Medical bills have piled up, but Trudy Tappan would do anything for Charlie.
Trudy Tappan rests a grey-feathered bird on her chest after administering three types of medicine into his black beak. As she pets the African Grey, he calms down and stops squirming. The medicine is done until tomorrow, and soon he’ll get a peanut for his reward.
“I’ve had birds since I was five. That’s my purpose in life: to take care of birds.”
- Trudy Tappan, Palm Coast resident
Charlie is a special bird to Tappan. They bonded instantly when he arrived at Baiata Bird Sanctuary in Palm Coast in November 2016.
“It’s interesting: the Greys pick one (person) they like,” she said. “The Cockatoos and the Greys pick me.”
Charlie had 12 seizures leading up to Hurricane Irma’s arrival, then became better until Sunday, Sept. 24, when he started seizing again. Tappan knew Charlie had suffered from nasal issues early in life, but the seizures made her nervous. She said he would have a blank stare in his eyes, his left leg would extend and he would start shaking.
“It was very scary to watch,” she said. “He would be at risk for falling, so I held him through all of them. I slept with him on my chest for two nights. He cuddled a lot.”
After a consultation with an avian vet in DeLand, Tappan took Charlie to the emergency room at a University of Florida hospital where he was admitted and medicated for seizures. He was evaluated through blood tests, exams and a CAT scan under anesthesia to determine the cause of the seizures. The fungus in his sinus cavity was removed in surgery, but some of it had made its way to his brain, causing the seizures.
The procedures and tests have added up to $1,500 worth of hospital bills and about $1,000 worth of medication, which Tappan will give Charlie twice a day for four months to rid the fungus from his neurological system, as well as to keep the seizures from happening again.
While she doesn’t have any children, Tappan helps care for the eight birds at the sanctuary, including her beloved Charlie, as if they are her own feathered kin.
“I’ve had birds since I was five,” she said. “That’s my purpose in life: to take care of birds.”
Tappan is looking to the community for support. Those interested can donate on the GoFundMe account Tappan created to help Charlie: gofundme.com/Charlie-the-Grey.