Meters Rowed 818,095
Minutes on the Rower 4, 066
Days until "No Time Like The Future is Released" 31
Why November 17?
Two of my favorite books were written by an unlikely author … Michael J Fox ("Lucky Man" and "Always Looking Up – The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist"). I have always found his insights to be thoughtful, yet humble. He understands the human condition extremely well.
I am so excited that his new book "No Time Like The Future" will be coming out in a month (November 17).
My Introduction to Michael as an author
The first year or so post finding out that I was living with Parkinson’s disease is pretty much a blur. It was extremely emotional, stressful and filled with self-doubt and uncertainty.
When Dee Dee and I first started dating, Family Ties was extremely popular. Her family, like mine, was not full of business people, and they were still trying to figure out who I was … I remember showing up to a holiday gathering in my gray cardigan sweater. Here was this business school student in his cardigan, they immediately started calling my Alex P Keeton, the character that Michael J Fox played on the show.
It seemed almost surreal that one of the most famous people living with PD was the actor that played the character my future in-laws nicked named me after.
I am not much of a book reader. Not sure why, but I am more of an article reader, non-fiction (like documentaries) is where I spend most of my time. I don’t remember where the idea came from (likely Dee Dee), but I started reading Michael’s book, Lucky Man in bed each night.
There was a lot of background about his life. All very interesting, but it was when he started describing being diagnosed and what it was like to accept that diagnosis that I felt I really WAS Alex P Keeton and actor Michael J Fox had just been told he was living with PD.
I began highlighting sections. It was almost eerie how much the emotional roller coaster he had ridden was EXACTLY like the one I was currently on.
“The air sucked from my lungs, my left arm was shaking clear up to the shoulder. My only clear memory is of wondering why the hell he was doing this to me…”
It took me a while to start to feel the way he did … that he was in fact a Lucky Man. ?, I thought to myself as I read his account, how could I, 46 years old, living with PD be a Lucky Man?
Several nights, Dee Dee would lean over as I read, tears running down my cheeks, and lightly pat me on the arm. I didn’t want her to worry about me … I wasn’t sure she had ever seen me like this before. The overwhelming “comfort” of knowing I was not crazy, Michael had felt the same way, often brought the tears. In many ways, the tears were joyful and full of fear and sadness, all at the same time.
When Michael went public with his diagnosis, he wrote: “My fear that I would now and forever be defined by my disease melted away… I felt as though I was being enriched by the gift of people’s love and prayers, without being asked to pay for it with my identity or dignity. I was still me, people recognized, just me plus Parkinson’s. It was the most humbling gift I received.”
He described in the first weeks following going public that while he had grieved over the prior seven years about this, others were just finding out and weren’t done with their grieving process. “When people came up to me, I could sense them searching my eyes for some trace of fear. Finding none there, my consolers would, I’m convinced, see their own fear reflected back at them, and sometimes would cry. Illness is a scary business, and somewhere deep inside, or maybe not so deep inside, we’re all wondering if it could happen to us and how we would cope if it did. Many times I ended up giving comfort and hugs to people who had intended to comfort me, and before saying good-bye, could hear myself reassuring THEM that they were going to be okay.”
Michael’s books were an integral and necessary part of my acceptance journey. I am forever grateful that he wrote them. I sincerely hope someday I have the chance to thank him in person, it would mean a lot to me.
In the meantime, I will wait the next month wondering what he will say in his new book. I am convinced it will be insightful and will be 100% relatable to my experience. I will live each day to the fullest as the Lucky Man I am.