Just over eleven months ago, many of us stood around our televisions in horror at the news that was unfolding. On January 8th, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a democrat from Arizona, was shot along with nineteen others in front of a supermarket. What was first reported as an assassination attempt later turned into the story of a very sick man, Jared Loughner.
But the most inspiring part of this tragic tale is that of Gabby Giffords’ recovery. The measures taken immediately after the incident saved her life, and the speed with which she received care are likely what has allowed her to progress as much as she has. As her husband, Astronaut Mark Kelly, said, “Everything went as good as it possibly could have to get her to the situation she’s in right now.” Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range, but the bullet missed the portions of her brain that would have rendered recovery impossible. The part of her brain that is largely responsible for comprehension was left unharmed, but the injuries sustained to the speech center of her brain prohibited signals between the two, which is why Giffords has had such difficulty with speaking.
Essentially, she understands what is going on, and she knows the words she wants to say but is unable to articulate her thoughts properly. This is why she was able to vote on the debt ceiling issue in August, despite the speculation that she was unfit to do so.
Last night, Giffords did her first interview with ABC’s Dianne Sawyer. She told her that she wouldn’t be returning to congress until she was “better” and that she’s not angry about what happened to her. Although her trouble with speech was still evident, she displayed complete comprehension of what was being asked of her. And when Sawyer asked if she had any words about her husband, the word “brave” popped out without any hesitation.
Today, Giffords released an audio message to her constituents. In the message she said she misses those listening and her home. On her recovery, she said she is getting stronger and better. She also said she wants to get back to work, and that representing Arizona is an honor.