Michael Klim’s candid confession on living with rare disorder

Feb 10, 2023
Former Olympian Michael Klim admits it was a struggle to accept his diagnosis. Source: Getty

Former Australian swimming legend Michael Klim has shed some light on the realities of living with a rare neurological disorder.

The 45-year-old triple Olympian was diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) back in 2020.

According to the Brain Foundation CIDP “is a neurological disorder that results in slowly progressive weakness and loss of feeling in the legs and arms”.

In a recent interview with 9Honey, Klim confessed that it wasn’t easy for him to accept his shock diagnosis.

“It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact I wasn’t physically the same person I was even five years ago,” Klim said.

“My lifestyle had changed completely and everyone thought, ‘Oh you’re an Olympic swimmer, you’ve got this mental toughness and it’s going to be easy for you to overcome it’.

“But it was a long time and there was a lot of things I was doing that weren’t actually helping at all… I was very flat. But now I am in a position to raise awareness and I’m in a good frame of mind.”


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Klim had first gone public with his CIDP diagnosis in July 2022, taking to his blog to write about living with the condition while revealing he had been diagnosed with the disease two years earlier after “dealing with chronic ankle problems and degenerative back issues for quite some time”.

“Your mobility and your functionality is compromised,” Klim said of his condition.

“You continually have to stimulate them so there is a signal sense.

“I have to be more careful, though, in terms of my workload because once I get fatigued I really hit a wall.”

In a separate interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Klim admitted that he went through a “grieving process” following his diagnosis, saying coming to terms with his CIDP was just as difficult mentally as it was physically.

“I went through a period where I was completely deflated. I was unmotivated, I wasn’t looking after myself, eating junk, drinking too much,” Klim told the publication.

“There was a period where I wouldn’t say I completely gave up, but it took an effort. The people close to me and my loved ones, they saw I wasn’t really fighting.”

Shortly after opening up about his disease, the swim star has continuously made effort to raise awareness for CIDP.

On top of his soon-to-be-launched foundation, which will help raise funds and awareness for CIDP research, Klim has partnered with Brainwave to organise Brainwave’s Klim Swim Challenge.

The challenge encourages Australians to swim as far as they can to reach a collective target of 34,000 kilometres before the end of March 2023. The funds raised will go to children who also suffer from brain disorders, including those with CIDP.

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