Woman Wellness

Goodbye 2014! Welcome 2015!

2014, my initiation into WordPress!

As the year draws to a close, I would like to share some thoughts. This year has been a rather eventful year for me! It’s the year I discovered WordPress and the credit goes to my brother. I never envisioned myself blogging or even having remotely anything to do with social media, but, here I am! 

A Great Big THANK YOU!

This year has certainly witnessed a rekindling of my love for writing and I would like to thank my friends and loved ones who have been visiting my blog and giving me their support. It means a lot to me and has given more meaning and purpose to my writing.

A Roller Coaster Ride!

It has been a year of ups and downs and a frightening year too! My newly acquired medical conditions and how they messed me up and nearly killed my love for writing was one unnerving emotional experience best left behind. However, having said this, I think it has taught me some valuable lessons and definitely improved my medical ‘knowledge’!

Taking the Bull by the Horns in 2014

I learnt to cope better with pain and am trying to procrastinate a little lesser and take the bull by the horns. My mum’s my inspiration and seeing her dauntlessly face and survive the many challenges life has thrown her way, has taught me that you have to put up a fierce fight or end up being devoured!

Mum’s one feisty woman and I would like to dedicate this line below from Helen Steiner Rice to her:

A mother’s love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking.

My mum has been and will always be the safe abode I seek and return to. My confidante and all things familiar. We have our fights, uglier on bad days than on better days. But, I will always be hers to hug, chastise and love unconditionally,

2014 a year of many firsts!

2014 has also been a year of good food and new experiences. Previously cautious and unadventurous, this has been a year of many firsts. Snorkelling for the first time in El Nido in the Philippines, blogging and of course my first year on Facebook!

A toast to 2015!

So, 2014 has been a year well-lived! A thoughtful and experimental year. As we welcome 2015, I would like to make a toast to many more heartwarming moments with family, loved ones and friends. May 2015 bring in more good cheer, music and adventures!

Signing off,

Subha

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Food

Savouring Italian Culinary Delights in Puerto Princesa

While holidaying in Puerto Princesa, we chanced upon a true gem, a food haven and a slice of Italy along Villarosa Road. Just a stone’s throw from our accommodation, Floral Villarosa Pool, La Tana Della Libellula is a quaint and cosy restaurant serving Italian cuisine. 


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The name translated means the dragonfly’s nest. Legend goes that when Tina and Nick decided to set up their restaurant, they sighted a couple of dragonfly nests, hence the restaurant’s name. The family was really lucky and privileged to hear this legend from Tina herself!

 

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Hankering after spicy fare, something we dearly missed, we managed to get our much-needed dose of chilli and got our chilli fix! Hailing from a food paradise, Singaporeans can be very selective and hard to please when it comes to matters of the gut! However, Tina was such an accommodating and sweet host. She was very attentive to our whimsical food fancies and even gave us great suggestions on how Nick could help to tailor the items on the menu to suit our palate. ‘Sorpresa’ or ‘Surprise’ in Italian, this is what we ended up with!

On our first visit:

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Pizza ai Frutti di Mare

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Spaghetti allo Scoglio

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Penne alla Siciliana

My hubby who’s not one to be easily lured and tempted by continental cuisine was floored when he took a bite of the Pizza ai Frutti di Mare. He proclaimed that it was the best pizza he had ever tasted. It was just perfect. I am not a pizza connoisseur but, the pizza base was just right, not too heavy and not too thin and crispy. The generous seafood topping which consisted of baby squid, prawns and mussels was fresh and smelt heavenly. Baby squids unlike adult squids are more flavoursome as they absorb spices more readily and are much more tender. This was a great plus point because I usually encounter adult squids on pizza toppings and in pasta and they are not as flavoursome and worse still, rubbery! So the baby squids were a bonus! The pizza was also not soggy despite the generous topping and this was the best indicator that the pizza dough was of the right texture.

The Spaghetti allo Scoglio was satisfying right to the last morsel. Combining seafood sauce and tomatoes for the base with extra chilli, It was fiery and full of character! We usually steer clear of pasta with tomato-based sauce but, we were in for a pleasant surprise. Tina vouched that we would love it.

From past dining experience, whatever tomato-based sauce we have tried on pasta, ranging from amatricana, bolognese, marinara and pomidoro, have left us with an unappetising aftertaste.The tomato was overpowering and it made the pasta sourish and flat with no nuances of other flavour.

However, it was ‘Love at First Bite’ when it came to the Spaghetti allo Scoglio . Full of body and flavour, it was unlike those we had tasted before.

On our second visit:

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Tonno al Salmoriglio

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Spaghetti aglio e olio with mussels

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Spaghetti allo Scoglio

The Tonno al Salmoriglio, tuna soaked in parsley and garlic olive oil bath, was delectable too. On our previous nights we had dined at highly recommended restaurants in Puerto Princesa famed for their seafood. We tried their blue marlin, crab, lobster and prawns. However, the tuna served in La Tana Della Libellula was really fresh and did not have the strong fishy odour we had encountered in those earlier restaurants. Meanwhile, the Spaghetti aglio e olio with mussels was an interesting variation. Usually served with prawns, the mussels gave the dish an added zest.

We caught up with Tina and Nick at the end of our meal. Their warmth and candour certainly put La Tana Della Libellula many notches above those famed restaurants in Puerto Princesa. What makes this nest a special place?

1) Having left Italy and travelled miles to set up home in Puerto Princesa, Tina ‘s and Nick’s nest is a home away from home for us. Having settled in Puerto Princesa four years ago, they know the importance of finding family and friends in a foreign land and, are doing exactly that for their patrons. Service is from the heart and they are such lovely hosts.

2) They pay great attention to what goes into their dishes. They import most of their ingredients like their cheeses, olive oil, tomatoes, herbs, olives amongst other things from Italy.

3) And, as Nick puts it,  great Italian cuisine is ten percent chef and ninety percent fresh and quality ingredients. They ensure that only the freshest catch goes into their dishes. If it’s not fresh, it would not be made available on their menu for that day.

4) Nick is just being modest! We can attest that he is a great and passionate chef. He shared with me a few pointers on  perfecting my Aglio Olio and I must say the fervour with which he spoke and the glint in his eyes are testimony enough!

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Family Wellness

Chiang Mai Beckons!

The family got a much-needed break last November when we visited Chiang Mai. It was unlike other family holidays we had spent in the typical 4-star hotels (with the exception of the villa in Bali) and visiting the recommended tourist attractions which included the typical zoos or animal safaris, cultural haunts, the death-defying theme parks and famous shopping districts. Chiang Mai was culture, adventure and nature rolled into one minus the theme parks! 

A True Homestay!

JL Jacky Show Boutique Homestay is unlike any of our previous holiday accommodations. For one, it’s a family home converted into a family-run hotel. Lam and her husband Jacky pay great attention to detail. Suites come with unique Japanese, Burmese, Swiss or Thai-themed interiors. Each has a large sitting area, a kitchenette (cooking however is not permitted) and an en-suite bathroom with a spa bathtub.

Burmese Suite – Living area, Kitchenette & Bedroom

Japanese Suite – Living area, Bedroom & Bathroom

Thai Suite – Living area, Kitchenette & Bedroom

Swiss Suite – Living area, Kitchenette & Bedroom

Lamduan Boutique Homestay Chiang Mai - Deluxe Swiss Style

We stayed 6 nights and Lam ensured that we experienced all four themed-suites. This certainly broke the monotony of returning to the same room. Lam and Jacky played the role of gracious hosts commendably. Our tour-guide for a day, Lam took us to the Elephant Safari, Long Neck Village and the Tiger Kingdom. Jacky cooks up quite a storm when guests dine in. Formerly a chef in Switzerland, Jacky whips up gastronomic delights for his guests.  (P.S. his homemade jams contain chunky fresh fruits and he brings in gourmet teas from Switzerland.) A word of caution: Rooms get snapped up pretty fast so book early to avoid disappointment.

Trekking Up Doi Inthanon National Park

Situated atop Doi Inthanon, the highest mountaintop in Thailand 2565m above sea level, the Doi Inthanon National Park is a teeming haven of flora, fauna and bird-life. Trekking through this reserve gave us an opportunity to experience the pristine and energizing beauty of nature.

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The Grandeur of Wachirathan Waterfall

The second major waterfall on the way up Doi Inthanon National Park is a real beauty. The thunderous roar of the water as it cascaded down 80m before making a resounding splash was, a treat of orchestral proportions to our aural senses. This impressive waterfall comes with plenty walkways allowing one to experience it from different angles. However, do exercise caution as these walkways tend to be on the slippery side.

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Visiting the Tribal Village: A Unique and Enriching Cultural Experience 

Lam took us to the Tribal Village. This was a cultural eye-opener and we witnessed the different tribes and their customary and traditional practices. One of the families we visited also graciously obliged to give us a tour of their home. Home is a thatched hut with no electricity. The interior is dark and the living space, crammed. Food is cooked over firewood. To sum it up, life is simple and basic unlike what we are accustomed to in Singapore but, it was heartening to witness the children romping around happily while the elders went about their tasks stoically.

Our First Zipline!

Prior to stepping off the launch pad, I turned to glance at our group as I was the first to go. With my heart literally in my mouth and foot dangling 40 – 50 m in mid-air, I jerked forward and I was flying! The experience was magical, unlike any other. ‘Flying’ at such a height was liberating. The view was breathtaking. Witnessing the wide expanse of the evergreen forest below me was unparalleled to anything I had experienced before.

My boys and I conquered our fear of heights when we were ‘coerced’ into signing up for the Flying Squirrels Zipline Canopy Tour package. However, I must say, this was definitely the highlight of our trip. The adventure tour is 2 1/2 hours long and combines ziplines with a series of exhilarating obstacles and challenge elements built high in the treetops.

We were absolutely satisfied with the attention the company paid to safety standards. Our flight officers were professional, friendly and fluent in English.

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The Unexpected ATV Deal!   

For thrill seekers, the ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) ride in Chiang Mai is an absolute must. Little did we know that we were going on an actual trek through tall grass, potholes, mud tracks, stretches of water and undulating landscape. We thought it would be around a simple circuit. However, having had paid for the package, we had to muster enough courage and rise to the challenge. All geared up, the ride was exhilarating not to mention very bumpy!

If we were given a second go at it, we agreed we would not have traded it for a circuit track. It was a once in a lifetime experience and really put to test our reflexes, coordination and resilience. A word of caution though, the tall grass and branches did occasionally graze us despite our safety gear. All in all, we had a ‘whipping’ good time!

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In A Nutshell

Chiang Mai offered us many opportunities to try out different activities. I feel this provided the family greater scope for bonding. It gave us an insight into one another’s strengths and weaknesses and enabled us to collaborate and work as a team well. This really improved the family’s wellness quotient.

Wishing you and family many more great holidays to come, A Very Merry Christmas and A Great 2015 !

credits: happynewyear-2015s.com

  

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Family Health

The Importance of Being Earnest… In Posture Correction

In my earlier post ‘Osteoarthritis, Writing and Me’, I wrote about osteoarthritis being a painful impediment. Having been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the jaw and consequently TMJ disorder (refer to my post ‘To Sedate or Not To Sedate’ dated July 26), I feared that other parts of me, namely my neck would become afflicted with osteoarthritis. The much dreaded cervical spondylosis seemed highly probable given the pain I was experiencing in my neck region and the associated cervicogenic headache. For further investigations, I was referred to the Orthopaedic and Spine Clinic.

 

A Glimmer of Hope

The X-ray results ruled out cervical spondylosis. However, I still left the clinic unclear about what was causing my pain. As part of my pain management plan, appointments for acupuncture and physiotherapy were made for the following week.

 

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Seated in the Acupuncture Clinic, the senior acupuncturist who was going through my x-ray, mentioned something about the loss of normal cervical lordosis. She explained that the curve in my cervical spine (the area of the spine which contains my neck vertebrae) had straightened. Cervical lordosis i.e. a curve in the cervical spine is both healthy and desirable as it helps to stabilise our head and spine. A straight cervical spine however, loses its ability to absorb shock, putting pressure on the disc and bones in the neck ultimately causing them to degenerate faster resulting in osteoarthritis of the neck (cervical spondylosis).

 

Image on the left shows a healthy spine while that on the right shows a curve that has straightened.

 

Causes of Loss of Normal Cervical Lordosis

  • inherited condition
  • injury / trauma
  • stress and strain to the neck
  • neglecting to maintain good posture
  • osteoporosis

 

Forward Head Posture and Loss of Cervical Lordosis

In my case, years of working on the computer and driving had caused me to adopt a forward head posture i.e. my ear being positioned forward of my shoulder rather than sitting directly over it. I discovered that this is quite a common problem amongst many people. This can happen to you and your loved ones, resulting in chronic neck, shoulder and arm pain, headaches, improper breathing and even pinched nerves.

 

Correcting Forward Head Posture

In order to correct forward head posture, I have to consciously tuck my chin inwards towards my neck and ensure that my ears are directly over my shoulder. This is quite difficult initially as the muscles in the neck region are stiff and tight. However, visualising a string running from the base of your skull to the top of your head helps greatly. Next, imagine it pulling your head up from the base of your skull, causing your chin to move inwards towards your neck. Initially, this was quite challenging as my neck muscles tightened and caused much resistance. However, as I persevere, I realise that I feel less pain and much needed relief from the acute pain I have been experiencing hitherto. As the days go by, it is becoming less difficult to maintain my head in this correct position.

 

Relaxing Stiff Neck Muscles and Increasing Range of Neck Movement

Next, my physiotherapist wanted me to work on releasing my tense neck muscles to increase my flexibility. I had to work on strengthening my neck muscles. Our day-to-day activities like driving, working on the computer and on schoolwork result in the weakening of neck muscles as these become stretched. Together with the neck muscles, the tendons and ligaments also work harder to hold up the head and thus tighten, causing pain. Tension headaches and painful “knotty” spots in the neck and shoulder-blade result. The following stretches are helpful (5 sets/exercise):

1) tilt head back and hold for 5 seconds, return to neutral position then, tilt head forward towards chest and hold for 5 seconds

2) turn head to the right and hold for 5 seconds, return to neutral position then, turn head to the left and hold for 5 seconds

3) tilt head to the right with ear pointing towards the shoulder for 5 seconds, return to neutral position then, tilt head to the left with ear pointing towards the shoulder for 5 seconds

 

Relaxing Back Muscles and Relieving Tension and Fatigue

Static back posture from hours of sitting will create muscle fatigue and strain. The following upper back stretching exercises are useful:

1) Butterfly – While seated or standing, interlace fingers behind head. Pull shoulder blades toward each other until you feel tension through your upper back. Hold position for 5 seconds then repeat 5-10 times.

2) Chest Stretch – Move to a corner of the room. Face the corner and place each forearm on a wall. Slowly stretch by leaning forward towards the wall.

3) Reach – While seated or standing, reach upwards with both arms and hold for 5 – 10 seconds.

(adapted from http://www.oiweb.com)

 

Work In Progress

Currently, I am working on improving and correcting my posture. It has helped me greatly in managing my pain. It is still work in progress as correct posture does not come overnight. I hope you find the information above helpful and wish you the best in your earnestness to be ‘posturally’ correct. Lastly, I wish you wellness and feel-good days in your quest to improve and correct your posture!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Woman Wellness

My Long Absence – Osteoarthritis, Writing and Me

My aunt visited last Sunday and commented that she missed reading my blog. I was recently diagnosed with osteoarthritis and it has been a lousy one plus month, plagued with crippling, stabbing pain on bad days and plain, constant dull pain on better days. The pain just gnawed at my desire to write or do anything else besides focusing on it. Her remark really touched me… there was at least one person who missed my writing and my aunt was muse enough for me. Since 2010, I have had the urge to meet people from my past and have made some attempts to. Some of them doubted my intentions while there were others yet who graciously obliged. Looking back, I think we all will eventually go through a phase I would like to term ‘conEnact’, when we desire to make connections with people from our past and re-enact our memories of them and times spent with them. At this juncture in my life, I am fondly reminiscent of pain – free days of my youth and memories of places and people. Writing is therapeutic for the soul and so I really hope to continue penning my thoughts for the longest time yet. Before I pen down my last words for today, I would like to make special mention of my mum, auntie, brother, sister-in-law and my friends, Saras, Suseela and Harjit for their love, support, prayers and great company!

Pain only cripples the body not the soul nor the desire to experience each moment voraciously. Writing is the tool for expressing this desire.

Cheers!

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Family Health

To Sedate or Not To Sedate?

Why Post?

Last Friday’s experience was harrowing, not to mention painful, but as I sat in the Accident and Emergency, post treatment, I thought to myself that it would be a worthy post. As much as it is something I would like to forget, I hope that it will be of benefit to my readers, their families and friends.

 

Post Dental Procedure  

I had a dental procedure done on July 10. Local anaesthesia was administered and the dental procedure lasted close to an hour. The effect of the anaesthesia, I was informed, would typically last 2 – 3 hours. However, even after the numbness wore off, my jaw felt tight and I found it difficult to open my mouth as wide as I used to. What alarmed me more was the loud ‘clicking’ sound in my jaw joint when I yawned, accompanied by an awkward feel when closing my mouth. The left side of my face was slightly swollen. This continued for a week. I kept reassuring myself that it was the result of the anaesthesia and all would soon be well.

 

The Case of The Fillet-O-Fish 

Not being able to open my mouth wide enough to take a bite of my fillet-o-fish burger was the last straw! It had been a whole week since the procedure but things were still not looking good. A visit to my GP revealed that it was a case of Sublux TMJ Disorder – a misalignment of my temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint connects our lower jaw (mandible) to our skull (temporal bone). Opening my mouth too wide and too long for the dental procedure had weakened the muscles around my TMJ resulting in a misalignment. She explained that this condition was not uncommon and may even happen to some people when they yawn too wide or take large bites.

 

Going Ahead Without Sedation

After assuring me that it was a simple and common procedure, she recommended a manipulation of my lower jaw without sedation. Unfortunately, the procedure did not go down too well for me. She was half-way through but the pain and discomfort was too much too bear! Being highly distressed, worsened my condition. My lower jaw had been pushed downward and forward but, she was unable to manipulate it to its original position. She realised that I would have responded better if I had been treated  in a “controlled environment under sedation”.

 

At A & E, National University Hospital

That’s how I wound up in A & E in NUH, not looking so good. My face and mouth were contorted and I could not close my mouth completely. My speech was incoherent. The only thought that ran through my mind was, would I look normal and speak coherently again. I was deeply unnerved and unsettled, in the face of these unknowns.

 

The Procedure under Sedation

Once in the treatment room, Dr Virginia Ong, the resident doctor, explained that I would be sedated before she manipulated my lower jaw and pushed it into place. The drug kicked in very quickly despite the initial pain. The next thing I knew, she was assessing my ability to open my mouth. The procedure had been carried out successfully while I was under sedation and I had been “stable throughout”. I was discharged and given an appointment for a review with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

 

Important Lessons 

1) Manipulation of the lower jaw should be done under sedation. Sedation helps to relax the muscles around the lower jaw, making it easier to manipulate and push into place.

2) When a person is tense and anxious, the muscles around the lower jaw area stiffen and do not lend themselves easily to manipulation.

3) Anxiety and stress further complicate and worsen such conditions.

 

Final words

I would like to thank Dr Virginia Ong for her care and concern while I was in her charge. She took her time to explain the procedure and patiently answered my queries. She displayed a high level of professionalism coupled with compassion. Also, a big thank you to the nurses who attended to me. I am glad this episode is over but, I still have to watch myself and avoid overstraining my jaw joint.

For more information on Sublux TMJ, you can visit the following sites:

1) http://www.emedicinehealth.com/script/main/mobileart-emh.asp?articlekey=58803

2) http://www.m.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/temporomandibular-disorders

3) http://www.drugs.com/cg/mandibular-dislocation.html

 

 

 

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Woman Wellness

Wellness Boost with OTG Coffee

OTG Coffee might be the new kid on the block, being just five months old but it is definitely a great place to have ‘connect-time’. As Kary, one of the shareholders of OTG Coffee puts it, OTG’s vision is to be the ‘neighbourhood cafe’, a place to go to to connect with one’s thoughts or to connect with family and friends and ‘a place for neighbours’.  And, as I found out, it is indeed a great place to seek respite or visit with good company and for good company!

Its location is unlike most cafes but my time spent there, 45 minutes to be accurate, while my younger boy had classes in school convinced me that this place had real character. In this short span of time, a lone young man, a woman, two couples and their friends and, two friends filled up the cafe.  But what struck me most was Kary’s and her assistants’ hospitality. These characters shared an easy camaraderie with Kary. They are genuinely interested in forming a relationship with their customers, demonstrating OTG’s vision of being a ‘neighbour’ in the neighbourhood.

A trip to OTG really boosted my ‘wellness factor’ and the food was wholesome and scrumptious too. They serve a nice range of organic tea and tea blends served in a pot. The tea blends are OTG’s specialty concoctions. Chocolate drinks, milk and of course coffee are also served. Pastries and cakes are freshly baked within the premises. For ice-cream lovers, they also serve a respectable range of ice-cream. In-house ice-cream specialities like TimTam (crushed Tim Tam with caramel), Red Velvet Chocolate, Almond Brittle and Butterscotch Walnut are OTG’s own creations.

I had waffle with ice-cream. The verdict: Crisp Belgian waffle that melted in my mouth topped with a very generous serving of Tim Tam ice-cream did wonders for me.

For that wellness oomph pay OTG Coffee a visit!

OTG Coffee Blk 211 Serangoon Ave 4 #01-02 S(550 211) Tel: +65 6487 4177

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