Book Review: Are you the Fxxking Doctor by Liam Farrell @DrLFarrell @AnneCater #IrishMed

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‘General practice is the great unknown. We stand on the cusp of the beyond. Science takes us only so far, then the maps stop in the grey areas of intuition, imagination and feelings: here be dragons. Lurching from heart-breaking tragedy to high farce, we are the Renaissance men and women of medicine; our art is intangible. Anything can walk through our door…’

Family doctor, Irishman, musician, award-winning author, anarchist and recovering morphine addict, Liam became a columnist for the BMJ in 1994. He went on to write for many major publications, winning a series of prestigious awards; in 2005, he was the first doctor to win Columnist of the Year in the Periodical Publishers Association awards.

The book contains a selection of Liam’s best work, from his columns, blogs and short stories.Brilliantly funny, glittering with literary allusion and darkly wicked humour, this book is much more than a collection of stand-alone anecdotes and whimsical reflections, rather a compelling chronicle of the daily struggles – and personal costs – of a doctor at the coalface.


Review:

When Anne of Random Things Tours sent me an email about Are You the Fxxking Doctor? I accepted because, one, I love reading books about medicine and science, and two, I thought it would be light-hearted and funny. 

It was amusing in parts, but it also portrays, in Liam's words, "the cold and hard-earned truths of scientific medicine."

The first chapter is filled with "pain and guilt," describing his experience with injecting morphine. Liam had a fulfilling job and a loving wife, but he became a victim of the burnout we hear described by so many GPs now. My advice to a reader who picks up this book would be to persevere through the first chapter, even if you find the content offputting. Liam writes so beautifully that it would be a shame to miss the rest of the book just because of the subject at the start.

The rest of the book is told in a diary-like format, including articles Liam has written for various medical journals. I loved this format as it meant I could pick the book at times where I had only minutes to get through a few pages. If you're not someone who can dedicate hours each day to reading then this book is for you. 

I was particularly interested in his stories surrounding The Troubles. Irish readers and particularly those in Northern Ireland will really be able to connect with this chapter. One story describes how he treated a local farmer that he had known for years. He found James with a gunshot wound that had completely shattered his femur; a life-threatening injury. 

Liam describes being "irritated" rather than scared or upset when he pulls up to his practice in Crossmaglen one morning and hears gunshots. He continues as normal because, "when you're a doctor, you're a doctor." I really admire that kind of dedication and gumption! 

I really appreciated the dark humor in Are You the Fxxking Doctor as I had first-hand experience of how it can help when I worked as a veterinary nurse and dealt with a lot of abuse cases. I found Liam's frank and honest writing meant I could connect to each story, no matter how brief it was and I found myself nodding agreement with his thoughts and outlook on life. This book is authentic, human, and powerful and I can see myself returning to its pages time and time again.

Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tour and Liam Farrell for providing the book and having me on the tour.
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