Michael J Fox is best known for playing teenager Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy series, dating back to 1985. The Canadian actor announced he had the long-term degenerative Parkinson’s disease in 1998, keeping his diagnosis quiet for seven years. He set up The Michael J. Fox Foundation to find a cure, which has since raised an incredible $800 million to combat Parkinson’s. Michael has continually worked since his diagnosis, achieving big success on films and TV series such as Spin City, Family Ties and The Good Wife.
Speaking to the New York Times this month, the 57-year-old actor opened up about how his health struggles took a turn for the worse leading him to a “pretty dark” place.
What was Michael J Fox’s spinal cord injury?
Michael described how he was having a “recurring problem with my spinal cord” and he was not sure if it was related to his Parkinsons or not.
He said: “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.
“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.
Just as things appeared to be on the up, Michael recalled a devastating “blow” that would put him out of action not long after.
He said: “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 his injury, the youthful star said he tried not to get “too New Age-y” about it and did not see it as being “for a reason”.
He added: But 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.”
Michael said he is now working on a new book, which he indicated would touch on the health issues he has experienced over the last year.
He said: “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.”