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Your Health Matters: Billings man given a second chance at life

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Posted at 1:38 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 15:38:20-04

BILLINGS — For two years, Michael Holland’s health deteriorated. He was plagued with severe headaches and extreme fatigue. It even got to the point where he needed a walker to move. He was finally diagnosed with hydrocephalus at Billings Clinic where they gave him a second chance at life.

“I wake up every morning and I go, I’m alive. You know it’s a great thing to be alive,” Holland said recently.

Holland, 61, had no idea he had been living with a debilitating disease for two years.

“I began having just a lot of fatigue, forgetfulness, a lot of pain in my walking, lower back, my legs,” said Holland.

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By the end of last year, Holland’s health was swiftly declining. He had trouble walking, suffered from crushing headaches, and couldn’t see well.

“It was really scary not knowing what this diagnosis was and I’m continuing to go downhill pretty rapidly,” said Holland.

It got so bad that the fourth-grade teacher had to use a walker and couldn’t drive to his work at Bitterroot Elementary.

“He went from being able to go for a walk together or experience the outdoors, which is really important to me, to not being able to do anything,” said Holland’s wife, Becky.

After seeing a doctor, Holland was told he could be suffering from multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or Parkinson’s.

“Morning after Thanksgiving, I woke up. I was in a lot of pain, and I couldn’t walk. My leg just would not support me,” said Holland.

Becky rushed Holland to Billings Clinic where a doctor finally gave him the answer he’d been looking for.

“He said I think we’re looking at something called normal pressure hydrocephalus,” said Holland.

Hydrocephalus is a condition where excess fluids build up in the cavities of the brain. It can be fatal if left untreated and is very difficult to diagnose.

Holland received a spinal tap shortly after and it was like a miracle.

“When they opened the door and he got up out of the wheelchair and flew across the lobby to me, I was just shocked,” said Becky.

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Holland finally had brain surgery where doctors put a shunt or thin tube in his brain to drain the excess fluid. Now, he’s been cleared to exercise.

“I’m really excited in two weeks to do my first 5k so, that’s going to be great, it’s going to be exciting,” said Holland.

And the family is grateful for Holland’s second chance at life.

“Our grandkids love that he now can play with them and get in the sandboxes and build castles and do the things he wasn’t able to do a year ago. So I’m grateful,” said Becky.