“I am sick!” - Absences and another series of unfortunate events
Monday, August 27, 2018
Don’t stress out and focus on getting well
I have to say something - even if I could improve my lifestyle a lot, I am kind of resistant to illnesses, which is a great advantage when you are living abroad and aren’t fluent at all in the local language. Let’s be honest: facing a medical issue is always harsh but managing it in a foreign language - even more, in Japanese! - sounds frightening. Although we truly wish you to be 元気 (genki, fine) and we hope you don’t have to make use of this information, we prepared a survival guide - just in case - with some key points that will help you to go through it as smooth as possible.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
It is said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away and we definitely agree on this. Keep your body hydrated, eat enough vegetables and do some exercise - you will soon notice how your stamina and PS boost. Moving in another country can be quite a challenge for you and your health: new diets, plenty of foods you never met… Listen to your body and try to eat as diverse as possible. It is also wise to find out about your social insurance status and keep the fees updated (also applicable if you have an international or a private insurance). If you still have doubts, don’t be shy and ask as many questions as needed for you to understand fully the situation - your health is the most important matter!In case you have allergies or any other chronicle/special condition, you should get a report of your status and have it translated in Japan. It would be great if you could keep it with you at any times, maybe in your wallet or with your commuter pass. Knowing your blood group is also highly recommendable.
Evaluate the situation
First of all, check your status and assess if it is urgent or not.
- Does the situation seems critical and you need to go the the hospital? Then go and be sure you take your Health Insurance Card with you.
- Do you need an ambulance ? You can dial 119.
- For issues that are not urgent, we recommend you to look for a clinic (there are a wide range of English-speaking clinics in Japan, especially in the huge urban areas) that is specialized in the type of troubles you have, just check in advance if they accept patients with National Health Insurance - which most of them do.
Notify your workplace
If you don’t feel well enough to go to your workplace, give them a call or write a mail to explain that you are unable to attend your duties for the time being and until you get better (try to give a precise time span). It will give some time for them to find a replacement if necessary. Try to communicate with them as soon as you notice you don’t feel well enough to work - the best is to tell with a day notice, but they should totally understand if you suffer a sudden illness.
Taking a sick day in Japan may be a bit tricky. Companies are not required to provide other days than the mandatory annual leave, so if you need some days to recover, they would be probably deducted from your holidays. However, this trend is decreasing and a lot of Japanese companies now grant not only a paid sick leave, but also days for marriage, decease of close relatives and so on. We highly recommend you to check that point with your boss(es) before you actually get sick - you know, better safe than sorry!
Get a doctor’s notice
To get a time out of your holidays as a sick leave, some companies will request you to show a doctor’s note, which will cost you around 5,000 yen. Once you do that, you can take from 1 to 3 days off. If you need more time, you will have to come back to the doctor’s consultation and get a new note.
In case you have something more serious than a cold (which we hope it’s not!), you will have to make use of the Injury and Sickness Allowance. The objective of the program is to grant workers the adequate recovery from mid to long-term sickness and injuries without suffering major economic issues. To apply for the scheme, you need to be absent from your work for more than 3 days and be up-to-date with your taxes and payments to the Health Insurance.
If you are struggling with the language as I do, here you go with a glossary including some useful sentences:
- 病院 (byouin, hospital) - be careful don’t mix it up with 美容院 (biyouin, hairdresser) or you may end up with a fancy new hairstyle!
- クリニック (kuriniku, clinic)
- すみません、ちょっと具合が悪いです (Sumimasen, chotto guai guaigawaruidesu, “sorry, I don’t feel well”)
- 熱があります (netsu ga arimasu, “I have a fever”)
- 頭が痛い (atama ga itai, “my head hurts”)
- 気分が悪い (kibunga warui, “I feel sick”)
- アレルギーがあります (alergi ga arimasu, “I have an allergy”)
- 薬 (kusuri, medicine)
- ここが痛いいです (koko ga itai desu, “it hurts here”)
Hope you find this guide useful! Now just take some rest, drink water, take your medicines and do your best to get well soon. Oh, and お大事に (odaijini, “please take care of yourself”). After taking your well-deserved rest, why don’t you give a boost to your career? Take a look at our latest jobs!
About the Author
Half writer, half reader. Tokyo based and deeply in love with - you can easily find me meandering around Shibuya or Shin-Okubo. Communication and marketing assistant by day, video game localizer by night.