Michael J. Fox says he’s feeling ‘above average, for a brain-damaged man’

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for The Michael J. Fox Foundation

Michael J. Fox is giving the public an update on his health a year after announcing his retirement from acting altogether and three whole decades after he announced his diagnosis and daily struggles with Parkinson’s disease to the world.

According to Mayo Clinic, the disorder of the central nervous system affects movement, such as succumbing to tremors and difficulty writing or changes in speech. What’s more, it is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms can worsen over time, and there is no cure, though some medications can help mitigate symptoms.

Despite his health challenges, Fox remained surprisingly active in his career until very recently and advocates for the improved quality of life of those with the disease and a search for a cure through the founding of a nonprofit, The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Donning the cover of AARP Magazine this week, the 65-year-old Fox said despite some memory and speech problems causing him to quit acting, he’s in feeling relatively good overall, especially for someone with his condition. Doctors reportedly told him he only had a decade remaining where he could be well enough to engage in acting, but he surpassed that estimate by 20 years.

Fox said he’s feeling “Above average, for a brain-damaged man.”

He further explained that it’s rather unusual for him to have “done as well as I have for as long as I have.”

The Back to the Future actor said that most people looking at the symptoms from an outsider’s view have no idea what he may go through on any given day. One day, his hands may barely be shaking, and on another, they could tremble wildly, he explained.

“It’s what you can’t see—the lack of an inner gyroscope, of a sense of balance, of peripheral perception. I mean, I’m sailing a ship on stormy seas on the brightest of days.”  

The actor’s recent roles include occasional cameos on American Dad, a recurring role on The Good Wife, two episodes on its spinoff, The Good Fight, and a short run on Designated Survivor in 2018.

Michael J. Fox’s newest autobiography, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, hits bookstores Nov. 17.