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
Fastjet Zimbabwe, the award-winning value-based airline, this week announced that effective Thursday, 30 June 2022, the airline will introduce a new service between Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Maun in Botswana.
The new route is scheduled to operate four (4) times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Fastjet will operate the route using a 50-seater Embraer ERJ145 aircraft. This aircraft choice is known to provide the versatility to build a sustainable regional network with the right-size capacity while offering customers comfortable seating with generous legroom.
Fastjet Zimbabwe spokesperson, Nunurai Ndawana, said, “The airline is thrilled to introduce direct flights from Victoria Falls to Maun. Using our Embraer ERJ145 aircraft, we believe this route will facilitate more travel between these two tourism capitals of Zimbabwe and Botswana. This route has for many years been only available by private charter.
So, with the introduction of this direct connection, we believe it will be able to spur tourism development and growth in the region”. Fastjet Group Chief Operating Officer, Donahue Cortes commented, “The Victoria Falls – Maun flight is the second new route being added onto the fastjet regional network, with flights between Victoria Falls and Nelspruit Kruger Mpumalanga planned to launch ahead of the Easter travel period.
Despite the hard-wearing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Group remains dedicated to the recovery and growth of tourism in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana, and to bringing further connectivity to the region”. The new route will operate 4 times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday connecting two of Southern Africa’s most iconic tourist destinations.
Botswana has been approached to host the 73rd Miss World, expected in 2024. During the appreciation event for Miss Botswana, Palesa Molefe, by Southern Epic Cycling Challenge in collaboration with The High Commission of India, Miss Botswana Management Company Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Benjamin Raletsatsi, confirmed that they have been approached by Miss World to host 73rd Miss World.
Speaking at the same arena, Raletsatsi highlighted that it has been his dream to host Miss World in Botswana. “Miss Botswana is one of the difficult projects to run. There are days I just wake up and ask myself why I am doing what I am doing because everything about me from integrity is often times torn apart.
Then Palesa came along and validated and confirmed that what I am doing is right because it is setting an opportunity for young girls in this country to have an opportunity to express themselves. Four years ago, when I took over Miss Botswana I had a vision, in my vision I wanted the first year to just be us participating in Miss World, second year was for us to participate and ask Miss World to allow us to host Miss World in Botswana, and the third year was for us to elevate ourselves as a country; whilst in year four we wanted to win Miss World.
We could have won Miss World in our third year of office with Palesa, but unfortunately COVID-19 happened. The idea is that this coming year as Palesa will be handing over her Miss Botswana tittle, she will be there to guide the next Miss Botswana on how to prepare for Miss World.”
Raletsatsi pointed out that the reality that Palesa did not win Miss World does not mean she did not do well. “She did exceptionally well”. He said at the end of Miss World there were ten pictures of Miss World participants who had a huge impact auctioned, and out of ten pictures two of those pictures were of Palesa.
The Miss Botswana management CEO highlighted that after the Miss World competition, Miss World responded to their request to host the 73rd Miss World. “They responded and said we can host 73rd Miss World if we are still interested in hosting it.
The current Miss World will be the 71st this year and then followed by the 72nd which is next year and the 73rd which will be in 2024 which has been offered to Botswana. The bigger challenge for me now is how I will be able to convince Batswana to bring Miss World to Botswana.
The honest truth is that Palesa has done her part as a change agent, it is up to us to do our part as Batswana to ensure that Miss World comes to Botswana and is a success. I was joking with one of my friends the other day to say, what Palesa has achieved in one year can take some companies, three to four years to achieve.”
You choose a path to be better or bitter, why do you have to expose a person, what do you gain from that? We react rather than become proactive. Mothers need help! Some said as social media turned into a battlefield this past Father’s Day.
Baby mamas came all guns blazing, ventilating their frustrations against absent baby daddies through social media posts. “As for me I feel women will be applying a hurting heart or she is bitter to expose baby daddy.
There are channels one can follow to solve this issues rather than rushing to Facebook and exposing them, it’s reacting rather than solving the reality of the problem, it won’t help you, after all what will Facebook do to you? Would it give you the food, would it make the father to support the child, but there are channels one can follow like one can consult with the laws then this man will know the right thing to do”, said Obonye Obza Thapelo who is baby daddy of two daughters.
Thapelo further argued that if you seek for definition you will lose a father, “we have our fathers, it’s not about the responsibility, if we are talking about a father on happy father’s day don’t talk about the definition, talk about father’s day, it never say define or describe whose a father.
When you come back to family, we have family dynamics, family faults and family failures, so if you have family failures, for example, if I have been taking care of the child while we were together and it happens we break up and I stop taking care of the child, are you not going to call me a father just because of my failures?”
“If we are going to look for the faults we won’t be building fathers that we want. “It says happy father’s day, it ends there, and it’s not about the responsibilities. A responsible father depends on one, I can be a fathers because I am your mentor, I can be a father that am not supporting financially but I can just call and check on my child, I can be father that have money but still fails to support but am there physically but not economically, am there emotionally but still am a father.”
“Speaking from experience, my baby daddy have never been there in my kids life so in my own opinion I think happy father’s day means to acknowledge fathers who are present in their children lives, man who are there for their children, I don’t mean for the mothers, am saying their children.”, Norah Moloi mother of three cried.
“Women are reactive to this issues because it hurts to be left alone with children. Seeing other women praising their baby daddies and as for us not even knowing what to say to our children, they don’t even know if this day do exist hurts. I grew up without a father too, I didn’t even had a privilege to wish him that, even happy birthday to him too. I think this now seem like a trend, it’s like a culture now because it’s like everyone is abandoning their children,” Moloi explained.
“There is co-parenting, I mean if you have problem with me exclude the child from our problems. For us to have a healthy children who are mentally fit we ought to be in the same page. Let us hide our problems from our children. When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers, that is why you saw on social media even kids venting out about their absent fathers.
“As for fathers who are not in their children’s life why should we wish them father’s day? It is like throwing a seed on rocks and expect it to germinate without proper soil, proper sunlight or even without water and expect to reap at the end of the day.
Do you expect such a planter to be praised that they have sowed anything? You are a planter yes but where is your seedlings, you just threw a seed and abandon it, as for me is a big NO! There is a mistake that men turn to make, they think children cannot see all the struggles mother goes through trying to made ends meets for them and later blame it on baby mamas for using children when tables turns.
“Ask yourself, are we to wish man who denied pregnancy father’s day? What of those who long abandoned their children? What is there to be wished? What is supposed to be happy about the day? We are not bitter, we are asking them to put themselves in our shoes,” Moloi expressed herself.
Adding on Calvin G Zacharia father of one daughter says that was a cry for help to single mothers, he said men who are not there for their children don’t deserve to be wished father’s day since they are not playing their role.
Zacharia urged mothers to involve the authority, “there is no use to pass remarks on social media without taking action. If the parents had messy break up they should find a common ground for the sake of their child/children”. It depresses the kids not having another party not playing the role on their lives.
“I think ladies are bitter, just because some man don’t give us money we start labelling them as deadbeat”, Boitshepho Gasefiwe mother of one. Men have their reasons for not being there for their children. There is always two sides of stories. Some kids I saw on Facebook I feel meddle in elder people’s issues without knowing the facts.
When giving his views, Thando Morgan, father of one daughter highlighted that he feels it depends on someone’s emotional intelligence, some act according to how their baby daddy treated them. “Baby mamas know their baby daddies better to find fit worthy a father title, some are venting out because they suffer alone in raising the kids alone.