Books

This Is Going To Hurt: The Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay Book Review…

January 18, 2019

I’ve had Adam Kay’s book ‘This Is Going To Hurt*’, on my bullet journal reading list for months now.  The title ‘This is Going to Hurt’, appeals to my sense of humour and frankness when I think about doctors!  Ordered before I left for Australia I tucked the volume into my suitcase and forgot about it in the first week.

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That week is a bit of a blur as jetlag does funny things to my mind.  I came through the fog and unpacked my suitcase properly, hiding Christmas presents from my mum, handing over motorbike parts to my dad!  I sat down to start This is Going to Hurt: The Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor.

Kay had me on the first page with his anecdote about the wrong name being used for his email address.  Seemingly a great icebreaker, he then is floored when one colleague explains her ‘hypen’ in her last name was included as a word in her email address!  Kay is now a TV comedy writer and his wit shines through with as you hope he gets to at least one friend’s wedding or home for dinner with the long suffering H.

Told in a diary format we go through five years of Kay being a junior doctor primarily in obstetrics and gynaecology.  A mix of patient issues and commentary on the inefficient running of the NHS, his story counters the message from the UK government that doctors are lazy and asking for too much money.

My hourly rate as a first year SHO worked out as £6.60.  It’s slightly more than McDonald’s till staff get though significantly less than a shift supervisor.

I thought I had it bad in the advertising industry but as least I didn’t have anyone’s life in my hands.  Some shifts would go for 36 hours and Kay was expected to be as alert at the end as the beginning.  Doing surgery! 

Tuesday, 9th November 2004. Bleeped awake at 3pm from my first half-hour’s shut eye in three shifts to prescribe a sleeping pill for a patient, whose sleep is evidently much more important than mine.  My powers are greater than I realised – arrive on the ward to find the patient is asleep.

Cracks in the NHS shine through.  My biggest take out is don’t go to hospital after hours or on the weekend.  The doctor to patient ratio is terrible; often only one per specialism and the testing facilities are shut!  Plus the types of ridiculous scenarios that patients bring to the doctors in the middle of the night is shocking.

Wednsday 22 March 2006. Three a.m. attendance at labour ward triage.  Patient is twenty-five years old and thirty weeks into her first pregnancy.  She complains of a large number of painless spots on her tongue.  Diagnosis: taste buds.

Full of human tales ‘This is Going to Hurt: The Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’ by Adam Kay* is a must read and I can see why Books are my Bag readers voted it the top book of 2017.  For those of you reading this and work for the NHS I thank you again and again and again! Adam has a new column in The Guardian on a range of topics related to the medical field.

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