Tag Archives: Medical

This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

Overview
This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor: Kay, Adam:  9781509858637: Amazon.com: Books

Title: This Is Going to Hurt
Author: Adam Kay
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Humour, Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 18th – 19th December 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Today crossed the line from everyday patient idiocy to me checking around the room for hidden cameras.

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Synopsis

97-hour weeks. Life and death decisions.
A constant tsunami of bodily fluids.
And the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.

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.

Thoughts

This story had me laughing out loud. And giggling. And reading a lot of parts of this story out to my partner. Much to his chagrin… he doesn’t like anything medical or any hint of blood, so telling him all about it just didn’t go down well. But I had to share. Because there is wit, humour and awesomeness right throughout this novel.

I’ve seen this novel in my suggested readings again and again. But it wasn’t until the Black Friday sales that I finally decided that I may as well buy it. Quite possibly one of the better decisions that I’ve made. This story introduced me not only to the world of medicine but reminded me how humour can help you to deal with some of the crappier things in life.

This year has been a horrifying year, and part of that for me was deciding to give up a career path that I have been working towards for years. The fact that Kay gives up his career path six years into the career made me feel a heck of a lot better about my own decisions. Particularly when I read the final passages of this book. It is completely understandable why Kay decided to choose a new path. And, although tragic, gave hope for the new life that he decided to build.

Surprisingly, this novel did actually hurt. That final diary entry just tore at my heart. And the fact that it’s all true, and I have a few girlfriends who are currently pregnant… yeah, it most definitely “hurt”. Although it also made me laugh and smile. So it was also a brilliant, fun journey.

<- Why Not Me?Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas ->

Image source: Amazon

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

Overview
Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

Title: Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas
Author: Adam Kay
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Humour, Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 17th December 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘As you know, this is standard policy’ is HR’s default line – as if being routinely malevolent is somehow better than dishing out acts of spite on an ad-hoc basis.

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Synopsis

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat… but 1.4 million NHS staff are heading off to work. In this perfect present for anyone who has ever set foot in a hospital, Adam Kay delves back into his diaries for a hilarious, horrifying and sometimes heartbreaking peek behind the blue curtain.

Twas the Night Before Christmas is a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.

Thoughts

This was most definitely the type of Christmas book that I needed this year – I haven’t really felt in the Christmas spirit and I liked that this one wasn’t all about joy and light. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of humour and spark to this novel that doesn’t make it glum and humbuggy. But it’s also a much more realistic, and less painful look into the Christmas season and what it really means…

I probably should have read This is Going to Hurt before Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, but I am absolutely enamored with the tone and style of Kay’s writing. So, immediately after finishing this, I did actually pick up his first book. It’s hard to write about such a serious topic with a bit of lighthearted humour and tone. Particularly when you’re focusing in on the time of year when everyone else is busy trying to shove that good cheer down your throat…

If you’re not really in the Christmas spirit, or just want a good laugh. I can most definitely suggest this as a good, light read. Not only will it have you smiling and laughing, but it will also make you really appreciate the people who are on the front lines year-round. Those who put aside their own lives to the benefit of our own.

<- This is Going to HurtSmoky the Brave ->

Image source: Goodreads

Twelve Patients by Dr. Eric Manheimer, MD

Overview
Image result for book cover twelve patients

Title: Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital
Author: Dr. Eric Manheimer, MD
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 4th – 20th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘From the cavernous echo of his cough and the darkened skin within the triangular radiation markins in black ink on his back, his lung cancer was advanced.

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Synopsis

Bellevue is famous for its psych ward, but it’s much more than that.
The largest public hospital in New York City, it’s also where doctors treat everyone from the bluebloods of Park Avenue to the illegal immigrants who huddle in Chinatown’s tenements. In its way, Bellevue is a microcosm of the world – and a bellwether for the toughest issues in our country.

TWELVE PATIENTS

In this riveting book, Dr. Eric Manheimer, the hospital’s former medical director, uses stories taken from case histories to humanize hot-button issues such as immigration, obesity, teen suicide, and the cost of health care. You will get to know Jeffrey, the homeless man with the brilliant past, and Arnie, a prominent Wall Street financier, whose emergency room visit for chest pains unravels a toxic lifestyle. Dr. Manheimer takes readers from teh boardrooms where health-care budgets are debated to the emergency room on a night when New York’s stretched-to-capacity hospitals overflow – and mistakes get made.

The author is not just a doctor – he’s also a patient. After being diagnosed with throat cancer, Dr. Manheimer takes us on a tour through the shadowland between life and death.

Thoughts

When I found out that one of my new favourite series, New Amsterdam, was based on a book, I immediately jumped online and bought it (which may be why I don’t have great savings…). And once I started reading it? I was very pleasantly surprised. Not only was it as good as the TV show, in some instances it was better – something about the words really hit home as to the intensity of the social and political issues which Manheimer brings to light in each of his chapters.

From the very title, it’s pretty obvious that this book has twelve chapters, each of which focuses on its own patient. What I didn’t realise was how potent and intense each of these stories would be. Normally when I love a book this much, I just lap it up in a matter of days (sometimes hours). But because of the subject matter throughout this book, I found myself lingering over a few weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed picking this up late at night and reading a small handful of pages just before bed. Anytime that I wanted to truly think about things and how difficult the world can be, I loved to pick this up. But it wasn’t the kind of book I would just read to escape for half an hour.

Although I’m not American, many of the issues and difficulties that Manheimer brings to light in his reminiscing are still issues that are faced in Australia. Alright, some are uniquely American – we don’t really have a wall in which to keep out gangsters (there’s a number of giant oceans instead), but racism, labelling, mental health issues… these are all things that we too need to face and deal with. Aspects of our lives which are intense and difficult, but can’t just be swept under the rug. After all, we need to deal with the nastiness if we are ever to move forward and create a better future…

Twelve Patients was everything that I was expecting and more. It gave me insight not only into the social and political demographics of New York, but it also provided a great insight into the outlay of the American Health System. Which kind of terrifies me. The little I know of the Australian one is much more sound and comforting… this novel not only swept me away and enthralled me, but it also just generally filled my head with wonderful new information. Not necessarily about the mechanics of the medical system, but the emotional, social and physical drains which are placed upon people who are in the system. The mental health of people. And just how some can find themselves in the worst of situations… and survive.

<- Why Not Me?Black Saturday ->

Image source: Booktopia

Invincible Microbe by Jim Murphy & Alison Blank

Overview
Image result for book cover invincible microbe

Title: Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure
Author: Jim Murphy & Alison Blank
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Non-fiction
Dates read: 14th – 17th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: There was absolutely no scientific basis for this assertion.

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Synopsis

A killer as old as the human race has been humankind’s constant, lethal companion. This killer was nameless and faceless for thousands of years, mysteriously striking in endless waves and claiming millions upon millions of lives. Then the disease was given a name – tuberculosis, or TB – and when the microscopic TB germ was finally identified, scientists hoped to conquer it. yet, in spite of medical advances and the discovery of several promising “cures”, this invincible microbe continues to change and flourish among us today.

Thoughts

I read this at the beginning of the insanity attached to COVID-19 in Australia. When toilet paper was being hoarded and people were just generally going nuts. And it kind of felt like a really good time to read about a microbe based disease. Alright, there are a lot of differences between TB and Corona, but there were also SO many similarities!

I do have a background in biology (although I focus on environmental biology), so my basic understanding of diseases such as TB and others is fairly sound. Yet, even if I didn’t have this background, I would find this book incredibly informative. Murphy and Blank are able to inform the reader about the journey of TB without getting too scientific. A great read for those who want to find out more but don’t have the science background.

The history of a prominent disease is always going to be kind of fascinating. Not just because it’s the history of an important aspect of science (discovering that microbes can in fact cause death), but also because it provides an insight into the people and cultures of the time. From the beginning of Sanitoriums and the isolation of patients to the understanding of contagions… the discovery of TB and the race to find a cure were a fascinating story.

To end out this book, the status of TB today is talked about. And, more importantly, it’s potential to mutate into an untreatable version. Something which is always a risk when dealing with a disease that can mutate. It serves as both a message of hope for the treatment in the future, and a pretty dire warning as to what could be just around the corner. A little scary, but definitely something worth thinking about. Especially in the global climate today.

 <- More medical reviewsMore non-fiction reviews ->

Image source: Amazon

The Chamber Music of Animals by Katherine Vaz

Overview
Image result for coyote road book cover

Title: The Chamber Music of Animals
Author: Katherine Vaz
In: The Coyote Road (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Music, Tricksters
Dates read: 28th April 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: She’d consumed nothing but coffee all day; no wonder she ached with heartburn.

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Synopsis

Sophie has lost her husband, and now cancer is threatening to take away her only son. Does the power of music have the ability to battle away the awful disease?

Thoughts

I’m really glad that this story didn’t have a sad ending. I was fully expecting it to, after all, Sofia had already lost her husband, and she was incredibly close to losing her son to cancer. Although this tale is in a collection about tricksters, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have trickster tales that are sad. Rather than their usual witty, entertaining journeys.

Monkeys are often tricksters in mythology. They’re the characters which run amok through the lives of people and change the world around them. Just by creating chaos. And believe me, if you’ve ever watched a troop of monkeys, or apes, you can understand how their presence can incite change and align them with the tricksters of myth and legend. Which means that it was probably about time for a monkey to show up in The Coyote Road.

The parallel running of this story worked really nicely throughout. There are the battles which Sofia is fighting for her son. The life that her mother is trying to live with a broken leg, and an incredibly sick grandson. And finally, the music and internal war that Rangy is fighting to save a well-loved boy. Even if he has been left in the cupboard for years on end…

 <- Crow Roads ReviewUncle Bob Visits Review ->
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