BAYADA Keeps Royce Rolling

Royce and his wife

Dedicated teamwork keeps Royce and his family living life to the fullest

As young newlyweds in 2010, Royce and Natalie were excited to start their life together. They shared a great love for each other and the outdoors, looking forward to many years of new and exciting adventures. But, just four months into their marriage, they received news that would alter their plans forever: Royce’s recent muscle weakness and bouts of falling were caused by ALS.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – also called Lou Gehrig’s disease – is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that damages motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Eventually, the motor neurons die, causing the body to become paralyzed. People with ALS progressively lose control of their muscles, including those used to breathe. Currently, ALS is an incurable, terminal disease.

Royce and Natalie met this devastating diagnosis with resolve and a commitment to staying active and living their lives to the fullest, regardless of how much time they have together. In fact, shortly after being diagnosed, Royce shared on his blog, Journey on with Royce, that his number one goal is staying alive for many years to come.

Throughout their first year of marriage, Natalie not only took on the new role as Royce’s wife, but also his primary caregiver. Being a neurotrauma ICU nurse, Natalie had the skills and experience to care for Royce. However, after they welcomed their daughter, Lillian, in 2012, they both realized that Royce needed more care than working mom Natalie could provide. That’s when they contacted BAYADA Home Health Care.

Having a professional caregiver in their home was a big change for them, but Natalie had worked for BAYADA in the past and knew it was the right choice. Natalie shares, “The anticipation of the first day with an aide was almost unbearable, but when I opened the door, there was a familiar face looking back at me.” Rebecca, Royce’s BAYADA Home Health Aide, knew Natalie from a service trip to Ecuador they had been on together. Natalie shares “Rebecca, with her experience and ‘go-getter’ attitude, made the transition for Royce an easy one.”

Rebecca quickly became Royce’s constant companion and has helped the family through many adjustments in his care. When Royce reached a point where he needed additional care services, he and Natalie contacted Nick, the director of their local BAYADA office, and he matched them up with BAYADA Home Health Aide, Pam. Natalie and Royce were thrilled with how she fit with their family, “Pam has an ease to her that is familiar and calming.”

Going above and beyond - together

Thanks to the teamwork of Rebecca and Pam, Royce remains very active, despite having ALS. In addition to assisting him with his daily activities, Rebecca and Pam go above and beyond for Royce, helping him with his exercises, which include lifting weights and riding his trike an average of over 50 miles per week! He shares, “Neither of them rode bikes prior to becoming my aide. They are amazing in that way. They will go along with any crazy idea I have in order to maintain my health or raise awareness about ALS.”

Pam and Rebecca traveled to Florida for the Ride2Recovery “Gulf Coast Challenge;” participated in several Walks to Defeat ALS and cycling events; took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with Royce; helped him create his non-profit Active Reconnect; and are currently training for the 2014 ALS Connect Tour.

Natalie says, “Pam and Rebecca have been an integral part of keeping Royce active and dreaming. They have kept the adventurous spirit that I love about him alive. We have become teammates, friends, and most importantly, family.”

Caring for the whole family

Both Royce and Natalie have developed a deep sense of trust in Rebecca and Pam, which has allowed Natalie to be able to live her life, as well. She works two jobs, is as an amateur triathlete, and is busy keeping up with their rambunctious toddler. Royce says, “The only reason why she is able to do all of this and not lose her sanity, is because of the support that we receive from Pam and Rebecca. Her life is only possible because she knows that her husband and home will be properly taken care of while she’s away.”

Royce believes that BAYADA has given his family a better quality of life – one that is less affected by ALS, with more meaning and purpose. “BAYADA's care services lift the burden that would be weighing so heavily on my wife and other family members. It gives us more time together for enjoying the aspects of life that should be enjoyed,” says Royce. “Without the help we receive from BAYADA, our lives would be far different, and most likely not nearly as enjoyable. I only wish that every family affected by a motor neuron disease could have access to the same kinds of services we receive from BAYADA.”

“Without BAYADA, our life wouldn't be as full as it is.”
— Natalie, wife of client Royce