This is [not] Go to Hurt Book Sale

This is going to hurt, published in 2017, is Adam Kay’s memoir detailing his experiences working on a hospital obstetrics and gynecology ward as a junior physician. It was an instant bestseller, translated into 37 languages ​​and accompanied by a live tour.

The book has now been adapted into a major BBC television series by the author himself, starring Ben Whishaw as Kay. The seven-episode series also marks the opportunity for a new edition of the book (with a photo by Ben Whishaw) and the opportunity for an “exclusive” foreword by Kay. He has also just announced a second tour, “This is Going to Hurt More”, starting in September 2022.

This is going to hurt is divided into chapters titled by Kay’s role as he gets older, and each chapter is broken up into very short journal entries. This structure creates a feeling of fast pace, which works well to create the impression of a rushed doctor. It also makes it easier to read and continue reading, because you think to yourself “just one more entry”.

Kay’s style is a bit crude, heavy humor with a good handful of swearing. Considering it takes place entirely in an obstetrics and gynecology ward, it felt like a very masculine approach to take. The book tries very very hard to be funny, but out of ten jokes only one of them is really funny, tell your friends, funny.

On time This is going to hurt hovered on the edge of insensitivity, with complex health issues and life-changing moments reduced to their best firing line. But Kay seems aware of this, walking cautiously to the border. You can also understand why; dwelling on upsetting health issues would make it harder to spend each day in a hospital, while making jokes about gravity would lighten the load. The same book without the humor would make it very difficult to read.

Long, regular footnotes are some of the best features. They often explain medical jargon and abbreviations, but they also hide some of the best jokes. One of the first pages reads, “A note about footnotes: read the fucking footnotes”, which perhaps eradicates their subtlety.

Kay is also releasing a new book in September 2022, Undoctored: The story of a doctor who ran out of patients, in which he looks back on his life since leaving the medical profession. He also published a Christmas “gift book” It was the night shift before Christmas and a children’s non-fiction book Kay’s Anatomy: A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body. I can’t help but feel like he treats it a little.

Going to Hurt’s greatest success is its revealing depiction of the NHS. The work the NHS does is amazing, but our experiences can often be frustrating, time-consuming and unsatisfying. Kay reveals outdated working practices, lack of funding, immense pressure and insufficient resources. It is also a damning reflection of the conditions of young doctors: constant unpaid overtime, 97-hour work weeks, canceled vacations, exhaustion so great that it leads to falling asleep in the parking lot (the moment when adaptation BBC starts with), failed relationships, strained friendships and immense pressure. As a reader you can only think “this can’t go on, something has to change”.

And yet, the story of Kay’s book takes place from 2004 to 2010: pre-Covid, pre-Brexit and with a Labor Prime Minister. Reading it again in our new context invites reflection on the pressure and pressure the NHS is currently under, and the impact of this on patients and staff.

Kay, on the other hand, has had a hugely successful career since leaving the NHS, and his success shows no signs of slowing down.