Age at interview: 61
Brief Outline: Elcena hurt her back when she tried to lift a heavy beer barrel at work. She subsequently developed spinal arthritis.
Background: Elcena is single and has three children, aged 46, 45 and 42. She set up her foundation ' the Elcena Jeffers Foundation ' to try to make improvements for disabled people's lives. Ethnic background' Black/Caribbean.

More about me...

Elcena injured her back at work lifting a beer barrel that was too heavy. She took a few days off to rest because of the pain for which her GP prescribed painkillers. She went back to work soon after, but then her legs began to get weak and she started to have falls when she was walking. Her doctor encouraged her to use sticks to support her and told her she might end up using a wheelchair if she did not. Later, Elcena was diagnosed with spinal arthritis and she thinks this is what was probably causing her falls. 
The pain medication she was on caused unpleasant side effects, including what she described as chest pain and heart burn. She decided to turn to alternative medicine, which helped change her attitude to managing her pain and her outlook on life. She also still takes painkillers when she needs them.  
Elcena receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA), but this is something she feels she has had to “fight for”. She has a car provided by Motability. The freedom and access the car provides is very important to her.
Elcena would like health professionals to work with patients to learn more about their conditions. She feels this would benefit both patients and health professionals. She encourages newly-injured people to do a lot of research to find out what they can do to help themselves. 



Since her injury, Elcena changed her lifestyle and diet because she does not like to take...


I would just take some paracetamol if that, but if something more, then I need go to the doctor and get some co-proxamol, something different. Most important is that is actually looking after yourself, alternative to what you do, it’s actually looking after yourself. For instance, yes, I like going to meetings, but in your preparing for your meetings, don’t rush, don’t worry, because there’s always time to catch up once you get there. It’s good to be on time, but all these have to do with your wellbeing, your welfare, instead of always taking tablets and worrying about them, calm, you know, calm. It’s not going to go away. Alternative is a different method of looking after yourself, a different method of feeling, just invent a better of feeling, imagine yourself somewhere that is different. It’s not too difficult to do, because if you’re living with pain all the time, even now and then you just wish it would go away, you just calmly sit down, and you just listen for it. It’s gone. It’s there, but you’re there too, and once you learn these little techniques after a while you practice them and feel a little better in yourself. It doesn’t stop things. Like I said before that if I take, if I’m going to start walking, soon I walk a little way, without anything my leg is going to start to tell me, because I will start dragging behind me, my shoe’s trying to fall off my foot, you know, they do. Then I say to myself it’s time, you know. You get to know your body, and alternative medicine mean you learn to know your body and when it’s talking to you, you listen. And this is something that individual have to learn themselves. It makes a lot of difference.


Elcena thinks car manufacturers have been listening and taking mobility needs into account. Her...


And tell me about your particular car. Did you have to have any modifications done to it?

No. Because I picked one that is high enough and the steering move itself. So this is, I suppose the car manufacturers themselves they get better at listening. The steering can come up and go down you know. And the seats are adjustable as well. It’s quite good. Because that way it would minimise the actual equipment that I need for myself, because the wheel can move backward and forward and go up and go down. That way you can adjust it to suit you, to suit yourself. And that, that car was good for me.
And is it an automatic car?
Automatic, yes.
Great and why did you pick an automatic car over a manual car?
Because at one time my hand was too arthritic. I have arthritis in both hands as well. And it was too difficult. So if you just have manual, at least, if you have an automatic at least it’s easier, just to, to drive along.

Elcena prefers to drive around London, but lack of parking and traffic make it difficult. She...

What about parking in London is that…?
Oh that’s a nightmare. That is a nightmare.
Why is that?
There is no place to park. So every now and then I get a parking ticket. If I park, if you park within a little bit over the parking space, they can give you a parking ticket. Sometimes, I thought to myself, no, do I have to drive round and round and looking for a parking space to fit the whole car inside the parking space, I’ll just park here and get a ticket.
For all the years this has been going on I’ve thought to myself, try not to worry so much anymore. When I get a parking ticket I’ll try to appeal it, and if I can’t get it appealed. I pay half price first. And then my first letter to appeal it I need a reply with 24 hours because you have two weeks to pay half price. I put that down and make sure that if I’m not going to get my ticket rescinded, I have to pay the half price. You get used to it. And all these type of things need to go into your full comprehensive assessment of needs under your transport. Annually you budget for how much. You do 365 days a year, sixty-six days a year. You go how much ever days, are you budgeting for 100 parking tickets? I’m sure these types of things, the government would not like if disabled people start doing that. I’m not encouraging disabled people to park illegally. But in London there is no place to park. At the moment they still, sometimes they tow your car away. So you will have to, this is not good. This is very bad. In our report we need to provide for parking spaces, parking ticket, towing charges. If they tow your car it could hit you £300/400 or more, depends on the circumstances and who you have to help you, quite easily. And that is only one day.
And are there any things about London that have made your experience particularly difficult?
Traffic. Getting from A to B.
Sometimes it takes longer to cross London than it would take to come here in Oxford. I know sometimes in London you can go, a five minute journey will take you an hour. And if there’s more hold up or diverse in the traffic it can take you two hours to move from five or ten minutes journey. At times, maybe in the countryside is better.


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