Loo Rolls to Lycra – Book Review

Normally I leave the book reviews up to Natalie and Rachel; but this was utterly fantastic in fact I went from cover to cover in FOUR hours. Caroline Bramwell has written this book about her battle with Ulcerative Colitis and becoming an Ironman champion. I honestly loved it and I am going to tell you why!

The blurb goes as follows:

Loo Rolls to Lycra: The Ironman Dreams of an IBD Sufferer is the inspirational and insightful autobiography of Caroline Bramwell, a wife and mother who believed her life was going down the toilet when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. With an encyclopaedic knowledge of every public toilet, bush or tree to dive behind and after numerous extreme dietary regimes, Caroline elected to have her large intestine removed, and to live with a permanent ileostomy. A self confessed couch potato, Caroline turned to sport after surgery, dispelling the medical profession’s ‘you can’t do that’ attitude by announcing her London-to-Paris 24-hour cycle ride. Motivated to learn to swim by her children, her enthusiasm for triathlon was lit after meeting Ironman world champion, Chrissie Wellington. Caroline has completed at all triathlon distances, including the full Ironman UK, and has become one of the UK’s leading ostomy triathletes. Loo Rolls to Lycra is the epitome of the self-belief that anything is possible.

I have had this book for a few months and with the summer holidays over I had some free time what with Ra-Ra being at school and Button still going down for good naps. I found this book quite compelling, from the conversational style of prose to how relatable the situations Caroline found herself in.

We both suffered from ulcerative colitis but at different times in our lives, not that it matters what age you are if you have to squat behind a bush it is still mortifying. We both essentially chose to have our permanent ileostomies and are both mums. From the family aspect I noticed I was nodding my head a lot and at one point cried; I too know what it is like to feel like the invisible parent because you are in too much pain from the cramping and frequent toilet trips although by the time I was a mum the colitis was in my jpouch. 00Steve basically ran the house when he got home there were few good days where I could be the mum/wife I wanted to be and that was no different for her husband Craig.

Now don’t get me wrong I haven’t tried to attempt anything close to a triathlon or Ironman but that doesn’t mean the races I have taken part in are any less important and as Caroline talks about preparing for each race, learning to swim (I also have a fear of deep/open water) and getting fit again I was able to understand the feelings she described. Now even if you aren’t or never want to be an athlete (I definitely wouldn’t class myself as one) the feelings are described so eloquently that you instantly feel empathy and an understanding.

I finished this book desperately wanting to lace my trainers on and go for a run; but sadly that will have to wait until this hypermobilty is either diagnosed fully or calms down. She talks about doing Mission Unbreakable which is sort of an assault course probably like Total Warrior or Tough Mudder. This brought back fond memories of myself and 00Steve doing it 3 days after being discharged from hospital after finding out I had pouchitis. Knowing that with only a few tweaks I can do this with my stoma fills me with joy at the prospect of doing it in the future.

I was also incredibly lucky to meet Ironostomy herself at ASCN and I got her to sign the book for me. I highly suggest reading it whether you have any or no inclination to go for an open water swim, cycle or run regardless of distance or speed. This book is just such an inspiring read and let’s you know that with hard work and determination you can achieve many great things.

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