Michael J. Fox has battled Parkinson’s disease for 20 years and now he’s revealed a new health issue.
The iconic actor shared the information during an interview with The New York Times Magazine, “I was having this recurring problem with my spinal cord. I was told it was benign but if it stayed static I would have diminished feeling in my legs and difficulty moving… then all of a sudden I started falling — a lot. It was getting ridiculous,” he explained.
Michael continued to elaborate on the difficulty in “trying to parse what was the Parkinson’s and what was the spinal thing. But it came to the point where it was probably necessary to have surgery. So I had surgery and an intense amount of physical therapy after. I did it all, and eventually, people asked me to do some acting.
Last August I was supposed to go to work. I woke up, walked into the kitchen to get breakfast, misstepped and I went down. I fractured the hell out of my arm. I ended up getting 19 pins and a plate. It was such a blow.”
He explains that he tried to find a meaning behind the ordeal, “I try not to get too New Age-y. I don’t talk about things for being ‘for a reason’. But I do think the more unexpected something is, the more there is to learn from it.
In my case, what was it that made me skip down the hallway to the kitchen thinking I was fine when I’d been in a wheelchair six months earlier? It’s because I had certain optimistic expectations of myself, and I’d had results to bear out those expectations, but I’d had failures too. And I hadn’t given the failures equal weight.”
Michael was just 29 years old when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and kept it from the public until 1998. He explained that he was “scared” and said “I was so unfamiliar with Parkinson’s. Someone is saying your life is going to be completely changed. Yeah? When? I’m fine now but back then I wasn’t in the ‘I’m fine now’ I was in the ‘I’m going to be bad.’”
He continued saying, ‘That thinking didn’t allow me to trust that I could make a decision without worrying about time restrictions or financial pressures — which were inflated in my head. If I’d had any imperative to accomplish anything with movies, it shouldn’t have been to do as many quick successful ones as I could. It should’ve been to do as many good ones as I could. To do one good one. To find something that meant something to me.”
Explaining that in 1994, Michael explains that he was starting to understand it, “I started getting it. That’s when I started to accept the disease — and acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It means understanding and dealing straightforwardly. When I did Spin City, I started to do that,”.
As the years went by, he says his face started “hardening” and his “movements were constricted”. In the last couple of seasons of Spin City, he says he “would anchor” himself “against a desk or the wall” — “Eventually it was too burdensome. So I left, After a couple of years I was to do Scrubs. I don’t think I was very good in it, but I enjoyed being back on set.”
Michael’s passion is focussed on combating Parkinson’s disease and so far, he’s raised $800 million.