The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Michele Bender

January 18, 2014

Twelve days of Christmas

JOHNSTOWN — “Ms. Bender? Are you awake?”

The guy sounded cute. I opened one eye.               

“I’m Dr. S. I’ll be your brain surgeon.”


“Don’t panic. You’re experiencing slight bleeding in your brain, but you don’t need surgery.”

He smiled reassuringly.

“You have a small lesion, but we can treat it with medicine.”

So, it’s really true! Tests over the course of six months have concluded that I DO have a brain.

Apparently, it justs leaks occasionally.

Strong medicines clouded my memories of three days in the intensive care unit, but the angels who watched me – Pam, Lori, Paul, Shannon and Rhonda – will remain in my heart.

This was my second Christmas in a hospital. Elegant, tasteful decorations decked the halls, a pleasant change from tacky, cheap and gaudy Santas, elves and reindeer that certainly didn’t comfort or cheer seriously ill patients.

Dr. B appeared the fourth day. He’d ordered additional tests with great results. No new blood clots popped in my legs, and the residual damage done  seven years ago had totally healed.


Hospital staffs go out of their ways to promote holiday cheer.

Margie, Nicole, Jess, Jessica, Courtney, Amanda, Kristen, Tara, Alyssa, Lauren, Lori, Pattie, Chelsea, Kayla and Theresa wore colorful, seasonal scrubs to make us smile. Some sported blinking lights to brighten the atmosphere.

DJ’s headgear outshone the elves.

Therapy wizards Pat, Libby, Cathy, Penny and Susan took motion range and flexibility very seriously.

They introduced us to outdoor therapy. They led us to the roof and taught us to rotate Santa’s reindeer so they’d wear evenly.

(Rumors say that might be an Olympic event next time.)

The food is still delicious!

I coerced the stewed tomato recipe out of Greg, but I still need “the spinach chicken

alfredo flatbread receipe. It’s a religious experience.

IV staffers gently “needled us” with magic wands; Melanie, Wendy, Drew, Joseph, Darlene, Mike, Gloria and Nolan. Volunteers Shirley and Janet, and Supervisor Lois kept things running smoothly.

Comfort and dignity of the patients remained major concerns of every employee.

One morning as I was bird-bathing, a flustered aide dashed in and grabbed for my curtain.

“Hon, what’s wrong?”

“Your curtain’s open! Someone could see in.”

“Don’t worry,” I reassured her. “Anyone who wants a glimpse of my fanny badly enough to scale the side of this 10th floor building has definitely earned his peek!”


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Michele Bender
  • Michele Bender Licorice lends a paw

    I bet you expected to find Michele Bender’s column here today.
    She just came home from the hospital. She’s doing fine but resting, so I thought I’d lend a paw.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender MICHELE M. BENDER | Time to can clutter

    I’m “downsizing.” Sixteen years ago, this house was perfect for me. I gave parties. Friends came and stayed for weekends. Great insulation protected visitors from highway noise.
    Yep, I had the time of my life.
    But I’m 16 years older, and my friends are, too.  They no longer travel like they did. Parties wear us out by 10 p.m.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele Those oldies, but goodies

    Twice yearly Hollywood marches out a platoon of war movies.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Living life out loud

    “If I make it to Medicare,” I declared, “I’m going to throw a party people will not forget! It’ll be something no one’s ever done!”
    Well, I made it to 65.

    May 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Watch the stars come out

    Every spring, I catch drive-in movie fever. We are blessed to have three outdoor theaters in a 30-mile radius. Movies under the stars … heavenly!

    May 3, 2014

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | Whisper sweet nothings in my ear

    “Your call is very important to us,” growled the crabby lady at the utility company. “Please wait for the next available representative.”

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele MICHELE M. BENDER | Sock it to me


    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG MICHELE M. BENDER | What happened to Christmas?

    Headaches rarely bother me. I always felt sorry for folks trapped in the Advil/Dristan web.
    I woke up at 4 a.m. Dec 17 with a headache that probably registered on a Richter scale. (People in New Zealand experienced aftershocks.)

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG Judge Judy’s tough in any language

    In her relentless effort to “correct and serve,” Judge Judy Scheindlin is “on the road” promoting her new program, “Hot Bench.”

    February 8, 2014 1 Photo


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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