June 6 - Rocky Leer

Today we are sharing the story of Rocky Leer, who is #MakingitPossible with his family and friends to live each day with hope and optimism. Read his story below!

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"Hello my name is rocky and this is our story. I say our story because thank God I'm not going through this alone. I was blessed into a large caring family great friends and have made some wonderful new friends that support each other in our individual journeys.

February of 2016 is where things started. Like a lot of people that year, layoffs caught up with me and I was out of a job at 52 years old and within a month I developed a slight limp on my right leg. At first I wasn’t worried at all; I hadn’t gone more than three weeks without working my entire life and chalked the limp up to falling on some ice walking the dog. But the limp just got worse and at 52 finding a job was far harder than I ever experienced, and five years prior I went back to school and became a drilling fluids engineer. Going back to school and then my father getting sick with a respiratory illness where he was in foothills ICU for two months had already put us in debt so we sold our house before we lost all equity. Getting back to the limp it wasn’t going away so much for the slipping on ice theory. I went to our doctor in Red Deer, he seemed to think it was a old injury to my back but put me on a waiting list to see a neurologist.

At the same time we decided to make the move to Medicine Hat, something we had thought of doing for awhile because our oldest son lived there with our daughter in law and two of our three Grandkids and after all it sounded like I was going to be fixed with an operation. Things were starting to pick up as I was contacted by my former employer and told to stay in touch things we’re looking up.

But that optimism didn’t last long, I needed a cane to walk I began to fall down and my arms were starting to get so weak I couldn’t pick up my Grandkids. Finally my doctor in Medicine Hat realized this was no back injury. It was over a year since I was put on the waiting list to see a neurologist still no reply now I was being fast tracked. I had checked my symptoms online and ALS was the first thing that came up but I wasn’t experiencing any problems breathing or swallowing so I dismissed it or more accurately wanted to dismiss it I was convinced I had MS.
Like I said I was fast tracked now to do an MRI and see a neurologist and within 20 minutes I was diagnosed with ALS. It was like the world was pulled out from under my feet. When you’re told you will be in a wheelchair and your average life expectancy is 3-5 years it feels deflating and watching the ripple effect on friends and family is heartbreaking as I said we had recently had to watch our father, grandfather and great grandfather go through his terminal illness and my family did not need this at all.

The diagnosis was devastating but for the first time in two years we knew what we were finally dealing with and as crazy as it sounds it was a relief. I hadn’t been able to work now for two years and my EI was done we lost one of our vehicles and had to apply for government assistance.

Now here’s my favourite part of the story, remember the friends and family I was bragging up at the start this is where they come in. The only good thing that came from this whole ordeal was the overwhelming love and support from my friends and family and to say the people at the ALS Society are great is a gross understatement I’m so glad to have them in my corner. And having served in the military, acknowledgment to my military family who without them I wouldn’t have known Canada is the only country in the world who recognizes the link between service and ALS.

And the Royal Canadian Legion who also stepped up now we are working together to help reach other veterans with this disease. Because of all these wonderful people I can enjoy the time I have and have a greater purpose and watch my grandkids grow up. The picture I’ve shared is from the night we were guests of Michael Backlund to a Kings vs Flames game it was the best night we had had in forever. All of us are die-hard fans and it was my Grandson and daughter-in-laws first NHL game I’m planning on taking my other two Grandkids to their first game next season. I’m not sure how to end this except with what I say to fellow ALS warriors and what they say to me and that’s one day at a time and hope, there’s always that."