Another long day…and I got angry!

Not with the NHS I hasten to add. I really can’t fault the care I receive at UCLH. Ok it was another long day but the surroundings and the kind and considerate staff do all they can to make it as easy and as pleasant as possible.

Yesterday we had a real treat, an amazingly talented artist asked if he could sketch a portrait of us. Simon is collecting a group of portraits for an exhibition and we were only too happy to oblige. We had to sit very still for over an hour but he was lovely to talk to and it helped to pass the time. He will be sending us a signed print, and a good quality photo which I hope to add to this blog, with a link to his site and exhibition, in a few days time.

And now for the angry bit. First of all it takes a lot to make me angry, it is not something I feel very often, but yesterday I was mad! My mini iPad has developed a fault down the
left hand side, making it hard to use some of the keys. Those that know me well, know just how much I rely on my technology, especially as it does help to while away the hours whilst sitting in the hospital. So Colin called the leading store that never knowingly under sells, and is supposedly proud of its customer service. On the second phone call, after speaking to someone who said he could swap it for a samsung, he finally got hold of the warranty department and spoke at some length to a very charming guy. He took all the details from our receipt, could see on his computer screen, when and where we bought it, and that it was well within the two year warranty date. It was bought on December 13th 2012. He clearly stated that we had two options, 1) to have a courier deliver a new iPad and take the other away, or 2) drop in to a store of our convenience and they will exchange it for us there. Colin confirmed that this would be ok to do at the Welwyn store as this would be on our journey home yesterday. The guy on the phone checked they had some in store, confirmed that he had made a record of the conversation, and up to that point we felt very happy with the process.

On arriving at the said store at 7pm, the end of a long day, we were directed towards technical support services and that’s when the fun started. A less than polite customer services lady told us that she would have to send the iPad away to be examined by their technical team before a repair or refund could be established. This could take a couple of weeks. I was rather tearful by this point, and explained my particular situation, and how much I relayed on my iPad. We also said, that we had made this journey after the clear instructions, we had received over the phone. Not once did she show any concern or sympathy, or apologise for any inconvenience, but she did eventually disappear to speak to her manager. On her return she reported she had spoken to the warranty service who had indeed made a note of our phone call. She told us that they had given us the wrong information. The said store has a 28 day refund policy and the man on the phone must have got the date confused thinking we bought it on December 13th 2013, however we later worked out this too would have fallen outside the 28 days! Again no apology was offered, she just told us that this was a one off, but they would exchange it in store, however we would have to return the next day with all the accessories that came with the original iPad. This was followed up with her telling us twice more about their 28 day policy, suggesting we were lucky to get away with it, as if she was doing US a favour and WE were in the wrong. We have never come across such poor customer service and if I hadn’t felt so tired I would have gone straight upstairs to their complaints compartment and ask to speak to the general manager. Something I will be doing over the phone whilst Colin rushes down the motorway yet again, before our appointment with the psychologist at midday.

Rant over but I still feel pretty mad and disappointed by the whole experience. I suppose it’s only a small thing in the scheme of things, but anything that makes our lives even slightly easier makes a big difference at the moment.

Take care dear readers

Deborah x

Call out for lemon sherbets ……..and the BrainBox

Tonight I am feeling just a tad sorry for myself.  Last night our good friends brought round a lovely Thai supper but unfortunately I have lost my sense of taste, apparently a common side effect of chemo.  My imagination yearns for delicious foods so I prepare myself treats like banana splits and pancakes with maple syrup but alas I am disappointed.

Last night I wanted a cold fosters and packet of cheese and onion crisps but it really wasn’t worth it as it as I could hardly taste a thing other than cardboard.  So I am putting a call out for fizzy sweets, if anyone happens to be passing Hinxworth with such a delight.  Cold foods like ice cream, milk shakes and sweet and sweet sour fizzy sweets I think may be the answer?

Self pity over, let’s move on to more exciting stuff, so please allow me to introduce……. The BrainBox.


The BrainBox is an innovative resource designed to show what is happening inside the brain when we become highly emotionally aroused.  Having worked therapeutically with both children and adults I recognised the need for a tool that could be used to explain irrational behavioral responses.

Using the computer as a contemporary metaphor, the BrainBox encourages adults & children to seek help from therapists and mental health professionals in the same way they would seek expert advice to sort out a computer problem.   If we imagine the brain as being the most complex of computers, like a computer, it is bound to slow down or even crash at times.

Based on neurologist Paul MacLean’s, “Triune Brain Theory” the BrainBox represents the three brains that co-inhabit the human skull. These three brains pass information backwards & forwards through numerous neuron-pathways directly influencing each other. This interplay of memory and emotion, thought and action is the foundation of a person’s individuality.  The triune brain theory leads to a better understanding of the survival instincts such as the fight or flight response and its ability to override the more rational neocortex.

The resource has been used successfully with both adults and children for over five years now and has been well evaluated by therapists, educational psychologists, teachers and school nurses. It has won a national award for innovation and I can honestly say it is the resource that I am most proud of.

The BrainBox uses three recycled computer components to represent the three brains. It clearly demonstrates how the emotional brain (limbic system) disconnects from the thinking brain (neocortex) at times of high emotional arousal. Each part is there for you to use as a way of opening up a dialogue with a class, small group or an individual. It is a way of relating today’s technology to the workings of the human brain. Once understanding about the working of the brain, in particular the fight or flight mechanism, has been achieved, remarkable progress can be made.  It helps the client take control and provides an opportunity to explore ways to quickly reconnect to the thinking brain.

I believe the BrainBox works because of its simplicity. It is always a privilege to see the realisation and relief on many of my client’s faces as it all seems to drop into place for them and they start to feel empowered to do something about their particular issues.  Following on from the explanations about the brain, the BrainBox provides the opportunity to share three different ways to re-connect the thinking part of the brain.

1) Vigorous exercise (although I usually tend to skip past this one)

2) Breathing – Using relaxing breathing techniques slows down the para-sympathetic nervous system letting the brain believe danger has been removed and allowing it to re-connect to the thinking clever parts.

3) And most powerful of all is visualisation. Using your own powerful resource, the imagination, can take you to places and times when you felt calm and relaxed. This in turn will slow down you’re breathing and again allow the brain to believe it is in a safe place.  Once the thinking clever brain is reconnected it becomes easier to rationally sort out your problems.

I hope that gives you a taste of what its all about but it makes much more sense when you see it in practice.  Follow these links to the BrainBox website and a few published articles to find out a little more.

Unfortunately Colin and I made only about 100 BrainBoxes in our back room and they have all gone. We need to find an investor to further develop and produce more. We just can’t invest anymore of our own money into the product. This is such a shame knowing how well it works. I know lots of people have suggested the Dragons Den, but this isn’t a moneymaking business it is just a tool that I know can and does make a big difference.