Giffords getting stronger - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Giffords getting stronger

Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, serve a Thanksgiving meal to service members and retirees at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. (File photo) Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, serve a Thanksgiving meal to service members and retirees at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. (File photo)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Some people are calling it a miracle, others admire her determination. Whatever your initial feelings most people watch with awe as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords works to get better.

We are even starting to hear from the Congresswoman herself about her fight to heal.

"I'm getting better, I'm getting stronger," Giffords said in a recorded address to the people of Southern Arizona.

Her words don't come as easy as they used too, but the impact is not lost. As with each step in her recovery her strong will moves the community of Tucson and the rest of the country all pulling for her.

The initial part of her recovery is what doctors called quick but small. She started by squeezing her husband's hand, then playing with his wedding ring.

"I would have glossed that over," Giffords' neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Lemole said. "But Mark said that is a regular thing that she does so that makes it very significant."

Then on the day President Barack Obama visited Tucson, Giffords opened her eye.

"That was a poignant moment," Dr. Lemole said. After that she gained strength and started standing, even taking a few steps.

She was then flown to TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, where she began her rehabilitation almost immediately.

Her recovery has doctors and aphasia specialists optimistic.

Pelagie Beesen, head of the speech, language and hearing sciences department at the University of Arizona said Giffords can show improvement for years to come.

"I feel optimistic in terms of her continuing to get better I know that it's a lot of work and I know that some things will always be difficult, vulnerable," Beesen said.

Kris Conley who is Giffords' speech pathologist at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston said while the gains are not always huge they are moving forward.

"We have seen steady improvement," Conley told KOLD News 13.

She is showing so much improvement that she is sent weekly topics from her chief of staff in Tucson, Pia Carusone said.

Along with her Pathologist, Giffords leads discussions with through video conference with her staff.

"I've heard she is considered the most positive person in Congress, after knowing her I can see why, she is a pure delight," Conley said.

Giffords' character and strength have been revealed by this tragedy. Nurses who cared for her on Jan. 8 said she was fighting the second she was wheeled into the ICU.

"I don't know how to explain it but I just knew that she would be okay," Jessica LaPlant said.

LaPlant was the first nurse to care for Giffords when she was wheeled into the ICU at University of Arizona Medical Center.

Copyright 2012 KOLD. All rights reserved.


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