This month I became fully immunized to the coronavirus (or as immunized as anyone can be, while the virus mutates like a mindless self-building Lego kit). It’s a race now between shots in arms and mutation. As you read this, I hope you are somewhere in the vaccination process. We are at a rare inflection point in history when patriotism lines up with science. I remember being vaccinated against polio back in the 1950s (Salk) and 1960s (Sabin—we didn’t need both but my mother, an RN, wanted to play it safe). Perhaps you too remember lining up for those vaccines? That pandemic was another moment when we took individual action to fight an unseen national enemy. I don’t remember reacting to the polio vaccine. I was sick for several days after the second C19 injection, but the reaction is over and I’m so glad to be vaccinated. I don’t expect to change my behavior much yet, although I did celebrate with a rare (fully masked) trip to our local organic produce store. The array of purple eggplants, the lines of orange and blue cracker boxes, the variety of cheeses in the refrigerator case, were mind-blowing. Such a small errand, yet it felt transformative after a year of contactless grocery pickup. I suspect that baby steps will feel like giant steps to each of us as we begin to enter a post-vaccination world.
On another health-related subject, this month we published the first two episodes of my three-part blog on Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM), a condition that affects about half of all post-menopausal women. [See Blog section, below, for precis and links]
GSM, which is treatable with an estrogen cream that is seriously overpriced in the US, is too little discussed. And in this case, silence equals profits. Many thanks to everyone who has commented on the GSM blogs so far. Part Three, which will post in early March, addresses what we can do to raise awareness about the condition and push back against the predatory pricing of the essential medication. The first step is to share information, and I hope you’ll consider forwarding the blog to friends who are also women past midlife and asking them to signup for the Newsletter! I’m thrilled that CrunchyTales Magazine has asked me to write an article for them on this topic: more on that soon, in the meantime check them out on the web and on Facebook. The more we get the word out the better!
I also had the opportunity to discuss GSM with Sharon Saltzberger when she interviewed me for her terrific podcast, The Thing about Aging.
We had a marvelous conversation ranging from sexy gossip to why we should write erotica. And of course, I pitched my new story collection, The Erotic Pandemic Ball.
Plus, Sharon wants to be first in line for the next online Elderotica writing group. How about you? Please email me stella [at] stellafosse [dot] com if you’re interested in a monthly get-together with fun prompts and interesting women. And I’ll be sure to let you know when the podcast airs.
As we imagine the shape of our post-pandemic lives, my artist friend Steeviejane Parks and I are daydreaming about an in-person (outdoor, masked, socially distant) afternoon workshop. We want to write and collage about the essentials of life after COVID-19.
What are our dreams now?
What will be most important to us in a world forever changed by this experience?
Sometimes the freest self-expression for writers comes from doing art, just as the freest self-expression for artists can happen in writing. If you are in North Carolina and would like to join us, stay tuned for more. If you are elsewhere, who could you team up with to run a gathering like this for writers and artists? Something to ponder as the future begins to emerge.
I wish for you and yours continued safety in the transitional months ahead. We can’t go back and erase the losses we have suffered. We cannot recapture the time spent in limbo or reawaken the loved ones gone. We can look to the future, move into it resolutely and with a measure of hope.
In the meantime, please drop me a line if you’d like to be distracted by a free review copy of The Erotic Pandemic Ball.
To close, here is this month's writing prompt:
She vowed that her first date after the pandemic would be something she had never tried before. So when she dusted off her online profile, the first thing she did was…
The Most Fun You Can Have With Your Mask On
The complete Tales of Love in Lockdown series is now available.
The first in the series, Her Poly Pod, is a FREE download on all online stores.
Click on each cover (above) for details or for download links
I publish two blog articles (published online on the 10th and the 20th) and this newsletter every month, so you hear from me (or a guest blogger) a couple of times a month. Below is a brief extract from each of last month's blogs - click the links for the whole enchilada! If you've ever considered getting your voice out there, I welcome suggestions for topics, or a fully written guest piece in line with my philosophy for the site. Drop me a line......
When I was in my late fifties, I went to the gynecologist convinced I had a yeast infection. The burning sensation in my vulva was not responding to over-the-counter treatments. That was because I did not have an infection. Instead, I had the beginnings of what was then called vaginal atrophy, and has since been renamed Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause, or GSM. What I needed was not an anti-fungal. What I needed was vaginal estrogen, a cream made with estradiol, a hormone that treats the condition with minimal absorption into the rest of the body.
I was incredulous. What the devil was this condition? Why didn’t anybody talk about it? Somebody sits you down for “The Talk” when you start menstruating. Where was “The Talk” about this? The doctor gave me a couple sample tubes of estrogen cream and said, “Be sure you don’t use this as a lubricant for intercourse. Not good for your partner.” When I used up the samples and had to buy it, the copay for one tube was forty dollars. Forty dollars! I was outraged. This was a chronic condition, and I was going to use this medication for a long time.
When I tried the stuff, I loved it. I even wrote a poem about how great estradiol was. And estradiol would be great for a lot more women if they could afford it.
Long before I heard of estradiol, back when I was earning my MBA in the 1970s, we talked about barriers to entry, and how companies (or even countries) can, and do, exploit them to prevent competition . A barrier to entry is anything that makes it hard for someone else to produce or sell a similar item. That barrier could be resources. If you owned the only diamond mine in the world, you would effectively control the market. The barrier to entry would be so high that no one could enter the market without your consent. There are legal and regulatory barriers too. The patent system was deliberately designed to be a barrier. A patent is a form of ownership that gives inventors a temporary monopoly in order to reward their innovation, as a matter of public policy. Patents can be granted on inventions in many different industries besides pharmaceuticals. But for products in the drug and medical device industries, FDA approval can become another barrier to entry. FDA exists to protect the public against unsafe products, not to reward invention, but the long approval process for a new product can give extra protection to the first company to develop a drug – and interfere with competition.
You may remember the terrific guest post by my friend Simone LaBerge, “Sexuality Down the Decades,” where she reflected on her own sexual development from childhood to her seventies and talked about her hopes for the years ahead.
Her writing inspired me to create a free short course to help you to reflect on your journey so far and your hopes for the days to come.
Sign up for a fascinating interior journey, and share the details with your close friends and on social media please!