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A womans 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

‘Mindset’ unlocks positive mindset

2nd February 2023
At the age of 17, Boniface Lewanika is ready to take over the world. He has shown commitment to being the next big thing to ever emerge from Botswana. Mindset MusiQ, as he is affectionately known, is a self-taught music producer. The story of how Mindset started music production can be traced back to end-to-end lockdowns, which jaded him to the core.

At least, for Mindset MusiQ, these lockdowns were a blessing in disguise. He got to unlock the hidden potential in him, or maybe, the creativity that he never knew about. Being locked down meant that Mindset MusiQ has plenty of time to waste, but he was quick to switch his mindset to coming up with something positive.

He saw it much better to waste time on the internet. Well, for lot of people, the internet was the only saving grace then. But for Mindset MusiQ, it was the beginning of a journey that he intends to walk for the rest of his life.

“I became a music producer because I love music. I then asked myself why I should not make music, that’s when in 2020 during lockdowns I started watching YouTube tutorials on how to make music. I didn’t have any knowledge on how to produce a song. YouTube introduced me to Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) which is a software used for music production.”

The Letlhakane born then downloaded his first software which was Ableton Live, which was way too complex and distorted. “I felt it was too hard to learn and I switched to FI studio which was also complicated but fortunately, easy to use. Because I don’t have a good voice to sing, music production became too good to me and very flexible to embark on.”

Mindset MusiQ became part of the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) national roadshow, after being picked from the capacity building workshop. He was challenged to speak to the audience, fellow creatives (artists and music producers) and his presentation caught the eye of the adjudicator, DJ Fresh.

“I heard about the artist’s capacity building workshop from my mother, who saw it on Facebook. My father immediately reacted and dropped me off and even though I was late, the host then introduced me and the rest became history. As we speak, I am part of the Top 30, and we will be having the finale on the 11th of February in Gaborone.”

Being on the Top 30 for Mindset MusiQ is a dream come true. This is because he wasn’t even told that there will be a boot camp and grand prizes, and he has always wanted to advance his premature music career. He said this has shown that he is on the right track.

“Working with DJ Fresh is really cool. It’s not everyone who can be afforded that opportunity and the experience humbles me all the time. Already, I have rocked the Thando remix and I can’t wait to do more with his mentorship.”

Mindset MusiQ is currently in South Africa working on cooking more music with industry moguls. He was invited by producer Trey Bankz and some colleagues from Imperial City Music, a new record label in Johannesburg

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WeekendLife

All The Star She Is lands on BTV

2nd February 2023
With zero existence of TV programs empowering women in Botswana, a new show that strives to make that news of the past has just started airing on the tedious BTV. At least, after so many years, All The Star She Is will inspire viewers to see a new change in terms of supporting women in Botswana.

Each incredible series celebrates women but not from all walks of life, but those who are turning heads in the entertainment industry. The show will cast a bright light on women who have conquered tremendous obstacles and weathered the storms.

In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Monday, Director of Cosign267 Koone Boikaego said the show reveals the paths that these phenomenal women took to be where they are in the entertainment and media industry.

Cosign267 is a 100% youth owned film and TV Production Company led by Boikaego. It has worked with a number of organization, executing various projects such as filming, shooting, editing and one-on-one couch interviews.

The youthful company recently wrapped up the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) three months’ national roadshow and boot camp. It was assigned with capturing all moments of the roadshow, alongside Thato DJ Fresh Sikwane.

“Celebrating women is one thing that is often overlooked. We put together this project to take followers into the lives of creative and incredible women. They are determined to break walls and pave way for the next generation of women. In this show, these women serve viewers with factual stories of how they started and what it takes to be at the forefront, the bittersweet experiences that took them that far. It’s really a show that many young girls can draw inspiration from.”

Breaking down the show plan, Boikaego said airs every Saturday on BTV at 6PM, hosted by One Rabantheng. Rabantheng, famously known as Divine Diva is a media and marketing consultant, legendary radio personality who worked for Duma FM, e-TV and RB2, where she was shown the door for speaking foul of the then President without being aware that the microphone is on.

There are thirteen stars to be featured on the new show, therefore, this means that there will be thirteen episodes. Some of the familiar faces featured on the TV show are: Mpho Sebina, Olorato Ledique, Oratile Kebakile, Nnunu Ramogotsi, Tumi Ramsden, Kelly Ramputswa, Tshepie Olds, Winx Motcher, Mmaphala, Loretta and Nicole Martinez among others.

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WeekendLife

Lifestyle enthusiasts feel Big Brother vibes

27th January 2023

This past weekend MultiChoice Botswana hosted media and lifestyle enthusiasts in Oodi for an evening of fun, drama and everything in between. The treat dubbed Big Brother Titans Botswana media challenge basically recreated the Big Brother experience right here in Botswana.

Big Brother Titans is the joint South African and Nigerian edition of the Big Brother franchise. The series follows contestants as they live in an isolated house and compete for a cash prize at the end of the show by avoiding being evicted from the house by the viewers.

These viewers vote their favorite housemates to stay on the show. The show features housemates from South Africa and Nigeria. The first season of the show premiered on January 15 2023 on DStv.

DStv Botswana Corporate Affairs Manager, Thembile Legwaila told WeekendLife that they saw it critical to host media friends to experience how it feels by being in the Big Brother house.

“For the very first time in history of Big Brother, we’ve seen the merging of two superpowers, Mzansi and Naija, with the Big Brother Titans season and what a better way to celebrate the monumental season than hosting our media friends.”

THE LOVE

Participants were treated to top notch reception complimented by the Oodi sunset which just blew them away. A special shuttle was organized from Gaborone to Oodi, at a farm house that is just incredible in terms of design, aesthetics and ambience.

Of course they were welcomed by soft cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages for those who are not drinkers, and the next booth was an opportunity for housemates to introduce themselves to the man of the house, Biggie. RB2’s new baby Mdu the Party played the role of Biggie, and he nailed the character.

Some of the contestants were asked what they will do with the grand prize of P5000. With my ongoing voluntary movement, #Pad4HER, I needed the cash prize to push the campaign.  #Pad4HER is a campaign that I started last year with an aim of helping female students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have access to sanitary towels. Anyway, luck was not on my side but my colleague from The Botswana Gazette, Gosego Motsumi emerged as the winner.

We got done with the questions and made way into the house. The party began with more drinks and the first challenge kicked off. For this particular challenge, we were divided into pairs. I was matched with Motsumi and we won the first challenge.

WINNING STRATEGY

Other housemates asked how we managed but it was simple: we had a strategy before embarking on the challenge. We sat down and debated on what we need to do in order to emerge victorious.

DStv engaged a phenomenal local chef, Rachel Tlagae who served some enchanting, light meal. Its Big Brother Titans so we ought to mind what we eat and also take note of quantities. Chefs also brought some wine to go with the meal and everyone was contented.

THE WINNING CHALLENGE

Housemates were taken through the last challenge: mental ability. This particular challenge needed them to know who they are as well as knowing their fellow housemates. It was one of the simplest challenges yet difficult. This is where I lost lot of points even though I was at the top (after winning the first challenge).

These housemates were all unique in their own way. From the media side was myself, Sharon Mathala, Leungo Mokgwathi, Gosego Motsumi and Nancy Ramokhua. This is a team which did exceptionally well altogether. Motsumi emerged as the winner, followed by Mathala and me on fourth position.

The third position was won by Loungo Pitse from influencer’s side, and he tagged alongside DJ Gouveia, Dato Seiko, Kedi Molosiwa and Gape Makwati.

Legwaila said “We wanted to have a healthy mix of traditional media (print and radio) as well as social media personalities, artists and content creators in the house. We chose individuals who were characteristically different from each other because variety and diversity is important to us. We of course chose those with outgoing personalities as well as those who are a little more introverted as we wanted the interaction to be authentic and organic. We wanted a solid group of individuals who represented the many different people that make up this beautiful country.”

DSTV IS COOKING SOMETHING

When quizzed if there are plans to have a similar Big Brother Titans Botswana, Legwaila said “MultiChoice Africa is focused on entertaining audiences all over Africa with the current Big Brother franchises; BB Titans, Mzansi and Naija. Though we have no immediate plans to have a Big Brother Botswana in the future, we are continuously looking at ways to entertain our Botswana audience with local content and we are excited for what’s to come in the next few weeks from our country.”

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