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Michael J. Fox Says This Parkinson's Symptom is One to Watch For

Here’s what forced MJF to step back from acting.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Michael J. Fox is one of the most famous and influential faces of Parkinson's disease. "I've had Parkinson's for 30 years… I think it's part of my life, it's what and it's who I am and it's a struggle sometimes. I'm not gonna lie, it's really hard to get up and get ready and get out in the world (some days)," Fox says. "There are days that suck, (but there's) just an understanding that I will get through it. At any moment, you have a choice: I cannot get through this moment or I can get through this moment." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Trouble With Speech

Stressed middle 60s aged worker woman massaging head suffering of headache in home office.

Fox was forced to step back from acting when trouble with speech made it impossible to continue. "When I couldn't act the way I used to act, I found new ways to act," he says. "But then I reached the point where I couldn't rely on my ability to speak on any given day, which meant I couldn't act comfortably at all anymore."


Tremors and Twitching


One of the first symptoms of Parkinson's Fox experienced was a left pinkie finger that wouldn't stop twitching. "We didn't know what to expect," Fox says. "We didn't know what would happen. We didn't know. You know, no one could say when it would have more effects. More symptoms than what I had, which was a twitch, twitching pinkie. But they [doctors] just said it was coming."


Trouble Walking

Woman assisting an injured man on the running track at garden

Difficulty walking is typical for people with Parkinson's disease. "I have a wheelchair that I use every now and then and it still sucks," Fox says. "I have a hard time getting to a restaurant and up the stairs to where my family's eating perhaps at a dinner. But then I'm there with my son and my three daughters and my wife, and friends of ours. And it's just like, that's great.". 


Memory Issues

Tired mature woman take off glasses suffering from headache

Memory issues are a common symptom of Parkinson's disease, something Fox has battled with. "When I did the spinoff from 'The Good Wife,' which is 'The Good Fight,' I couldn't remember the lines. I just had this blank, I couldn't remember the lines," Fox says. "I can't remember five pages of dialogue. I can't do it. So I go to the beach."



Woman comforting anxious husband

Slow movements are another common symptom of Parkinson's. "It's like your gyroscope is off," Fox says. "I can be shaky. I can be slow. I can wake up with festination [involuntary shuffling of the feet] and I'll say, 'This is going to be a struggle today.' " Fox remains positive, and says he feels lucky despite the struggles he endures. "Even when his symptoms are most acute, it drives him crazy to be pitied," says his longtime friend, actor Denis Leary. "I've walked down the hall with him and he's herky-jerky and he'll go, 'Watch out, Denis, you might get an elbow in the face.' "

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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