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October 24, 2021

Michael J. Fox Thought He Hurt His Shoulder but the Diagnosis Made Him Want to 'Kill' Doctor

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“Back to the Future” star Michael J. Fox is considered the world’s reference when it comes to Parkinson’s disease. However, after three decades of his diagnosis, the actor is still learning to deal with such an “insidious disease.”

In 1990, Michael J. Fox noticed something odd with his pinkie toe. It was trembling beyond his control. He’d hurt his shoulder doing a stunt, so he thought it might be related to that. However, the issue persisted for a year, so he saw a neurologist in Manhattan. 

The doctor broke the news: Fox was diagnosed with on-set Parkinson’s disease at 29 years old. The physician said that the actor still had ten years of work left, so Fox got all the jobs he could. 

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[Left]: Michael J. Fox attends red carpet for the Tribeca Talks - Storytellers - 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 30, 2019. [Right]: Michael J. Fox poses during a 1988 Beverly Hills, California, photo portrait session. | Source: Getty Images

Fox was diagnosed nearly three decades ago, so professionals could yet determine what a person with Parkson’s disease would have to compromise. The actor didn’t know either and thought it wasn’t a big deal. 

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AN INSIDIOUS DISEASE

Over time, Fox’s condition got worse, and he didn’t know how to deal with the pain, eventually falling into depression. The actor found comfort in alcohol at the time.

When Fox and his wife, Tracy Pollan, wed, he was alcohol-free. He didn’t want his wife to know he was drinking again, so he’d hide wine bottles from her. 

However, things got out of control, and his excessive drinking finally became too much for his spouse. The Hollywood star had an outing with his pals and passed out on the sofa when he returned home.

Michael J. Fox attends HBO's "Very Ralph" World Premiere at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on October 23, 2019 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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The next morning, his wife and daughter found him on the sofa, with beer spilling on the rug. She asked her husband if that’s the life he wanted, and Fox got so embarrassed he decided that was his last drink. 

He searched for help in therapy and AA meetings, helping him get sober. Fox described that he learned to take life one day at a time. Getting help was crucial for the actor’s acceptance of his health condition:

“Acceptance isn’t resignation. Now I can move on. I can start the [Michael J. Fox Foundation]. I can work with other patients. I can be with my family and allow them to worry about me.”

Michael J. Fox and wife Tracy Pollan arrive at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills. | Source: Getty Images

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The couple shared with Oprah in 2002 that Fox had no idea what Parkinson’s was and was in denial throughout the first few years after his diagnosis:

“After the diagnosis, I didn't even get a neurologist. You've probably read in People that I'm a nice guy—but when the doctor first told me I had Parkinson's, I wanted to kill him.”

After three years of therapy, sobriety, and acceptance, Pollan told her husband that his sense of humor was back. In hindsight, the 60-year-old credits his wife for pulling him out of a funk, resulting in his recovery. 

Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox attend the Food Bank for New York City Can-Do Awards Dinner 2017 on April 19, 2017 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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The couple admitted that some days were more challenging than others, but their love for each other, especially the solid foundation of their relationship, was vital. 

A BLESSING IN DISGUISE

During the interview, Oprah asked Fox if he considered his disease a gift. The actor explained that Parkinson’s gave him a different appreciation for life:

“I discovered that I wasn't me minus Parkinson's. I was me plus it. I have been enriched by what it has opened up for me. It hasn't allowed me to take anything for granted."

Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan attend Central Park Conservancy Taste Of Summer Benefit in Central Park on June 7, 2017 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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The Canadian-born actor celebrated 20 years of his foundation this year, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. To date, his foundation has funded over $1 billion for research. 

THE FOX-POLLAN FAMILY

Fox and Pollan met in 1988 during the production of “Bright Lights, Big City.” At the time, Pollan was dating Actor Kevin Bacon. They part ways, and Pollan and Fox started to date. Seven months later, the “Back to the Future” star popped the question. 

They tied the knot on July 16, 1988, in West Mountain Inn in Arlington, VT. The intention was to have a discreet ceremony. Still, the paparazzi heard about the boy prince of Hollywood’s wedding and even sent helicopters to cover it!

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Michael J Fox With Wife Tracy Pollan At Planet Hollywood In London, circa 1991. | Source: Getty Images

A year later, the young couple welcomed their first child, Sam. In 1995, they had twin daughters, Aquinnah and Schuyler, and in 2001, the youngest child, Esmé. 

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Fox and Pollan seem to be great parents, and even after three decades of marriage, the couple is more in love than ever, often gushing their love. The duo credit the way they were raised as the main reason for a happy, long-lasting marriage. 

The pair of actors are currently empty nesters. The couple recently shared with People that they sold their home and went to Santa Barbara for a few months, and they’re heading to Malibu next. 

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The adorable pair made a promise to travel more and enjoy their freedom now that their children are grown-ups. The plan is to take a trip every year, just the two of them, and skip gift-giving on Christmas and Valentine’s day.

Date nights, however, may include a trip to Hollywood and red carpets such as the Oscars and Emmys. But this doesn’t get in the way of the couple’s love life — Pollan and Fox made a point to enjoy each other’s company everywhere.

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In his 2002 memoir, “Lucky Man,” the “Spin City” actor opened about Parkinson’s disease and plenty more. He shared memories about growing up in Western Canada, his meteoric rise to stardom, and wrote about the support from his family and friends.

The Fox-Pollan family remains close, despite the distance. The patriarch recently shared that he is happy with his family and their kids are spectacular.

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The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, and images contained on news.AmoMama.com, or available through news.AmoMama.com is for general information purposes only. news.AmoMama.com does not take responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this article. Before undertaking any course of treatment please consult with your healthcare provider.