Michael J. Fox Questions His Optimism About Parkinson's Disease After New Health Issues

The 'Back to the Future' actor reveals he underwent spinal surgery last April and fractured his arm after a fall in August, which hurt his confidence.

AceShowbiz - Michael J. Fox has opened up about his new health issues as he continues to battle his Parkinson's disease. The 57-year-old actor reveals in an interview with The New York Times Magazine that he underwent a surgery for a spinal cord issue last April after constantly falling.

"I was having this recurring problem with my spinal cord," he shares. "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."

Dealing with Parkinson's which side effects include jerks or tremors, Michael says he "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."

After the surgery, he was in a wheelchair for six months and went through "an intense amount" of physical therapy to regain his strength. He says he was supposed to start acting again last August, but another fall hurt his confidence. "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 admits.

Since then, the "Spin City" alum gets a new perspective on his health. "I try not to get too New Age-y. I don't talk about things being 'for a reason.' But I do think the more unexpected something is, the more there is to learn from it," he shares. "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, who started The Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000 to help advance every promising research path to curing Parkinson's disease, says his new health issues have made his question his optimism about the prognosis for the disease. "My health issues last year brought me to places where I started to say, 'Was it false hope I'd been selling? Is there a line beyond which there is no consolation?' For me to get to that place is pretty dark," he confesses.

He continues, "I realized that the understanding I'd reached with Parkinson's was sincere but risked being glib. I'd made peace with the disease but presumed others had that same relationship when they didn't. Then when I started to deal with the effects from the spinal surgery, I realized: Wow, it can get a lot worse. Being in a position where I couldn't walk and had health aides 24 hours a day, was I still prepared to say, 'Hey, chin up!' Parkinson's, it's a strange test."

But the actor, who recently appeared on "Designated Survivor", says he hasn't given up hope on finding the cure for Parkinson's. "I still believe in a cure," he says. "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." He adds, "Treatments for that can make a huge difference in people's lives. Now, if we can prophylactically keep Parkinson's symptoms from developing in a person, is that a cure? No. Would I take it? Yes."

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