Transport for London's badge for people with invisible symptoms is available for everyone who needs it. Community blogger Tasha was part of the trial. Read about what a difference it made to her commute.
Using London Underground with MS
Using the Underground is unpleasant for lots of people at the best of times. Add dizziness, numbness, nausea, headaches, fatigue and the other symptoms we deal with, and it becomes unbearable.
I had just turned 23 when I was diagnosed with MS. Barely a year out of university and just starting my career, I felt life had barely begun. I was so scared of what it meant for my future.
Work was an immediate concern, but thanks to brilliant colleagues and an amazing support network I was able to work from home and ease my way back in. When I was well enough to travel into the office again the next big hurdle presented itself – the London Underground.
Please offer me a seat
I’m lucky not to have relapsed since beginning Tysabri in April 2014 and mostly I feel well and like my old self. However, when using the Underground, especially during rush hour, I am reminded that I’m not quite okay.
Whether I’m almost falling over or actually falling over, feeling like I’m going to faint or be sick, my MS symptoms rear their ugly head. When I’m on a cramped Tube carriage struggling to find somewhere to sit down or hold on to, it’s as close to feeling like a relapse as I can recall.
Friends will ask why I don’t ask for a seat but it’s difficult enough to explain MS to loved ones, let alone a carriage of strangers in rush hour.
Then in September I saw an article for Transport for London's (TfL) ‘Please offer me a seat’ badge trial and I jumped at the chance to apply.
Using the badge
I was accepted on to the trial and quickly received my badge. I began using it immediately and haven’t looked back since.
Every time I’ve worn my badge I’ve been offered a seat and people have been very happy to volunteer. Often more than one person stands up at the same time and they then have to decide who will sit back down!
If seated commuters can’t see me on extremely busy carriages, others have offered to ask if somebody can give me a seat. One woman who is usually on my train even looks out for me so that she can give me hers.
Only once has somebody asked what the badge is for and not having to explain myself has made it much easier.
A permanent future for the badge
I'm excited to hear that TfL has made their new travel badges permanently available to anyone with a disability.
To all other people with MS, if you feel like this could benefit you please don’t be afraid to try it. Yes, I felt a little self-conscious at first, but as soon as people were kind and the badge worked, my fears all went away.
Now I can’t imagine travelling without it. And I hope the badge will make many other people’s lives easier.
Where can I get a 'Please offer me a seat' badge?
Tasha is in her 20s. She has relapsing remitting MS.