The Mating of Michael

The Mating of Michael - Eli Easton <--- There are no spoilers

*Taking a deep breath in*


When I hear the word "polio" I think about this:

And this:

And this:

And I think... Why are they smiling? How can they be smiling?

They could stay like that for months. Or their whole life. Or never because they were dead.

Those pics stuck to me, it's one of those medical horrors I can't understand that exists(ed). But believe it or not, three good things came out of this:

1. A rich man's son died to polio and invested lots of money for the vaccine. The following year, the vaccine was ready. It seems when you want, you can.

2. Those "iron lungs" were negative pressure ventilation machines, and were used for those people who had diaphragm paralysis. This inspired, for instance, the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) we use today.

3. The gathering of clinically unstable people in one only place for constant vigilance inspired ICUs. A cardiologist had the idea of doing so with patients recovering from a heart attack. He paced around with a scalpel on his belt the whole time just in case he needed to open somebody and revive him. People began not to die that often.

We have come to a point in Medicine where things cure rather than kill. Surgery was murder. Anesthesia was too dangerous. Phonendoscopes failed more than hit. Blood transfusions were unpredictable. Insulin shots were problematic. Drugs were given to pregnant women at will. With the passage of time science progresses. But there are still too many blind spots. And all these advances make us feel we will never die. But that's not true.

This book doesn't talk about all of this, but the MC is a writer who endured polio and the another one is a nurse, and his professional deformation makes his thoughts medically accurate and I appreciate it.

The story reminded me of guy I met when I was rotating in Pneumology. He was 55 years old and I don't remember his name nor why he was hospitalized. He could walk, barely and in a weird way and with cane but he could. And his thorax was an accordion. He had suffered polio at 14 and thought about operating on himself several times but neurologists told him it was very risky and as he could get by just the way he was, he decided it was not worth it. And even though he developed every kind of problems due to it, he was happy and it was a pleasure to be with him in the same room. He was too much fun. He said he was ugly and deformed but that he had managed to do everything he wanted to in life and that now he couldn't wait to come back home and eat and drink the best stuff. Some people have the spirits, or let's say, they have found the way to go on despite the handicaps.


Weak spots

Okay, first of all I find it difficult to believe Michael stalking James just because (at least the author said it in the book as a kind of self-criticism). That and that Michael is so OBTUSE about the reason for James to be alone. He is lovable and it's not hard at all to fall for him. But life is unfair and his state on a wheelchair gives enough clues. Michael's shock at James's statement of being alone due to his situation is almost insulting. Isn't it obvious? Maybe frustration an annoyance at society is logical, but not shock and surprise.

I have never read anything about sex surrogates. If I'm honest, I've never heard about them before. But it makes perfect sense they do exist. There was a blank space where they should be playing. Something to help people in this kind of therapy. Also, I discovered this plot is not that new. There is a movie from 2012 called The Sessions. The MC is a man who had polio and needs a iron lung to survive. He is a virgin so he decides to pay a sex surrogate, and the actress is Helen Hunt, who was nominated for the Oscar. Rings a bell? I'm curious about that movie now.

I was enjoying the book when suddenly I read this:

"She says I was conceived in Spain, or it might have been Majorca. She wasn't real sure."

Majorca is the biggest island of the Balear Archipielago, which is part of Spain. Majorca is in Spain. Majorca is Spanish! It makes perfect sense the mother has no idea of where he was conceived, seeing that geography and general knowledge are not something that bother her, and neither the son. This sentence is like saying "She says I was conceived in the States, or it might have been Hawaii. She wasn't real sure." See what I meant?

Minions were a little too much. Was is necessary for them all to come to scene in so few pages close to the end?


Strong spots

Michael is greatly portrayed. He's a selfless cute man who only wants to be loved. He felt as real as James. And his love for his patients and the feeling of being needed is something I felt so close it's astonishing. Michael didn't know what to do in his life till he read James's book about a medical MC and that right then he knew he wanted to help people. I could feel so identified! Sometimes... No. Often it's hard and frustrating and studying all day long feels like slavery but I have had a taste of what it will be in the future and I can't conceive doing anything else. It's a way too gratifying and beautiful. For example, and this is real life, a baby comes to you dying due to an esophageal atresia, and you have the possibility of operating on him and some time later you see him looking at you and jumping and laughing... I've seen that, and it's AMAZING, I can't describe how I felt and it wasn't my hand's doing. That surgeon must be thinking: "I've done this, I've made this possible..." Michael's awe at his own work is perfectly well written. It didn't feel empty or pretentious. It was real and true.

I liked James being the strong one, the independent one, and the toppy one. I could sense his spirit even at his lowest of moments. And his Sentimental Cyanide is just brilliant! I'd read that book for sure. Seeing as I'm developing a love for aliens maybe it suits me. Anyway, his past touched me more than the love story did. Not because the love story was bad, but I felt so powerless at what happened to him and how! Children need love, and he was deprived from that most of his life. My heart wrenched for him. But he is no one to feel pity for. He's a tough man and he needs nothing from anyone, although he craves love as much as anyone, or even more.

They made a perfect pair together.


So, all in all, I loved the topic, mistakes annoyed me a little, and I enjoyed it as a whole and what I liked most is that I found the best HEA I've read in a while.