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A woman’s struggle for pregnancy

ISPIRATIONAL: Tlamelo has shared her story (Photo by Fify Loewen)

My journey through endemetriosis – Tlamelo’s story

FIFY LOEWEN unpacks Tlamelo’s experience with Endemetriosis, six surgeries and failed IVF.

“I have endometriosis, was diagnosed in 2007, through a laparascopic surgery done at Gaborone Private Hospital. Prior to that, I had been struggling with severe pain. I was diagnosed with (most severe stage) endometriosis.

I got married in 2006, 10 years ago. I was hoping that by now, I would have children. I have been struggling to conceive due to endometriosis for years. I’ve had a total of 6 surgeries; 3 laparascopic surgeries and 3 laparatomys. Surgeries were done both to help with the pain and aid conception. Unfortunately I still haven’t been able to conceive. I was in denial for years, hoping one day I would just fall pregnant. I mean why shouldn’t I? It seemed very easy as most of my friends have children.
Countless Pregnancy tests, and failed IVF

I’ve lost count of how many pregnancy tests I’ve done. I used to get anxious and would just go ahead and test without having to wait for a period. The results were always the same, “negative.” I always knew I had the option to do IVF. However, IVF is very expensive and not a definite solution. People spend thousands of Pulas doing IVF, with no guarantee of conception. IVF is also not an easy process; one has to go through painful injections and side effects of IVF medication. It’s a process that can leave one feeling exploited and absolutely miserable.

It is embarrassing to be married and not have kids. You feel like you’ve failed as a woman. The pressure to have kids comes from friends, colleagues and family. It is also impossible to explain to everyone why you cannot have kids. This is a very sensitive matter that I think has been turned into a taboo in our society. To deal with it, I’ve always told people that I was not ready to have children. That way I felt they would leave me alone but they never do.

Finally, in 2015, I decided to give IVF a try. Whilst I knew of the hassle I was getting myself into, I had no idea how bad it was going to be. When you go through IVF, you go into it hoping that you would be one of the lucky few who do it once and achieve a pregnancy but that was not do be for me.

Before I started my IVF journey, I had to go through some surgeries. The last two of the 6 surgeries were two laparatomys. Both times I was told it was necessary, as it would increase chances for success. I was seeing one doctor here in Botswana, who did a few tests and finally removed my blocked tubes and adhesions that I had due to endo. This surgery was done in May 2015.

I was then referred to a clinic in Joburg for my first cycle of IVF. After a terrible ordeal of going through injections and terrible side effects, I did not fall pregnant. It was money down the drain, just like that. Thousands of Pulas gone!

New lab & gynae and how I managed to get 3 embryos frozen

I then decided to see a different gynaecologist, who then referred me to a different lab in South Africa, also a fertility clinic. I did not want to go back to the first lab, my experience there was horrific. I was told by the new lab that my uterus was in a bad state, that there was no way I was going to achieve a pregnancy without an operation.

They also explained that my IVF journey was going to be a little longer than usual because of endometriosis. They explained that for someone with endo, they do not do a fresh embryo transfer but have to freeze embryos so they could allow my system to calm down before the transfer. In November 2015, I went under the knife yet again. I had a laparatomy to remove fibroids and endo attached to my ovaries. Endo is very stubborn, it keeps coming back.

The 2nd lab is more expensive but definitely more advanced and professional. I started my second IVF cycle in January 2016 after recovering from my operation. And yet again, injections and terrible side effects. The Doctors were able to freeze 3 embryos for me.

I feel like I already have 3 babies waiting to be born. I am very hopeful and excited for this cycle. Transfer will be done sometime soon. I cannot wait to hold my babies. Even though I said I’m not a mother, I feel like for as long as my embbies are still alive, though frozen, I am a mother and I worry about them.
Juggling work, marriage, and endometriosis and trying to conceive

Finally one may wonder how I am able to juggle marriage, work, endometriosis and trying to conceive. It is not easy but I manage somehow. I have a very demanding job. I work for a local university as Director – Curriculum Development and Quality Assurance. I was recently promoted to this position, after working as a Manager for the last four years. I am very thrilled as this allows me to pay for my very high medical bills. Medical aid does not cover IVF, regardless of the reasons one needs it.

When you have endo, you get a few good days. I work very hard during those good days to cover for the most days when I’m unable to perform my duties at work. That way, I am hardly ever lagging behind. This strategy has helped me to succeed in my job and hence the promotion. I have a very understanding and accommodative employer.

Family, hubby, friends and Lysa keep me going

Above everything, I have a very good support structure, my family, husband and friends. Without them I wouldn’t be able to cope. Friends may not always understand why you are turning down social events. Endo takes a toll on your body. Recently, a support group formed by Gaona Tlhasana and Kgomotso Mpho Gagosi embarked to raise awareness on endometriosis. They organised the first ever endometriosis walk in March 2016. There, I was able to meet other endo warriors and later joined the support group.

We call each other “Endo Sisters” This group has helped me a lot. I’m not as depressed as I used to be. Now I know that, I am not alone. We all go through similar challenges and are able to help each other with ideas and provide support. My friend Lysa was able to join me on the endo walk, which was started at 0500 am; not many people can do that for you. Lysa is my rock. Doing the walk together made us stronger as friends, now she understands what I go through and is able to emphathize with me.

I felt like pouring my heart out, it somehow makes me feel better. I should do this more often, even if no one will read.”

Laparoscopy:  is the primary surgical choice for diagnosing and treatment for endometriosis. Laparoscopy involves inserting a tiny telescope connected to a camera called a laparoscope through a small incision in the umbilicus in order to view the reproductive organs.

Laparatomy: more significant form of surgery where a large incision is made in the abdominal wall to actually perform a definitive surgical procedure.  It is particularly used where large lumps of endometriosis (endometriomas) form in the ovaries and are difficult to treat with drug therapy or laparoscopic surgery

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WeekendLife

Why men don’t pardon cheating partners

18th January 2021
Cheating-marriage

It goes without saying that men and women handle pain differently. Especially emotional pain. Men tend to be more emotionally immature compared to women when it comes to matters of the heart.

It is for this reason that men do not handle break ups or cheating as well as their counterparts. Where women have been groomed from a young age to express their emotions men have been told to “suck it up and be a man”. This may be one of the reasons why men are unable to express their emotions. It’s therefore that it can be a tad bit surprising that men cheat the most but are the weakest to deal when cheated on.

Research has proven that men find it difficult to digest being cheated on. British Psychotherapist, Philip Hodson opines that men find it hard to forgive cheating because it affects their masculinity, and to them, it might signal the end of the relationship.

“Men can forgive themselves for their indiscretions, but they find it much harder to forgive their partners for the same. For a betrayed woman, an affair by a man is an offence against her dignity, but for a betrayed man, a woman’s infidelity is an offence against his manhood. It goes right to the core of his identity,” said Hodson.

WeekendLife also interviewed a few gentlemen on their honest feeling about being cheated and if they find it hard to forgive their partners after cheating.  Tinashe Mangiroza said, “From the beginning, men are designed with the potential to have and to reproduce with many spouses. Women on the other hand are more or less designed to focus on one man. Along with this natural design, women have stronger pain tolerance. Yes women feel pain when cheated on, but their tolerance is much higher than that of a man (in view of what I said above).”

“And men on the other hand have a low emotional pain tolerance, hence the higher suicide and murder rates among men. Then remember there’s also the ego element which men have. So when you combine a big ego, low pain tolerance and other things such as selfishness and competing with other men, it almost ends a man’s self-worth when a woman he loves decides to sleep with another man.”

He admits to have been cheated on before which he said it took away his self-esteem and he had to sleep around as a way of easing the pain whilst waiting to heal. Another gentleman who was also cheated at some point, Monwabisi Ndumiso Mgenge, highlighted that when a woman cheated on him it becomes very difficult for him to take her back because loyalty is everything to him.

“This is because most of the times relationship involves sex. You see the person naked you enjoy that, you don’t want anybody having what you have. You are emotionally invested and have imagined the future many times and this is why some get violent cause its trauma really.”

Psychologist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye said, “when it comes to marriage, men and women see things differently. He pointed out that a man tends to see the woman as possession, and so, the moment somebody else tries to cross the boundary and interferes with his property, there is bound to be serious problem.”

“So, it is not because women don’t care or they forgive so easily, but the circumstances don’t favour them as they favour men. If women were in a dominant position, they easily would have driven the man away. So, the moment a female has committed herself to marriage, for her to voluntarily and openly get out of it becomes a kind of stigma, and women cannot handle stigma, particularly where children are involved. Mothers would not want to walk away, unless it’s beyond their powers, thus they would rather endure.”

Thabiso Cavin Bogopa, an Empowerment Expert also shared with WeekendLife that men are wired different from women hence their response to cheating won’t be the same. “What may prove to be a difficulty in men forgiving cheating is that, generally speaking men sleep with who they can, women sleep with who they want, so the overarching thing becomes she cheated with her desire, the person she is actually attracted to and the cheated man struggles with that truth, as he realizes that sex for him is opportunity based, while for his counterpart is a deliberate and conscious choice.

This to a certain extent is what forms the challenge for men,” he explained. “Cheating devalues an individual both the cheater and cheated on, but more profoundly manifest in the cheated as they start to decrease in their self-esteem, losing their regard for themselves as they are undermined they may begin to try to address this trauma in multiple ways but more commonly through being exactly what they detest because they are stuck in the experience, they therefore cheat and become messed up.”

“No one gets away with cheating even if you never get caught, you become depleted as a person by the lies, trickery and illicit emotional trade. But if we may, the choice to forgive a cheating partner is a personal choice that goes both ways.”

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WeekendLife

Modelling| Fashion| Etiquette

18th January 2021
Emmanuel Kayenda

It takes more than just having the body for the ramp to be an “it girl/boy” in the industry. A lot hows into being the cream de la cream. This includes intense coaching and being fortified to thrive in Botswana’s modelling industry as well as making a name for yourself beyond boarders.

No doubt that the likes of Kaone Kario, Mmina Gaebonwe and Emmanuel Kayenda are household names today because of their well-crafted talent. Which needs to be passed on even to aspiring models. Raymond Geofrey an Editor and Content Creator at Vogue magazine who is also known for his Pan African story telling through photography, shared with WeekendLife about what it means and what it takes to be an all-round model, who is capacitated to make a living from their craft.

“Models need good etiquette and good communication especially when dealing with clients reaching to them. They should be able to professionally communicate with them. They need to be efficient in their communication. Professionalism also entails time management during bookings, shootings and auditions. Models should always be early by 1 hour 30 minutes. Enquire about contracts and make contact with consultants. This also include seeking legal advice,” he said.

“Models should have business cards and business WhatsApp numbers. They should possess a good social media account such as Facebook pages with clear biographies. Posts should be sponsored.” Knowing how to transcend the ramp as a model is one of the things that is always a big deal to models and agencies. Geofrey highlighted that models ultimately must know how to walk spectacularly on the runway. When it comes to posing, models are often expected to kill it and bring their A game which in turn will help shine their personality.

Geofrey said models do not take time to read and study as well as research about posing. The more models are confident the more they are able to bring out their personalities on the shoot. He said self-awareness is also imperative, as models are required to be aware of themselves. When wearing heels and walking down the ramp, they should catwalk to the beat.

When it comes to the modelling industry in Botswana, they normally complain about numerous things which are pushing the industry backward. One of these he said is industrialization and policy making, the most lacking and key factors in need in the sector. “The modelling industry in Botswana is still not industrialized that is there are no laws or policies currently in Botswana to govern the trade of modelling in Botswana. Modelling is still not a legal registered profession in Botswana,” he said.

“Affiliation of local agencies to global/international modelling agencies; we have seen a rise in business revenue with regards to fashion modelling in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya etc, due to the fact that they are exporting a larger number of models overseas to walk at fashion shows like Paris Fashion Week. This is simply because they have affiliations, partnerships with agents/bookers/agencies based in fashion capitals of the world (Paris, London, Milan & New York).”

Lack of etiquette which he said is rather unprofessional, is one of the things that hold back local models. “A lot of models in the country still walk unranked at shows (New faces, freelance, full time, professional, international model etc). Also models lack training in the art of modelling (posing, runway, social media training, and business acumen.”

In the age of brand ambassadors, models have been key in this aspect in making brands known and marketable. Even so, they are many slots that define and categorize modelling work. “Fashion models are usually booked for shows or by designers. Editorial are more for official print/brand work such as for magazines (print/online), websites, blogs etc. Commercial are more on promoting business services of institutions, government or the private sector (including banking institutions, insurance, services providers etc). Fitness models are for promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, we see them booked by professionals sports/athletes/gym brands or the food & health industry (what is popular now is supplements such as herbal life),” he explained.

Like other countries, where models are paid a leg and an arm, the same should be incorporated in Botswana instead of exploiting them. “By respecting what models do and bring to the table; and you do that by paying them what they deserve on time,” Geofrey said. Geofrey is currently running classes for models called ‘Etiquette Class Models’ which offers runway coaching. It equips models with different types of walks. They also offer social media training and mentoring on running as a model entrepreneur.

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WeekendLife

LERAPO: Becoming a radio host and property analyst

12th January 2021
Thabiso Tshwenyana

Thabiso Tshwenyana is certainly a bright spark. He has been hitting the books, at the same time pushing hustle on radio! Well, you may not know who I’m talking about right now unless I refer to him as ‘Lerapo’, or ‘Bundle of Joy ya Radio’, as he is commonly called by his aficionados on radio.

Lerapo is resolute on taking over the entertainment and broadcasting space, of course wearing many hats as a radio host, content producer and a socialite. Not only that, he is a fresh Real Estate graduate currently functioning as a property analyst.

One may wonder how this young lad (currently 23-years-old) managed to be on radio, at the same time pursuing his Degree in Real Estate. Well, he says it took grit, time management and really doing what one likes. And he is right, because in today’s world anyone can call themselves a presenter. But it takes unparalleled skill, unbreakable determination, and heaps of talent to captivate an audience of millions.

Whether or not you think he’s the best, there’s no arguing that Lerapo is possibly the most prominent young radio presenter to hail from the Botswana. Initially starting his career in 2017, Lerapo earned himself a reputation as ‘Bundle of Joy ya Radio’ by consistently pushing the boundaries of what could be said and done.

His shows consists of outrageous humor and youthful content that’s shocking the radio establishment, and taking young people to cloud 9. The show is called The Youth Café on Duma FM, and airs every Saturday between 2PM and 2PM, broadcasting in vernacular.

When sharing with Weekendlife his startling life on radio and how he will be turning it down this year, he says the journey started back in 2017 at RB2 where he hosted a 30-minute feature. “I am definitely a go-getter. I love radio and this has been my childhood dream! I held onto this dream and survived against all odds. I am happy to be on radio because after all the knockings, snubs and distressing coercions, I persisted nonetheless. Sometimes it was just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.”

Before joining Duma FM in 2019, he was a content producer at yet another youthful urban radio station Yarona FM. At the age of 23-years old, Lerapo has worked at three radio stations, both government and private urban stations. Remarkable! For someone aspiring to be on radio, I can confidently say he is the pluq for inspiration and familiarity.

He continued to dish more on what radio really needs, saying “Taking time to perfect the craft, being open to learn from others and just digging down on books and the internet on how radio works did magic to me. It became easier to comprehend fully what I needed and how to go about getting it.”

Being a radio presenter means having a whole team prior to going on air. This means having a show prep, and reflecting on how the show went down with your producers or programs manager. Programs manager handles the business of the radio station and leave the voice and personality to the presenter.

Presenters have to follow rules of the programs manager even if they may not see eye-to-eye. They may prefer to play safe and repeat music even though sometimes a presenter prefers to take a risk and make changes to the music. Nevertheless, the success of the radio station lies in programs manager’s hands.

“After a show I usually have a reflection on how it went then I plan for the next show. On Tuesdays I have what we call an ‘air check’ with either the programs manager or his assistant to identify hiccups on the previous show and see how best to work on them to have a great delivery on the next show. Since I produce my own show, I give them a preliminary show prep. Once approved, I start contacting guests to be featured on the show and later share the final show prep a day before the show airs with the bosses.”

Still on his show, he does live reads. These are paid adverts that he discusses with the marketing department prior to his show going live. Well, as for a sizzling playlist, the music compiler knows how to serve him right.

He says a great radio hosts listens, reads and makes a show about the listener. ‘A common mistake we make as radio hosts is that we make the show about us and tend to feel that we know more than the listener. We also ought to respect the listener, these are our clients after all. Radio hosts should also refrain from relying on social media for content, most of it is fake and unverified by relevant authorities.”

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