HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor (2017)

by Adam Kay

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8874217,868 (4.13)20
The Sunday Times bestseller and winner of the National Book Awards Book of the Year 2018"Painfully funny. The pain and the funniness somehow add up to something entirely good, entirely noble and entirely loveable." Stephen FryWelcome 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.WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS POPULAR NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018 (UK)WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS NEW WRITER OF THE YEAR 2018 (UK) WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS BOOK CLUB BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018 (UK) PRAISE FOR THIS IS GOING TO HURT"Stayed up half the night laughing out loud over painfully smart, honest doctor diaries'" Emma Donoghue, author of Room"A funny, excoriatingly revealing, beautiful book." Dawn French"As hilarious as it is heartbreaking - and it IS heartbreaking (also hilarious)" Charlie Brooker creator of Black Mirror"Uniquely funny and unexpectedly heartbreaking" Adam Hills, Australian comedian and host of The Last Leg"A blisteringly funny account shot through with harrowing detail, many pertinent truths and the humanity we all hope doctors conceal behind their unflappable exteriors." Jo Brand… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 20 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
»This morning I delivered little baby Sayton – pronounced Satan, as in King of the Underworld.«

Wow, what a ride! Adam Kay, doctor gone writer, describes what he experienced in six years of medical practice in the United Kingdom.

In about 10 chapters, Adam first introduces us to the new position or posting he’s in now. He then proceeds to write in usually short passages in anecdotal style to explain the manifold lows and highs of his profession.

There were passages I laughed out loud at (something I rarely do and which garnered me curious and worried looks from my family), some that I thought couldn’t be true and others again that really truly hurt.
So, first information if you want to read this book: On multiple levels, the title is extremely well chosen.

Definitely dominant, though, is a wonderfully dry humour that, I imagine, in part allowed Adam to pull through those obviously at least partly hard, harsh years.

»Clearly blood isn’t the delicious post-delivery snack she imagines placenta might be.«

Another part seems to be Adam’s deeply ingrained empathy for his patients - even though the latter ultimately drove him out of his profession.
He honestly describes some horrible experiences, e. g. when having to take samples from a still-born baby:

»I dress him again, look up to a God I don’t believe in and say, ‘Look after him.’«

It’s this kind of doctor I would wish to treat me or my family. One that will, like Adam explains his doctor persona, go »for a ‘straight to the point’ vibe – no nonsense, no small talk, let’s deal with the matter in hand, a bit of sarcasm thrown into the mix.«

This kind of approach is applied in “This is Going to Hurt” as well: You get dumped straight into the “action” - be it sweet (as in the case of the baby named after him) or bitter (as the incident that made Adam leave his medical profession).
Every word he writes feels honest and rings true in every respect.

And just like that, Adam Kay single-handedly improved my opinion on doctors - because I don’t see a huge influx from the UK to my country, Germany, I suspect things aren’t all that much better over here…

If you just want to read an excellent book beyond all its merits mentioned before, you’re on the right track as well: Instead of “just one more page” I was like “just one more diary entry” and kept repeating that till I noticed I had read the same diary entry a few times already and I simply couldn’t concentrate anymore - it’s just that good.

If you remember (and hopefully like) James Herriot’s wonderful stories from his life as a country vet in Yorkshire, you might, at times at least, feel reminded of Herriot - a younger, sharper and more sarcastic version, though.

A brilliant, hilarious, heart-breaking book. Unreservedly recommended to anyone who reads. Five out of five stars.


Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram ( )
  philantrop | Feb 13, 2021 |
Funny and timely, this is one book I'm so glad I listened to the audio book of. Read by the author Adam Kay, each anecdote was brought to life. I laughed a lot and almost cried at times. I'd recommend this book for anyone interested in the life of junior doctors or the current plight of the NHS. ( )
  zacchaeus | Dec 26, 2020 |
A really well written diary of a junior doctor, which I enjoyed immensely despite being extremely squeamish and also completely unaware of most medical terminology. Adam explains all the medical terminology without having to flap back and forth to a big glossary, which really adds to the reading experience. ( )
  Vividrogers | Dec 20, 2020 |
Whatever happened to the Hippocratic Oath: first, do no harm? There are many things wrong with Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt, as I hope to unpack in this review; problems of content and structure, of its reception and the wider implications, but the most glaring – and most fatal – problem is its fundamental immorality. Adam Kay has decided to write and publish his rude and mocking memoir, taking as its cue his own experiences as a junior doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology (what us men happily know only as childbirth and 'women's issues'). His topic is, for the vast majority of this glib account, the hilarity of dealing with women in their most vulnerable moments as they are sick and bodily exposed to a complete stranger. If you are a woman in south-east England (or such a person is your wife or friend or mother), and you (or they) had a baby or went to hospital between 2005 and 2010, your intimate story might well be one of those mocked here. And it will be told by the very doctor trusted to deliver your 'brat', or look up what he calls your 'twat', so that he can now make a quick buck. From do no harm to This is Going to Hurt.

It's hard to know where to start, so let's begin by saying that, simply as a memoir, this book is awful. If there was any rhythm, any structure or narrative stamina, it might have been redeemable, for all its sins, but there's not. It's a series of unconnected diary entries (one of the laziest formats there is), but with the names cursorily changed to their initials (Kay's only fillip to the dignity of his former patients, and probably done more for legal reasons). It's a collection of juvenile anecdotes – things stuck up bottoms, etc. – that might be mildly funny if you had bumped into Kay at a party, but which begin to wear thin long before the end of this book. They're poorly told, often lacking full sentences, which means this stocking-filler memoir requires more effort to read than it deserves. There are copious footnotes, suggesting an inability to incorporate information into a competent, flowing narrative.

There's little attempt at real memoir-writing, no journey to invest in. Just 'then I was a senior', 'then I was a registrar', 'then I became a comedy writer'. It's probably just as well, as in Kay's company for almost 300 pages he does not come across as likeable. Instead he comes across as exhausting, privileged and with the stereotypical God complex. He's extraordinarily disingenuous: he claims doctors don't get into it for the money, despite mentioning the rate of pay on just about every page. He claims to be poor but comes from a family of doctors (a medical career being "just the default setting for my life" (pg. 2)), went to Dulwich public school (a "sausage factory" for professionals (pg. 2)), and walks into medical school despite saying they're all over-subscribed. He buys – buys – an apartment in the most expensive part of the country ("I can barely afford the mortgage", he exclaims in horror (pg. 142)), whilst bemoaning that he has to cancel regular foreign holidays due to work, and is eventually parachuted – bafflingly – into a career in television. He claims his job left him no time to eat, but he managed to find time to write extensive diaries. One doctor friend of his acquires a private pilot's licence (pg. 240) as an exit plan – these are not cheap either in money or time.

Kay's whole drama is that the job he thought would bring him prestige ultimately turned out to force him to interact with – shudder – the working-class. He can't get over that as a trainee he makes as much as a train driver or a bank teller, despite his career offering much more lucrative options a few years down the line, whilst theirs are dead-end jobs. In one particularly egregious cheap shot (and this book offers a plethora on every page), Kay describes one patient looking at him as though "they're closing Lidl" (pg. 221). He says that his exit plan from medicine is to go into chartered accountancy (pg. 197), the joke being that this is apparently the pits for someone of his background and social circle. He complains that he had to make career decisions at sixteen years old and now regrets it (pg. 1), even though this is what everyone has to live with – everyone, that is, who doesn't have connections like, let's say, a family of doctors or a network of private school alumni. When he complains that junior doctors are dropped in at the deep end and expected to sink or swim (pg. xix), he doesn't seem to realise that it's like that for just about everyone, except for "all [his] friends in sensible careers" with "mortgages and puppies" (pg. 62), who are the only people he compares himself to. Ultimately, what Kay experienced – briefly, reluctantly and petulantly – was life, as people less well-connected experience it every day.

Kay dedicates the book to himself; a joke, no doubt, but maybe the mask can be said to be slipping a bit when someone's jokes all revolve around how great they are and how incompetent other people are. The book gives off the impression that the hospitals Kay worked at would have fallen apart were he not there to perform regular acts of selfless heroism. Midwives are 'cretins' (pg. 227) and dismissively compared to cleaners (pg. 251). Nurses (who are arguably more unfairly paid) are only mentioned once, to my recollection, and that is when a group of doctors are bragging about who has had sex with them ("one of us while at work" (pg. 210)). Patients are "bed-blocking fuckers" (pg. 26). New parents "honestly believe [their babies] look beautiful" (pg. 49) and Jehovah's Witnesses are "fucking stupid" (pg. 42), though oddly Kay is more accommodating of an orthodox Muslim request later in the story (pg. 251). Dementia patients are made fun of, and a 'large number' of abortions performed by Kay mean he could now "probably hoover the stairs through my letter box if needed" (pg. 189). (Whatever your thoughts on that particular topic, all – except Kay, apparently – would agree abortion is probably one of the most raw and traumatic experiences someone can go through. The same's true of dementia.) Despite Kay's message at the end of the book suggesting we should be kind and supportive to NHS staff (pg. 269), he insults people who sympathetically say 'I don't know how you do it' as "people who wouldn't qualify for jury service, let alone from medical school" (pg. 196). Presumably because those damn plebs didn't go to public school.

The humour is very mean-spirited. There's the occasional funny anecdote – the sort of "a funny thing happened to me at work today" you might get from a significant other at 6pm – but for the vast majority of the time Kay's patients are the butt of the joke. I elaborate on the more disturbing implications of this in the final paragraphs of my review, but it's often unpleasant to read in the moment too. I can laugh along with a drunk teen who gets into mishaps on a night out, or a shamefaced woman trying to maintain her dignity as she has various items removed from her bum, but in the other stories I sympathized more with the plight of the patient than with Kay's attempt to get me to join in with how contemptible they are. And I'm usually someone who enjoys dark humour. It doesn't help that some of the anecdotes are clearly borrowed, perhaps appropriated from colleagues, or which sound like common urban legends circulated in med school. Others are lame puns (he calls his personal admin 'Adamin', for example (pg. 48)) or awkward attempts at zest ("In a Tarantino movie, this would be the part where…" (pg. 104)). Others could well be standard 'doctor, doctor' jokes taken from a joke website and gussied up. Without any apparent irony, he later criticises the "pitiful banter" of patients, whose "zingers" wouldn't even make it onto a "seaside postcard" (pg. 176).

It is perhaps because of his failing, low-brow attempts at comedy that Kay is now repositioning himself as an acolyte of the NHS religion. Now, I'm no roaring Tory or fan of privatization. I'm poor (and not one of Kay's 'I-can-barely-afford-the-mortgage' poor), and my own experiences of close family members being seriously ill were circumstances that would have sunk us all had we faced American-style hospital bills. But, in the last few years – and it's only been exacerbated by all the pots-and-pans doorstep racket made during Covid lockdown – there's been a distinctly… cultish element to discussion of the NHS in Britain. The service is the unimpeachable 'pride of Britain' and the 'envy of the world', yet it always seems to be in perpetual crisis and swallows money like a black hole swallows light (and, if Kay's account is even remotely true, it's a barely-functioning madhouse inside). Politicians who even whisper of reform (and some of them do indeed have ulterior motives) are rooted out for heresy. And yet Kay's – and the media's – response is more money, not better use of money. Junior doctors are overworked and undertrained yet somehow these problems will go away if they are just paid more, rather than by cutting their hours, hiring more staff to fill those hours, or reforming – if I can use that phrase without being struck down by lightning – the management structures. Kay wouldn't fall asleep behind the wheel of his car – twice, in his book – or make medical mistakes on a long shift, if he was only paid more per hour than those lowly bank tellers and McDonalds staff.

The problems – challenges, let's say – of the NHS are myriad, and I shouldn't go into them here, but the point is they go deeper than Kay's pandering to emotion. His insights – low pay, low morale, etc. – are not new ones, even if he has been able to put a human face on them (and credit to him for that). But if you can still think straight over the sounds of pots and pans, consider how few people would cut back on smoking or junk food to relieve strain on the NHS, or stop poisoning their bodies with alcohol to do the same. How many would refrain from going to A&E with trivial ailments, or from demanding exclusive attention from the staff? This is perhaps where the whiff of cultishness comes in: it doesn't matter how poorly-behaved you are, so long as you proclaim your virtue to the one true faith. Thank you, NHS. Whether cynical, opportunistic or sincere (Kay's recent attempt at a Book of Common Prayer for the new religion, called Dear NHS, is perhaps a mix of all three), this infantilization of what should be a sober policy discussion is counter-productive.

Maybe I've overdone that point, and we'll all get on with our lives and the NHS will keep rumbling on, but the negativity Kay's book feeds on suggests a more immediate effect than on the tone of discussion regarding NHS policy. You see, though the public seems to have responded well to Kay's book (and if his attitude to patients is anything to go by, he probably views this with contempt and self-regard), This is Going to Hurt quietly proves to be an appalling hatchet job on the perceived professionalism of doctors. There's already a reluctance people have in going to see the doctor (to check a strange lump, for example) and everyone, at some point, faces a medical emergency or has a close relative go through one. So to think (with good reason, Kay shows) that the staff involved in their care might be laughing at them behind their backs, giving them unflattering nicknames, making light of invasive procedures, or using their discomfort to bolster their new career as a comedy writer, would only encourage more such reticence. I think back now to a story I had forgotten: a medical student I once knew who told me of how she and her study group would dare one another to stick various funny implements into the orifices of a body that had been donated to medical science. It certainly put me off ever consenting to allow the same to happen to myself when the day comes.

Now that's he's established himself in comedy, Kay sticks the boot into his former colleagues – medicine being "a subject that anyone on the planet can learn, a career choice their mouth-breathing cousin could have made" (pg. 234) – which makes his current favourable reputation even more incredible. With its vindictive tone, its embellished anecdotes of misbehaviour and its betrayal of patients' trust, Kay's book is much more damaging to the veneer of medical professionalism than is currently acknowledged in the more religious reviews. ( )
1 vote MikeFutcher | Dec 1, 2020 |
Hilarious (and occasionally gruesome) recollection of the author's time as a medical resident. I listened to the audiobook on my morning walks and got more than the occasional odd look when I laughed out loud. Very funny! Note the author is British and the humor is wonderfully dry. Recommended for all (who can stand a few grisly medical tales). ( )
  -Eva- | Nov 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the Croatian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

The Sunday Times bestseller and winner of the National Book Awards Book of the Year 2018"Painfully funny. The pain and the funniness somehow add up to something entirely good, entirely noble and entirely loveable." Stephen FryWelcome 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.WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS POPULAR NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018 (UK)WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS NEW WRITER OF THE YEAR 2018 (UK) WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS BOOK CLUB BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018 (UK) PRAISE FOR THIS IS GOING TO HURT"Stayed up half the night laughing out loud over painfully smart, honest doctor diaries'" Emma Donoghue, author of Room"A funny, excoriatingly revealing, beautiful book." Dawn French"As hilarious as it is heartbreaking - and it IS heartbreaking (also hilarious)" Charlie Brooker creator of Black Mirror"Uniquely funny and unexpectedly heartbreaking" Adam Hills, Australian comedian and host of The Last Leg"A blisteringly funny account shot through with harrowing detail, many pertinent truths and the humanity we all hope doctors conceal behind their unflappable exteriors." Jo Brand

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.13)
0.5
1
1.5
2 7
2.5
3 26
3.5 15
4 112
4.5 19
5 70

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 157,721,166 books! | Top bar: Always visible