On Being Sick in Japan

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One of the main drawbacks with working in schools here in Japan is that you’ll be exposed to a multitude of germs and viruses that almost every kid seems intent on spreading on to you.

Especially during the winter months from December until February, there’s usually large outbreaks of influenza that see many schools shutting down in hopes of stopping the illness in its tracks.

Of course, one of the first things I got in Japan during my first winter was a terrible bout of influenza, which is officially the first time I ever got actual flu as opposed to just a bad cold. Luckily, though, the Public Health Service in Japan is phenomenal. Fast, efficient and cheap health care means that you’re never stuck at home lying in the foetal position waiting for the worst to be over.

Just this past weekend I started sneezing like I had a pretty bad case of hay fever, but when it got worse the next day I headed through to my local hospital and got sorted out with a prescription for several drugs and got a diagnosis that I had a pretty severe cold. If I’d stayed home, I would never have known that and would have had to stay home and feel like death warmed over.

One of the advantages of having a larger elderly population is that Japan places a lot of money into the health system so that elderly people have easy and cheap access to health care, and that also benefits the rest of us.