Sick Day


Must be getting old: can’t recall if I mentioned my illness here or only in emails. I suppose I could just search my own entries to find out.

Anyhow, for about two weeks I was feeling a little sick: always tired; a little congested. But Monday I got a suprise when I went to teach eighth graders and in my first class, when I opened my mouth, no voice came out. Whatever I had, moved into my throat. I tried to teach classes that don’t require much loud talking, but by Thursday morning I was still struggling. Fortunately my schedule was changed – 1st, 5th, and 6th period classes – so I ran to the hospital during second period. The doctor seemed to be thinking very hard about everything he wrote on my chart. I don’t know if he had a headache or if he was a bit concerned about what I had caught.

He dispensed five meds and told me if I completed the cycle and was still having trouble, he would have to take a picture of my chest. He also said I should avoid talking as much as possible; even recommending jishuu (自習), self-study, which usually involves the teacher just walking around looking over the kids’ shoulders as they work away. Mostly I have been hired because of my voice, that is – my native English speaking ability, so it’s a bit of a shame for me to do self-study classes. The 9th grade and 8th grade teachers recommended I let them teach Friday and Monday classes.

I don’t know the proper procedure for taking sick leave, but I told the Principal I would take the day off Friday and do prep-work from the Board of Ed. office on Monday. Friday morning I got a call from the Vice-Principal. He always speaks politely so I don’t always catch his meaning. I think he wanted me to go to the BofE instead of staying home, but I planned to nap a lot during the day and he didn’t push me to change my plan. Perhaps he was just calling to make sure I wasn’t off on a three day trip playing hooky.

Side note: often I misunderstand intentions in Japan. I’m pretty sure I wrote about how I thought kids were mocking me by repeating my words, Japanese or English, only later to connect it to Japanese education patterns. I had a chance to calm down some other English teachers who also thought kids were making fun of them. This week I thought some particularly cruel kids were laughing at, and making fun of my hoarse voice.

By being patient I discovered they thought my new voice was cool. Even funnier was that a few students thought my voice was changing. Being at that age where many of their classmates voices are changing, I suppose it’s only natural that they might think it would happen to a 41 year old man as well.


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