Using Public Transport with an Invisible Illness

Eleanor Bird avatar

by Eleanor Bird |

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If you have a health condition, using public transport can be tricky. Personally, standing for long periods of time can be tiring. My legs ache, and as a result, I often need to sit during my commute.

Unfortunately, for many people, commuting to work via public transport is a necessary part of life. Public transport is particularly unavoidable if you live in a big city where driving is almost impossible. However, you can make commuting more manageable.

For example, in the United Kingdom, we have badges that read, “Please give me a seat.” At first, I was embarrassed about wearing the badge. I felt as though I was getting funny looks because I don’t “look like there’s anything wrong” with me. However, the badges have been a game-changer for me.

Sometimes wearing a badge isn’t enough. Sometimes I have to ask someone to give up their seat, which I initially found excruciating. I wasn’t sure how much detail I should give. Do I say I have a heart and lung condition? Do I say I have a disability? Does the term “disability” even apply to me?

I often feel guilty about asking for what I need, which is something I have been working to overcome. I’m hard on myself if I have to miss work for health reasons. But I have to remember how much I’m dealing with. The last thing I need is chronic guilt on top of everything else!

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I am learning to be confident in prioritizing my health. A small part of this puzzle is feeling comfortable enough to ask someone for their seat. It helps to think that if someone knew my entire story, they would likely be more than happy to give up their seat. I know that if the situation were reversed, I wouldn’t think twice.

If you are able-bodied and have a seat on public transport, look for people who might need it more than you. You might make someone’s day! Occasionally, I have forgotten my badge. It meant the world when someone noticed my discomfort and offered me their seat. Little things such as public transport make a normal life more possible for people with chronic health conditions.


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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