Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Gabby Giffords

Eleven months after a bullet penetrated the left side of Gabrielle Giffords' brain, the congresswoman from Arizona appeared in her first television interview, telling Diane Sawyer on Nov. 14 on 20/20 that she is feeling "pretty good." The fact that Giffords is walking and (haltingly) talking is nothing short of miraculous. On Jan. 8, as she prepared to host an event called "Congress on Your Corner," 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner approached her with a Glock 19 semiautomatic handgun and pulled the trigger at close range. Six people died in the rampage, including a congressional aide, a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl. The bullet that passed through Giffords' brain fractured her skull and both eye sockets, yet she was still able to respond to simple commands. After several surgeries, her condition was upgraded to "good" by the end of January and she was transferred to Memorial Hermann Medical Center in Houston to begin an intensive rehab program that included physical, occupational and speech therapy. In May, she flew to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to see her husband, Mark Kelly, launch his final space-shuttle mission. In August, she made a surprise appearance on the House floor — her first since being injured — to vote in favor of raising the nation's debt ceiling. In the memoir she and her husband wrote, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, which was published in November, Kelly describes how determined Giffords is to return to Congress. "I want to go back to work," she has said, but mostly she just wants to "get better."