find he had gotten through and tore open his chest once again. I have given descriptions for each photo – they tell his story.
WARNING: Some photos are graphic in content.
Mangos weight was quite low, and he was vitamin deficient all over the place, we needed to build up his strength/weight to ensure he was ready for surgery. In this photo you can see him chewing a piece of wood – his favorite past time!! Unfortunately, the pieces he would chew off, he used as a tool to scratch/dig at the hole in his chest.
If you look closely at his wound, you can see how tight the skin is being pulled – the build up of scar tissue inside was huge, it left ALOT of damage after surgery.
Not long after the previous photo, we found him inside his cage bleeding profusely from the wound. He had torn a huge chunk of scab/tissue off. We were able to stop the bleeding and configured this collar for him with some help from a few friends – it kept him away from the open wound until we could get to the vets.
This is one of the many dresses we came up with for him along with a collar. We went through at minimum 15 dresses. In this photo you can see his legs are swollen, this was due to chelation therapy – due to a stroke he suffered.
Unfortunately the chewing was not strictly centered around his chest. After this incident, we had to redo his collar and make it 1/3 inch higher to keep him away from his wing.
The following photos chronicle the surgery to repair the wound.
Blood work was done prior to any surgical procedure. Another good look at the wound.
Anesthetic and monitoring heart rate.
Prep is complete and surgery is about to start. (Above)
Surgery was competed and the large mass was removed of scar tissue, this mass was deep inside his chest, close to a major artery to his heart. In the last photo you can see the extent of the surgery wound and the tautness of skin already. Removing that large mass and the surrounding tissue did not leave very much left to repair.
This is after the stitches – about 10 days post op. Still some swelling and the skin is taut.
Almost fully healed.
His first set back. He tore open the hole once again, a second surgery was required.
Unfortunately I do not have photos of the other actual surgeries, all I have are post op photos of him in new dresses. When the wound reopened, he was taken to the vet asap to have it stitched up, I didn’t even think of taking a camera on those occasions. Suffice it to say, with each new surgery, he lost more and more skin/tissue and that entire area was incredibly tight, and super thin. We knew at that time that we were walking on eggshells with him and did everything to protect that area. He always slept with his collar/dress on and it was only removed when he was with us.
Added to this injury, he suffered a stroke. I have to say, that this is one of the MOST horrendous things I have ever witnessed a bird do. Seizures are pretty scarey to witness, but a stroke is a major panic attack for these guys. This happened late late at night while he was sleeping and affected his entire left side very dramatically. He could not hold up his head, or use his left leg, and the wing was open and drooping. I won’t describe his behavior or what he did because it really was very painful to witness and as God is my witness I hope to never see that again. The level of helplessness I felt was beyond words.
Immediately we got him to the vet and he was given chelation therapy – and xrays were done. The xrays below show lead/zinc in his gizzard. If you know parrot anatomy, the gizzard is like an old style fan, layers upon layers and no way to do surgery to remove the foreign objects. Its likely that these were a huge part of his issues. If you look even closer at the xray you can see deformity with the pelvis and left thigh.
Unbeknownst to us, the very night that Mango had his stroke, his owner finally succumbed to cancer and passed away. Strange coincidence maybe…..sadly, Mango was never the same after that night, he was not jovial and happy and the dozens upon dozens of vet trips and poor health were starting to take their toll.
These two photos were taken about a month before he died. He loved to be outside with us and we really felt as though he was making progress. He was enjoying the sun and being without his collar and dress and just being a bird…
My last photo….he died two days later…
His loss was beyond anything I have ever experienced. I did not include photos for obvious reasons, but he had chewed a massive hole straight into his chest wall that could not be repaired, the damage done was extensive. I miss him every day and not a single day goes by that I ask myself if I could have done something different.
We were criticized by a handful of people who truly felt we had failed him. Unfortunately, they did not know the whole story and were not HERE to see what exactly went on, they just have their own beliefs and stand by them, irregardless of anything else.
His death gave us valuable lessons on quality of life, what it is and how we should be working to obtain that. When the quality of life becomes almost nothing, decisions need to be made no matter how hard they are to us. They aren’t made for us, the decisions are made for the best interest of the bird.
We fight for every life that comes into Birdline – size of bird or cost of treatment is irrelevant, its a living, breathing animal and we will always do our damnest to save them.
We couldn’t save Mango from himself…and I will feel the pain of his loss until I meet him again.
I’m quite sure hes with his owner now and looking simply magnificent and whole…
“Just because you can’t see me doesn’t mean I’m not there”