This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay, Audiobook Review: Shocking hilarity

Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor is a lesson in finding humour in dire situations and supporting those that care for us. Read my full review.

This is Going to Hurt Audiobook Synopsis

Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

The multi-million copy bestseller
Book of the Year at The National Book Awards
and soon to be a BBC TV series starring Ben Whishaw

‘Painfully funny. The pain and the funniness somehow add up to something entirely good, entirely noble and entirely loveable.’ – Stephen Fry

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

Sunday Times Number One Bestseller for over eight months and winner of a record four National Book Awards: Book of the Year, Non-Fiction Book of the Year, New Writer of the Year and Zoe Ball Book Club Book of the Year.

Narrator: Adam Kay; 6 hours 6 minutes (Macmillan Digital Audio, 2017)

Genre: Memoir, NonFiction, Audiobook

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Book Review

All my life I have had the ability, nay compulsion, to see the humour in dire circumstances. Now that can be a huge liability when someone trips and almost knocks over an open coffin at a funeral, but in pretty much all other situations I have considered it an asset. So if you, like me, feel laughter is the best medicine for all the bedpan-moments life inevitably throws at us, then I would prescribe Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt.

Just in case I have not made it clear enough already, the humour to be found in this book is dark, shockingly so at times. It essentially reads as a series of diary entries by the author during his time working his way up the ranks as an obstetrics doctor in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), and so things do get quite graphic and dare I say it, crude at times.

“Nobody likes a clever dick, but it didn’t take Columbo, Jessica Fletcher and the entire occupancy of 221b Baker Street to work out the patient was probably “feeling unwell” because of the litres of blood cascading unnoticed out of her vagina. ” 

Adam Kay (spoiler alert) has since left the medical profession and become a TV comedy writer, and narrates this audiobook with the rapid-fire comic timing of a pro. He rips off the bandaids so quick that while you are still asking yourself ‘Did he really just say that?’ he has already moved on to the next booster shot.

“Good news: physio have finally been to see her. Bad news: the entry reads, ‘Patient too drowsy to assess.’ I pop in. The patient is dead.” 

But he has not simply mined his and other’s traumatic experiences for cheap laughs, although there are countless. No, his goal which he achieves beautifully through humour, is to draw public attention to the plight of junior doctors – the torturous hours and conditions they are expected to work in for incomprehensibly modest pay – and the dubious management of the NHS.

“It’s an established fact that death rates go up on Black Wednesday…
All junior doctors change hospitals on exactly the same day every six or twelve months, which is known as Black Wednesday. You might think it would be a terrible idea to exchange all your Scrabble tiles in one go and expect the hospital to run exactly as it did the day before, and you’d be quite right.” 

Through Kay’s experiences we come to understand the terrible emotional and psychological toll that is borne by those in the profession and learn that it is sadly under-acknowledged and untreated.

“My bleep goes off – it’s the morning SHO asking for handover. I’ve spent two hours in this room, the longest I’ve ever spent with a patient who wasn’t under anaesthetic. On the way home I phone my mum to tell her I love her.” 

There is a sense of awe and beauty to be found in brutally painful experiences shared candidly. Adam Kay has captured that magic within This is Going to Hurt, but it is not for the squeamish and may require tissues.

I look forward to watching the BBC TV series.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5

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More This is Going to Hurt reviews

‘I’m not a Doctor (despite what I sometimes say) but I’d prescribe this book to anyone and everyone. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreakingly sad and gives you the lowdown on what it’s like to be holding it together while serving on the front line of our beloved but beleaguered NHS. It’s wonderful.’ – Jonathan Ross

‘Brutal, brilliant, raw, rude and unflinchingly funny, This is Going to Hurt is the sort of book that is not only laugh-out-loud, but too will give its readers a new-found respect for all manner of medics, and the tireless dedication they each have to bettering – and at times saving – the lives of their patients.’ – The Literary Edit

‘I loved this book – it was raw and hilarious. Adam Kay is talented at finding the humour and translating it to the page.’Sam Still Reading

About the Author, Adam Kay

Adam Kay is an award-winning comedian and author of the multi-million-copy bestseller This is Going to Hurt. He previously worked as a junior doctor, which is hopefully clear by now. He lives in Oxfordshire. His second book, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas was published in 2019. Check out his website and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

This review counts toward my participation in the Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2021.