Updated: May 29, 2020
At the start of 2018, I decided to challenge myself to read one book every month. I’ve always loved reading from a young age, but sometimes life gets in the way, and I felt like I hadn’t sat down and read a book for a long time.
It was a successful challenge, as I ended up reading 13 books that year, including the fantastic Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn that I mentioned in my last blog post.
Moving on to 2019 and I chose a slightly different challenge – knitting cat blankets to donate to a local rescue centre. I’m not sure where that idea came from, and I certainly won’t be doing it again any time soon! I missed reading last year, as knitting sort of took over my spare time, so this year I’m back at the books.
I started the year with one I’ve had sat on my shelf for over ten years. In fact, it’s the book I bought with my prize giving voucher from school when I was doing my GCSEs! It was, therefore, a relatively simple read, but nonetheless it was good to finally read it.
The second book is what I want to focus on in this review. Adam Kay’s ‘This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’ has been extremely popular since it was published in 2017. I think part of this popularity is due to the public’s ability to relate with what Adam writes about – tales from his time working for the NHS.
We all know someone who has used the NHS’ services, whether for a broken arm or a more serious illness. Kay gives us an insight from the other side of the waiting room, as he takes us through his career from House Officer (F1) to Senior Registrar – “verrucas and all”.
The book is written in a diary format, with an introduction at the start of each chapter explaining which phase of his career he was in. The content is based on the diaries he kept while he was a junior doctor, and is a worrying realisation of what NHS staff go through on a daily basis and how it affects their personal lives.
He shares stories that range from being hilarious to downright disgusting – one minute you’re laughing, the next you’re cringing, and then before you know it you’re crying at one of the more heart breaking entries (there are a few of these, so you may want to have some tissues handy if you’re a sensitive soul).
You really do experience a whirlwind of emotions when reading this book. I laughed and cried, but I also got very angry at times too – just when you think life is tough enough for these doctors and nurses, another curveball gets thrown their way and it just doesn’t seem fair.
The underlying message Adam Kay is trying to share in his book, is that the NHS staff need to be supported and recognised for the amazing, yet exhausting (mentally and physically) work they do day in, day out to keep the British public safe and healthy.
I consider myself very lucky to have only been to hospital a few times for minor riding accidents (touch wood!) – a cracked elbow and a sprained wrist being the worst I’ve experienced. But I have family and friends who have received treatment for varying ailments, and I know that if and when I need help for something more serious, the NHS staff will do their best to help with the resources they have.
This book really is an eye opener for those of us who aren’t on the NHS front line. I think we sometimes take this service for granted and don’t realise the pressure these doctors and nurses are under.
So, if you’re thinking of giving this book a go, be prepared for a bumpy ride. It’s a quick read – I breezed through in less than a week – but it may take you a little longer to recover from the emotions you will inevitably experience. Good luck!