Wednesday, 12 September 2018

This is Going to Hurt - Adam Kay

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A funny, heartwrenching story of a guy in the NHS.

I have written about topical issues being documented in literature. This is another example. Of how the health service is facing and dealing with hard time.

Anyone following local news will be aware of the junior doctor vs government tussle that hit the headlines sometime back. Art reflects society was what my BA course taught me and this is a case in point.

So much for all the newspaper headlines, documentaries, talks that dominated the media, this book outlines what it is like on the hotseat. Hats off to Adam Kay for summoning the guts and the publishers to back him to taking the issue head on.


Adam Kay shares his diaries of his time of a junior doctor (he is not one anymore, he gave up the white coat for a mike and a comedy audience) and takes us through his experience.

Some are comical, some heartbreaking but said with a trace of humour. My favourite was the instance where he asks a woman how many weeks pregnant she was and she gets to count the weeks from her birth. It was so straightforward and dead pan that it was so effective.

What works:
  • The book is packaged well, it explains the context of how the book came into being. It takes the non medic reader by hand into the journey of this guy who starts his journey as a House officer to a Senior Registrar.
  • There are helpful footnotes explaining the medical terminology. I cringed a bit when I thought I will have to acquaint myself with the medical terms but to Kay's credit those footnotes are a delight to read and I found myself looking forward to it
  • The humour that marks through the experience is amazing. It is not surprising how and why he found his calling as a comedy script writer.
  • The lack of social life, support these junior doctors get in return for standing on their feet for hours, making snap decisions comes to life in the pages.
  • The tone of humour is great, a subtle level of it while it tackles daily life on a ward.
  • The letter to Hunt at the end of the book is a great touch and very effective.
What doesn't:
  • If you are closely associated with medics (I am married to one and my social circle predominately consists of them) you can empathise and stick through the experiences right till the end. However, even for this ardent fan of Holby City, the highly concentrated medical experiences got a bit too much at one point. 
  • The experiences are not varied, it is about life in a hospital more importantly that of a obys and gynae ward so the jokes are centred around it. Perhaps that is the reason why the book although rightly deserved the praised heaped on it, was a bit limiting in its reach and popularity.
But there are some really good bits. How rotas don't let you plan a social evening till later, or shifting swapping is such a pain you give up on meeting up with friends. Also the bit where medics are asked for medical advice at all times is something that was fun reading about.

Overall, a fun read. It is often said that Britons like three things to watch and read about - Food, property and the NHS.

The popularity of this book proves it.

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