I wanted to do a quick review/reflection on Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt but the timing of me reading it coincided very well with a pretty big, recent event in my life. As such, I’d like to preface my review with the news that I have been officially accepted into the University of Manchester to study medicine from this September!
This blog started as a journal for me to document my journey of studying and we have reached our final goal which gives me immense joy and satisfaction. I’m really looking forward to starting university and the fact that I’m able to go while still reaping all the rewards of living at home is an interesting prospect.
This good news has really put the cherry on top of my review because I wanted to review a book I recently finished, called This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay, which was published last year and received quite the smattering of applause from the media as this was a topic never before written about in such great detail and to such a wide audience. The book follows Adam, in an autobiographical retelling of his six years spent on the frontlines of the NHS, as a junior doctor, via a diary format with a huge amount of footnotes. The diary entries run from 2004 to 2010 which is when he was working, scattered with anecdotes mainly from the hospital but also a few from his personal home life that related well with the matter at hand.
Reading this, I was sort of slapped in the face with the realisation that this is the career I chose to pursue and I will have to deal with things very similar to this too eventually. Scraping away the omnipresent humour, which was dark but caustic in a very understandable way because of the desolate aspect of a career like medicine, it highlighted, very clearly, the problems with the state of the NHS. Quite simply put, junior doctors working overtime on a daily basis with exacerbating mental health issues due to the nature of the job. The call for help is loud and clear throughout the stories Adam outlines.
It consolidated every medical “horror story” I’ve heard of, with a very special spotlight on obstetrics and gynaecology, which might lend itself even better to tales of woe than other specialities. It described bumps in all sorts of relationships thanks to his busy life. It really brought home the questionable (often outrageous!) things people can believe about their health. Yet despite all this, there were always silver linings, moments that reminded the reader of just how rewarding it was to be a doctor and appreciation from the author himself of how good it felt despite the physical tolls.
Something I found especially poignant was how short the diary entries were and the fact that they often ended quite abruptly. We never truly got closure on some of the cases he described and it felt parallel to his own line of work, where there sometimes isn’t closure on certain cases. This wasn’t a book about happy endings, but instead of real life people and human experiences where things can go wrong for the best seeming people and I can’t explain how content I felt about his description of events.
I don’t imagine there’s anyone who could read this book and not have a renewed appreciation for the work that hospital staff do. Personally, it’s not been eye-opening as much as awe-inspiring. I wonder if I could ever be so capable to juggle the kinds of things that doctors are forced to and hope and pray that one day I can be just as much of an asset to the community as they are. While nerve-wracking, the prospect of chasing this dream fills me with excitement and determination.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to absolutely anyone and everyone because not only is it hilarious, but informative to a degree that can only really be achieved by an eyewitness account.