I read a really fantastic book this week, “This is going to hurt”, by Adam Kay. I’m torn between telling everyone to read this and giving Adam a piece of my mind. The book is funny. It made my cry, properly sob, more than once. It’s brilliantly written and is a stark reminder of how amazing our NHS is, and how fragile. Please all read this book: This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
How it continues with the current structure of long hours, low pay, no support and the ignorance of our politicians is beyond belief. How there are not more mistakes made is a miracle.
It has given me a new found respect for the NHS.
But there was one tiny bit in the book that has stayed with me. Adam didn’t choose a career in Dermatology because it was, and I quote, ‘revolting’. His words.
Nice one Adam. I guess everyone has an opinion. But I’d probably say this was a disappointing one from a doctor.
I hear this kind of comment, and I feel it deep inside myself. It’s a feeling I have been working to rid myself of for the last year or so.
It’s as if eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis are open to ridicule and comment, even from doctors.
In TV programmes, books and films, if someone has eczema or a skin condition it’s usually because they are weak, troubled, weird or insane.
It’s never normalised.
Because this is just normal for me and many others.
Please don’t be disgusted. We have to live with this and try to love ourselves. And even when our hands are gross and flaky and our skin is red and raw, we are human beings with feelings.
But also, when you feel like complaining about the services we get here in the UK, woefully inadequate though they may seem, and an unfair post code lottery in many cases, it is better than the alternative.
I have many bones to pick with the NHS, not least the sentence they have doled out to me by prescribing me topical steroids instead of anyone looking at the cause of my condition. Topical steroid use leads to topical steroid addiction… and the withdrawal is not something I would wish on anyone. And it’s something I fear dreadfully that I will have to go through, and I’m not sure how I will cope. Google it if you want to see the stuff of nightmares. Yeah thanks for that NHS. It’s a joy.
The fact that the NHS also refuses to believe this is actually a problem or a thing is what hurts most. All I want is for my doctor or someone in the medical profession to admit that these steroids will no longer work for me, assess my situation and support me through withdrawal. I do not want more drugs thrown at me. I don’t trust them either. I don’t want this relentless battle.
But that’s a subject for another blog post.
What I wanted to say is kind of a mixed message.
Read this book! Everyone. Please. It is brilliant. Hearfelt. Deeply moving and hilarious.
This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
But also, don’t look at anyone with eczema and be revolted. Try to see us with compassion. Because we are living with it. The pain, the shame, the guilt after we scratched it all again and made it worse. We are fighting this demon condition and you, it would seem, are blessed with an immune system not set on destruction.
Eczema and dermatitis are not seen as that important, not life threatening, just a bit of discomfort. Well it’s far more life altering than that. It can affect every aspect of your life from waking to sleeping; your self esteem, your personal relationships, your concentration at work, your social life, the day to day. It’s sometimes just a huge effort just to exist. This is not recognised, but with the rise in suicides from people with severe dermatitis this cannot be ignored.
But I return once again to my old lament, what on earth would we all do without an NHS? Despite all my gripes and fears and feelings about how the NHS may have failed me in the past, it’s still amazing and incredible. I can imagine a life without and that is far, far worse!
Has anyone else read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts.