Tracy: When the doctors weren't available.
Michael: I'd say, "Why is it always on a Friday? On Monday you'll find out you're fine, so let's not have the disease until Monday." So when I called her and said, "Tracy, there's something weird going on with my hand," she of course said, "Don't worry, it's nothing." Then I come home from the doctor and say, "Honey, I have an incurable brain disease—how 'bout that?"
Tracy: That cured my hypochondria.
Oprah: When you were told the disease was degenerative, what was your first reaction?
Tracy: We went through a day or two of shock and had a feeling of devastation.
Oprah: You felt like, "What does this mean?"
Tracy: Yes. I had spent so much time worrying about these horrible fantasies, but when presented with something this huge and terrifying, my reaction was completely opposite from what I thought it would be. I just dealt with it every day as it came. We stopped thinking about the big picture. Michael was instrumental in that—he has always been like, "Today I'm still okay."
Michael: When I was first diagnosed, my line to Tracy was "It's going to be okay"—but I was really freaking out. I had no idea what Parkinson's was, and I was in denial. 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. I thought, "What a shitty thing to say to somebody!" I just knew it was a mistake. So I started drinking a little more to keep from looking at it. I finally got to a pivotal point where I really worked on understanding it. About three years after I'd been diagnosed, I was okay—and that's when life got much better.
Oprah: How so?
Michael: Well, it's a long story. I had quit drinking....
Oprah: Was the disease beginning to show?
Michael: To me, but not to others. And for a lot of reasons, I kept it a secret. In a way I was also trying to keep it a secret from myself. Eventually, my whole left side was shaking. There were other symptoms, too, like a feeling of rigidity. After I quit drinking, I had a couple of years of just being crazy—I didn't have anything to replace the drinking with. Then in the beginning of 1994, I went to analysis and started to look at it. After that, Tracy said to me, "You showed up again. Your sense of humor was back, and you were just there."
Oprah: Three years is a long time to be gone.
Michael: For better or for worse.
Tracy: There were definitely good days in those three years.
We Hear You!