The violinist Alexey Igudesman has lately recovered from Covid-19. He shares his experience exclusively on Slipped Disc. For once, the comedian is being deadly serious. Here’s his story:
I wanted to give everyone a quick message of hope and joy in these dark times and to share my story from the past few weeks. As someone who writes music and tries to spread beautiful melodies and laughter on stage, I have been creating things online to make people smile lately, since it is safer for everyone – it simply hasn’t been possible to spread the love on stage.
My major focus has been a new online YouTube Show called Amuse News, where I provide music news in an amusing yet insightful way, inspired by John Oliver and Trevor Noah. So far, I have interviewed musicians like Daniel Hope and Sean Ono Lennon – in a self-deprecating way – and featured humorous segments by Lucy Landymore, who delivered (purposely) truly terrible music tutorials on instruments she cannot actually play, and Hyung-Joo in “Joo’s Rant.” To have a laugh in the face of the virus, I also released the song, “Corona Nanana.”
The virus caught up with me, and I tested positive for Covid-19 about 2 weeks ago. I was extremely lucky to have had a mild version of it, with no fever. However, I feel the need to talk about the emotional and psychological implications of this virus, which one doesn’t hear much about. In addition to keeping me in self isolation, the virus stripped me of my sense of smell and made breathing difficult at times, as well as leaving me totally exhausted.
Although this may not seem like a big deal, the fear and panic that this caused were devastating.
We hear so many things in the media – things that are contradictory and confusing. On the one hand, one is told that if you are not too old and do not have pre-existing conditions, you will be okay. On the other hand, we have young and healthy people dying.
What the disease does to you psychologically is extremely worrying. The panic and self isolation can cause lack of sleep and terrifying depression – these issues are rarely mentioned. These symptoms cannot simply be turned off. I kept telling myself that I would be okay. Dear close musician friends like Julian Rachlin, Sarah McElravy and Alexandra Preucil were on the phone with me daily, bringing me food and medicine, and giving me moral support. Kind and brilliant doctors spoke calming words to me on the phone.
But at times, the fear and panic were quite overwhelming.
It is important to know that this virus can cause severe neurologic disorders. But it is also important to know that they will go away. I am extremely happy to say that since I tested negative, I have gradually begun feeling better every day. However, I also want to spread the word that we must take this virus seriously. Even a mild version – like what I had – is extremely taxing on your body and mind. The longer we can keep it at bay – until we have better medical treatment options and/or a safe and effective vaccine – the better it will be for everyone.
If someone you know has Covid, please be there for them psychologically, even if you cannot be there in person. And if you get it yourself, remember that having the fear and panic can be part of this treacherous virus, and that it will pass, just like the other symptoms.
Many of us musicians have been hit the hardest economically, with performances having been canceled. Yet most of us are in favor of the stringent measures that have been taken. Refusing to wear a mask, protesting regimes, or complaining that our rights are being impaired are all fine and good until you or a loved one gets sick.
We are not through this yet, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. What we need now is not defiance against “the system” – but solidarity among our fellow humans and all nations. Let us observe Finland, a country with some of the lowest Covid numbers. It is a place where people follow the advice of the government, without even needing to resort to harsh lockdowns. One can argue that social distancing is simply in tune with the brooding culture of the Finns, but their system has been effective. We are on the brink of having a vaccine. Just because we are tired of wearing a mask and being careful does not mean we are right to become complacent.
Creativity can help us through any crisis.
We can make music online – with my start-up, Music Traveler, we are about to launch a revenue-generating streaming possibility for musicians.
We can write and record music.
We can communicate digitally.
And we will all see each other live again soon.
Through the compassion and solidarity that we show each other, we can be there for each other… without even actually being there in person!
Stay strong, stay safe and wear a mask, even though it may feel annoying.
But most of all, be there for each other: digitally for now – and physically, soon.
Warmest greetings to you all,