Eternally Grateful After Life-Altering Event

Eternally Grateful After Life-Altering Event - Gratitude Story

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Norine Bentzel

Norina Bentzel has reason to be grateful. On Friday, February 2, 2001, a 52-year-old man wielding a 2-foot-long machete entered the North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School in south central Pennsylvania where she was school principal and started randomly attacking anyone who got in his way.

Although no one was killed, some of those attacked sustained serious injuries. Norina’s were the worst. Her hands and arms were so severely cut by the machete that emergency responders opted to send her by helicopter to The Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, widely recognized as the largest, most experienced hand surgery and rehabilitation center in the nation.

There, surgeons—a team working on each hand—painstakingly reattached several of her fingers, which were nearly severed. The injuries to her arms were so bad that they had to implant a titanium plate in one of her wrists to hold the bones together. After 5 days in the hospital she was discharged, subsequently spending 18 months in physical therapy.

Despite what she went through, Norina considers herself fortunate. “I had a very positive experience at the hand center,” she says. ”I received the best care you can get. Everyone was wonderful. They even helped my husband find a hotel once he arrived at the hospital, and provided him with clothes and other necessities, since he hadn’t packed anything in his rush to see me.”

Today, Norina, now retired, is doing well. In the 20 years since the attack, she has spoken to more than 60 audiences about the incident, providing insight and observations about this life- altering event, and is currently writing a book about it. She is also incredibly grateful for the care she received at The Curtis National Hand Center, which she and her husband, Jim, acknowledge with an annual philanthropic gift. “It was an emotional experience. The support I received was exceptional.”

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