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A Case Study In The Long Road After Brain Injury: Gabrielle Giffords’ New Book

The book by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’  husband is set for release Nov. 15, and it promises to offer a frank look at the difficulties of recovering from traumatic brain injury. That includes the physical, mental and emotional challenges of living after being shot through the brain.

The Associated Press got an advance copy of the book, “Gabby: A Study of Courage and Hope,” which was written by Giffords’ husband, ex-astronaut Mark Kelly. The rest of the media have picked up, or expanded on, AP’s story about the book, including the New York Post.

Giffords was shot in a horrific attack at a Tucson grocery store that left six people dead Jan. 8, including federal Judge John Roll.

According to the book, when Kelly first saw Giffords after the shooting she was in the hospital in a coma, her head shaved and bandaged. He told her that she would survive and that he loved her.

It wasn’t until March 12 that Kelly was able to explain exactly what had happened to her, and the other victims, according to the book.

At that time Kelly asked Giffords if she remembered being shot, and her reply was yes, and that she recalled being “Shot,  shocked, scary.” That same day, Giffords told her that six people had been killed during the terrible attack, and she became upset and wept.

Six months later she was told exaclty who died, even after Kelly warned her it would be difficult for her to hear because she knew two of the victims. It was then learned that her friend Roll and one of her staff members were among the dead, according to the book.

Like many people who suffer TBI, Giffords had to be taught to walk and talk again. That resulted in some almost comic moments. When George H.W. Bush visited her at the Houston hospital where she was undergoing rehab, the only word Giffords could say was “chicken.”

It appears that the book will illustrate the ups and downs of recovering from TBI, that a step forward can end up with two steps backward. The American public, hopefully, will get a lesson in brain injury.

According to the Post, the last chapter of the book, “Gabby’s Voice,” was written by Giffords herself.  It is one page and  includes short sentences, including one regarding her future in Congress.    

Here is one of them: “I will get stronger. I will return.”

You go girl

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