This book is having a bit of a ‘moment’, isn’t it? A Zoe Ball book club pick, week after week in the bestselling charts in paperback and it has just been announced that it’s being made into an eight-part comedy drama on BBC 2. But I’ve never read it… until now.
I realised that I got my partner Ryan the hardback for Christmas so I decided to give it a go (despite the fact that I’m not a big fan of blood and all of that medical… stuff). So, what is it about? This is the blurb:
Welcome to ninety-seven 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, Adam Kay’s diaries provide a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line.
Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, this is 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.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I thought it would be too medical for me (even more so than an episode of Casualty) but it’s way more than that. The whole book feels as if you’re talking to a close friend about his career and how hectic it is. It’s comforting, humorous, unsettling in places, but uplifting and joyous in equal measures too. Like I said, I’m not a big fan of all things medical, especially blood, and I don’t really understand all of the medical terms, and I’m sure not everyone does too. So, going through the book, Kay gives a brief and ‘in English terms’ definition of those terms. You really do learn a lot from this too!
There are some beautiful and lovely scenes in this book. There are several pages and quotes that I bookmarked that I loved, including this one:
And now I’m sitting with a woman who’s asking me if she shouldn’t have her ashes scattered on the Scilly Isles. It’s her favourite spot, but she doesn’t want it to be a sad place for her family once she’s gone. The undiluted selflessness of someone fully aware what her absence will do to those she leaves behind. My bleep goes off – it’s the morning SHO asking for handover. I’ve spent two hours in this room, the longest I’ve ever spent with a patient who wasn’t under anaesthetic. On the way home I phone my mum to tell her I love her.
In the midst of the sadness and tenderness, there’s some hilarious moments that make you laugh-out-loud. I loved this part:
Tuesday, 10 October 2006
I missed what the argument was about, but a woman storms out of gynae outpatients screaming at the clinic sister, ‘I pay your salary! I pay your salary!’ The sister yells back, ‘Can I have a raise then?’
This is a book that’s insightful, witty, funny, eye-opening, important and necessary. Few days ago, the NHS celebrated their 70th birthday and it’s something that mustn’t be taken for granted. As Kay writes:
They delivered you when you were born and one day they’ll zip you up in a bag, but not until they’ve done everything that medical science will allow to keep you on the road. From cradle to the grave, just like your man Bevan promised back in 1948.
They fixed your broken arm on sports day, they gave your nan chemo, they treated the chlamydia you brought back from Kavos, they started you on that inhaler, and all this wizardry was free at the point of service. You don’t have to check your bank balance after booking an appointment: the NHS is always there for you*.
*For now, at least.
It’s no wonder why everyone has took this book to their hearts. It’s a beautiful love letter to the NHS, championing junior doctor’s and everyone at the NHS. It celebrates doing something that you love, no matter what. I, for one, can’t wait to see the TV adaptation of this book and it has made me look at the world, especially NHS and the medical world, a lot differently.
Have you read This Is Going to Hurt yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!