Monday, June 13, 2011

First Photos of Gabrielle Giffords Emerge on Facebook


Just a week after Tucson, Ariz., gunman Jared Loughner was found incompetent to stand trial for the Jan. 8 shooting spree which left six dead and 13 wounded, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot at point-blank range, has released the first photos on Facebook.

Giffords was hosting a "Congress in Your Corner" at a Tucson Safeway when a gunman came out of the crowd and sprayed bullets into the crowd and shot the congresswoman in the head. Six people died in the attack, including U.S. District Judge John Roll, an aide to Giffords, three elderly people and 9-year-old Christina Green.

Giffords' recovery is nothing short of miraculous. In fact, reporters at the scene of the shooting initially reported Giffords had died in the attack. No one expected the congresswoman to survive such a severe injury. But survive she did and she's been making amazing progress ever since.

After the accident, doctors had to remove part of Giffords' skull to make room for the swelling in her brain. In order to protect her brain from further injury, Giffords has had to wear a helmet. She had surgery in May to replace portions of the skull with plastic. Since that surgery, she has not had to wear the helmet.

My daughter's seventh grade yearbook just came out. In the current news section were photos of Giffords. The students talked about the event regularly and stayed abreast of the situation via "CNN Student News." Many children and parents were horribly traumatized by the shooting. One of their own, Christina Green, was killed in the attack.

That makes it very personal for children. My own daughter was on her student council, like Christina was. We've always taken our children to rallies and political events. Like me, most every parent was probably thinking, about Christina Green. "That could have been my child."

No photos have been released to the public in the five months that Giffords has been in recovery. We keep hearing that she is making progress, but seeing her smiling face has been a bright spot. I was wondering if Giffords would have facial injuries and hoping she would be spared that.

She appears to be healing beautifully. Those close to Giffords reports she still has trouble stringing words and sentences together. That will be due to aphasia, a post-trauma communication problem that affects most all gunshot and head injury victims. But they say she sings and smiles and interacts well.

I think the nation needed to see these photos to help us heal, too. When I showed my daughter, she said, "Oh she looks so pretty and happy!" Whether the gunman ever stands trial, at least we can cheer with Gabrielle Giffords, her husband and family for her recovery.

Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben writes from 22 years parenting four children and 25 years teaching K-8, special needs, adult education and home-school.

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