My COVID-19 Story: A Hospital, A Horse and A Haircut

Laura Emert recounts the importance of horses — and haircuts! — as she works to stay sane after contracting COVID-19 and dealing with the subsequent lockdown.

Pixabay/Miguel Á. Padriñán/CC

I have just started to emerge from the darkest period of my life so far and have come to a few conclusions that will remain with me far into the future.

Let me start by sharing that I was most certainly gifted the corona virus by either my son or my daughter, both of whom visited our home back in mid-March. I was feeling a bit concerned at that time of the possibility of getting ill with COVID-19, but was still in good health. Little did I know my son was experiencing body aches and napped in my bed while I was out running errands. Within two days of his visit I started to feel poorly, thinking I probably had a bad cold. On the third day I thought I must have the flu and made an appointment to see my doctor. When the flu test came back negative the doctor advised me I must have “the virus.” I was in shock — how could this be!

So much of the latest news back in March instructed us to quarantine and submit to bedrest to allow the virus to run its course. This plan of action didn’t work well for me. On the fourth day of being ill I nearly passed out. I was examined in the emergency room at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, told I had pneumonia and would be admitted. After three days of antibiotics, hydroxychloroquine and probiotics I felt somewhat better and was released. I must say I am very thankful for the hospital’s excellent care. The hospital food was actually pretty good too, the highlight of my stay. As I began to regain some of my appetite I have to admit I really enjoyed the hospital cream of wheat, chicken fingers and raspberry sorbet. Not all eaten together though.

My adult beginner English riding lessons at Sundance Stables in Manorville, NY had been on hold since early March and I asked virtually every doctor who examined me when I could resume riding again. I don’t think the infectious disease doctor quite knew what to think of my equine inquiry. I really got no response. After being released from the hospital and learning the stable was on lock-down I was quite disappointed but understood. As the weeks of home confinement dragged on and on, my loss of all connection to horses, riding and my trainer became increasingly unbearable. I bemoaned my loss repeatedly on a daily basis to everyone and anyone I spoke with, and I’m positive they all were fed-up with hearing my complaints. The day I received an invitation to return to the stable I felt like a grand prize winner in the mega- millions lottery. I really need horses and horse people for my soul to be content. I think I would have been far happier with home confinement in a horse stall.

Laura and Teddy. Photo courtesy of Laura Emert.

Almost as devastating as losing my horse world was living without visits to my hair salon, Bobbi Pins in Stony Brook, and watching the grey hair grow in more ferociously on my head with each passing day. As the weeks turned into months without a haircut, hair color or the welcoming surroundings of the salon and its owner, I became extra grumpy and felt off. A salon visit revives my spirits and just plain makes me feel better. Trying to do my own hair color from a box in May was a disaster. I’m a klutz with the liquid and somehow let hair color drip into my eye. Thank goodness no permanent damage happened. Being allowed back into the salon after four months (yea!) is one of the notable highlights of 2020 for me. Once back in I had to make my hair sunny and happy and now it’s completely blond, and I’m totally uplifted!

COVID-19 may have wreaked havoc on my lungs but it confirmed what connects to my soul: horses and haircuts. I am now so much better prepared for another wave of COVID-19  should it come. I will take some hay from a stall to keep under my bed so I can at least feel connected to the barn if another lockdown occurs and I will immerse myself in You Tube hair color videos so I can keep my hair blond and my eyes working!

About Laura Emert:
When not happily trotting atop my lesson horse, I am a commercial insurance broker with The Whitmore Group in Garden City, NY, specializing in all forms of coverage for the performing arts – music, dance theatre and film.