By now most of us know that actor Michael J. Fox has been living with Parkinson's for nearly three decades. He's been very public about his battle, but there was once a time when the Back to the Future star actually kept the news to himself. He was initially diagnosed with the neurological disorder in 1991, but it wasn't until 7 years later that Michael finally shared the news with all of his fans.
Sadly, Parkinson's isn't the only health scare that Michael has been dealing with. The 57-year-old recently revealed in an interview that he started falling down for absolutely no reason at all. Although it was hard to separate these symptoms from his Parkinson's, which is characterized by difficulty with motor control, Michael soon realized that something entirely unrelated was taking over his body.
Michael had been having recurring problems with his spinal cord, and was told by doctors that it was benign in the sense that it wouldn't take his life. However, it would eventually affect the quality of his life if he didn't do anything to get it fixed. He told the New York Times:
"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. I was 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."
Michael underwent surgery on his spinal cord last April, and following that he had an intense schedule of physical therapy to contend with.
The details of Michael's complex surgery are unknown, but the actor did say that it didn't end all of his problems.
"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."
When asked how he dealt with such a blow, Michael said that he tries not to get too New Age-y about it. "I don't talk about things being 'for a reason.'"
In other words, Michael doesn't necessarily believe that there was a divine higher purpose behind him fracturing his arm. Sometimes things happen just because they can.
"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."
As for finding a cure for Parkinson's, Michael still has hope, and he still believes in a cure. In the meantime, "if we can prophylactically keep Parkinson's symptoms from developing in a person, is that a cure? No. Would I take it? Yes."
In this candid interview, Michael J. Fox openly discusses how Parkinson's "sucks."