Sign King, preacher, musician, husband, father… Rocky Cobler has been many things in his life! One thing he never planned on was needing a liver transplant at the age of 61. Rocky’s health problems began over six years ago when he was diagnosed with dermatomyositis, a rare auto-immune disorder that causes severe skin issues, weakness, and loss of muscle mass. Rocky endured six years of aggressive treatment which limited his ability to work and enjoy his hobbies. In April 2016, doctors discovered one of these medications had caused severe liver damage and on August 16th he was placed on the active transplant waiting list at the University of VA Medical Center.
Rocky is well-known for being a generous Christian man who has spent years giving back to his community and those in need, particularly those who are unemployed or struggling with substance abuse. Rocky has been hospitalized for over 65 days since April. His family has spent countless hours at his bedside, sleeping for weeks in a tiny hospital room. Rocky’s liver cannot filter fluid correctly, which has resulted in fluid retention in the lungs which needs to be drained several times a month. Rocky has endured countless procedures, including being placed on a ventilator., and will likely remain in the hospital until he has the transplant.
January 16, 2017
Dear Family and Friends,
Christmas has come and gone, New Years is just around the corner. This is a time traditionally used for reflection and making plans for the new year ahead. Obviously 2016 has not been one of my favorites and I have spent a great deal of it in prayer for Rocky and my family. So much has happened that I can’t wrap my head around it. I feel like we have been swept up and thrown into a raging river fighting to catch a breath of air. There have been many times that I have felt like I can’t do this any more and no doubt Rocky has felt this way just as much or more. But then you take a breath, wipe away the tears and keep going.
I wanted to take a moment to let each of you know how much your love and support have meant to all of us. Your words of encouragement, cards, phone calls, visits, support, help and unceasing prayer continues to propel us forward. It is a very humbling experience to be the recipient of such overwhelming love and support. We have received encouragement and support from family and friends across the United States, hometown friends, coworkers, our church family and even from people we have never met. After staying with Rocky for two months in the hospital I came home to find that a group of friends had taken over the yard work and continued until the end of the season. When I needed a truck to transport a recliner for Rocky to sleep in, it was at the store before I could finish paying for the chair and help was waiting at the house to unload it when I got home. Many friends made the 3 hour round trip to Baptist Hospital and the 6 hour round trip to UVA, some came more than once. I can’t count the number of people who have come by to pray with and for Rocky and the number of churches who have him on their prayer list. It would be impossible to repay each of you for all you have done, however I have been inspired to follow your example. To help when there is a need without being asked, to take the time to visit, to offer encouragement or provide a meal. I’m guilty of thinking about doing something for someone but I’m not sure if it’s the right thing or the right time and then the need has passed. You have shown me that there is no wrong time or wrong thing, it’s the love behind it that matters the most and it may be the exact thing needed at that exact moment.
I also wanted to give you an update on Rocky. He is currently on the transplant list and his MELD score is 22. MELD scores come from blood work and can go up and down. A score of 24-26 is typical for getting a liver offer at UVA. Back during the summer when Rocky was first listed and in ICU he had a MELD score of 28. At that time they said he would have a liver in a matter days or weeks. Unfortunately he had a heart attack and was put on hold until he could be taken off of blood thinners. He is active on the list again and is in better health. He is at home and has not been hospitalized in the last two months! At this stage of liver disease his liver will not recover and doctors are just managing the effects and trying to prevent further damage to the rest of his body. Most recently Rocky has been dealing with stress fractures in his back and constant nausea. He has lost about 60 pounds and has very little muscle left so he works with a physical therapist twice a week to be as strong as he can for transplant. The other major problem is the reason we found out about his liver, extra fluid builds up and usually stays in the abdomen but Rocky’s fluid goes directly to his right lung. He has to have the fluid drawn out in order to breath. Sometimes he may go for a month before he needs to have it drawn but it has also been as little as three days. When Rocky does have his transplant surgery he will be in the hospital for a minimum of two weeks and full recovery usually takes twelve months.
As we continue on this journey we are thankful for your love and support. Hopefully next year at this time Rocky will have a new liver and will be making plans for our retirement years! No matter what happens, we know that God is with us and with him we can face anything. We are praying for you and your family’s health, safety and happiness in 2017.
With much love,
Vickie, Rocky, Sarah and Nick
September 27, 2016
We’re home!!! Rocky was released from the hospital on Sunday. We are very happy to be home, but a little nervous. I am hoping to return to work next week but we are, as always, taking it one day at a time. We are hoping to remain at home until a match is found for transplant, but the doctors have warned us to expect frequent hospitalizations before and after transplant. We want to say thank you to everyone who has been praying for us and has made generous donations. No one is ever prepared for something like this. We are looking forward to the upcoming fundraisers being organized by our dear family friend Karen Conner and our daughter Sarah. You can see the details for their events under “Fundraising Activities”.
Photo Galleries (1)
January 3, 2018
Love you Vickie, Rocky and kids.
Nikki Williams Renth: Vickie’s bf from high school in Alaska.
January 20, 2017
Praying for you Rocky. You have done so much for BHS Class of 1973. Get well soon. Dickie
September 27, 2016
Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.
September 14, 2016
You're in my prayers! Get well soon. Robin