Library staff love to engage in the “Guess what happened at the library today” conversation with other staff. There are endless tales from the front lines of public library service and the attempts at one-up-manship could go on forever. Every one of us has said “I could write a book”, which actually has happened (not by CLP staff) – I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks was published in 2014.
This is Going to Hurt is a collection of diary entries from the author’s time as an overworked, underappreciated and stressed out obstetrician in the UK’s National Health Service, and it takes that conversation to a whole new level. The story about prescribing a nightly shot of whiskey for a patient – while in the hospital – is priceless, but for this book it’s a throw away episode.
Filled with cynical wit, gallows humor (the best footnotes you will ever read) and medical mayhem, his observations – on inept colleagues, patients, having no life, the broken medical system he’s a part of – are funny, sad, thoughtful and poignant. A recurring entry is how he counsels a depressed friend on and off for years, feeling obligated as an MD, and how not getting a phone call was more stressful than getting one, but he tells it with so much humor and humanity that you feel more for him than the friend on the verge of suicide.
You’ll understand why he walked away from it when he did, but you do start to wonder why he waited so long, all the humor aside. He talks about that too, about responsibility and obligation and the desire not to just quit, but sometimes the patients aren’t the only ones whom need to be cared for.