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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Milton

Amatola for Arthritis

The Amatola hiking trail is infamous for being the toughest hike in South Africa. Hiking 100 km over six days, with river crossings and very little flat terrain, carrying all your supplies except a tent is not for the faint-hearted! The hard work is well worth it, though, thanks to the absolutely stunning scenery.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto-immune disease characterised by inflammation, pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints. There is no cure, but with early diagnosis and good management, symptoms can be controlled and the progression slowed.

I am a 31-year-old woman who was diagnosed with RA at the age of 12 in 2001. It began with me noticing I couldn’t fully extend my left elbow, and after the progression from GP to orthopaedic surgeon to rheumatologist, I was eventually diagnosed and started on treatment. I have been through a couple of flare-ups over the years: my left elbow and left ankle are chronically-affected joints that do ache from time to time, and my knees both flared up acutely about 5 years ago.

At the moment, I am well-managed (thankfully, both knees are fine now) and am able to work normally; train hard (I do functional fitness at a local gym five mornings a week); dance salsa, which I love; and go on various outdoor adventures.

My boyfriend and I are taking on the Amatola over New Year’s with a group of friends and while preparing for it, I realised it’s a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and funds for others affected by this disease. The Arthritis Foundation improves the lives of many such people through awareness campaigns; education; and support, whether financial, logistical or emotional.

100 km is such a nice, round number it makes it easy to donate eg R5 per km. Lump sums, no matter how big or small are also welcome! Please join me in celebrating what my body CAN do and spreading a positive attitude that encourages others.

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