Michael J. Fox on Learning How To Walk Again After Spinal Surgery

Aby Rivas
May 03, 2019
12:51 P.M.
Share this pen

“Back to the Future” star Michael J. Fox, recently attended the Tribeca Film Festival. There, he opened up about his decades-long fight against Parkinson’s disease, and a spinal surgery that affected his mobility last year.


Michael J. Fox was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 29. He shared the news with the public seven years later, and ever since, Fox has become a leading voice in the road to find a cure to the disease through the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has raised millions for research.


However, in the past year, Fox has dealt with more health issues than Parkinson’s.

He underwent spinal surgery in April 2018 to correct a “recurring problem” with his spinal cord.

“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,” he told the New York Times in March.


After the surgery, Fox had to go through an “immense amount” of physical therapy.

“It was a rough year, and I fell a lot," Fox told longtime friend Denis Leary at the Tribeca Film Festival. "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.”

As a result of his overachieving, he shattered his humerus. “Which is no [expletive[ joke. Think about it," he joked.


Fox, known for his self-deprecating humor, admitted that it was hard to stay positive through some of his struggles.

“I got grim," he confessed. "I was the guy who made lemonade out of lemons, but I was out of the [expletive] lemonade business. I couldn't do that."

And added:

“At one point, I thought, I can’t do this anymore. Every step I take, I have to think about it. It does slow life down, but that’s OK…”


The 58-year-old, who has become a beacon of light for other Parkinson’s patients, and even people who deal with diseases such as Multiple sclerosis, says he has discovered through the years that, sometimes, selling the “be positive attitude” doesn’t feel sincere.

“I feel like sometimes I don't want to be selling people the optimism thing because people have a tough time," he said. And continued:

“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."


Fox says he’s now taking things one step at a time as he keeps recovering from the surgery.