Hey there folks, how you holding up? Are you keeping busy during your quaran-time, that’s what I’m calling this, Quaran-time.
***Note: I wrote this this past weekend. I’ve actually written a couple different post drafts but it seems I just can’t get back to them. So hopefully these next couple days I’ll get to that backlog. That said, this is a little long (which one isn’t Elpy?! Lol) but it’s heart felt, little tear jerking, and small taste of my most recent reality.
I really don’t know what “day” this is, day 12, eight, 42? I’ll figure it out for the next post but I like not knowing right now.
Last week was kind of a tough week. Okay no it was a tough week. My emotions were certainly on the low end of the spectrum. As I think I’ve mentioned before, my anxiety causes me to worry a lot, A LOT. Coming in to this whole debacle I’ve really been trying to manage my anxiety and not worry as much. I’d say I’ve had some success thus far. I’m constantly telling myself NOT to worry. So when the world flipped upside down and required me to WORRY MORE I can’t say it didn’t piss me off. Worry more? You want me to worry more? Wash or sanitize my hands ALL THE TIME?
Cases are exploding in my state. The rational part of me knows this is because they’ve dramatically increased testing. In the beginning they were only running tests out of a state run lab and I think their capacity was about 100 or so a day. Then they allowed testing at other labs as well as hospitals. We went from about 80 cases to over 300 in 24 hours. Now we’re over 17k. Again, I know this virus has been around a lot longer than we’ve been reacting to it, that loads more people have it than we even know. There should be no surprise surrounding these numbers. But that does not change the rational fear that this is happening at all. That does not change that these numbers are shocking. Here in the United States, I think we thought we were invincible.
While my emotions rolled down the hill, the news came in that we might be looking at 100k deaths, and that’s not the worst case. I will explain quickly that I’m choosing not to report the whole statistic. This is not because I want to paint a rosier picture or downplay the situation. I believe in dealing with facts but I know you’re not here reading this because you’re looking for coronavirus facts and statistics. I’m spooked and I don’t want to zero in on all that right now. As much as the facts freak me out I make a point to listen and read to stay up to date. This post is just catching you up and sharing my experience.
Hearing those statistics made me vulnerable to a little bit of a breakdown. Nothing serious, just some real crying and strong anxiety about what 100k deaths could look like. Me and my emotions hit a rock at the bottom of the hill and flew over the handlebars! How close will this come to the circles in my life?
The following morning, after waking up throughout the night, I got up and … looked at Facebook. I don’t think this is a healthy practice, going straight to social media like that but on that day I’m glad I did even if the news was devastating. I found out that the veterinarian, Dr. Peter Sakas, who I’d been taking my birds to for about 12 years had passed away, had been killed by the virus. I could not believe what I was reading. There he was, smiling in all the posted photos, this person I didn’t know well but trusted as an important part of “my team”. I trusted him implicitly with my two birds. If I had to drive hours to bring them to him so be it. Dr. Sakas knew his shit, and every one of us who knew him knows that.
Let me take a second to tell you I have two parrots. An almost 24 year old African Gray Parrot and an 18 year old Umbrella Cockatoo, both males. You already probably know I love birds but it breaks my heart to have them in cages. However the reality is this, they are not meant to be captive and yet as captives I have to keep them safe. In my case that means keeping them in cages. I do not condone the breeding of captive parrots for the pet trade, particularly medium to large birds. They belong free. Given that these creatures should spend hours a day flying from roost to feeding locations back to roost, preening their flock-mates, vocalizing to and between each other, watching for predators, creating nest cavities, and raising their young among so many other things, they are not well suited to life indoors. As such they are high maintenance, in my humble opinion.
This is not to say that parrots can’t live happy lives with their human companions. I’m not poo-pooing on all the parrot households out there like life with a bird in the house is just hard but it’s not without it’s challenges. They are rewarding companions, certainly unlike any other pet, but I would say they require more specialized care. And I know a lot of bird owners that would agree.
What’s my point? Not just any veterinarian is suited to care for a bird. A lot will say they see birds, but being willing to see them and being a specialist are two different things. I know a couple other vets who aren’t specialists and don’t seem to see a lot of birds but they can provide the basic care for sure. Just had to take my Gray in because he was sneezing a lot. They did what’s called a gram stain, swab his choana (let’s just call it throat) and cloaca (the rear end cavity for “urine” and feces, like in reptiles and amphibians as well). We mammals on the other hand tend to have separate mechanisms for the different types of waste. He does have a bit of an infection in his choana and is now on antibiotics. This particular woman veterinarian is very nice and knowledgeable. She does a good job for sure. My hat is off to her for the care she provides, her desire to learn more and especially for her to keep going to work. Veterinarians are on the front lines as well, let’s not forget that. And so it is with all due respect that I say no one is a stand in for Dr. Sakas. He was still my go to, and if things got serious, we got in the car.
So taking my birds to the vet is a little nerve wracking for me unless it’s pretty basic. I knew though that Dr. Sakas was an expert. Who knows how many birds were under his care. I’ve never been in one place and seen that many birds outside of a show or rescue. I can tell you that there are people who rescue birds who took all their birds to him, wild or pet. I can tell you I heard a story that a man drove hours in a Corvette to bring a turkey in to see him. It meant everything to me to know when I took my birds to see him I was taking them to a an expert. I was doing the best I could for them putting them in the hands of a man who knew and loved what he was doing. Dr. Sakas said he never worked a day in his life because he loved what he did so he didn’t see it as work. But work work work he did.
Please know as you read this that nothing I say is meant as a slight at any other doctor. I’m very comfortable visiting my local vet for check-ups, questions, and even emergencies, like one bird bit the other or what’s up with his toe (yes x-ray shows he has arthritis). It’s just that Dr. Sakas was an extraordinary person. His commitment to his patients and their parents/caregivers went above and beyond.
The fact that he is now gone. That the clinic moves on with life without him – my heart goes out to his family, friends, and colleagues for the hole that’s now in their life – is hard to grasp. Of all the people…of all the people… Someone online said he was the St. Francis of our time. My vote’s in for that too. This news was a shitty blow. Even though it was April 1st, there was no fooling around with this. That day started with a broken heart’s song of tears and mourning.
And so it is I’m going to leave this post here. It’s long enough and well I think you get the point. That week, last week, was a hard week. Dr. Sakas was the first and hopefully only breach the virus has made in my circle. He was a good, good person and fantastic doctor. I can only hope you’ve had the pleasure of knowing him or knowing someone who cares for your non-human (and human) family the way he did mine. I told my inner circle (in texts) about his death, sharing the message I saw with photos. My cousin called me to console me. We chatted and philosophized. Then deep in my soul I knew I had to pull myself together and get through this.
I pulled out my yoga mat and streamed a video, a great yoga fusion video, from yogadownload.com. I grounded myself. I let the movement, strenuous and soothing, enlighten me and my body. I prayed for my friend and his loved ones. I picked myself up and got on with my day. All the while thinking about those we’ve lost and how we owe it to them to keep going and be stronger for them and because of them. Dr. Sakas worked really hard, he kept going and going like the Energizer bunny.
To Dr. Sakas, wherever you are, thank you. From the bottom of my heart and soul, thank you for the care you provided my boys and the peace of mind you gave me. Your family said you said you’d never retire, and so you didn’t. Cheers my friend.