Michael J. Fox says he’s on the difficult road to recovery a year after spinal cord surgery.
On Tuesday, The “Back to the Future” actor spoke to his friend Denis Leary at the Tribeca Film Festival about his mission to stay positive while living with Parkinson’s Disease for nearly three decades.
In April 2018, Fox, 58, underwent a surgical procedure to correct a “recurring problem” with his spinal cord, which while unrelated to his Parkinson’s, caused him to fall constantly. About a year later, he told the New York Times Magazine that if left untreated, the spinal cord issue would have led to diminished feeling in his legs and difficulty moving.
After the surgery, he had to go through an “intense amount” of physical therapy.
More: Michael J. Fox opens up about battle with Parkinson’s disease, recent spinal surgery
It was a rough year and I fell a lot,” Fox told Leary. “After I had the spinal surgery, I had to learn to walk again. I was really cocky about it and walking with no aids or cane.
“And then I shattered my humerus (upper arm bone), which is no (expletive) joke. Think about it,” he joked.
At times, it was tough to find a silver lining.
“I got grim,” Fox revealed. “I was the guy who made lemonade out of lemons but I was out of the (expletive) lemonade business. I couldn’t do that.”
The “Family Ties” star was just 29 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the early 1990s. Since then, he has become a leader in efforts to help Parkinson’s patients and to find a cure for the degenerative neurological disorder, which can result in body tremors and muscle rigidity. He has been a leader in efforts to help Parkinson’s patients and to find a cure through his Michael J. Fox Foundation, which turns 20 next year.
Fox admitted that staying upbeat can be a struggle – even for him, the guy other people with Parkinson’s or related diseases like multiple sclerosis look up to.
“I feel like sometimes I don’t want to be selling people the optimism thing because people have a tough time,” Fox said, crediting his family for making things much easier. “Depression is real and things happen that I can’t even comprehend. There are things that make my stuff seem like Band-Aids and skinned knees. People are out there dealing with real hard stuff, so I don’t want to just be saying ‘cheer up!’ Some stuff sucks.”
Now, Fox is taking things “one step at a time” – mentally and literally.
“Each step is a new adventure,” he said. “I might fall down, but I might not fall down. I might go this way, I might go backward. Who knows? That doesn’t suck. That’s all right.”