Docs: Giffords Communicating With Us Doctors are 'cautiously optimistic' By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff Posted Jan 9, 2011 12:04 PM CST 8 comments Comments Dr. Peter Rhee, right, speaks about the condition of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as Dr. Michael Lemole Jr looks on at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) (Newser) – Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was "able to communicate with us this morning" by responding to simple commands, say her doctors. "We are very encouraged by that," says Dr. Michael Lemole, the chief of neurosurgery at the University Medical Center in Tuscon. In a press conference today, doctors said she is sedated and being awakened periodically, the Arizona Republic reports. The medical director of the hospital's trauma unit said Giffords was able to follow a doctor's command and hold up two fingers before she was taken into surgery yesterday. The gunshot went through the left side of her head; surgeons worked to reduce pressure from swelling in the brain by removing nearly half her skull on that side. Her husband remains at her side; click for more on their marriage.