Before receiving DBS, Roden was taking as many as 30 pills a day. Now he is down to about three, and attributes his ability to complete the ride largely to the treatment.
Jagid urges patients not to wait or to view DBS as a last resort.
“This is a treatment that will improve quality of life early in the disease,” he said.
Roden, who grew up in Pembroke Pines and Miami and graduated from Cooper City High School, spent 37 years working in the fitness industry. He met his wife of five years when she was a client at Olympia Gym in Aventura. Since then, she has become a personal trainer.
Roy said Lynn was the impetus for the trip. A free spirit who grew up in Alabama and has lived abroad, she had always wanted to go on a long-distance ride. And at 40, with two teenagers now living with her ex-husband in Brazil, she said she felt like she was at a turning point.
“We’ve had so much fun, and even when bad things happened, we got through them,” she said. “It was all part of the experience.”
In fact, they said their marriage grew stronger on the trip, along with their muscles.
“We’re much closer than we ever were,” Roy said.
Their route took them along the Pacific Coast Highway south to San Diego. Then, they stayed parallel to Interstate 10, heading home across California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and finally, to Florida.
From state to state, Roy held speaking engagements and made new friends. In Texas, the town of Frisco named Feb. 5 Parkinson’s disease and Roy Roden Day.
“People along the way were just angels,” Roy said. “They restored my faith in mankind.”
In New Mexico, a bike club even offered to escort them to the next town.
“It was almost like Forrest Gump — people would ride with us,” Roy said.
In preparation for the trip, the Rodens sold much of their belongings, and traded others. They exchanged their Jeep for a 27-foot, 1969 Airstream. Lynn’s brother drove it part of the time, and a newfound friend drove it for another part.
Now, they’ll pack up their remaining belongings and move west. They plan to spend winters in Tucson, Ariz., — where they will work at a Parkinson’s wellness center — and summers in Westport, Calif. to work at a KOA campground, where they stayed on the trip. Roy will also become an “ambassador” for Medtronic, the maker of his Deep Brain Stimulation device.
First, they are buying a tandem bicycle to keep on riding.
“I really haven’t finished,” Roy said upon his return. “We’re just getting started.”
Added Lynn: “We’re looking forward to many more quality years, and we hope to do our part for Parkinson’s research.”