The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Michele Bender

January 14, 2012

MICHELE M. BENDER | Rocky times with kidney stones

— Father Jim, a hospital chaplain, stood in my doorway. “Are you here AGAIN?”

“I come for the food,” I grinned. “I can’t resist the stewed tomatoes!”

Yes, here I sit writing about yet another hospitalization.

When my friend Sharon in Harrisburg called, I quizzed her. “Do you think another column about my ailments will bore my readers?”

“You’re kidding, right?” she laughed. “Your readers are OUR age! They deal with illness, too. They’ll LOVE it!”

Most folks have a fairly healthy gene pool. I have a septic tank.

My ancestors suffered from a cornucopia of maladies. Over the past two years, I’ve flirted with pretty much all of them.

I’ve become a familiar face at Conemaugh Memorial.

Highmark gives me Cash Back Bonus points and I’ve accumulated  “frequent ambulance rider” miles. A “Reconstructed Vehicle” title has replaced my birth certificate.

Have you ever had a kidney stone? You’d remember if you had! A potpourri of dandy complications accompanies them as well: Continuous pressure, burning, and, well…other issues. ( Don’t make me say it!)

It seems I’ve blazed the genetic trail to the kidney stone quarry. Apparently, I’m the first “stoner” in our family.

Most kidney stones disintegrate simply during a procedure called “lipotripsy.” My indestructible cinders consisted of kryptonite reinforced with Rustoleum.

These impenetrable boulders frustrated my urologist, Dr. F, but he and his amazing staff rose to the challenge.

Karen, Courtney, Brad and Mark answered my zillion questions.

Dr. F even drew a diagram of my “innards.” I posted it on the bulletin board in my hospital room. (I didn’t have a fridge or magnets handy!)

Physician’s  Assistant  Mark said he’d observed more troublesome stones among baby boomers. Could this be backlash from our misspent youth?

My journeys always began in Outpatient Surgery, where Sandy, Sheri and others prepped me and kept me calm.

Anesthesiologists and O.R. nurse Shirley guided me through my adventures.

Phlebotomists Marilyn and Karen and I.V. technicians Stephanie and Lea gently “needled” me.

Jeri, Sharon, Rhonda and Patt made my various rooms sparkle.

I’ll never be able to remember all my compassionate caregivers, but I’ll try! Sonia, Ashley, Lorraine, Mike, Kim, Becca, Erronique, Heather, Josh, Dyan, Sheila, Courtney, Marcia, Dee, Lindsey, Denise, Kelly, Trina, Danielle, Kayla, John, Andrea, Julie, Bonnie…God bless you. I deeply appreciated your skillful, healing hands.


With luck, no more “pebbles” will rattle my guts.

Let’s hope that any stones in my future will be the type measured in carats!

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of  The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.

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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

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    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

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    “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

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    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


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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.
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