And then there are new words. Words that Congresswoman Gabby Gifford is learning every day.

There are things I want to blog about and issues I want to address, but they pale in comparison to THIS report that I just watched. Or at least I'd like to pause for a day and honor this couple by pondering the miracle of this story.

H/T to Mistah Charley for providing the link. Each section is well worth watching. I was amazed and in awe of this brave, beautiful young woman, her brilliant and dedicated husband, and the family and community that has supported them through this long ordeal since last January. 

It feels wrong to make a crack about "surveyor's marks" right now, so I won't. Though I guess I just did. Perhaps instead I need to remember those who died and the true miracle of this woman's survival and the people who have dedicated their lives to professions that made it possible. 



11/15/2011 19:50

Laura, you're so right- there are no words. We watched this as a family, and you could hear a pin drop, no one wanted to miss a second.

Later, as we discussed it, we were each inspired by Gabby in different ways. My daughter was moved to tears by her stepdaughter's letter and words. I was inspired (and laughed) when Gabby parroted back the accolades her proud mother spoke of in the clip she was watching (who can't relate?) My husband was choking back tears trying to express Mark's love for his wife in action.
The real "Gabby" shines through, even though she has a hard climb ahead, she's a living miracle and inspiration.

11/15/2011 20:22

Highly relevant: Norman Doidge's book The Brain That Changes Itself.


11/16/2011 08:19

Well, my eyes and cheeks are wet!

Gabby is my congresswoman. The atmosphere in Tucson was toxic before the election, with misleading attack posters put up everywhere about her. The other side was extremely loud and I actually felt frightened when I encountered some of them. Nevertheless, before the election I campaigned for her, going door to door. And she won!

Although the assassin is obviously a disturbed individual, his choice of target was encouraged by all the hate talk in the campaigns of Jesse Kelly and Sarah Palin.

I relate to Gabby on another level. I was injured in late December, and had only been out of the hospital a day when she was shot. My year has also been filled with pain, physical therapy and relearning many basics such as walking. I was fortunate in that my brain was not affected.

11/16/2011 09:28

Victoria - sending my best to your recovery! Your experience (and proximity) give you a special vantage point to Gabby's life. Thank you very much for painting the Tucson landscape before the shooting.

I heard this story on NPR yesterday, and I admit, I was a little annoyed. I get frustrated when simple, feel-good stories are made out of things that are DIFFICULT and HARD.

I admit I even resented a bit her level of health care and therapy-- when so many go without even a fraction of what she has had.

But when I read on IM that Gabby's husband had discussed the crosshair map and Sarah Palin-- well! that to me, was very very brave. He dares to mention the elephant in the room.

Then I could see the --promotion-- of Gabby's recovery as something larger and more important. It is a story for national, as well, as personal, courage. Gabby was a victim we can watch in transformation become a Survivor-- in spite of the destructive forces in our country.

Remember James Brady?

Laura Novak
11/16/2011 10:15

Thank you, Victoria, for providing us with some commentary on Tucson and reminding us of the very volatile and heated climate around her election. And of course for sharing your own story of massive injuries and survival. We have an amazing group of commenters here who have lived lives and experienced so much. That you all share it is a blessing to us all.

I think Kelly's dedication to his wife is beyond compare. The dedication of the professionals to Gabby, and others like her, really tug at my heart. And I say that as the mother of a boy who has been in just about every pediatric specialty known to man (save a few critical ones, thank the universe.)

But yes, what happens to those who have no safety net or love or support. that also tugs at my heart.

11/16/2011 18:45

... and to those with no financial resources?

A dear friend of mine suffered a head injury twenty years ago. Though she still can barely walk or talk, her personality is intact. Like Rep. Giffords she has an impish sparkle in her beautiful eyes, and what I hear from her more than words is her laugh.

My friend is fortunate to have both a dedicated, loving family to care for her and the financial resources to live at home, in a fully accessible environment. But so many do not have those resources. And while people (including my own former governor) may mock my beloved Massachusetts for its tax rate, it affords us the resources to provide support to those who need assistance but are not blessed with infinite financial resources.

May Rep. Giffords continue on the road to good health and full function, and may she or her amazing husband run for Congress in the next election.

Laura Novak
11/16/2011 19:14

Very valid point, Up. It has a lot to do with the progress of a person and their narrative. And of having friends like you :-)

11/16/2011 20:47

V ictoria, my heart goes out to you. I've had several failed back surgeries, and I've always considered myself lucky to have a support system, family, and friends and to have regained the ability to walk, but they've left me with chronic irretractable pain. I think that a person's attitude and outlook on life affects how they cope with these obsticles.
My problems pale in comparison to what Gabby has been enduring, and overcoming in ten short months.
I can't imagine being one of her constituants and having to endure such a horrible tragedy and it's aftermath while recovering from a life altering event myself. We're stronger than we allow ourselves to believe we are, your story proves that.

11/17/2011 05:18

Thanks to everyone for the sympathy! I was in Europe when it happened, which is where I live, although I'm registered to vote and usually spend several months each year in Tucson. It was a stupid skiing accident (no heroism or service there) with a compression fracture to a vertebra and a broken wrist. Although it was amazingly painful back then, I'm mostly recovered, with the exception of my left hand which is very stiff - but I am right handed. I can type and I can drive now. I can't play the piano, which is a little sad for me, but I was never very good.

And as for courage, I had tremendous help from everyone - family, neighbors, friends and health professionals - and what can you do but suffer through it? Besides, as you feel yourself starting to get better you are generally in a good mood. There are so many little stages. When I first turned on my side. When I got my left sock on by myself. When I got my right one on. The first time I got out of bed by myself in the hospital and staggered to the little toilet across the room. I was so proud! When I could sit up at the table for meals. When you get to the point where you can start reducing the pain meds - then when you can stop them altogether, and later even put them away instead of having them on the bedside table or with you at all times just in case.

I can walk and I can talk - no brain injury. Gabby's situation is obviously much more dire.

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