Toronto paddle boarder with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome shares story of getting back on the water
Mike Shoreman knows what it takes to fall down and get up again.
He’s been a paddle boarder before it was popular, owned a paddle boarding business in Toronto, and was about to start a new business enterprise in California when everything changed 10 months ago.
“It was a chickenpox virus from when I was a kid reactivating in my ear,” said Shoreman. “So shingles.”
When a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of your ears, it’s called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome – a rare neurological disorder.
“Ramsay Hunt Syndrome caused damage to my fifth, seventh and eighth cranial nerve causing facial paralysis on my right side, permanent hearing damage, as well as speech and vision problems at times,” Shoreman said.
It has taken months of hard work learning to retrain his brain – which has taken a toll on Shoreman both physically and mentally.
“I’m coping much better now that I was before when it first happened,” said Shoreman.
“Everything happened at once – I lost my business, I lost my independence, and I lost my social life.”
But what he didn’t lose was his ability to fight, and by sharing his story – Shoreman has been able to keep his head above water.
“The tsunamis in our lives all look very different,” he said.
“When facing rough waters we have two options, sink or swim.”
Shoreman was encouraged by his friends to enter Canada’s largest inspirational speaking competition called “Speaker Slam” – and he did.
“When I went to do my speech in a room of 300 hoping to uplift a few people and give a positive message, I had no idea I would walk away that evening with a win,” said Shoreman.
The attention Shoreman received from his inspirational speech that night went viral and now, he is known around the world as “The Unbalanced Paddle Boarder.”
“It’s who I am now, I’m the paddle boarder with balance problems,” said Shoreman. ”I stood up for the first time on the board in June, and now I am at the point where I am standing up on flat water for a few minutes at a time.”
“I’ve been a water baby since birth so when the doctors said this wasn’t a reality anymore back in April, it was heartbreaking,” he said.
“So to be able to be out there again on the water, I feel really lucky.”