This Is Going To Hurt, Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
By Adam Kay
Adam Kay a British comedy writer, author and comedian was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going to Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis. The result is a first-hand account of life as a junior doctor in all its joy, pain, sacrifice and maddening bureaucracy, and a love letter to those who might at any moment be holding our lives in their hands.
One of the funniest books I have read in a long time, I had to try and hold in laughter whilst reading this on my lunch break at work. One particular story that made me laugh was this:
” Wednesday, 22nd March 2006 – Three a.m. attendance at labour ward triage. Patient RO is 25 years old and 30 weeks into her first pregnancy. She complains of a large number of painless spots on her tongue. Diagnosis – taste buds.”
This short part of the book made me roar with laughter and I read it out to friends and family, other than being funny I thought to myself, how can people be that stupid and waste precious Doctors time? and secondly he diagnosed this at 3am!!!! Either being woken up to diagnose a perfectly healthy patient or possibly he may not have been to sleep at all. Everything about this passage sheds light on what this entire book is about, it’s hilarious yes, but is also an informative eye opening book about the pressures Doctors are under and the struggles of the NHS.
You an see why Kay easily slid into a career from medicine to comedy, as his book had me in fits of giggles. I especially found the patient stories about how they have got foreign objects stuck up their dark holes very amusing… I always thought these horror stories were just myths, like unicorns but apparently people really do shove things up their bums and try to explain it was “a mistake”. This book definitely is not for the squeamish, strange objects up bum holes are one thing but there was also parts that were pretty grotesque lots of blood, guts, births, a foul sponge… not pretty to read.
Overall this book gave me a real feel for what junior doctors have to go through whilst working for the NHS, underpaid, under valued, under trained and basically treated like crap. I really did not realise until reading this how under paid doctors were! No wonder they go on strike for better pay and better working conditions, I totally understand that now and the pressure Kay had to work under, with a disgusting lack of sleep was admirable. His hard working ethic amazed me, Kay missed friends weddings, funerals, christenings, birthdays and dates with his partner because he HAD to be at work. He missed so much in life for his job where he was paid less money a week than a train driver, yet making life and death decisions on a daily basis. Though with all the negativity about pay and working conditions Kay is very humble and he says himself in the book “You may be an hour late home, but you’re an hour late home because you stopped a mother bleeding to death.” We see him working 97 hour weeks, losing friendships and parters, cancelling holidays and sleeping in his car. I don’t think I am the only one who has had negative views that junior doctors are over paid and lazy, and that’s the reason why Kay wrote this book, to break the prejudice against doctors that the government seem to throw in your face constantly on the news, after reading this my perspective has flipped 180 and I feel guilty that the Government and the News made me have these incorrect views. Just shows you how much power and persuasion the news has on us.
With all the giggles and laughs Kay also focusses on the not so nice stuff; deaths, miscarriages, near misses and traumas some of the stories are heartbreaking and upsetting to read. But also vital to the book, portraying how the NHS is under pressure, understaffed, over worked and struggling, badly! But also showing that Doctors really are heroes, keeping us fit, well and alive even if they have only had 2 hours sleep, not eaten and looking after multiple patients in emergencies at the same time, I know I couldn’t cope working like that not for 10 minutes, let alone 6 years!
This book is a real eye-opener about the soon to be demise of the NHS and the struggles staff have to face on a daily basis. Albeit very hilarious and light hearted in places this book is also educational. All all the asterixis along the way indicating all the complicated medical terms such “Cardiotogograph” and “Ascities” mean. I feel like I have a better understanding of the OB/GYN department, also I will feel really intelligent when I watch a few episodes of Casualty or Holby City.
If you want to laugh out loud, learn a bit about the OB/GYN department and the NHS this book is for you. Any novel that begins with thanking himself on the dedication page “And to me, without whom this book would not have been possible” is going to be a great read!
Have you read This is going to hurt? Has it also changed your perceptions of junior doctors and the NHS? I would love to know, get in touch! Katie x
This is another book that I have read from the British Book Awards Reading Challenge I have set myself. Click here to read all about it and see what books I have left to read before 14th of May!