Just after Thanksgiving six years ago, Mike Merrick was playing cards with his family when he experience slurred speech and had trouble writing.
On that Sunday, Merrick, now 45, was admitted to the hospital for tests — initially doctors thought he might have had a stroke. But further consultation with doctors in Billings and Bozeman confirmed a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Merrick’s first reaction was “wheelchair,” he said, but soon realized that it is not necessarily the foregone conclusion. Merrick takes the drug Copaxone and has been feeling well. He battles fatigue, but has learned how to deal with that.
He said he is amazed to learn how many people are living with MS, something he did not realize before his diagnosis.
Merrick, a shift supervisor for Montana Resources, said he believes that the best defense is a positive attitude and a good sense of humor.
He realizes that MS is a serious disease, but said “you need to keep going.”
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Merrick, who has lived in Butte for most of his life, is married to Cindy, and has two children, Aaron and Hannah.
He invites people to join him and his family at the MS Walk Saturday in Butte.
— Submitted by Karen Byrnes of Butte