I post this in the hope that it may result in a budgie's life being saved.
If only I had realized that his sudden retreats to his "safe place" were not just some fleeting bird psychological thing
If only I had not dismissed his ceasing of play as the understandable result of being moved to a new room in a new house
If only I hadn't rejected as absurd the comment that "there's no sparkle in Louie's eyes anymore"
If only I had not said, "He'll get back to his usual self soon enough"
If only I had been more than mildly concerned that he was taking only a few nibbles of spinach instead of his usual motor-mouth devouring of a whole leaf
If only I had understood that his more frequent trips to the water bowl were not simply the result of my having turned up the thermostat to keep him nice and warm
If only I had been alarmed that he was sleeping a lot more than usual
If only I had repeated to myself a million-and-one times instead of just a million: "Birds hide their illness"
If only I had not concluded that his healthy weight and hyper-desire for millet meant he could not be that sick
If only I hadn't thought that eight-and-a-half years of extensive reading and careful observation and chats with the avian vet provided me sufficient expertise to determine whether he needed to be seen by a true expert
If only I had recognized that his heartwarming willingness to be cradled in the palm of my hand for the first time since he was a chick was actually a danger sign of the highest order
If only I had followed through when, after he suffered an alarming few seconds of disorientation, I said, "I need to take him to the emergency clinic!"
If only I had not so casually told the vet on Friday afternoon that it was fine that the first available appointment was on Monday morning
If only I had done all of those things
Maybe my beloved little Louie would still be alive.
I'm so sorry for your loss. Did you ever figure out what the cause of his passing was?
No. I asked the avian vet if she thought a necropsy should be done -- to determine whether Louie died of something that might affect Coda, my other budgie. She said it would be better to bring Coda in for an exam, which I did on Friday.
Thanks to everyone for the kinds words. They're very comforting.
July 28, 2014 update:
It's clear to me now that Louie died of either testicular or kidney cancer. In the last few days of his life, he had trouble getting a firm grip with one of his feet. Today, when I took my ailing Coda to the vet, he demonstrated to me that Coda was experiencing the same problem, although not as pronounced as Louie's, since Coda was not yet as sick as Louie was.
The vet said the issue was likely one of the results of a tumor/tumour -- and that this is not uncommon in older birds. Both Coda and Louie were eight years old, at the upper end of the 5-to-8-year typical life expectancy for English budgies.
I am so very sorry for your loss of Louie.... This must of been the hardest thing you have ever had to post here... I am so glad that you did though as it is a learning thing and other people will be able to learn from your story and hopefully other birds will be saved from your Story... Your post will save other budgies and there owners will learn to from your Story... If you get another budgie to love you will no from this if he is sick take him to the vet right away dont say if only it will be to late with if onlys said... You are a kind person and i'm sure you still have a lot of love to give maybe one day you can love another little budgie and make you happy....this could of happened to any one of us... I am glad you posted your story so we all can learn form others... This thread made me so sad I cried.... Poor little budgie I hope he didnt suffer...