July 14, 2022 - "Since U Been Gone" - by the Inkubator Staff

Difficulty ● ◐ ○ ○ ○

Puzzle Notes

Dear friends,

In honor of Fibroid Awareness Month, the Inkubator staff has collectively constructed this puzzle, "Since U Been Gone." Until recently, one of our number suffered from uterine fibroids, and she underwent a hysterectomy to restore quality of life that had been missing for years. With this puzzle, she bids her uterus a lighthearted and long-awaited goodbye.

But although the puzzle is lighthearted, fibroids are a serious condition. We at Inkubator don't want anyone with a uterus to go through what one of us did -- in large part because, when she was finally diagnosed in 2017, it was after several years of not having her symptoms taken seriously by her doctor, and of having those symptoms drastically affect her quality of life.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, as many as 80 percent of people with a uterus will develop fibroids by age 50. Many of them won't experience any symptoms, or their symptoms will be mild enough not to require clinical intervention. But we wonder how many people are quietly enduring severe symptoms from fibroids, believing that what they're going through is just a normal part of having a uterus.

From the editor in question: "Inkubator has always had a frankness about bodies and what they do that no other crossword venue, indie or mainstream, does. I had never heard the word 'fibroid,' not even from the gynecologist who failed to diagnose me, until circumstances forced me to see a different provider who was far more clued in to their existence. Certainly I'd never heard about fibroids from friends or family. I wish this were something people talked about more; perhaps then I might have started on the path to a cure years sooner. If this puzzle inspires even one person to ask a healthcare provider about what might be happening to their body, or shows them that they're not alone, then I have no regrets about sharing what others might consider TMI."

Inkubator will be donating the usual constructor's fee to The White Dress Project, an organization that seeks to raise awareness of uterine fibroids and remove the stigma of talking about them.

Be healthy, and be well,
Laura, Tracy, Stella, and Brooke