Michael J. Fox has suffered from a number of injuries as a result of his Parkinson’s disease, which he was diagnosed with in 1991 at age 29, the actor revealed in an interview with Variety this week.
The 61-year-old “Back to the Future” star opened up about his battle with the disease, explaining the injuries he has gotten from losing his balance.
The neurological disorder causes unintended stiffness, shakiness and difficulty with coordination, and worsens over time, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“I broke this shoulder — had it replaced. I broke this elbow. I broke this hand. I had an infection that almost cost me this finger. I broke my face. I broke this humerus,” Fox told Variety.
Fox said it has been difficult to manage his illness over the years, during which he has suffered through other personal losses and mental health struggles, in addition to already managing his Parkinson’s symptoms.
“I have aides around me quite a bit of the time in case I fall, and that lack of privacy is hard to deal with,” he said in the interview. “I lost family members, I lost my dog, I lost freedom, I lost health. I hesitate to use the term ‘depression,’ because I’m not qualified to diagnose myself, but all the signs were there.”
While it hasn’t been easy, the “Family Ties” star said he has found comfort in the support of his family, who have been helping him to get through his health issues.
“I just enjoy the little math problems of existence,” the actor said. “I love waking up and figuring that stuff out and at the same time being with my family.”
And, he’s come to a point where he accepts the impacts the debilitating disease may have on his body.
“My problem is I fall down. I trip over things and fall down and break things. And that’s part of having this,” Fox said. “But I hope that, and I feel that, I won’t break as many bones tomorrow. So that’s being optimistic.”
Since going public about his illness in 1998, Fox has worked hard to raise money for Parkinson’s, a disease he learned was underfunded for research and treatment development. The nonprofit Michael J. Fox Foundation, which was founded in 2000, has raised more than $1.5 billion for Parkinson’s research, according to its website.
Parkinson’s disease affects about 500,000 Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health, but some experts estimate that as many as one million Americans may have the disease, as it often goes undiagnosed.
Fox retired from acting in 2020 due to struggles with learning lines and acting as a result of the disease, but he is soon appearing in a new documentary about his life, “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie,” which details his successful career, his journey with sobriety, his battle with Parkinson’s, and his determined spirit to continue living on his own terms despite the disease’s immobilizing symptoms.
“No matter how much I sit here and talk to you about how I’ve philosophically accepted it and taken its weight, Parkinson’s is still kicking my ass. I won’t win at this. I will lose,” Fox told the magazine. “But, there’s plenty to be gained in the loss.”