Richard’s Story

Fifty years ago, just before he turned 12, Richard had an accident and woke up from his coma partially paralysed. He’s had right-sided facial palsy since then.

In August 1962 I had a serious bicycle accident. It was the day before my 12th birthday. I was on a ride with a French boy; he was staying with us on a student exchange. Then I was meant to go to France with him. I did not make it.

As a result of the accident I had two subdural haematomas – bleeding between the membranes enveloping the brain. This caused an increase in pressure inside my skull which damaged delicate brain tissues. Brain surgery was not advanced in 1962. The first clot was removed from my brain, but not by a brain surgeon. I was then rushed to hospital in London. I stayed in a coma for a week.

When I woke up I was completely paralysed down the right-hand side. I had to learn to walk, write and speak again. I had double vision for several months. Gradually most of my functions returned. I went back to school, then on to university. I qualified as a solicitor. I appeared in the Magistrates and Crown Courts daily. I have only recently retired, after 37 years. I got married, and I have two wonderful children.

The right side of my face has never worked. My right eye was partially stitched up in 1963 to prevent excess watering, as it never closes.

I am now beginning to dribble slightly from the right side. It is difficult, if not impossible, for me to say ‘P’ or ‘B’ in cold weather.

I have found my palsy awkward at times, and very difficult to cope with at others. People have sometimes commented in the street. Growing up, my teenage years were hardly typical. Smiling broadly was embarrassing and I tended to avoid it.

I am what I am; what has happened is what has happened. Inevitably, I have become hardened over the years. Sometimes, however, I still lack confidence even after 50 years. I still try to hide a broad smile, particularly when with people who don’t know me very well.

I read about Facial Palsy UK in a newspaper and looked up the website. Reading other people’s stories was deeply moving, and I felt compelled to tell mine, it is encouraging to know other people have undergone similar events in their lives.

Disclaimer: Please note that views expressed are person’s own and should not be considered a recommendation of particular medical treatments, therapies or surgeries. We would always advise you seek advice from a health professional with experience in facial palsy who can assess your individual needs.

Last reviewed: 22-10-2016    ||    Next review due: 22-10-2018