90. This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This is going to hurt by Adam Kay was my first read of the new year which I enjoyed tremendously, but also made me very wary of the entire medical systems around the world specifically the UK.

The book is a sort of like a memoir and consists of journal entries as Adam Kay was starting out his medical journey in UK’s National Health Service(NHS). There is no doubt that the Brits have an awfully gloomy weather but I guess that just brings out the best of them to turn a grey/bluesy day, sunny with their humor!

“I’ve established that wine is her(patient’s) poison.

Me: ‘And how much wine do you drink per day, would you say?’

Patient: ‘About three bottles on a good day.’

Me: ‘OK . . . And on a bad day?’

Patient: ‘On a bad day I only manage one.”

If you’re a doctor or on the path to become one, I wouldn’t suggest it that eagerly as it is sorta bitter sweet. I mean sure you save lives by tending to humans and their (often weird) symptoms at the expense of your own social life and health.  So it may scare you away.

“They don’t want to think of medicine as a subject that anyone on the planet can learn, a career choice their mouth-breathing cousin could have made.”

The patient encounters he has written down are sometimes so hilarious that I cannot imagine how he kept a straight face through it all. Although I won’t lie the amount of medical terms and stories of surgeries that almost went wrong but didn’t go wrong actually made me really queasy to my stomach. But after reading this book I formed massive respect for doctors and nurses that work in hospitals that offer free medical care or at lower rate for everyone.

As the author describes throughout the book there are moments where you feel like it is worth it but then there are days where overtime becomes the new normal, your spouse/partner/significant gets used to “can’t make it, emergency” texts and sleep becomes a dream of the good old days.

“Bleeped awake at 3AM from my first half hour shut-eye in three shifts to prescribe a sleeping pill to a patient whose sleep is evidently much more important than mine.”

I mean this body that we have, that has a system of healing itself when stuck with a minor ailment or wound, can be so fragile at times that we’re at mercy of people who we think know it all but are equally prone to make mistakes. How remarkable is it that each and every part of our body has been designed in such a way that if one part starts breaking down the entire system is on the verge of a collapse.

But word of caution especially for people who’re faint at heart and pass out each time some blood work is due, there are certain parts of the book (especially related to child birth) that can make one really uncomfortable.

“…it felt extreme and unreasonable in terms of what was expected of me, but at the time I’d just accepted it as part of the job. There were points where I wouldn’t have flinched if an entry read ‘swam to Iceland for antenatal clinic’ or ‘had to eat a helicopter today’.”

Despite it just being textual information, a bit of Google search skills and some Wikipedia pages later, you’ll wish you were just the naïve 9th grade biology student who certainly did not need to this much information.

Lastly, I get it that medicine, the process of joining the club, and treating patients (often times their quirks) is hard! Sacrificing your own health to make others better is a noble profession indeed but isn’t once which should be taken for granted and expected to be given for free.

“The truth: the hours are terrible, the pay is terrible, the conditions are terrible; you’re underappreciated, unsupported, disrespected and frequently physically endangered. But there’s no better job in the world.”


These people need to pay for their homes as well and if we treat them the way the author has described no wonder they are left on the edge of strikes, depression, stress and often at risk of taking their own lives.

I wish we (the State mostly) can make their lives better like they do for us.

Onto the basics:

  1. Rating: 3.5/5.0
  1. Favorite quote: a great doctor must have a huge heart and a distended aorta through which pumps a vast lake of compassion and human kindness.”
  2. Reader level: A bit hard if you’re not a medical student/doctor/biology person.
  3. Should you read:  If you can handle freaky stories and human anatomy, sure!
  4. Would I read it again: Maybe……..

Till next time,





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