Today we meet Tomoko from Osaka, Japan and her dog Rodem, the Minature Schnauzer. Rodem is paralyzed in her hind legs as a result of a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE). FCE is a condition in which a piece of fibrous cartilage obstructs the blood supply to the spinal cord, typically occurring during physical activity causing neurons in the spinal cord to die off.
Could you describe your life with Rodem?
As Rodem is paralysed he cannot go to the toilet without assistance. By no means does this make him unhappy, it's just a little inconvenient. His bladder is managed using a catheter which we empty at 7am and 7pm. We manage his bowel by stimulating his anus with a cotton swab which encourages him to go to the toilet.
We closely manage the amount of water and food according to how hot the weather is and also how active Rodem is that day. Generally we find that we don't have any leaks if we are getting this balance right. This means that normally we don't need to use diapers. However, sometimes Rodem gets cystitis at which point we switch to using diapers.
We enjoy a normal life together. We go for walks around the hills with Rodem in his wheelchair or to the local park with the rest of the family. Sometimes we go to the shopping mall where dogs are welcome in Japan. On weekends he enjoys a ride in the car to the countryside.
At night Rodem sleeps on the same futon as me. Sometimes we can have trouble with the diapers staying on. We've worked out that if we put on clothes for a human baby this helps keep the diaper in place. Clothes without sleeves and with buttons in the crotch seem to work best.
A dog always has a positive character. Although both the owner and the dog are initially bewildered by the change, they both get used to the new way of life. After making it through the initial shock our bond has deepened.
See how Rodem is doing now by heading to his Instagram page @tomoko.f