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A Journey Across the Country

By Devin Hursey

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s/dementia can be a devastating change in a person and their family’s life. Adjusting to new life can seem terrifying. In my experience, it was. Accepting my father’s diagnosis of young onset dementia was and still is a huge adjustment, although it’s opened opportunities I never would’ve had either.

Before my dad’s diagnosis I took the time with my family for granted. I now try to cherish and spend as much time with my family, especially my dad, because life is short. I decided to start travel nursing and took my first assignment out on the west coast in Oregon. This meant packing up my car and road tripping all the way from coast to coast. There was no better choice of who to go with than my father!

The trip required a ton of driving and even days of sketchy snowy conditions. My dad and I made many stops along the way to explore. We stopped in places like Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, and much more. We got to explore many restaurants in the big cities like deep dish pizza in Chicago. Our drive had us spending New Year’s Eve in Denver, where we trekked through snow to go eat and watch some sports and concluded our countdown at a Skydeck lounge to watch fireworks. Although there was a ton of driving each day, it gave my father and I the time to talk and just enjoy each other’s company. I got him started on the Crime Junkies podcast and lots of music stations. Near the end we were able to stop and walk through the gardens in Salt Lake City, and of course could never skip the Ravens game, where we stopped at a pub to watch!

Overall, I can’t even remember all the places we stopped, some for just a quick night’s sleep, and some extended for the day to explore. But I got to spend over a week exploring the country with my dad. We didn’t let his disease hold us back. We made the most of a unique and fun experience, just father and daughter. Something that brings a smile to my face with the fun memories I will cherish for a lifetime.