One Smile At A Time

Geoff Roubik’s job is to make the world a better place, one smile at a time! He is a husband, father and a dentist. He started his dentistry practice in 1991 in Oklahoma City and his practice was growing, creating several jobs for others in the community. He and his wife were thinking about starting a family, as their lives were good in all aspects, except Geoff was more fatigued than he thought he should be and his joints were beginning to ache in his wrists, ankle, and hips.

By 1999, Geoff experienced even more pain and fatigue but attributed it to hard work. His hands and back were especially painful to the point that his staff would notice he was uncomfortable and agitated. He could not stand to wear his rubber gloves and was constantly pulling them off because his hands were stiff and tight.  For years, he just worked through the pain thinking the symptoms were normal for a dentist.  However, he had a dismal outlook on any improvement and feared his career might be threatened.

By 2003 the pain and agitation drove him to see his primary care physician. He shared his symptoms and asked for a full lab check-up. In the back of his mind, Geoff wanted to rule out that he did not have arthritis. On Valentine’s Day of 2003, Geoff received his diagnosis; his lab work showed evidence of Rheumatoid Arthritis.  He was only 40 years old.

He and his wife had two sons, a three-year-old and a 1-year-old.  He was running his own business with several employees who were depending on him.  Feeling overwhelmed and in shock, he told Dr. Carson to “put me on anything he thought would help, but just keep me working so I could get my kids through school.” Geoff was also concerned about the people who worked for him and what would happen to them if he had to close his practice.

Dr. Carson started Geoff on a combined treatment of Methotrexate in pill form and Remicade through infusions. “I felt out of place when I went in for my infusion,” says Geoff. “I was the only 40-year-old dude in a room full of women.”  Rheumatoid Arthritis is three times more likely to affect women, but it can also affect men. Geoff recalled that he had a great grandfather that was very crippled at the end of his life. His mother also died of a difficult autoimmune disease.

Geoff received infusion treatment consistently for about seven years and was surprised about how much better he felt. “I began to feel good again, and I went into remission for about 3 ½ years,” says Geoff. “I even felt good enough to participate in a 2 mile run with friends, but on the day of the race they needed me on their 10k marathon team instead. I couldn’t believe I finished the 10k race!”  The Remicade infusions have truly helped Geoff’s situation. “When you feel good, celebrate it,” says Geoff. “That’s my advice to anyone living with RA.”

Since his diagnosis, Geoff has not missed a day of work in 16 ½ years, but he admits that the pain has returned. Geoff has adjusted his morning routine now, rising earlier to allow up to 90 minutes to get moving before heading to the office. He is also now showing symptoms of psoriasis, another autoimmune disease.

“My staff can always tell when I’m hurting because it shows in my face,” he says. “Sometimes I have a flare, especially in the winter and spring. The pain shows up in my wrist, ankles or hips,” says Geoff. “We work through one dental procedure at a time. If I have to reschedule a patient, that’s what we do.”

“I have accepted the fact that I will be on infusion treatment for the remainder of my life,” says Geoff. “I trust Dr. Carson implicitly and we are managing the pain,” Geoff mentions that he has almost reached his goal; to get his kids through school. Geoff’s oldest son is in college at Oklahoma State University and his youngest son is in his senior year of high school. “My kids are almost through school and that’s what I asked Dr. Carson to help me with.”  But Geoff is also looking forward to more good years with his wife and sons, feeling good and celebrating even more.


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