Michael Barlow struggled through a harrowing year on the Gold Coast, but believes he has more footy at the top level left in him. Picture: Michael Klein
Michael Barlow struggled through a harrowing year on the Gold Coast, but believes he has more footy at the top level left in him. Picture: Michael Klein

Injured Barlow had to tape eye shut to sleep

DELISTED former Gold Coast Sun Michael Barlow has revealed the harrowing extent of the nerve damage he suffered during surgery to fix a broken jaw, saying he had to tape his eye shut just to sleep.

Barlow, 30, broke his jaw in June while playing in the NEAFL and the resultant surgery left him with nerve damage in his face, a condition called Bell's Palsy.

"I got kicked under the jaw (and) kind of knew I'd done some damage," Barlow said on Fox Footy's On The Mark.

 

"So I thought, 'no worries, it'll be a nice quick fix, in you go get the surgery'.

"I'd broken a jaw before and come back in a week, so that was my plan, in and out."

But it didn't go to plan for the former Dockers mature-age recruit, who would face a nightmare two months of recovery.

"I came out of the surgery and I couldn't blink my eye," he said.

"For six or eight weeks, I could not literally close my right eye. So I'd have to tape it down for bed, which I've only just stopped having to do, so it closes over.

"That was a really tough period for me … I thought I'd miss a week.

"I (still) can't close my eye over fully and lift my eyebrow, (there are) still some lingering effects with nerve damage on my right side."

Barlow said it was hard to speak to teammates about the injury, as it would draw humour.

"The first week the conversation around it was hard, because you have to explain yourself to everyone," he said.

"It was nearly comical, because people would be like, 'can you blink your eye yet' I was like, 'I can't'.

"There'd be laughter and I'd humour it as well, but in the back in my mind I'd be like 'this is quite serious'."

After 141 games, a number of horror injuries and a frustrating year on the Gold Coast where he felt like Suns' coach Stewart Dew had drawn a line through his name, Barlow believes he still has "plenty" of AFL football left in the tank.



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