by Igor Koruga
They say we feel afraid when the future is uncertain.
There's a threat coming and it's here to stay.
Something is wrong.
But we can't see it.
We don't feel safe.
We feel physical pain.
Our minds are working fast,
Conjuring up visions
of a future where all the worst-case scenarios come true.
We're becoming increasingly worried and anxious because we don't know which parts of the world will be irretrievably lost or changed forever into something else, something new.
Isolation and loneliness affect our brains, making us more vulnerable to illness, triggering high blood pressure, increasing our heart rate, our stress levels, the chance of inflammation and preventing the secretion of oxytocin – the 'hormone of touch'.
The brain's capacity for problem-solving and emotional regulation is seriously curbed when it's not surrounded by other human beings.
I don't trust my brain anymore.
Do you trust yours?
My name is Igor Koruga.
I am a body.
My body is an intersection of discourses that define it as the 'I'.
My body is a playground for the tiniest molecular matter, microflows,
uncontrolled creators of new agents of history.
My body is defective, home to an inborn immunodeficiency.
My body doesn't produce antibodies to defend itself from viruses and bacteria.
My body is capable of immunological defense only when it receives antibodies from other bodies.
My body defends itself with antibodies that cost several thousand euros.
My body is an economic drain for this country.
My body is proof that immunity is not just a biological, but also a social category.
My body is a mirror to the socio-political criteria that produce sovereignty or exclusion, protection or stigmatization, life or death.
My body has survived Corona.
My body is not immunized to Corona.
My body is demunized because of Corona.
It's been thirteen days since you were hospitalized at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases in Zagreb, testing positive for Covid-19. You've posted this publicly on Facebook and other media. You've asked us to be serious, to get organized, to show solidarity, and follow the instructions of health services so as to decrease the power of the virus and to be aware that our irresponsible behavior can kill those around us who have a poor immune systems.
(Knew you would be here tonight. So I put my best dress on. Boy I was so right)
It's been thirteen days since you mapped out your movements across three countries and notified around a hundred people that you have Corona. In the media, you say that you have not infected any of the people that have been notified. You haven't notified me. Or were you perhaps afraid to?
(Our eyes connected. Now nothin's how it used to be. No second guesses.)
Twenty days before your post youwere sitting next to me in Belgrade, talking about the position of the artist in the Western European market, politics, and LGBTQ rights in the Balkans, the same week you twice felt the symptoms of a dry cough, feebleness, fatigue, muscle pain, high temperature, and mild fever. You didn't mention any of this to me at the time. You thought it was allergies. Or were you afraid?
(Trackin' on this feelin'. Pull focus close up you and me. Nobody's leavin'.)
Thirty minutes after your Facebook post I wrote you to ask how you were. You responded, coldly – that you were ok, that you were taking things as they came. I told you I suffer from immunodeficiency, that I became ill (three days after we met), and that hospitals refuse to test me for Covid-19 because I am not displaying all the symptoms. I thought you would understand my fear of not knowing if I have the virus or not. I thought we had a nice connection. But you just said: Ouch! And vanished.
(Got me affected. Spun me one eighty degrees. So electric.)
It's been thirteen weeks now since we met. Since then we have both been treated for Covid-19 – you for two weeks in total and I for twelve (nine of which in a hospital). When you checked in at the clinic you didn't have a cough or a fever, only a mild indication of pneumonia. You have a strong body. They didn't give you any treatment. You were sent into home isolation. When I checked in they scanned my lungs and found shadowy patches in the upper region of the lungs, in close proximity to the 'ground glass' zones in the lung parenchyma or as the medical professionals call it: the image of 'cobblestones'. Difficulty breathing. Feebleness. High temperature: 39 - 40 degrees. Situated in an isolated unit without permission to go out, touch, or talk to other people. Having my body constantly and continually desinfected.
(Slow down and dance with me, yeah. Slow.Skip the beat and move with my body, yeah. Slow.)
You describe your seventeen days for the media: wake up at six am for a temperature check. You get up lazily and perform your morning hygiene. Then follows breakfast and the first light stretch on the exercise mat which includes exercises for the neck, shoulders, arms, and back, followed by do in yoga exercises to open the chest and get the basic circulation going. Then comes mindfulness meditation and some reading about work-related things. Lunch is at noon. You have incorporated macrobiotic principles into your hospital menu, increasing the number of grains, calcium, vegetables, protein, and fermented foods like tofu, seaweed, seeds, and miso. You have hydrated with water and chlorophyll, you've inhaled the essential oil of Japanese mint and thyme so as to additionally cleanse your airways and thus eliminate the pathogen from your respiratory system. After lunch, it's time for more dynamic cardio exercises to activate the legs, joints, and kidneys. And then again a half-working mode, you communicate on social media with friends and family, followed finally by dinner. You use the end of the day to dive more deeply into yourself and rest which involves breathing and visualization exercises.
(Don't wanna rush it. Let the rhythm pull you in. It's here so touch it! (Oh)).
In the Clinic for Infectious Diseases in Belgrade, the patient's wake-up time is at five am. Due to heavy pneumonia of both lungs, they measure my blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen flow in the lungs. The first puncture of the body follows – Fraxiparine against thrombosis. Then the second puncture, taking out blood for blood work and biochemical analysis. Because my veins are so used up, sometimes they need four to five attempts before they can get any blood out. At six antibiotics were administered through the cannula, already inserted on the previous day into the vein of the other arm. They are giving me oxygen through a breathing mask. I can take care of my basic bodily needs within my own insulating glass box by using a urine bottle, and when I have enough oxygen in the lungs and physical strength I can also use an actual toilet, shared by eight other patients in the unit. It often happens that somebody defecates in the sink of the same bathroom. Breakfast comes, dietal, three slices of toast, three cookies, a slice of cheese, and a boiled apple. After the doctors have made their rounds, there are a new set of IV – antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, anticoagulant, albumin, immunoglobulin, gastroprotective, corticosteroid, covid–reconvalescent, oxygenic, vitamin, and rehydration therapies. Lunch is served at noon sharp. By then my urine must be ready for analysis. Because of intense pneumonia they have to check the flow of oxygen and other gases in my bloodstream – by puncturing an artery in the joints of the hand or the groin. I am only allowed to sit (even during the night) or lie on my stomach (unless it interferes with my breathing). Insomnia keeps me up 36 – 48 hours on average. I do mental exercises to strengthen my concentration using the 'drop by drop' method of constant observation of the flow of therapy in the IV system. Electricity in the Infectious diseases unit is available only at certain stages of the day, due to construction work. Internet access is limited. Because of the inexistence of a shower cabin in the unit, I am conducting personal hygiene using alcohol and gauze. The view through the window, if there is one, is nice. Dinner is at five.
(You know what I'm sayin'. And I haven't said a thin'. Keep the record playin'.)
In interviews, you explain how the pandemic is an opportunity of creating a new mentality and culture, of overcoming a crisis and existing patterns. You say that everybody who is in isolation should be working on themselves – because to be lying passively in your room especially in isolation is a state of psychophysical stress and that's a toxic state of the organism.
(Slow down and dance with me, yeah. Slow.)
In the sixth week of treatment, I came to the same conclusion, while they were taking out a sample of bone marrow from my hip bone for a biopsy, by sticking in a 20 cm needle so vehemently that they managed to damage part of the soft tissue and a nerve. Precisely on that day, giving out the loudest screams of pain that I had ever produced in my life, I felt I was overcoming my usual patterns. Especially when it became clear to the doctors they could not continue the procedure without general anesthesia and that a transfer to the emergency room was necessary. A whole history of eastern practices – meditation, Yoga, Ayurveda, Tai chi chuan, Qigong, Reiki, Su Jok – but also every possible Western self-help manual by Louisa Hay, Ana Bučević, Nikola Vujičić, Novak Đoković – is a good helping hand not only for facing physical pain but also the systematic organizational collapse of public health services. In the present case, this was manifested by a two-hour delay of the ambulance car, which meant I had to walk 20 minutes with a wounded leg to the emergency room so they could again take a sample by sticking a needle of the same size into the same part of the bone. At other times this was manifested by a long waiting time for analysis results, cancellation of checkups, medical equipment malfunctions, inefficient consultations with medical experts– infectologists, immunologists, pulmonologists, etc.
(Skip the beat and move with my body, yeah. Slow.)
In your media advice on how to survive Corona, you say that without our