[3-in-1 Blogpost!] The Truth About Bone Marrow Donation, My Experience At A Boutique Spa, & Free Burgers On Meat-Free Monday!

When you do what I do, you’ll realize that your knowledge about various things increases exponentially by the week! This blogpost explains why I nearly stormed out of a meeting with people I’d only just met, what I’ve learnt about the spa and beauty industry, and why I may one day quit Prawning altogether!

First up, what people are not telling you about Bone Marrow Donation…

I was invited by an executive of a PR company to meet up with the President of the Bone Marrow Donor Programme and (upon my request) one of the donors for a “chat”.

I walked into a meeting room where video-recording equipment had been set up, apparently to film us when it was supposed to be a “chat”. I let the guy know I was inappropriately dressed for a “video interview” and so there was no video-shooting.

Later, as the “talk” progressed, he started taking photographs. I was very irritated by the distraction. Despite my discomfort, here’s what I learnt about Bone Marrow Donation:

Fact #1: The donor had signed up because of a booth at his school’s campus. He had not expected to be called up anytime soon but “a few months” later, he got the call and he did feel “scared”. The President requested that I state on this blog that the call came in “the first quarter” of this year, instead of “a few months”. Truth is, The Call Can Come Sooner Than You Expect!

Fact #2: The Doctor Decides The Method Of Donation Based On The Patient’s Medical Condition. Yes, there are two ways to donate. The Bone Marrow Harvest done under general anesthesia takes less time but is more painful. The Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation is less painful – the donor shared that short needles were used on his abdominal area and he could walk to Maxwell Food Centre for some chicken rice after the donation!). However, your commitment for 5 days is required. You can expect muscle aches and flu-like symptoms thereafter.

From the BMDP website:

Fact #3It May Not Be A One-time Donation. Upon my probing, the President said that there is a chance the patient may require “a quick top-up” or you may be asked to donate again for another patient.

Dear all at BMDP, help us save lives. Educate us in a fashion that lays bare all the facts and let potential donors make an informed decision. If we decide to back out at the last minute because of something we weren’t told of earlier, the patients will have been given false hope which will likely add to their suffering. And, if possible, inform me in advance if you want a video-recording so I can look my best. It’s only polite this way. 🙂

[My Boutique Spa Experience @ My Cozy Room]

I was treated to a Hotstone Massage, Rose Quartz Facial, and a Gelish Manicure at My Cozy Room which is a great venue for private spa parties because of its “doll’s house” interior.

The Hotstone Massage was really good for getting rid of the knots in my shoulders and back [typing this makes me want to go for a massage now. LOL!]. Interestingly enough, the facial was relaxing but I didn’t fall asleep. Simply because the therapist didn’t leave the room! At most facial places, the therapist will say in a sweet voice “You have a rest first. I’ll be back soon” and she goes off to attend to other customers. At My Cozy Room, she won’t. You’ll get a head, neck & shoulder massage as the mask does its work on your face.

It was my first time getting a Gelish Manicure. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for cuticle-shaping as the next customer was heading over. Hence, it was just some quick color & sparkles:

I had fun chatting with Celine, who left her corporate job at age 30 to start this spa.

First up, here’s a quick tip for ladies who buy ampoules: The concentration determines the price. If it’s inexpensive, you likely won’t know the content. It’s better to choose products which are “Made In Germany” over those “Formulated In Germany”/”Germany Technology”:

Before starting My Cozy Room, Celine spoke with beauticians about the business and they generally were unsupportive of this non-beautician who wanted to enter the industry, thinking her business was unlikely to survive. Hence, Celine sought to prove them wrong. 🙂

I found it interesting that her co-founder and business partner is one Kenji Lim, instead of another female. Celine says this ensures there’s an yin-yang balance. For instance, Kenji ensured Celine didn’t overdo the floral aspect of My Cozy Room, which is likely a good thing! 😀

One USP of My Cozy Room has to be the BABOR Skincare range, which is used to  serve “1st class travellers of Air Emirates, Lufthansa Airlines, Ritz Carlton Hotels & Four Seasons Hotels worldwide”.

Check out My Cozy Room at:

56A Cairnhill Road, Singapore 229667 (Tel: 67320030) *Within walking distance of Paragon, Orchard*

 [Guilt-free Fast Food @ VeganBurg]

On the first Monday of each month, enjoy a Meat Free Monday combo at VeganBurg. You get an additional FREE burger with every combo you order.

Here’s what I ordered last Monday to share with my vegan friend, Amanda:

Amanda blogs at http://sgvegan.wordpress.com/ and she has been introducing me to the healthiest food places in Singapore.

Hanging out with her more often will mean I eat healthily and (likely) lose some weight. And maybe (just, maybe) I’ll be convinced to quit Prawning (and anything else that could possibly constitute ‘cruelty to animals’) forever. Hmm…  😉

Interview with Dr Leslie Tay from www.ieatishootipost.sg


Dr Leslie Tay

Family Doctor & Food Blogger (http://ieatishootipost.sg/)

1) Why did you start the food blog ieatishootipost.sg and how do you take such good photographs?

I wanted to share about the best hawker food in Singapore, with well-taken photographs and honest reviews. My aim is also to help good hawkers get more business. It is not to put anyone down or to drive anyone out of business with reviews of food that isn’t good. If the food is good, I’ll write about it. If it’s not, I’ll not write about it or I’ll write about the good stuff and include “but…”. Readers can then choose to eat what I have recommended is good, but they can also choose to try what I’ve said is not so good. If I find a particular stall good, chances are 80% of my readers will agree with me, as a certain standard has been established already.

You know what professional photographers are like. They’ll take hundreds or thousands of photographs and show you only the best 1 or 2, so you’ll think they’re really good. I usually take between 30 and 50 pictures and a few make it onto my blog. Yes, I have to take pictures fast so the food doesn’t turn cold. I still want to eat the food after phototaking! 🙂

2) Did you ever expect your blog would become such a mega success?

No. I just wanted to provide good photos and reviews so people know where to find good food in Singapore. You can never tell with such things. I’m glad that it’s doing well, and we even have a forum where the community is very civilised – no foul language and such.

3) Why do you not do paid reviews? Then how do you persuade hawkers to be interviewed by you?

Like I said, my aim is to provide an objective viewpoint. And readers know this is what to expect. I want to help hawkers who are really good to get more business. For example, there’s this old couple who make soya sauce the good old, traditional way and pretty much refuse to have it done the commercial way. After my blog post about them, they got more business and gave me a phone call to thank me.

Just be polite and smile. For example, if you’re interviewing the char kway teow hawker at Hill Street, and you can speak some Teochew, you’ll make the old uncle very happy. You’ll have to queue up like everyone else, eat the food and then compliment them and ask them nicely for the reasons why their food tastes so good. Most of the time they are willing to share.

4) From Charlene (missuschewy.com) – What is it about food blogging that motivates you to keep on doing what you do?

I love discovering new things about food.  Each hawker stall, each dish is a chance to discover something new. Like when I spoke to the Chwee Kueh uncle and found out the reason Chwee Kueh is called Chwee Kueh.  It was a moment of revelation for me which I knew would have the same effect with my readers.  That makes me feel good!

5) From Jacob (cooksnapeatlove.com) – How do you balance blogging/tasting sessions with work and family life?

I bring them along when I can.  My kids are slowly becoming food critics themselves and it’s quite fun to watch.  But at the end of the day, we need to always keep in mind that life is not about food.  It is about love and relationships, family and friends, so blogging and tasting must never take precedence over them.

Grace says: Dr Tay was one of the most intriguing interviewees so far. I was dying to find out how a busy doctor found time to eat, shoot and post. (Blogging is not an easy task, I can assure you!) Turns out he takes afternoons off to go scour the island for the best food places! Mystery solved.

He also gave me an impromptu photography lesson. The picture you see above was taken by me. (And cropped with *ahem* Paint *ahem*) 😀

For more amazing food pictures & hawker recommendations, check out http://ieatishootipost.sg/ 🙂

Come back this Friday – for the interview with the boss of Pine Garden’s Cake 🙂

Interview with 3 Certified Hypnotherapists [First Video Interview EVER]

Just last Thursday, I had the opportunity of interviewing 3 Certified Hypnotherapists. You can imagine my excitement at the prospect of meeting them! (I suppose they were stunned at having to appear in my first-ever video interviews though! Haha!) I interviewed them as I wanted to find out how Hypnotherapy can help you, my blog readers.

Here’s my favourite picture:

That’s me & a cute kid. We’re not hypnotherapists! 😀

This adorable kid, affectionately nicknamed “Lele”, is the daughter of one of the Hypnotherapists I interviewed. Besides having the cutest hairdo you can ever find on a kid, she was also the largest Asian baby born at the hospital – naturally and WITHOUT epidural! At birth, she weighed a shocking 4.4kg, which is just slightly lighter than the dumbbells I work out with at the gym! You cannot carry her without significant muscles, ok. 😀 I don’t even want to think of giving birth to a baby of that size without epidural. According to Lele’s mother, Nicole, the birth process was fast and relaxed.

That was accomplished with Hypnosis. How cool is that?! Long gone are the days when people try to hypnotize you by swinging a pendulum in front of your face! Now, Hypnotherapy aims to help individuals in a variety of ways, e.g. pain management, weight loss, childbirth, depression, etc.

What I found on ol’ reliable Wikipedia:

“Hypnotherapy has long been used in relation to childbirth. It is sometimes used during pregnancy to prepare a mother for birth, and during childbirth to reduce anxiety, discomfort and pain.”

“Modern hypnotherapy is widely used in the treatment of anxiety, subclinical depression, and certain habit disorders, as well as in the treatment of conditions such as insomnia and addiction.”

Here’s Lele and her beautiful mother, Nicole:

I also had the chance of interviewing Fazdli Jamal & Suparna Kapoor, . Fazdli is in his early twenties but already sought-after for his Hypnotherapy skills. Most notably, he recently helped a client of his who was a cancer patient. The client did not need more than half the chemotherapy sessions that the doctor prescribed after Hypnotherapy sessions with Faz, and recovered fully!

In fact, both Faz and Suparna share their thoughts (even about their own initial doubts) in this awesome video interview we did. It’s a short clip so go ahead and watch it:

Hypnotherapy is far from scary and can help if you are, for example, afraid of public speaking. When you are in what is called an “amnesic” state, it will allow you to temporarily disengage from the fear and perception that you cannot do a certain thing (in this case, it is speaking to a group). When you have a reference for success in an area, it allows you to start focusing on what is possible rather than what is not. Very useful, isn’t it? 🙂

If you want to explore a career in helping others, you should definitely consider Hypnotherapy. If you are already a nurse, caregiver or counsellor, learning Hypnotherapy will take your skills to the next level.

Of course, if you are interested in how communication and conditioning can affect human development, (if you are a manager, supervisor, teacher or parent), then you would want to explore and find out more about Hypnotherapy and how it can be of help to you and your charges too.

I did a bit of research to see what public opinion of Hypnotherapy (not often discussed but so very helpful) is like:

Newsweek (Sept ’04): “Hypnosis can help. A growing body of research supports the ancient practice as an effective tool in the treatment of a variety of problems, from anxiety to chronic pain.”

Dr David Spiegel: “…hypnosis is not mind control. It’s a naturally occurring state of concentration; It’s actually a means of enhancing your control over both your mind and your body.”

Forbes (Nov ’05): “[Hypnosis] can also be applied to improving study habits, stress reduction and raising self esteem…If you are having difficulty controlling your appetite, sleeping or just need to relax, hypnosis might help you toward your goal.”

I was very fortunate to have Faz take me through the entire process for relaxation. Last week, I had the missions trip to prepare for and lots of work piling up. But those precious minutes were priceless. I emerged feeling very at peace and also refreshed.

And here we are:

I had a burning question too – Would anyone get “stuck” in hypnosis? Like, being unable to emerge or have someone do something irreversible in their head? Pete Tan, the lead Hypnotherapy Instructor, said that no one has ever gotten stuck in Hypnosis and that the entire process is really voluntary and if you ever find that the Hypnotherapist does not have your best interests at heart, you can emerge immediately. Myth busted! 🙂

The 3 awesome Hypnotherapists I interviewed can be contacted via The Pathlight Centre. You can find them at www.pathlightcentre.com.

Also, they are awesomely kind and are extending complimentary (FOC!!) invites to you, my blog readers! Simply SMS Julieh at 9067 0785 for a ticket to their demo session on 21st June.

You will be able to experience first-hand what Hypnosis is, ask as many questions as you want, and receive special deals on the courses. The best part is, Pete will be conducting the demo session so you have to be there. 🙂

So, hurry and SMS Julieh (9067 0785) NOW for a free ticket by saying you read this blog post. I believe they have approximately 10 places left so if you want to be able to help people or just want to experience the kind of relaxation I enjoyed, then grab your ticket right now.

See you there! 🙂

Interview with Dr Elvin Leong

Dental Specialist in Prosthodontics Specialist Dental Group™

1) Why did you choose this profession and what do you love most about your job?

Actually, I was offered dentistry even though I applied for medicine. It gives me immense satisfaction when I could change someone’s smile, which in turn changes that person’s life.

2) What is one memorable experience you have had with helping a patient?

I made a denture for a patient who was severely ill. From being unable to eat, she could enjoy her food thereafter. After she passed on, her family members actually came to the clinic personally to inform me of her passing and to thank me. They told me that my treatment actually helped her tremendously in terms of nutrition and enjoyment of eating.

3) What is your mission in Life?

I hope that I can continue to help people in need as best as I could. I also hope that I can maintain good health and happiness in life.

4) How do you create a work-life balance for yourself?

I try to engage myself in a variety of activities outside of work. I enjoy a good book and I am an avid gamer, although I am not a skillful one.

5) Would you agree that women face more challenges in this profession? Is Life as a doctor really easier for male doctors?

I respectfully disagree that women face more challenges. In fact, women practitioners are often looked upon as being more gentle and careful. I personally feel that male and female doctors have equal standing, and therefore face the same challenges.

Grace says: I met Dr Elvin at a Toastmasters contest when he and I were both on the panel of judges. I didn’t know he was a dentist till he commented that I must have gotten my braces done only recently, which surprised me. And then he asked who my dentist is and I responded along the lines of “If I tell you my dentist’s name, you would know who he/she is?”, while I wondered if there were only so very few dentists in Singapore that he should know all of them. 🙂 As it turned out, he did, and said he was formerly classmates with her husband. What a very small country this is! 😀

Interview with Dr Barry Tan

Dr Barry Tan

1) Why did you choose this profession and what do you love most about your job?

It was an unplanned route actually. After my A level examinations, I applied for a few courses from local and overseas universities. At the same time I applied for several scholarships as well.

One fine day in June I received news that I have been awarded a scholarship and I could go to one of the universities in London for further studies. At the same time, NUS sent their acceptance letter for me to study medicine. It was a tough decision initially but I chose to stay in Singapore to study as I didn’t want to stay away from my family, and that was how it started!

I’m working in the department of accident and emergency in one of the hospitals in Singapore currently as a medical officer. The thing I love best about my job is to be able to solve patient’s acute medical issues! It’s rewarding to see patients feeling better after their visit to the hospital!

2) What is one memorable experience you have had with helping a patient?

I guess it has to be that one fine day in October 2009 when I was still a house officer (houseman). I had this elderly lady who fell and landed in hospital. Being the houseman in-charge of the ward which she was in, my daily task was to retrieve blood samples from her for testing. Slowly we got acquainted and she got used to me coming every morning with the blood-taking tray in my hands. On the last day before she got discharged, she actually got something for me which gave me a surprise.  (Grace says: More about the surprise in another post)

3) What is your mission in Life?

To excel and be the best in what I do! It hasn’t changed since my junior college days!

4) How do you create a work-life balance for yourself?

I started early, during my days as a university undergraduate. I still remember being involved heavily as a toastmaster, taking up various leadership roles from 2006 onwards. It was tough initially, to struggle both studies and the various committments as a leader in toastmasters and that involved late nights and early mornings! Sleeping time was always compromised but I survived those days!

Now as a full-time working professional, much more time has to be devoted to work, and of course whatever time I have will be left for family members, girlfriend, and my committments in toastmasters and grassroots work! I have got only 24 hours a day, working hours are a must, and so the only time I can cut down will be sleeping time! But of course, it’s important not to bite off more than you can chew, and hence now as I am having a full-time job, I have to cut down on the time I take to sleep and be involved in my committments outside of work, and I’m still learning to create the perfect balance!


5) Would you agree that women face more challenges in this profession? Is Life as a doctor really easier for male doctors?

I guess it all boils down to time management! =)

Grace says: I got to know Barry through Toastmasters and noticed he was quite a perfectionist. The kind of person you’d like your doctor to be, I’m sure. What most people immediately noticed about him was the bowtie he always wore. (I’m not sure if he still wears one! Haha!) I’m still in awe of how he can juggle work, dating, family, AND Toastmasters. That’s one skill I need to learn! 😀


Interview with Dr Anna Tang

Dr Anna Tang, Orthodontist (ToofDoctor)

1) Why did you choose this profession and what do you love most about your job?

There are a few reasons actually…
I had braces done when I was 16 and it really changed the way I felt about myself. I had really crooked teeth and I didn’t smile much. And I thought, hey, isn’t it great if I can do this for a living and help other people with crooked teeth too?

I am also a control freak (well, in a good way). I like everything nicely planned out and under my control. I am also obsessed about things being tidy and organized. I love putting braces on my patients  – it’s all MY work and no one else. (ok, I do need the patient’s co-operation sometimes like keeping the teeth clean and wearing the rubber bands. but it’s still mostly my work) It is really very satisfying to see my patient’s crooked teeth get all tidied up.

Of course I also love the lifestyle of our profession. Generally dentists have very flexible hours, or at least those who are in private practice. You can work as much or as little as you want to. And the remuneration is not too bad too!

2) As many people are afraid of visiting the dentist, how do you identify and reassure patients who are feeling nervous?

 Identifying nervous patients is easy. They either will tell you right away that they are scared, or they are very tense once they are on the dental chair.

How to reassure them….This is what I usually do –  chit chat a bit, explain the procedure in simple layman terms, try to get the procedure done as gently as possible, use positive words like ” well done”, “you are doing a great job”, etc. and actually braces is not a really scary dental procedure (unlike wisdom tooth or implant where surgeries are involved) so most patients adapt quite well.

3) What is your mission in Life?

Wow, mission in life….those are some big words. I believe that I am in this world for a reason – I want to leave my footprint and I want to be able to say that I did change the world for the better during my life when I die. Have you heard of the parable of the talents in the Bible? I am sure I don’t want to be like that servant that buried the talent in the ground.
4) How do you create a work-life balance for yourself?

I worked in the government clinic for 10 years, and those were the times when I felt that work >life. My schedule now in private practice is much better. I don’t work most mornings and I spend the time with my 2 year-old daughter. I try to make full use of our time together and we often go to the park, go swimming, do craft at home or go to the library. Then we have lunch together. When she’s down for her afternoon nap at about 2pm, that’s when I’m off to work. I usually come home around 8pm so we have a bit of time together before her bedtime.

My husband is also a dentist. But he’s way more workaholic than me. Weekdays he works really long hours but he tries to come back for lunch or dinner with us. Sunday is our family day and we prefer going outdoors than staying in shopping malls. Favorite hangout on Sundays – MacRitchie, Botanic Gardens, Sungei Kadut Nature Reserve, Farms at Kranji. We spend enough time indoors during our work hours so it’s all outdoor, back to nature for us during Sundays!

5) How would you define “Beauty

Beauty comes from within. I believe that I can give my patients beautiful smiles and confidence about their teeth – but being beautiful is so much more than that. In Orthodontics, we have “gold standard” and we all aim to give our patients the straightest, most perfect set of teeth. Similarly, there are also “gold standards” in other areas in life that we can aim towards in order to become truly beautiful.

Grace says: I’m in the process of getting my canines “straightened out” and visiting Dr Anna is like going to meet an old friend. I was surprised when I stepped into Dr Anna’s consultation room one day and she said something along the lines of “Oi! How are you?”. 🙂 That uncommon greeting sure took me by surprise. I also liked it that there’s no hardselling, and she asked me whether I’d like to get the common metallic braces instead of the costlier ceramic ones, or a combination of half-metallic half-ceramic, in order to “save money”. Vanity eventually won, and I signed up for the full-ceramic package. 😀 There’s still more than a year’s worth of tightening and straightening to do so wish me luck!


Interview with Dr Jovina See

Dr Jovina See

Specialist in Ophthalmology and Senior Consultant at Shinagawa Lasik Centre

1) Why did you choose this profession and what do you love most about your job?
I have always wanted to be a doctor since my childhood days, as I used to spend my after-school hours at the National University Hospital Day Surgery ward where my mother was the Day Surgery Nursing Sister. While doing my school homework, I would be observing what the doctors and nurses were doing, and I just loved the bustling environment in which the doctors & nurses worked to help the patients get better.

What do I love most about the job? It has to be those times when the patient is all smiles when they get a good outcome and are happy to be able to see well again. It may be a high myope who is able to see without glasses after LASIK, or an old patient who has had counting fingers vision for years due to cataracts, and after cataract surgery, is suddenly so much happier because she is able to move around better and to see her grandchildren well for the first time. I have even had some old patients with dementia improving in their alertness and mobility after cataract surgery restored their vision. These cases always make me feel that I am doing some good for them and that really makes me happy.

2) What are some of the challenges that women are likely to face in the aesthetic beauty profession and how did you manage to overcome them?
Whether in aesthetics or in any other specialties in medicine, I feel that women do face more challenges compared to their male counterparts. Many patients, especially those in the older generation, still have the notion that male doctors must be better than female ones, and that if you look young, you cannot be a very good doctor. Even when I was the Head of Glaucoma at the National University Hospital, there was the occasional patient who assumed I was the optometrist or nurse, rather than the doctor, simply because I am female and look quite young for my age. I know of an ex-colleague who went to the extent of perming her hair to look more “mature” in order to gain the confidence of her patients. As for me, my nurses often help me by telling my patients that I am a mother of three. That usually makes them realise my age!

3) What is your mission in Life?
To be ethically responsible and to do what’s right, because I believe that only by doing this, can I be at peace and happy with myself and thus make others happy too.

4) How do you create a work-life balance for yourself?
Work is important but Family is even more so. I believe that we can do our best at work, only if we are happy at home. Hence, work-life balance is very important to me. I make it a point to send my kids to school in the mornings, and get them home from school during my lunchtime, so that I can spend more time with them. Even when this means gobbling up my lunch in my car while waiting for them outside their school, it’s worth it, just to see their smiles and to get their hugs! Nights and weekends are for the family as far as possible. I also make sure I keep myself fit by exercising regularly throughout the week. My piano keeps me relaxed when I feel stressed.

5) How would you define “Beauty”?
Beauty comes from within. It’s how you feel about yourself that’s more important. If you are at peace with yourself and confident about yourself, you should not have to worry about what others think of you.

Grace says: I’m grateful to Dr See and her team for the successful Lasik surgery which has enabled me to say goodbye to spectacles and contact lenses (hopefully forever). 🙂 I recommended my younger sister to go for the surgery as well and I was pleased at the newfound confidence she exuded post-surgery. Just like a friend had said, this surgery is indeed “the best gift you can give yourself”, and your family!