Cue the punchline. I wonder if seeing the absurd lengths to which people go in an effort to find pleasure or stimulation affected how he looked at his fellow humans? Working in sexual health you stop being surprised about the things people do. The book is based on diaries he kept while he was a junior doctor, and he thinks he may have overrepresented the comic incidents because he used to write about them to ease the sense of pressure he felt.
Kay is at his most vivid as a writer when describing what that pressure involved. And whereas he has to cancel holidays, wedding invitations and much else besides to fit in with changing rotas, one of his consultants takes two weeks of compassionate leave when her dog dies, while other consultants are almost strangers to their wards.
He says now that he was probably suffering from undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder, and that little understanding was shown by the medical authorities. He believes that in such circumstances, doctors should immediately be offered a week off work if they want it. He was in a state of depression for about a year, not going out, not seeing anyone, and losing a great deal of weight.
Kay had enjoyed a longstanding interest in comedy, performing in medical student revues, and later in corporate gigs for pharmaceutical companies. Although he has forged a successful new career, it would be wrong to say he never looked back. And he maintains a great respect for those who do the job he once did. But junior doctors disagreed and the BMA then supported strike action. Kay believes the doctors were portrayed as money-grabbing and irresponsible when, he argues, precisely the opposite is true.
The system is one that never had a lot of slack in it but is now stretched to absolute breaking point. At the conclusion of the book, Kay writes an open letter to Jeremy Hunt in which he suggests he should have to work shifts alongside junior doctors, so that their motivation was never again questioned. This message has obviously worked with readers. At book signings Kay says he has often been asked to sign an extra copy that people then send on to Hunt.
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