Mike’s pedal power to support facial palsy service

Tuesday 4th July 2017

Mike’s pedal power to support facial palsy service

On Sunday 30 July when Mike Gwynn gets on his bike to take part in the Prudential Ride London, the one journey that will be on his mind is that of his brother-in-law Bob, as he recovers from facial palsy. In fact Mike is so inspired by his brother-in-law that he’s riding the 100 mile route for the QVH Charity, supporting the Queen Victoria Hospital, where Bob is receiving specialist treatment.

Facial palsy is a term used to explain a weakness of the facial muscles, caused by temporary or permanent damage to the facial nerve. Those with facial palsy will have at least part or all of their face paralysed, and can also have the movement of their eyes and or mouth affected.

Bob suffered from total facial paralysis and complete hearing loss on one side. After his initial recovery, Bob’s niece, Mary, who works at the Queen Victoria Hospital, told him about the hospital’s facial palsy service, the UK’s first and largest, which treats palsy and paralysis patients from across the country. Bob was referred and has been seeing the multi-disciplinary team ever since.

It was following one of Bob’s appointments at the Queen Victoria Hospital that Mike was inspired to get back on his bike. He explains: “I’m one of those cyclists that need a target, I can’t just cycle. Receiving a ballot place for this year’s Ride London coincided with Bob attending an appointment with the facial palsy team at the Queen Victoria Hospital. So when I found out about the QVH Charity, and knowing what great support Bob has had from the hospital, I chose to ride for them.”

Talking about his preparation Mike continued: “The training is going well, a recent 77 mile sportive in Calais with monstrous hills was good preparation for the three big hills in Surrey the Ride London covers, although thankfully we only ride up Box Hill once, not the nine times the Olympic cyclists did! But it will all be worth it to thank the hospital – it’s not just the treatment Bob has received, it’s the care, attitude, approach and way they talk to him. He’s now making small improvements all the time.”

Bob explains: “I quickly discovered that facial palsy is a very unpleasant and debilitating condition. It affects you not only physically due to major problems with speaking, eating, and sleeping (including constant eye issues) but also psychologically. Facing the world and trying to get back to a normal life, knowing how you look, is a scary ordeal.

“My first appointment [at the Queen Victoria Hospital] although it was initially intended just to discuss physiotherapy, it was so much more, and at last I was talking to someone who understood my situation exactly. This first meeting resulted in the most progress I had made since the surgery. I received a huge boost and determination to get better. I will never get back to how I was before, but without the support of the team at the Queen Victoria Hospital I don’t believe I would be where I am today. I can’t help but wonder how I would have coped or what if any progress I would have made without them.”

Dr Ed Pickles, Medical Director at the Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “Facial palsy is a condition which is affects thousands of people in the UK each year. With no single cause, it has a variety of symptoms and physical and emotional issues. The money that Mike is raising will help support the work of our facial palsy team to benefit more patients like Bob in the future. On behalf of the QVH Charity I’d like to thank Mike for choosing to fund raise for us.”

So far Mike has raised over £3,200 for the QVH Charity. You can sponsor him online.