“I was told it was benign but if it stayed static I would have diminished feeling in my legs and difficulty moving,” he said. “Then all of a sudden I started falling — a lot. It was getting ridiculous. I was trying to parse what was the Parkinson’s and what was the spinal thing.”
The mysterious health problem became so serious that the “Back to the Future” star had to get spinal 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,” he said.
However, Fox was back in the hospital in August after falling down in his kitchen on the way to work, resulting in 19 pins and a plate in his arm. He said he used the accident as a reminder to keep his optimism about his health in check.
“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,” he said.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, Fox kept the health issue a secret from the public until 1998. He’s become an advocate for finding a cure to the disease, and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000.
“I was so scared. 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 said. “And it wasn’t until ’94 that 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.”