Gabrielle Giffords Can Stand, Plans to 'Walk a Mountain'

The Arizona Republic offers a long look at her incredible progress
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2011 10:40 AM CDT
Gabrielle Giffords Can Stand, Plans to 'Walk a Mountain'
In this Jan. 5, 2011 file photo, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., takes part in a reenactment of her swearing-in, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(Newser) – On Easter Sunday, some happy news from the Gabrielle Giffords camp: The Arizona congresswoman can stand and even walk a little, and though she is currently working on improving her gait, she told her nurse she plans to “walk a mountain” one day. More from the Arizona Republic’s extensive update based on interviews from the past week:

  • She speaks, although usually in very short phrases like “love you,” “awesome,” or—to doctors—“get out.” She has also been repeating “I miss Tucson.” When she does take the time to string together a longer sentence, searching her brain strenuously for the correct words, doctors say she speaks at a normal rate and clearly. Her chief of staff says Giffords “knows what she wants to say, and she knows everything that’s going on around her,” but can’t always express it.
  • Her main doctor says Giffords is in the top 5% of patients recovering from this type of injury. Current therapy includes bowling and indoor golf; sometimes she even plays Scrabble with husband Mark Kelly. "Her left side is perfect," her chief of staff says. "She can do whatever you can do." Since Giffords was shot in the left side of her brain, she is working on rehabbing the right side of her body, meaning she’s left-handed now.

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  • Her response to the shooting has been emotional. Early on, she asked over and over, “What is happening to me?” When she found out about the shooting, she would repeat things like, “So many people,” “I want so bad,” or just the word “no.”
  • She still has all her memories, and she still wants to work. Her staff brings in articles and office memos and are planning to bring House of Representatives resolutions soon.
  • Most importantly, Giffords is the same joyful, sensitive, charismatic, and compassionate person. She’s also showing independence and is “her own person,” a doctor says. “She’s the boss,” her husband adds, and she still expresses opinions about which medicine she’ll take, which shirt she’ll wear, or what she wants for breakfast. "I can't say I notice improvement every day," he says, "but I can every few days."
Click for the full article or more on Giffords. (Read more Gabrielle Giffords stories.)

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