When MCI Cut His Career As a Prosecutor Short, He Set Out on a New Journey


When gentle cognitive impairment reduce trial lawyer Dale Rivard’s profession in regulation quick, he began a satisfying new chapter.

For Dale Rivard, training regulation and dealing as a trial lawyer was his calling. Rivard’s analysis of gentle cognitive impairment (MCI) in 2017, nevertheless, spelt an finish to his job as a prosecutor and assistant state’s lawyer in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The analysis was heartbreaking for Rivard and his household.

About 5 years on, Rivard, 64, stated the underlying reason behind his MCI stays unclear, and his situation is progressing. However as he displays on his expertise so far, Rivard stated is grateful for all of the help he has obtained from family members and others on the identical path. By sharing his story, he hopes that these have an effect on by MCI, and Alzheimer’s and associated dementias can see past the devastation of a analysis. As a part of our LiveTalk sequence, Being Affected person speaks with Rivard about his profession in regulation, the early signs of MCI that he skilled, and the way he has tailored to a satisfying new chapter of his life.

Being Affected person: Inform us about your skilled background.

Dale Rivard: I’ve been fortunate, I’ve to say. I’ve farmed for just a few years. I labored in administration, after which I went to regulation college later in life. I used to be capable of begin with the state’s lawyer’s workplace. I liked what I did. Some folks actually don’t discover out what they actually wish to do. I used to be so blessed, as a result of I liked what I did. I [was] representing the state of North Dakota. I labored within the civil division, however I additionally did some prison [law]. I did a bit of bit of kid help. I [worked on the] dedication of sexually harmful people, planning and zoning. I did juvenile regulation, termination of parental rights. It was all kinds. 

Additional on, I had different attorneys report back to me as properly within the civil division. It was so incredible. I labored with the very best folks … For me, being a trial lawyer was my life. Even on the weekends, I’d ensure that I used to be on name in case one thing would occur. I’d be one of many first ones to go for a search warrant. I’d go on trip and I at all times say, ‘God, it’d be so good to get away for some time,’ [and] after a day or two, I’d be calling the workplace, making an attempt to determine [how] my circumstances had been going, what’s subsequent. 

I used to be at all times on, however I liked it. I used to be actually blessed to seek out an occupation that I really loved.

Being Affected person: What finally led to your MCI analysis?

Dale Rivard: I fell on the ice and I hit my head. Nevertheless I started working, I don’t know. However at work, I collapsed, they usually introduced me to the hospital. They did plenty of checks they usually couldn’t fairly determine what was incorrect. I began having this fog which might come over me, and I couldn’t do away with this fog. I used to be dizzy. We couldn’t determine or decide what was really happening.

They referred me to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. After plenty of checks and quite a few mind scans, they made that willpower of gentle cognitive impairment. The neurologist got here in and he checked out me and stated, ‘You have got gentle cognitive impairment.’ Naturally I stated, ‘Properly, gentle, that’s nothing. What do I must do? You bought some medicine?’ He stated, ‘You don’t fairly perceive.’ For him, it was a prelude to Alzheimer’s, and he stated, ‘Your profession is over efficient as we speak. You might be finished.’ I stated, ‘Properly, I don’t fairly perceive.’ He stated, ‘Ethically, you may’t apply regulation.’ 

I instructed my employer that I used to be finished. That was fully devastating. My life was regulation. That is what I used to be. Impulsively you get up and also you not go to the workplace. Earlier than, folks could be calling on a regular basis, after which it simply stopped. 

I knew issues had been going incorrect [before the fall]. Earlier than I had my hearings, I began to put in writing down who could be within the courtroom: the identify of the decide, the protection lawyer. If I had a authorized assistant subsequent to me that I’d be coaching or one other lawyer, I’d write their names down as a result of I couldn’t bear in mind their names. I look again at it, it was type of embarrassing, however I knew I used to be having issues. These had been those who I’d see day by day … 

[I had] Put up-its in every single place to jog my reminiscence. In the direction of the top, I used to be struggling. I knew it. I knew one thing was happening, however I didn’t know what it was. 

Being Affected person: How did your colleagues, household and associates react to your analysis?

Dale Rivard: It’s so odd, as a result of there’s a stigma about this. That’s one of many causes that I’m right here. I wish to erase that stigma as a result of there’s lots of people like me that reside with it. 

For my colleagues, there’s a pair that remained in contact however not very many. It was this sense like they didn’t wish to get too shut. They didn’t wish to discuss to me. There was this sense like they could get it, such as you acquired some type of communicable illness. I imply, these are clever folks; they understand it’s not true, nevertheless it’s simply this sense on the market. They really feel that you just’re much less of an individual due to it.

For my household, I bear in mind on the best way residence from Mayo driving residence, my spouse and I cried the complete six hours as a result of it was so devastating. Particularly that first six months after my analysis, I declined rather a lot. I didn’t suppose I’d make it a yr, however lo and behold with a few of the medicine to assist with the signs and the help I’ve had, I’m nonetheless right here. I’m simply amazed. 

Being Affected person: You talked about that training regulation was your life. Following the MCI analysis, how have you ever stuffed that void and proceed to reside a full life to the extent doable?

Dale Rivard: After I acquired my analysis, I didn’t know the place to go. The very first thing I did was I went on-line and I appeared up the Alzheimer’s Affiliation. I known as them and it was the very best name I ever made. [The Alzheimer’s Association connected me with] a singing group right here in Grand Forks, North Dakota very near me and it was known as The Unforgettables. I known as and began with the group … We get collectively as soon as per week. The primary hour or 45 minutes is simply speaking with different folks with Alzheimer’s or associated dementias. Singing is at all times secondary. It’s this communication and discovering different folks on the market which are having the identical or related issues. You’re sharing data so that you don’t really feel fairly so alone. 

With the Alzheimer’s Affiliation I used to be fortunate sufficient to be a part of a few teams. They maintain you lively. Simply getting concerned with folks in the identical state of affairs actually helps. Then in fact, I used to be fairly open about it. Some persons are very closed. I do know those who have a analysis they usually simply go away. It’s simple to fall again, to activate the TV and never take part in life, nevertheless it actually isn’t a lot enjoyable. 

“I used to be at all times fairly robust in my religion, however now much more so.
It’s like one other world opens up. I not take into consideration
work or court docket circumstances or any of these issues. I feel extra
about my household, my church, my kids, my grandchildren.”

It’s important to push your self. By pushing your self, you delay the inevitable as a result of everyone knows the place it’s going. I wish to get as a lot out of life as I presumably can. I’m fortunate sufficient to have a beautiful spouse who helps me. I’ve kids. I’ve been blessed by having this grounding drive that surrounds me. That basically helps me in every part that I do. I nonetheless attempt to do as a lot as doable. Some issues I can’t [do]. Even in church, I’ve had to surrender fairly a bit … however that’s okay. 

Being Affected person: Individuals have described the expertise of descending right into a darkish gap following a analysis. I used to be questioning whether or not you may provide your perspective for folk who’re in that darkish place? How are you going to pull your self up throughout darkish moments?

Dale Rivard: I’ve my spouse and he or she’s mainly my rock. I don’t suppose she’d let me get too far in that darkish gap. Understanding that there’s somebody that’s on the market that also loves you makes a giant distinction. 

I do know it sounds odd, [there’s] your religion. I used to be at all times fairly robust in my religion, however now much more so. It’s like one other world opens up. I not take into consideration work or court docket circumstances or any of these issues. I feel extra about my household, my church, my kids, my grandchildren. It type of places every part into perspective.

Being Affected person: Any final ideas so as to add?

Dale Rivard: Simply don’t surrender. When you’ve got a analysis like this, or in case your vital different has a analysis like this, maintain them concerned, maintain them engaged, put them on the market. Deal with them as folks. Deal with them as [people with a] regular incapacity [like] anyone else. 

The interview has been edited for size and readability.

Contact Nicholas Chan at [email protected]