Spreading a strong message through comedy is most likely one of the more difficult feats to pull off within the medium – make it too serious and the humour is lost, but add too many jokes and the call to action is diminished. Fortunately, when comedian Adam Kay wrote a book giving an honest look at the intense life of a junior doctor, such a balance was brilliantly executed.
Only a select few books have had the ability to make me laugh out loud, and that does in no way suggest that I don’t have a sense of humour (more that I find it harder to laugh at written comedy), and Kay’s book is one of them. Then again, it isn’t hard to make jokes about the profession and the bizarre medical scenarios in which a doctor can find themselves – look no further than the several ‘doctor, doctor’ jokes that have appeared to have survived the test of time for proof of this.
Throughout, the book flits between diary entries about Kay’s job, and those about how his personal life is affected, just as much as it jumps between the comedic and the tragic. Then, to make it very clear that this is about a genuine insight into the life of a junior doctor (at a time when they are continued pressure), This is Going to Hurt ends on a particularly sad and emotional note regarding one medical incident. It’s a tone which precedes an open letter to the Health Secretary, which tightly sums up the points raised in the book in a TL;DR-like fashion.
With an NHS under increasing pressure, it’s easy for us to imagine the stresses that staff face after having binge-watched a series of Casualty, but in This is Going to Hurt, we hear the pure truth without the over-dramatisation – the only ‘sugarcoating’ being the added benefit of comic relief when the truth hurts too much.
Comedic, insightful and educational, this book is a must-read to understand the true pressure our junior doctors face.