Michael J. Fox on the 'frustrating and isolating' experience of being in a wheelchair

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·2 min read
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 30: Michael J. Fox attends red carpet for the Tribeca Talks - Storytellers - 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Michael J. Fox (Credit: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Michael J. Fox has said that being confined to a wheelchair after having spinal surgery was a 'frustrating and isolating' experience.

The 59-year-old Back To The Future star, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease, added that he was considered to be 'luggage' by most people.

Fox has made the comments in his new memoir No Time Like The Future.

Watch: Michael J. Fox on moving away from acting

“It can be a frustrating and isolating experience, allowing someone else to determine the direction I’m going and the rate of speed I can travel. The pusher is in charge,” he writes (via The Irish Times).

“From the point of view of the occupant of the chair, it’s a world of asses and elbows. No one can hear me. To compensate, I raise my voice and suddenly feel like Joan Crawford in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, barking out orders.

Read more: Lea Thompson stole fake boobs from BTTF II

“Generally the person in control is a stranger, an airport or hotel employee. I’m sure that if we could look each other in the eye, we’d recognise our mutual humanity. But often in the wheelchair, I’m luggage. I’m not expected to say much. Just sit still... No one listens to luggage.”

Musician Huey Lewis (L) and actors Michael J. Fox (2nd L) Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson (R) attend the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary screening in the Manhattan borough of New York, October 21, 2015. The film franchise is celebrating today's date as in the first sequel, the main characters traveled through time to October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly  TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Huey Lewis, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson attend the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary screening, 2015 (Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly TPX)

Fox had to have a benign tumour removed from his spine in 2018, and was in a wheelchair while he learned how to walk again.

However, soon after the surgery, he fell in his kitchen and severely broke his arm, an incident which he told People in a recent interview was his 'darkest moment'.

“I just snapped. I was leaning against the wall in my kitchen, waiting for the ambulance to come, and I felt like, ‘This is as low as it gets for me.’ It was when I questioned everything. Like, 'I can't put a shiny face on this. There's no bright side to this, no upside. This is just all regret and pain.' "

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However, he's now said that he's adopted a '60-year-old man’s optimism' following the incident.

He told People: “It’s not that I wasn’t sincere before, but my gratitude is deeper now, from having gotten through the darkest times.”

Fox was diagnoses with Parkinson’s in 1991, at the age of 29.

Since then, via his Michael J. Fox Foundation, he’s raised millions of dollars towards research into the disease and find a cure.

Watch: Michael J. Fox worked through spinal surgery in 2018