Sent to me by Picador in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 07/09/17
Format: Hardback, 288pp
Summed up in a word: Experience
This Is Going To Hurt is one of those books that as soon as you pick it up, you know you have to read it as soon as possible! I thought Adam Kay’s open letter to the NHS, as well as doctors and patients (or ‘clients’), was an outstanding effort. This book is equal parts insightful, humorous and heartbreaking. Adam puts all of his experiences out there for us to contemplate, appreciate and sympathise with. The hell AK went through day-in-day out to provide the best care for his patients, the highs and the lowest of lows. This Is Going To Hurt is an exceptional piece of required reading, though I learned many things that I now cannot unlearn! Full review below.
Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships . . .
Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.
Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.
“It’s sink or swim, and you have to learn how to swim because otherwise a ton of patients sink with you. I actually found it all perversely exhilarating. Sure it was hard work, sure the hours were bordering on inhumane and sure I saw things that have scarred my retinas to this day, but I was a doctor now.” Adam Kay.
What a read! This Is Going to Hurt follows Adam Kay’s rise through the ranks of the National Health Service. Specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (a speciality he was told was easy…) Adam’s job is the definition of life and death. This book is many things but above all else it is a meaningful open letter to those who use and/or run the NHS. Doctors and nurses are worked to the bone, a lot of the time for free, to provide us with the care we deserve. Adam asks us to take into consideration those on the front-lines, those who give us their all, miss their families and work relentlessly to take care of those in need. We are all human, let’s work together.
Adam Kay runs us through his time in the NHS, from a beginning rank of House Officer to the show running Consultant position. TIGTH is not only a fantastic insight into the moral maze of British healthcare but it is both hilarious and heart-wrenchingly moving. I laughed so hard at things I probably shouldn’t have and cried in the moments that AK stripped away his witty, upbeat, jokey and cheeky writing style and focused on the harsher side of working on the medical front-lines. There are stories of embarrassment i.e ‘I fell on it…’, stories of pain, loss, time wasters, idiots, genuine human beings and ambitious wedding proposals gone wrong. Lots of bite-sized stories that give you a well painted picture of what an NHS doctor faces each day.
Set out in daily diary entries AK documents his choose to become a obstetrician/gynaecologist and working in clinics and labour wards day-in-day-out for over 100 hours a week. AK’s tale is one of frustration, exhaustion and vulnerability. I was truly amazed about how open and honest Adam is about his thoughts, feelings and actions during his time as a doctor. People don’t get into medicine for money or praise, modern day doctors are selfless, hardworking warriors that keep the tide of illness at bay.
“Among the funny and the mundane, the countless objects in orifices and the petty bureaucracies, I was reminded of the brutal hours and the colossal impact being a junior doctor had on my life. Reading back, it felt extreme and unreasonable in terms of what was expected of me, but at the time I’d just accepted it as part of the job. There were points where I wouldn’t have flinched if an entry read ‘swam to Iceland for antenatal clinic’ or ‘had to eat a helicopter today’.” Adam Kay
TIGTH a journey of morality, fatigue, passion, ethical boundaries, triumph and unfortunate failure. Navigating the gauntlet of unbelievable patients, politics and lack of communication while focusing on saving lives under immense pressure, I couldn’t help but be impressed by AK contribution to healthcare. There are certainly dark and tragic elements to the book, moments that make you want to give AK a hug. But he defers a lot of his discomfort though the art of a hilarious (but not demeaning) perspective on humanity. The humour is wacky, witty and sometimes is just outright circumstantial. I was in stitches (pun intended) at times, so much so I had to stop reading.
AK and many of the other doctors we encounter have given up so much to protect those in need. AK tells about missed opportunities for love, family, friendship and progression; but he is never sour or angry about all of his sacrifices. The thousands of babies he delivered all weigh heavily on him in one way or another but he appreciates every moment he was helping someone. AK has written TIGTH address a certain time in his life that may do some good towards everyone’s perspective towards doctors, nurses and the NHS. I was certainly moved and educated by his experiences and I do hope that the bigger picture message that AK has crafted within this book gets through to plenty of people.
Overall I believe this is required reading for all readers. It is a hilarious, heart-breaking and everything in between. The highs are fantastic and endlessly funny or inspirational. The lows are dark, human and immensely moving. Adam Kay choose a different path after many years but he still looks fondly back on his time as a doctor. TIGTH is just part one of his story. AK has another book coming out in 2019 so stay tuned for that.
About Adam Kay
Adam Kay is an award-winning comedian and writer for TV and film, including Mitchell & Webb and Very British Problems. He previously worked as a junior doctor, detailing his funny and sad experiences in his first book This Is Going To Hurt. He lives in west London.