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30 November 2007 @ 10:30 pm
intro and all that  
I am Nicole, better known at pickleboot.

I have complex chronic intractable migraines, something like fibromyalgia, and am in the middle of enrolling in a study to see if I have a rare form of MS that does not show up in normal studies but in nerve and muscle biopsies. Fun, really. I also write a blog for healthcentral.com about living with chronic pain. I walk with a cane most of the time because the migraines have caused my left side to be incredibly weak and I fall way too much for my own comfort. My son, Zane, is autistic, and also has sensory intergration disorder. My daughter also has it to some degree, just not as badly as her brother. To be honest, my husband and I also have it, so the four of us make for an interesting family. Our house is definitely set up for a family who cannot stand odd sensations- none of us can stand anything but natural fabrics, so we have to hunt down specific things like pajamas and the like that are either silk or cotton. My son and I are also allergic to latex, which means that we can't have carpet in the house, which is fine by all of us- we honestly prefer hardwood floors. It makes having kids and animals easier, too.

We have a small zoo, as well. We have six cats- Scuro, or Chiarascuro, a black and white Maine Coon. He is somewhere between 12 and 16 years old and a rescue. Druzy(named after the quartz) is 10 and a huge black moggy, and thinks he is still a kitten. Peokoe is the old lady, and is 14. I got her from a friend's grandfather's farm, and she has been with me through lots. Chloe is 4 and is a calico, we got her as a kitten. Stoli is 4 as well- she was dumped at a friend's farm with her litter mates and followed our son around and we could not leave her behind when we left as she was trying to follow our car home that night. She came home with us and has been here ever since. She is Zane's cat and puts up with his sensory seeking behavior in a way that is absolutely amazing from a cat. She never complains or lashes out at him, and allows him to carry him around like a rag doll. She really is a special animal. Last but not least of the cats is Opal, or Mopal as my daughter Reidun, calls her. She is 14 months old and a tabby. One of her parents was a persian, the other a tabby, and fortunately she has none of the persian behavior in her. She is the sweetest cat ever, and half the time thinks she is a dog. She follows Rei and I around like a puppy, always has to be near one of us, and loves our dog.

Our dog, Guinness, is a Corgi/Silkie/some other terrier mix. Our vet thinks that there might be some pit in him, but he is really the sweetest dog. He is a humane society dog. The kids and I went to go look one night, and Zane found Guinness and refused to move from the front of his kennel. So we got him out to play with him, and put a deposit down on him. We had just bought our house the month before, and were not planning on getting a dog, but knew that a dog might really help Zane. I had my heart set on a larger dog, I grew up with a border collie, and that is what I thought we would get. But, Zane and Guinness picked each other out, and that was that. He really is the perfect dog for us- he is small but not too small- he looks almost exactly like Benji. In fact, he looks like an overgrown Yorkie- one that is about 20 lbs too big. He is now 6, and just a great dog. He Is a great dog to road trip with, he loves riding in the car, is great in hotel rooms, and is great in camping and all that.

We also have five birds. Our first bird was a Quaker, Verdita. She is the only bird, and the only animal that we did not get from a rescue. That was because we did not know that there was a bird rescue in Minnesota. She is most definitely Reidun's bird. She is a tough bird to handle, but for Rei she will roll over on her back. We also have Sebastian, a 14 year old Nanday Conure. He is a rescue from a place in Wisconsin, and his original owner had him from a hatchling and gave him up just because. He is a wonderful bird. He is incredibly quiet for a conure, and hysterical- he loves my husband to death, and loves to just hang out on his shoulder. Then there is our Timneh African Gray, Isabelle. She is 5 now, and incredibly attached to me. She is a character. She is moody, persnickity, bitchy, you name it. I love her to death. She has a huge vocabulary and beeps at us most of the time when she wants attention. Right now she is not a big fan of my husband for whatever reason. It is frustrating both of us, because if she is out and he is around, she makes a beeline for him and will just beak the ever living day lights out of him.

Our latest additions to our flock are Yoda and Rose. Yoda is Severe Macaw, and he is an absolute doll. He is around 8, and was pretty severely abused before he came here. He is bonded with Rose, a Lilac Crested/Red Lored Amazon Hybrid who is the same age. They were originally part of the same flock as Isabelle. They were sent to live with a friend of the woman I got them from, and she took good care of them for a bit, then left them shut in a room for a period of time that we know was at least 6 months. I have seen pictures of their cages at the end of the time, right before the woman took them back, and Yoda's cage had shit piled up almost to the bottom of his perch, which is about 2 feet from the bottom of the cage. She had not changed the cage at all in that period of time. All she did was feed them and change the water. I am amazed that the poor beebs were not sick from living in their own shit for that long. It has taken a long time to win back Yoda's trust, but he is finally starting to act like a bird again. He is just amazing. He greets us in the morning with "Hi guys!" and says "Good night!" each night. Rose is just a love sponge with terrible allergies. We thought at first that she had an upper respiratory infection, but after several vet visits we determined that she has allergies and a vitamin A and D deficiency. Poor girl. So she is getting Vitamins added to her food and mashes, and is doing much better.

Yoda has had some issues of his own. When he came to us he could not raise his wings at all. We do not clip our birds, mainly because we have the cats and we want them to be able to get away from them should they find themselves in a bad spot, but also because there is nothing better than a bird in flight. But, Yoda could not even flap. So, we did the vet thing, taking him to several specialists for consults. Luckily, they were not charging us for it because it was such an unusual case- which helped us so much. I am happy to report that after many games of toss the bird(no- it is not as mean as it sounds) he is flapping his wings and has flown from fright a few times. Of course, he freaked himself out so badly the three times he has done it that I am not sure that he will repeat it any time soon, but he can do it. It is so funny to listen to him practice flapping when his cage is covered- he will hang on to something with his beak, hold on to his perch, flap away with his wings, all the while muttering "Flap, flap, flap". It is hysterical.

I will say that having the birds especially seems counterintuitive for someone with chronic migraines, but their noises do not bother me. When my head is at it's worst, it's like the birds know and keep it down. That's not to say that they aren't loud when I am in pain, but it just does not bother me so much anymore. At first, with just Verdita, it did. And it did take a bit of time to get used to having the macaw and amazon here, but to be honest, it just isn't that bad. They just seem to understand. And the dog and cats have been great for my son. And Rose. Rose has been great for Zane. He has wanted nothing more than to have a bird that he can handle with confidence. Rose is just that bird. Rose will happily go off with Zane and help him stack legos- he has trained her to bring him legos from a stack and put them in certain places on his table. He loves that she does that. He loves that he has a bird that he can interact with and go do things with without mom worrying about him getting hurt.

So, that is us in a nutshell. I will try to get photos of the birds at least up soon. I am hoping to get a new camera for the giftmas season coming up, if not, i might have to make due with camera phone pics!