Her breathing tube is gone, a “fist pump” moment, as Dr. Imoigele Aisiku, a neurosurgeon, calls it.
And that isn’t all: Giffords can talk, create short sentences, express desires, walk with some help – and more.
Most importantly, Gabrielle’s personality is shining even through her tragedy as she grins widely over her accomplishments. Never showing depression, Gabrielle is constantly working toward recovery.
“She has a personality that’s already showing through,” Kim said. “She’s very upbeat, focused on getting better. She hasn’t shown us depression, and she’s just been very forward-looking and even with the speech she’s not showing much frustration.”
He also remarks in regards to her constant hard work: “That’s Gabby. It’s a constant, wonderful thing,”
She also knows that she was shot in the head even though she can’t remember it; her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, has told her about it, though it isn’t clear if she knows that others were shot, some injured and some killed.
Giffords is able to express her own wants and desires as well, such as when she is tired and wants to go to bed.
The conference, though subdued for the most part, did not remain so when the doctors were questioned about Giffords’ personality. They laughed a little with affection, and Dr. Gerard Francisco, the head of Giffords’ medical team, said, “I feel like I know her very well. She’s able to express her personality. She’s able to express what she wants and doesn’t want.”
This emotional type of response is incredibly encouraging. Giffords’ gunshot wound was to the front of the head – the part that controls personality. While some recover their ability to function after these types of wounds, many never recover their personalities. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Gabrielle.
Friends and relatives are insistent that Giffords will be able to attend her husband’s space launch as the commander of the shuttle Endeavor next month. Doctors aren’t so sure. Traveling is a difficult thing, and while many patients do have outings, it is usually to restaurants or other places near the hospital – not states away. However, they have not ruled it out as a possibility.
“We’re going to be assessing this over the next few weeks, but we think there’s a good possibility,” Kim said.
Giffords is currently sporting a helmet adorned with the Arizona state flag to protect her head. Part of her skull is detached, a procedure that had to be done to relieve the pressure of her swelling brain. Doctors expect to reattach her skull in May, but they say that she could be able to travel before that procedure.
This is doctors’ first official update since January 26 when Giffords began her intensive rehabilitation at Houston.
Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old suspect shooter, has pleaded not guilty in federal court and appeared in court this week at Tucson, a hearing which was attended by at least 3 survivors of his attack. Authorities describe him as mentally unstable.
For previous updates on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, see here, here,here, and here.
Giffords makes ‘leaps and bounds’ in recovery