Jul 19, 2019

Your health is your own responsibility

    A friend of mine who works at one of the elementary schools in my town caught the typical summer cold. No fever but all the sniffles and icky sticky feelings of the common cold. He still managed to bike his sick butt to work in the rain and prep for his classes. But then the thing that irks me and frustrated me so often when I worked in a Japanese school happened. This friend of mine was blamed for his own cold. He was told by not one but several of the teachers at his school that if he hadn’t gone out drinking that previous weekend, then he wouldn’t be in the position he is now, sniffly, cold and miserable. 

    Correct me if I am wrong, but a common cold is caused from a virus spread through contact with other carriers ie the hundreds of students at the elementary school my friend works as well as at least 5 of the teachers who had a cold the previous week. In what way is catching a cold that person’s fault? Okay okay, maybe if you look at it from the perspective of lowering your bodies immune system by “partying too hard”. But there are several other reasons for a weakened immune system, including high stress, in which case going out with friends could help with. Or possibly the constant biking in the rain could be a cause. But of course, none of the teachers are willing to spend the extra ten minutes in the morning to help their coworker out by offering a ride. No instead it is easier to blame him for inconveniencing everyone by getting sick and telling him to work harder.

This exact same thing happened to me. I took a trip to Hokkaido, not taking any time off work, instead, cramming my trip into a three day weekend. When I got back, I developed a major cough. This cough became worse and worse as the month went on. I asked if I could have a sick day, not my paid leave, but the response from the teachers I worked with was that I should have taken care of myself over the weekend, and not gone to Hokkaido. “It will create so much more work for all the teachers if you take time off.” Turns out I had contracted whooping cough from another English teacher in the area. I exposed all of my students to it until I woke one morning unable to breathe. It was confirmed that I had whooping cough and pneumonia. I was told I couldn’t leave my apartment for three weeks. So, now I was prescribed rest and unable to go to work.

     So why didn’t the teachers let me rest before it turned into pneumonia? The Japanese mentality that your health is your own responsibility as well as rest on your own time.

Your health is your own responsibility photo

Three weeks locked inside, I painted my nails with germs.



American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too