Michael J. Fox Reveals Recent Health Struggles, Still Believes ‘in a Cure for Parkinson’s’
Even while he’s been living with Parkinson’s Disease for more than 20 years, Michael J. Fox has also been dealing with quite a bit of other health issues lately, and he recently revealed them in an interview with the New York Times.
“I was having this recurring problem with my spinal cord,” the 57-year-old said, as just last April he found himself undergoing spinal surgery to correct the issue. “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.” The actor continued, “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. So I had surgery, and an intense amount of physical therapy after.”
That wasn’t the end of the Back to the Future star’s issues, as he revealed that his arm also went through rough times as well. “I did it all, and eventually people asked me to do some acting,” he said, adding that last August he “misstepped” in his kitchen. “I went down,” he recalled. “I fractured the hell out of my arm. I ended up getting 19 pins and a plate. It was such a blow.” Michael goes on to add that 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?” the Family Ties alum asked himself. “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.”
Even with his recent health issues, Michael is still quite active in his fight to find a cure for Parkinson’s.
“I still believe in a cure,” the Golden Globes winner said. “For so long, Sinemet L-dopa [a brand-name version of the carbidopa-levodopa medication used to treat Parkinson’s symptoms] was the gold standard. That was all we had, and it gave relief but it only lasted a certain amount of time and led to dyskinesias and other side-effects. So it was important to find better treatments.”
He added, “There’s a new drug that’s been approved that’s like a rescue inhaler for when you freeze. Because freezing is a very real thing for Parkinson’s patients. I could be sitting here with my foot on fire and a glass of water over there on the table and all I’d be able to do is think about how good it would feel to pour that water on my foot. Treatments for that can make a huge difference in people’s lives.” He added, “Now, if we can prophylactically keep Parkinson’s symptoms from developing in a person, is that a cure? No. Would I take it? Yes.”
Michael of course still has the support of his wonderful family — he’s been married to actress Tracy Pollan since 1988 and they have four kids, Sam, 29, Aquinnah and Schuyler, both 24, and Esmé, 17.