I had been waiting to read This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diary of a Junior Doctor for a long time. Pretty much every blogger and Instagrammer has been singing its praises since it came out. I’ve always been fascinated by the experiences of NHS doctors and nurses, and have watched One Born Every Minute and 24 Hours in A&E for as long as I can remember. I intended to continue my habit on reading real paper books with this title, but no shop I went into had it- I’m unsure whether this was because I was frantically checking every supermarket around me, or if everyone in South East London was as desperate to get their hands on the diary as I was. Anyway, I gave in and bought the Kindle book, deciding that reading on a kindle would be worth it.
I was so right. Except I wish I could’ve added post-it notes and bookmarks on my favourite pages- the Kindle highlights and bookmarks just aren’t the same. Kay’s voice was just brilliant. I wonder if his frank, matter-of-fact expression was a necessity for dealing with the traumas of junior doctor life, rather than a purposeful writing style. Of course, you hear anecdotes about the problem patients that NHS staff members encounter, but some of Adam’s stories were something else.
His story (not this book, but his experiences) had me cringing, for both Adam and his patients, and laughing out loud in equal measures. In fact, I think London commuters weren’t used to having someone quite so happy on their journey into work on a Monday morning. I couldn’t wait to share my favourite parts of the story with my friends, urging them to buy a copy for themselves. It was really that good.
Of course, the humour doesn’t overshadow the invasive nature of this experience as a junior doctor, working ungodly hours for pathetic pay and having life plans completely turned upside down. Invasive to the point that a Saturday night out with friends doesn’t necessarily mean a night off work; that the end of a twelve-hour shift doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going home. In fact, the final diary entry encapsulated the intensity of junior doctor life and, if you weren’t thinking it before and during you were reading the book, brought the intensity of junior doctor life to the forefront, and hammers home the message that we must be grateful for all that NHS staff do.
The diary format of This is Going to Hurt made it incredibly easy to read, and I even found myself reading it as I was walking along. I knew there wasn’t necessarily going to be a resolution or a narrative arc, but I just couldn’t get enough of the way Kay told his story.
I’ve told just about everyone who would listen (and even those who didn’t care) about This is Going to Hurt and how they absolutely must read it – and I’m urging you to do the same. Even if you aren’t into books or reading, this is just a perfect picture of how hard NHS staff work to keep us ticking over. It makes you realise that, while A&E waiting times might be increasing and you might have to wait longer for your doctors appointment, this is almost never the your doctor’s fault. They’re moving from patient to patient and trauma to trauma without a moment’s hesitation. You should read this book because it will make you feel grateful, humbled and respectful.