A recent article in the Manchester Evening News told the story of a 62-year-old woman, Chrissie Anderson, who is planning to swim the length of the English Channel – or at least the straits of Dover – to raise £1000 for Aspire, a charity “supporting people with spinal injury.” The woman’s age would, in itself, make this a very interesting and newsworthy story. But what makes the story all the more interesting – not to mention inspiring – is the fact that the woman herself is suffering from hip and spine arthritis, a degenerative spine condition.
Chrissie is not new to sporting challenges. In the past she has run a marathon and twice thrown herself out of an aeroplane – with a parachute I hasten to add – to raise money for charitable causes. All of this is a far cry from her more sedate former occupation as an advertising rep, before she retired.The challenge will not actually be undertaken in the English Channel itself. Rather Chrissie will be swimming the 22 miles up-and-down the length of a swimming pool.
However, if anyone thinks that this is in any way a soft option, they should be aware that Chrissie also suffers from a condition called Hyper Keratosis, which causes her skin to react badly to the chlorinated water in the swimming pool. She has had several breakouts already. But she has no intention of letting this setback derail her efforts. Quite the contrary:
“It’s not all about you, it’s about what you can do to help others, so I put all my feelings to one side and get on with it to help people who are suffering more.”
If there’s one comfort, in all this, it’s that in some respects, taking to the water actually makes Chrissie feel better:
“It also helps me massively with my spine and hip condition, as soon as I get in the water, I’m pain free.”
Now, of course, not everyone has the tenacity to do what Chrissie has done so far, let alone what she is setting out to do. But people with arthritis looking to alleviate their pain as a first step to getting into the world of therapeutic sport can start with magnetic supports and wraps that some report to have had a beneficial, pain-reducing effect. And if you really want to take the plunge into sport, they also have sports wristbands that can protect against repetitive strain.
But as far as Chrissie Anderson is concerned, all we can say here at Arthritis blogging is: that’s some tenacious woman! Respect!