Image by Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington via Flickr
From Denny: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords continues to surprise and astound her doctors, family, friends and well-wishers
with her unusual and positive recovery process.
Yesterday a memorial service was held for the shooting victims in Tucson, Arizona. President Obama attended to speak to the nation about how we all "need to do better" and "live up to the expectations of our children who are watching what we do today."
Before the memorial service, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited all the surviving shooting victims at the hospital to offer comfort and support. They are reported to be in fair and stable condition.
Rep. Giffords is the only one in critical condition as she was the targeted victim of the shooter, shot at point blank range with a bullet to the head. It went through her brain and exited on one side of her head. Due to the quick thinking of her young volunteer aide, Daniel Hernandez, who also had first aid training, she survived. He pulled her up against his chest and cradled her so she would not choke on her own blood and could breathe. Hernandez also applied pressure to her two severe head wounds until the paramedics arrived.
Hernandez showed tremendous presence of mind in an extraordinary circumstance at the young age of a college junior, 20 years old, a hero in anyone's book. He was about 40 feet away when the victims were shot and he raced into the kill zone to assess the wounded to see if he could help.
At the time of the memorial service Giffords was greeted by many friends from Congress at her hospital bed: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), close friends Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York who took over Hillary Clinton's seat), along with Giffords husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. What occurred was nothing short of a milestone in her recovery declared her doctors: she opened her eyes. It was a dramatic moment for she recognized those around her and responded to them nonverbally since she is still on a breathing tube.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on that moment: "She's in her hospital bed. I'm holding her hand, we're talking about how great she is and how inspiring she is. And we're talking about all the fun things we want to do. And she's squeezing my hand and I'm knowing that she's reacting. She's moving her leg and she's moving her arms. And we're getting so excited because we can see that she's really trying so hard to communicate with us."
Dr. Michael Lemole, the neurosurgeon who operated on Giffords, commented about how that visit may have made all the difference.
"I was there when she was surrounded by her friends from the Congress and the Senate. And I think it was a combination, perhaps, of the unexpected but familiar that really prompted her to open her eyes and look around," he said.
Because of this new development doctors are encouraged to begin more aggressive physical therapy like starting to help her work her legs. It's a way to get the brain-body connection returning to normal. Right now doctors are impressed that Giffords is attempting to focus her open eyes on her own. You know how it is when you first wake up in the morning, groggy, before that first cup of coffee. Giffords has been heavily sedated since emergency surgery and the doctors have been weaning her off the medications so she can awaken and respond to commands.
So far, so good. Giffords' husband is of the opinion his wife is a strong willed person, capable of a full recovery. He said, "The doctors don't know Gabby. She will start walking in two weeks." Just maybe this woman of courage will do just that. We all are certainly praying for her complete recovery and return to Capitol Hill.
Related news stories:
An Open Letter to Parents Following the Tragedy in Tucson, Posted by First Lady Michelle Obama
President Obama in Tucson: "The Forces that Divide Us are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us"
Gabrielle Giffords office is open, helping constituents and providing solace
Sen. Gillibrand On Giffords' Eye-Opening Moment
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