This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

Adam Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going to Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis. The result is a first-hand account of life as a junior doctor in all its joy, pain, sacr...

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Title:This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
Author:Adam Kay
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Edition Language:English

This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor Reviews

  • Eleanor

    A petition for Jeremy Hunt (and every other politician and individual wanting cuts to the NHS) to read this book immediately. As brilliantly funny as it was emotional, distressing and heart-wrenching. We don't look after our health services enough, and I hope this book helps more people understand why that needs to change.

  • Petra X

    I finished the book. It was a mostly irreverent look at the early years of being a junior doctor, then an obstetrician, until something catastrophic happens to a patient and the author turned from medicine to writing comedy. It was an excellent read, one good anecdote after another and rather than a review I'd like to summarise two. One concerns herbal medicine and the other the very serious topic of spousal abuse and how the hospital dealt with it in pregnant women.

    1.

    A woman had come to

    I finished the book. It was a mostly irreverent look at the early years of being a junior doctor, then an obstetrician, until something catastrophic happens to a patient and the author turned from medicine to writing comedy. It was an excellent read, one good anecdote after another and rather than a review I'd like to summarise two. One concerns herbal medicine and the other the very serious topic of spousal abuse and how the hospital dealt with it in pregnant women.

    1.

    A woman had come to the hospital with a bleeding from her vagina problem. When the doctor told her it was the result of the Chinese herb she had been dosing herself with she said, "I thought it was just herbal how can it be that bad for you?" The doctor said that apricot stones had cyanide in, the death cap mushroom is often fatal, Nature does not equal safe and that there was a plant in his garden where if you simply sat under it for ten minutes you'd be dead.

    Later the author asked the doctor what plant that was. He replied, "Water lily." Ah so...

    2.

    . The hospital had a system to help women admit to abuse, which was difficult as their partners often accompanied them to ante-natal visits. In the toilets they had a sign saying 'if you want to discuss any concerns about violence at home, put a red sticker on the front of your notes,' and there were sheets of red dot stickers in every cubicle.

    So the doctor saw a woman with a few red stickers on the front of her notes. It was very difficult to get the husband to leave the room. He tried, the midwife tried, the consultant tried and eventually they got her alone. The woman just clammed up, scared and confused and would admit to nothing. Eventually they established that the red dots were artistic decoration by her two year old child when they went to the toilet together.

    I think Ockham's Razor applies here!

    5 stars for being a great read and exposing the very emotional side of being a doctor and not just the practice of medicine.

    _____________________________________________

    from when I was reading the book.

    This is so funny. This 20 year old student goes to the doctor to request an abortion following condom failure. Turns out that she and her boyfriend didn't have much money so they turned the just-used condom inside out for round two!

    _______

    I knew I was going to read this book when I read,

    "A NOTE REGARDING FOOTNOTES

    Read the fucking footnotes."

    Laughed out loud.

    And then one of the first sentences, "I grew up in a Jewish family (although they were mostly in it for the food)... it's really got to be a good book with such louche writing.

  • Leo Robertson

    Excellent!

    Breezed through this one. The sense of humour worked well, balanced with the horrors of Kay's job.

    An Xmas present from my sis. She said, "You won't regret quitting medicine after reading this."

    She knows I don't, really, though reading this I wondered if I would.

    I think people assume I regret quitting medicine more than I do, which is, not at all. It had "not for me" all over it, and I've never experienced such an immense relief since leaving. My body was like, "Yeees, shut this shit do

    Excellent!

    Breezed through this one. The sense of humour worked well, balanced with the horrors of Kay's job.

    An Xmas present from my sis. She said, "You won't regret quitting medicine after reading this."

    She knows I don't, really, though reading this I wondered if I would.

    I think people assume I regret quitting medicine more than I do, which is, not at all. It had "not for me" all over it, and I've never experienced such an immense relief since leaving. My body was like, "Yeees, shut this shit down! Let's do anything else with the next... everything of our life!"

    I made it a year and a half at St Andrews then switched to Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde, spending the intervening months folding schoolwear in a shop so I knew that anything at uni would be worth it eventually.

    If this is even the first time you're reading that I ever studied medicine, it's because while I value your literary opinion immensely, I don't wake up giving a fuck how clever you think I am! (Okay it does come up in

    , but it was relevant. A bit ;) )

    A friend asked me about it when I met him in Greece this summer. I said, "It was never something I was supposed to be, so I don't think about it at all."

    Maybe an equivalent is, "Was it difficult coming out?" Maybe, but it was less tough than staying in.

    Anyway, I met some other people on that holiday, and it clicked.

    "So you live in Norway," a man said. "What was Norway before they had oil? They were farmers! Fishermen! You know, we here in Greece are hoping to discover new oil reserves. And as a banker I work with many of the same companies as you anyway."

    "Sure, sure," I said.

    Why say, "Despite your weird attempted 'historical own', the guys I work with sure don't catch their own fish anymore!" or, "That stable oil price will help you guys secure energy independence after your exploration efforts definitely lead to reserves. Oil is the, uh, future..." I didn't engage, though. I was on holiday and didn't know the guy. (And I also wasn't drunk.)

    No one SHOULD have to justify themselves to others, but that's not how most people let the world work. Kay isn't bothering to justify himself and openly pokes fun at the idea that anyone could pick a suitable career at a young age, or that the criteria for acceptance for careers even make sense. But this is mainly a clarion call to action against the current conditions for junior doctors and perhaps a deeply reassuring text to those people who feel inadequate because they're not doctors.

    Wow what a sacrifice it is. I sure wasn't able to make it.

  • Sonja Arlow

    I am going to be in so much trouble when my sister finds out I gave this book to my niece as this is probably not a very appropriate book for a 17-year-old. But she is determined to become a doctor and she needs to know it’s not just about rockstar surgeries and making buckets of money. It is the most insane working hours, thankless work with crap pay.

    The diary entries follow Adam’s ascend through the ranks, from a junior doctor to becoming a consultant, specialising in gynaecology or “brats and

    I am going to be in so much trouble when my sister finds out I gave this book to my niece as this is probably not a very appropriate book for a 17-year-old. But she is determined to become a doctor and she needs to know it’s not just about rockstar surgeries and making buckets of money. It is the most insane working hours, thankless work with crap pay.

    The diary entries follow Adam’s ascend through the ranks, from a junior doctor to becoming a consultant, specialising in gynaecology or “brats and twats” I learned more about giving birth than I ever EVER wanted to. The writing style is not geared towards making you feel a deep connection with Adam however towards the end my heart really went out to him and is the reason I rounded up to a full 4 stars.

    The format took a while to get used to as some diary entries were so short they felt like Doctor Doctor jokes, but once I got used to it I could not stop reading.

    This was really entertaining, in fact at times I had to literally wipe away tears of laughter. But there were a few stories where I felt the author went over the line, where someone should have told him to leave it out of this collection. These made up only about 10% of the book so it was easy to forgive. I also found the footnotes explaining medical procedures very interesting and not as intrusive as footnotes normally tend to be.

    But this was not just all laughs, there were quite a few very touching stories that brought me back to reality, this is not a book full of fictitious jokes, it’s a book full of real people with serious medical problems.

    The overall impression I was left with was how utterly grueling the process of becoming a doctor really is, how the NHS is setup to grind the doctors down even further, getting to know the human (warts and all) behind the white coat and how much a thank you from a patient means.

    If you have an interest in medical memoirs and want a good laugh, then give this a try.

  • Sara

    I loved this. In part funny and heartwarming, yet also utterly heartbreaking and disillusioned. I think this strikes a particular cord with me at the moment as the author was an obs & gynae doctor, and I’ve recently spent time myself as an inpatient on such a ward.

    This is the first book in a while where I’ve read passages out to my husband while laughing out loud one minute and then had to hold back tears the next. It’s a full on rollercoaster of emotions that also seems to very accurately

    I loved this. In part funny and heartwarming, yet also utterly heartbreaking and disillusioned. I think this strikes a particular cord with me at the moment as the author was an obs & gynae doctor, and I’ve recently spent time myself as an inpatient on such a ward.

    This is the first book in a while where I’ve read passages out to my husband while laughing out loud one minute and then had to hold back tears the next. It’s a full on rollercoaster of emotions that also seems to very accurately describe what it’s like to work as front line staff for the NHS. I should know, I do it everyday too, and we all have our stories to tell that encompass the best and worst of British medical care. It’s one of my favourite things about the job, hearing stories from everyone about ‘that time a patient shoved a remote control up their rectum’ or ‘remember that night shift a woman faked passing out’. I think it’s what binds and bonds you all together. The camaraderie. Told with a liberal dose sarcasm and self deprecating humour, the author manages to walk that tightrope between friend, colleague and reliable narrator to a finely tuned ‘T’.

    My admiration for other healthcare professionals is limitless, and will continue to be so. It’s really the awful and gut wrenching stories interspersed throughout (especially the last chapters) that make you realise how much pressure and guilt our doctors are under. And for little pay might I add. Day after day, night after night they fight to provide the best level of care they can without succumbing to sleep deprivation, depression or worse. There’s a lot of emotion here, a lot of anger and sadness that’s so hard to see, yet is oh so common in the increasingly frequent demoralised NHS worker.

    It’s a very bittersweet read, that I devoured in one day, and I’m sorry it’s over. It’s one of the best memoirs of this kind I’ve read in a long time and I loved following Adam Kay on his journey through life as a junior doctor.

  • Emma

    A genuinely funny collection of stories from a former doctor; some so horrifying, surprising, or amusing that I had those hard-to-breathe-while-laughing moments, immediately making Audible clips and sending them to all my friends. It's not for the squeamish, be prepared for lots of blood, births, bad language, and assorted 'implements' stuck in places they really shouldn't be. Rarely have I been so impressed (if that’s the right word) by the willingness of individuals to achieve a memorable sex

    A genuinely funny collection of stories from a former doctor; some so horrifying, surprising, or amusing that I had those hard-to-breathe-while-laughing moments, immediately making Audible clips and sending them to all my friends. It's not for the squeamish, be prepared for lots of blood, births, bad language, and assorted 'implements' stuck in places they really shouldn't be. Rarely have I been so impressed (if that’s the right word) by the willingness of individuals to achieve a memorable sex life by inserting objects into orifices and then having to go to A&E to have them removed.

    There are, of course, also very sad stories, including the one that led the author to decide he had to leave. It would have been wrong to focus solely on the laughs, denying the inevitable traumas, near misses, and deaths, some of which may have been prevented by having a properly run, well staffed, less overworked team of doctors. If nothing else, you leave the book with the understanding that the NHS is barely getting by. This is the very reason Kay wrote the book, as rebuttal of the politicians' portrayal of junior doctors as money grabbing and lazy, but only in the final section does he address this directly. Instead, he shows you a doctor and other staff worked to the very edge of their ability to cope. It's eye opening and I left it feeling even more grateful for this amazing resource we have. One we need to protect.

    In mixing comedy and reality, Kay has found an effective way to show us some truths while making us laugh so hard we have to hold back tears. It's the best kind of learning.

  • Kaitlin

    This is a non-fiction read all about the NHS and the way that the system works. It's told in a diary format from the years when Adam Kay was a junior doctor and was part of the system. We see how the NHS has been struggling as time goes on to keep up the standards and staff levels, and we see the strain it can take on a doctor. We also get to see the way that Adam Kay dealt with many of the tests on his own time and relationships.

    However, at the heart of this story it's all about humour and anec

    This is a non-fiction read all about the NHS and the way that the system works. It's told in a diary format from the years when Adam Kay was a junior doctor and was part of the system. We see how the NHS has been struggling as time goes on to keep up the standards and staff levels, and we see the strain it can take on a doctor. We also get to see the way that Adam Kay dealt with many of the tests on his own time and relationships.

    However, at the heart of this story it's all about humour and anecdotes and we get a real look at some of the truly silly and down-right mad things that people do to end up in A & E. We also get to follow some of the stories which were quite embarrassing/funny or down-right painful (hence the title) and I found there were plenty of LOL moments in the book.

    There's a bit of a shocking ending, and that topped this off as a 4.5*s read for me. I really would recommend this one, and I enjoyed it immensely!

  • James

    ‘This is Going to Hurt’ (2017) is essentially Adam Kay’s account of his time as a junior doctor in the UK’s National Health Service.

    ‘This is Going to Hurt’ is by turns, funny, moving, revealing, heartening and shocking. Kay has given us a very human account of life in the NHS in the role of a junior doctor and brings into sharp focus the absurdly long shifts and the super-human demands that are imposed and expected of doctors and many other health professionals in the NHS. It’s an account that

    ‘This is Going to Hurt’ (2017) is essentially Adam Kay’s account of his time as a junior doctor in the UK’s National Health Service.

    ‘This is Going to Hurt’ is by turns, funny, moving, revealing, heartening and shocking. Kay has given us a very human account of life in the NHS in the role of a junior doctor and brings into sharp focus the absurdly long shifts and the super-human demands that are imposed and expected of doctors and many other health professionals in the NHS. It’s an account that also brings home the very personal, life changing costs of unbelievably long shift lengths (doctors in the UK NHS sign an opt out of the European Working Time Directive – meaning they are routinely expected to work shifts of practically unworkable length) as well as how the personal and professional impact of the daily ‘successes’ and ‘failures’ is felt by those in the firing line.

    Quite clearly the daily demands of the job of junior doctor in the NHS are inordinately massive – and if it is a ‘job’, then it is one like no other. It is clear from Kay’s book that those embarking on this career path are certainly not in in for the money.

    Kay’s book is a best seller in the UK and it is easy to see why. So very many of us in the UK are quite rightly, passionately proud and protective of our wonderful institution that is the NHS (now 70 years old). Whilst at the same time, many of us are significantly concerned about the health, future and even the continued existence of our NHS.

    ‘This is Going to Hurt’ gives us a true, whilst disturbing picture from at least one doctor’s perspective and is written in a very light, accessible, episodic (diary entries) and engaging way. Clearly adept at this sort of writing – Kay is now a script writer/editor for TV comedy.

    ‘This is Going to Hurt’ is a well put together, suitably humorous, respectful whilst irreverent account. It is a book that confirms many of our worst fears concerning life in the cash starved NHS. Importantly Kay provides us with the very human face to at least one NHS doctor – one amongst the 1 million plus health professionals and other employees of the NHS, who are generally faceless to the patient as a service user. Kay I think prompts us to stop and consider what it is like for those working in the NHS and to remember that they too are human and have lives just like us (although perhaps differently lived).

    ‘This is Going to Hurt’ is well written and entertaining and at the same time makes and alludes to critically important points concerning the current state and future of the NHS – as well as the deeply worrying possibility of life in the UK without the NHS in its present form and the privatised alternative. If for this reason alone, Kay’s book should be read by as wide as possible audience – it is perhaps deceptively an important account and an important book and needs to be read. Ultimately it is about a health service of which the UK is quite rightly proud – of which many outside the UK are understandably envious of and which is sadly and consistently under threat from political ideologists within the UK.

    We should be proud of our NHS and we should be prepared to fight for its future.

    Long Live The National Health Service.

  • Jo (An Unexpected Geek)

    This book was an amazing insight into the life of a former Doctor. It is set out in the format of a diary, which made for easy reading. I found some of the diary entries so utterly horrifying and surprising, I was sitting there thinking, what the hell? Put it this way, there was a tremendous amount of talk on people inserting extremely weird and wonderful objects up their vaginas to improve their sex lives. Yes, I was cringing.

    This book was written light heartedly, and a great deal of it was act

    This book was an amazing insight into the life of a former Doctor. It is set out in the format of a diary, which made for easy reading. I found some of the diary entries so utterly horrifying and surprising, I was sitting there thinking, what the hell? Put it this way, there was a tremendous amount of talk on people inserting extremely weird and wonderful objects up their vaginas to improve their sex lives. Yes, I was cringing.

    This book was written light heartedly, and a great deal of it was actually hilarious. Apart from all the laughs this doctor endured over the years, there were a lot of tears. I think it would be false just to include all the happy and uplifting stories, and leave out the sorrow. It was one particular sad and heartbreaking event that causes this Doctor to decide to leave medicine. Of course, I won't spoil the reason for any readers, so I'll let others discover that for themselves.

    The sad thing about this book for me, is the stone cold reality of if the NHS was adequately staffed, many near misses, wrong diagnosing and even deaths could definitely be avoided. I've had contact with many doctors, and I've felt messes around, passed from pillar to post while they try to figure out what was the matter with me. I've also had contact with some amazing doctors, that have literally saved my life.

    Many politicians label junior doctors as money grabbing and rather lazy, but after reading this, you'll realise that certainly isn't the case. The author has caused me to see things from an alternative perspective, and for that I'm glad to have had a sneak peek into his world.

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