Samakazi: the way of diabetes warrior
Before some folk think I’m a cultural imperialist (I mean I might be, but what does that actually mean these days?) I’d like to share my thoughts about the nature of Samakazi. Bare with me…
In World War II the Japanese suicide pilots called Kamikaze deliberately crashed their planes into enemy targets, usually ships. This is pretty well known.
The term kamikaze however originated 700 years before that when Kublai Khan thought he might like to invade and dominate Japan. He was having a pretty good go at China. He’d also trounced Korea. So he became annoyed when the Emperor of Japan was apparently ignoring all his threatening and demanding love letters of domination. (It was actually the shogun who were blocking the messages to the emperor who never got to read them.. more annoying)
So (long story short) Kublai Khan decided to act on this threat and sent off his super massive mongol invasion fleet on the Take Japan mission. Two potentially devastatingly large fleets were sent on two separate missions to ‘Take Japan’ and both times two actually devastatingly large typhoons smashed the fleets to bits. This is the stuff of legends: 4,000 ships and nearly 200,000 men (80% of the ‘Take Japan’ squad) gone. Arguably the biggest FAIL in naval history.
In Japanese lore, it was Raijin the god of lightening, thunder and storms who created the typhoons and defeated the much larger and seemingly unstoppable mongal hordes. It was this Kamikaze or ‘divine wind’ that swept Japan’s enemy from the seas.
Skipping many years, and a lot of deepening of the term Kamikaze, to WW2. About 2,000 of Japan’s ‘kamikaze’ pilots crash their planes into enemy ships. The word ‘kamikaze’ has now become incorporated into everyday English usage to refer to someone who takes great risk with little concern for their own safety.
For me, as a metaphor, Kamikaze represents the highest expression of sacrifice and dedication to protect. Kamikaze comes directly from Bushido, the ‘way’ of the samurai and those guys were all about taking care of stuff in the right way. I recognise that in this new age of terror it’s hard to write about this kind of feeling without fear negative public reverb. It’s hard to talk about the kamikaze without the suicide bomber association. However, peeling back fear and prejudice, the term is not about destruction or violence. What I identify with is the devotion and selflessness of an unstoppable dedication (the deeper philosophical underpinnings). It is the divine wind that moves towards its purpose. It is the divine wind that can overcome the greatest obstacle. This is where Samakazi was born for me.
For me Samakazi is my expression of ‘the way’ of the diabetes warrior.
Samakazi was born on the evening of May 30th 2006. I felt it emerge when my four year old son cried in his hospital bed begging me “please mummy no, please don’t” as I steeled myself and pricked his finger yet again to measure his blood glucose. I tried to whisper words of comfort, coo in reassuring tones. I told him I knew he didn’t like it but we simply had to. I wanted to tear at the walls and yell at the nurses. I wanted to run and take him home and be as we were three months ago when he had been ‘himself’, before things started to change. Before those changes led us to this moment. Instead, I curled up next to him stroking his hair easing him into sleep, begging a god I didn’t believe in to take it from my baby and put it with me.
My Samakazi emerged in that steadfastness not to move from the difficulty we must meet. It was then fed by my endless experiences of shocking ignorance from health care professionals. Like the time I was at work in the Cath Lab and the nurse next to me asked if I’d fed my son too many lollies. Or our first day with the Diabetes Educator who literally ticked boxes and said, eyes still on his check list, “you know what to do ‘coz you’re already nurse”.
My deep Samakazi self strengthened when I decided to become a Diabetes Educator and protect and educate my son. I would teach him compassion for those ignorant about diabetes and how to live things just as they are.
Working as a Diabetes Educator over the years I heard my own story repeated back to me almost daily. I’ve listened to endless needless difficulties experiences by people living with diabetes. I knew I wanted to change how the person living with diabetes experienced living with diabetes, not just at the hands of others, but how they internalize the guff they hear. We had to do better. With Samakazi I’ve dedicated myself to act with compassion with those who don’t know better and see my duty as an educator and advocate.