I am Dave Roberts, I am 42 years old and suffer from Ulcerative Colitis. I was diagnosed with the disease on February 14, 2014, Valentine’s Day. Looking back and being honest with myself, I was having symptoms that were associated with the disease at least a few years ahead of diagnosis, but they were never severe enough to warrant any further investigation from my doctors. My symptoms reached the point where I pushed my doctors to look into things further after a family trip during December 2013 when I felt stomach pains, tell-tale symptoms and extreme fatigue. I was recommended to a GI doctor who scheduled me for a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy procedure. Leading up to my procedure I didn’t have any idea what Ulcerative Colitis was. I had convinced myself, through extensive internet research that I had colon cancer and that was what my mind was focused on. I remember waking up from my GI procedure and hearing no polyps or tumors and that was when I stopped listening. On the car ride home I commented to my wife, Gabrielle, how I was “all clear” and we would have to figure out what was going on. She reminded me that was not in fact the case and told me the doctor found “Colitis” and they were doing further work to determine what was going on. When I got home I literally had to do an internet search to find out what it was. On the day I was officially diagnosed, I was presented with the diagnosis by a PA and not my doctor, given a pamphlet of information on Ulcerative Colitis and a prescription with no further information. I was completely lost! Being diagnosed with what is a lifelong disease in the middle of your life, unexpectedly, is hard enough but when you literally have no reference point on what it is or what it means, that makes it even harder.
In the coming weeks and months I took my prescription as instructed and my symptoms got better but honestly never went away. I scoured the internet obsessively, daily for information about Ulcerative Colitis and found CCFA which was a great source of information for me. I, however, was in complete denial about the diagnosis. In the fall of 2014 I switched doctors and wanted a second opinion, which was the best decision I made. I found my current GI doctor who not only reinforced that the diagnosis was correctly Ulcerative Colitis, but he was also a better fit for me as my doctor to help me through this journey of having IBD. I cannot underscore the importance of having a great GI doctor to help you with this disease.
I work as a Certified Public Accountant for a CPA firm in Simsbury, CT as a Partner in our audit practice. During January 2015, I learned about some significant changes at work. As I was going through this, I learned the value of not letting the stresses of life get to you. For the entire month of January 2015 I was under the daily kind of stress you feel in every ounce of your body. The byproduct of this is that by the end of January 2015 I was experiencing significant symptoms from my disease. As my doctor instructed, I called him right away and we made some adjustments to my medication in the coming weeks which did not make much of an impact. My GI doctor got me in right away for a colonoscopy and the news was not good. My Ulcerative Colitis was now impacting approximately 2/3 of my colon. Starting in April 2015, I was put on a biologic drug which provided me with immediate improvement. Since Starting the biologic drug I have been doing well with my Ulcerative Colitis.
The experience with the extreme stress and getting into my worst flare yet taught me that I really needed to examine how I deal with the stresses of my job and life in general. I have since tried to take steps to become a more positive person and not process things in a manner that make them more stressful for me. Stress management is a very important factor with IBD and I think I have been successful in making progress in processing things differently and being more positive.
As a busy professional who travels regularly and an active person, I have never let having Ulcerative Colitis completely stop me from doing anything. My work has taken me to over 30 states in the US and last year required regular trips to Grand Cayman to help my firm set up an office and help build out our practice. I am a regular speaker at both client and national engagements for my profession. I can honestly tell you that giving a presentation to a client in the middle of a flare on a full dose of steroids and keeping your composure can be a rather difficult experience, but I have done it! In my free time I enjoy fitness, mountain biking, kayaking and other outdoor activities. My family and I also love to travel and spend time in the Berkshires and on the Florida Gulf Coast.
I am thankful every day for the support of my wife Gabrielle, my daughter, Melinda my sister and parents and my great friends. I have made supporting CCFA my mission to give back, help and give hope to people who may be like I was post diagnosis, lost and looking for answers. 2017 will be the third year I have had a team for the Greater Hartford Take Steps walk. I am honored to have been nominated to the CCFA Connecticut Chapter board during November 2016. I am even more honored to be able to tell my story as one of the Honored Heros for the 2017 Greater Hartford Take Steps walk. I am very open about my disease and believe that discussing it helps. If telling my story helps another IBD patient be more comfortable telling their story that is a win for everyone. IBD is easy to want to hide from but we need to be heard. With discussion comes understanding and, as anyone who suffers with IBD knows, often there is not a level of understanding of our conditions.
It excites me every day to see the ever increasing number of treatment options for IBD patients and I am hopeful some day in my life time to see a cure! Please join me in fighting the daily fight to put an end to IBD.