I Will Survive: Gabby Giffords’ Recovery

Laura Cafasso

It has been ten months since the fateful day in January, when Jared Loughner terrorized a meet and greet with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and shot 19 people, including the congresswoman. She was resilient, and managed to stay alive after a seemingly fatal gun shot to her brain.  But as she said to ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, the road to recovery has been the “difficult” part.

Along with having to recuperate with physical therapy, Giffords developed a condition called Aphasia. This means that Gabby has extreme difficulty remembering words to form sentences, so often times she can only say one or two words to describe what she is feeling. Even though this is common for brain injury patients, she has basically had to relearn how to move around and speak, since the bullet damaged nerve endings in her brain.

To elaborate on how significant the bullet’s impact would have been if it hadn’t just grazed her brain, Mark Kelly, her astronaut husband, had this to say to Diane: “It’s clear that any lower, it would’ve killed her, any further midline, it would’ve killed her. If it crossed hemispheres, it would’ve killed her. Any further outboard, she’d never be able to speak again. Any higher, she’d never be able to walk.”

To help with her speech recognition, therapy included singing songs from beginning to end to help her with memorization. Her favorites include “Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. And all the while, she would attempt jokes with her nurses and doctors, showing how this would not change her as a person.

Gabby Giffords has not given up hopes for a future for her career, and family. She is considering filing papers for reelection in May 2012 for Congress — if of course she has made enough progress.  Also, her and Mark Kelly still have the dream of becoming parents on their minds. Giffords was taking in-vitro fertilization treatments before her ordeal, and they have many options open, maybe even surrogacy now. But most interesting is the book they have written together about her survival called “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope”.

As for Jared Loughner, the man who shot her, Gabby Giffords is surprisingly not angry with him. She simply answered Diane’s question with one word, “Life.”

Gabby Giffords is an inspiration not only to other victims of a similar traumatic injury, but to everyday people and students who think they are not brave enough to do something. She shows that someone can relearn how to speak and walk, and even have dreams of rerunning for Congress. What do you think, Franklin High, of Gabby Giffords’ story?

To watch videos of Gabby Giffords’ struggle and her interviews with Diane Sawyer, check out this link: http://abcnews.go.com/US/gabby_giffords/humor-determination-key-congresswoman-gabrielle-giffords-recovery/story?id=14944407