Maurice Leclerc considers himself ‘lucky’. The 84-year old has five children and four grandchildren and numerous close friends. He was married for 25 years to the ‘loveliest person’ he’s ever met. He loved his job so much he worked till age 77.
A year into retirement, Maurice was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The deadly disease is robbing Maurice of mobility. To get around and maintain his balance, he leans heavily on grab bars and walls. His wheelchair breaks his imprisonment granting him the freedom to visit with friends and family.
The disease is slowing him down, but it hasn’t stopped him. Not by a long shot.
Maurice is a regular at the Society’s monthly Interactive Group Meetings when health professionals provide information and coping tips or those living with ALS talk about their struggles. He is also speaks six or eight times a year at ALS events. He describes his journey with the disease to donors and the newly diagnosed.
The gift of sleep
One thing Maurice struggles with is sleeplessness. Like many living with ALS, Maurice endures tremendous pains in his legs and arms due to muscle cramps. On nights when the pain is unbearable, Maurice makes his way to his reclining rocking chair and finds relief and an extra hour or two of sleep. The Society loaned the recliner to Maurice through its Technical Aid Program which gives those living with ALS access to free equipment that improves their quality of life but is not provided free under the provincial health-care system.
“I have tremendous appreciation for the Society and its staff. When I call they listen. They help me make decisions. It is a form of therapy,” he says. “I have never been told: ‘Sorry, there is nothing we can do for you.’ Even if my problem is complicated, they find the answer or suggest a solution.”
Despite, everything Maurice says, “Life is beautiful. I’ve been lucky enough to cope with this disease for six years. God is helping me. And with the support of the ALS Society of Quebec, I am winning.”