‘This will hurt’ Found dark humor on the maternity area

LONDON – In December 2010, Adam Kay was working in a maternity ward in the UK helping a junior doctor perform a cesarean section. Kay has successfully delivered more than 1,200 babies, but the operation was a disaster.

The mother had an undiagnosed condition affecting the placenta, and she should not have been allowed to go into labor. The doctors only tried to save her life – she lost 12 liters of blood – but they couldn’t save the baby.

Kay said in a recent interview: “You want a healthy mother and healthy baby, and this was the first time I didn’t have those and was the most senior person in the room. He said he felt the trauma but the response from the hospital was “like I sprained my ankle or something”.

After that incident, Kay quit smoking. A shot of the surgery isn’t featured in “This Is Going to Hurt,” a medical drama written by Kay and starring Ben Whishaw, which premieres on AMC+ and Sundance Now on Thursday after resounding success in the UK. But a lot of other episodes from his six years in the hospital, are in fictional form.

Given that the show tries to show the realities of life in the maternity ward, some moments are confusing. But many things are also very funny, including the moment when Whishaw’s character, an overworked and underpaid doctor named Adam, has to extract from inside a woman, an egg. toy containing engagement ring – woman brought it in as a surprise for her boyfriend.

The performance came shortly after Kay published a collection of diaries (titled “This Is going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor”) documenting his life in British hospitals. That collection, released in 2017, has sold more than 2.5 million copies and been translated into 37 languages.

Kay describes the book as a “confidence tip” where silly anecdotes are used to sell a book containing sobering commentary on healthcare and on how politicians treat doctors. and nurses (it was published the year after the British doctors died strike because of working conditions). The book’s success led to Kay’s meeting with Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary at the time, to promote more funding for doctors in need, and for his articles on newspapers.

Kay said that the current Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, also sent a letter, saying that his wife liked the book. Kay’s response, he said, was to question the minister, “Have you read it? It is you who need to read it.”

Despite her popularity, when “This Is going to Hurt” appeared on the BBC in February, Kay did not receive a positive global response. Milli Hill, founder Active birth movement, try to combat negative ideas around childbirth; and several users of Mumsnet, an influential parenting site, label both Kay and Whishaw the belligerent characters as misogynists for mocking the women in his care. There has also been criticism for not having a pregnant voice on the show, while Hill said the birth scenes would be very upsetting for those expecting a baby or those who have been through a pregnancy. painful birth.

Recently, sitting in a hotel bar in London, Kay, 41, seemed confused by those responses. “I’ve heard criticism that the show should be about mothers,” he said. “But it’s someone else’s show. I am a former doctor. “

Kay adds, Whishaw’s character is also to be blamed – a doctor under a lot of pressure that causes his life to fall apart, affecting those around him. Once a few episodes had aired, Kay said, the public debate changed and he started receiving emails from doctors thanking him for raising awareness about the health struggles. mental illness that doctors may face.

The show isn’t really about hospitals, says Kay, but about the pressures doctors are under at work, including irregular working hours, bullying by bosses and patients, low wages and oftentimes. Frequent disintegration of family life – there is no way out. Whishaw’s character can be seen as passing his troublesome acts on to a colleague, Shruti (Ambika Mod), a younger doctor meant to be under his wing.

Kay says that mental stress remains a “taboo subject” in many hospitals. “Doctors are not meant to be sick, and they are not specifically meant to be mentally ill,” he noted, adding that a doctor die by suicide every three weeks in the UK.

The pressure on doctors in the country is getting worse, he added. Severe shortage of workers in the NHS – this service has about 100,000 vacancies – and the employees were exhausted long before the pandemic hit. Kay said: “When I left, I was a completely different person, because no one stopped being a doctor. “Everybody’s eyeing the exit sign now because the workload feels completely unsustainable.”

Despite its central message, Kay and the two main cast members of the show – Whishaw and Mod – said in interviews that the series was a joy to make. Whishaw said in an email that when he received the script, it immediately “sounds like a truth”. The dark comedy “is exactly the kind of humor people use when faced with terrible things,” he adds, “and I like a clumsy, flawed, troubled person at the heart of my life. it.”

Mod, in her first leading role, said that the two actors received a “combustible course” in obstetrics and gynecology prior to filming, which included learning how to deliver with forceps and how to have a cesarean section. On set, she added, the actual doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists appear as complements, while the prosthetics help bring realism to the film.

She said she was surprised by viewers who called the show’s operation bloody and violent in social media posts. “I didn’t think about it at all when we were filming because we would be surrounded by puddles of blood and amniotic fluid when talking about what we were going to have for lunch,” she said.

Kay says that while the show is focused on the UK health service, he hopes it will also hit nerves in the US. He imagines that “a labor zone is a labor zone, wherever it is,” he said. After his book came out in 2017, he received messages from doctors in countries including Chad, Belarus and Venezuela, adding that the topics were also relevant to their studies. members in those countries.

“This Is Going to Hurt” was written as a one-off series, and Kay said he has no plans to make a sequel. He says he will hit his “shelf life as a writer” at some point, and when that happens, he expects to return to medicine, teaching or trying to change. health policy.

Kay said: “I had a lot of guilt when I left. “Obviously, I believe art has tremendous value, but you have to have a bit of ego as a writer to think it’s anything other than 10 steps to saving someone’s life. an operation.”

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