This past weekend, my family and I were reminded just how amazing our little town is. As some of you already know, my husband, Scottsboro Police Investigations Captain Erik Dohring, was diagnosed on May 9 with Early Onset Dementia Alzheimers (EODA).
Our journey began on October 5, 2022 when Erik became confused on the way to a familiar local restaurant. For those of you who know my husband, this was a huge red flag for me – he’s always been on the top of his game and confusion wasn’t something that was normal for him.
Within a few days, we were sitting in our family doctor’s office. I can still remember the look on Dr. Gabe’s face when we told him the issue. Dr. Gabe was quick to ensure us that he didn’t think it was anything other than stress. At the time, Erik was 50 years old, had no medical issues and was physically fit. However, Dr. Gabe could feel our concern and referred us to The Clinic for Neurology in Huntsville.
After months of tests, in an attempt to rule out EODA, a blood test was completed and confirmed Erik’s diagnosis. We were told that day by the neurologist that he would need to take early retirement immediately. The disease is usually fast-progressing.
Erik has served the city of Scottsboro since 2001. Prior to serving our city, he was an officer with the city of Detroit, Michigan and served in the United States Army. Immediately, I began checking into his retirement and found that the Alabama Retirement System would only allow Erik to choose from two options; take a medical retirement, which would significantly reduce his monthly retirement check, or purchase his time from the State of Michigan or the United States Government at a cost of $20,000 per year. Option one was the only option that could be done. So, our long and ongoing journey of fighting for Social Security Disability began. With that came the long fight of beating this disease.
We began researching ways to fight, to give us more years, months, days or minutes. That’s when we found Neurofeedback Therapy. This therapy has been proven to prolong the progression of EODA. I immediately started a GoFundMe account, and that’s where you guys started stepping in.
Erik is highly respected and loved in his circle of friends, and even by those who he has arrested.
Officer Parker Henegar and Investigator Chris McIllwain approached me about doing a charity softball tournament to help with the cost of the therapy. We knew it would be helpful, but just how much support we received has blown us away. The tournament was held on Saturday, with 19 adult softball teams and a profit of over $12,000.
We will never be able to put into words the gratitude we feel for the love, prayers and support our family has received during this illness. So, thank you to our Scottsboro Police Department family, our families who have supported us daily, our friends who are always there to help us out, and thank you to Jackson County for reminding us just how amazing the people in our county are – something I think is taken for granted often.
One more thing; The new Alzheimer’s medication that was recently released is only available by one neurologist in the entire State of Alabama. This neurologist worked us in for September 2024, but lets all come together and pray for change. Alabama has over 96,000 people living with Alzheimer’s who are over the age of 65, not including those with Early-onset. My family is not the only family trying to get this medication. My family is not the only family who needs to be able to draw a full retirement without being penalized for becoming disabled. Change can happen and if anyone can make it happen, it’s Jackson County.
by Heather Dohring