Gabby Giffords in her own words: ‘I want to get back to work’

Washington Bureau

The progress Gabby Giffords has made in her recovery from a close-range gun shot to the head is evident in a new book and television special (see video below). But it’s also clear she still has a long way to go.

“Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope” documents the Arizona congresswoman’s recovery from a Jan. 8 shooting at a constituent event outside a supermarket in Tucson. It is written primarily by her husband, retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, but the final chapter is Giffords’ writing alone.

“Hope and faith. You have to have hope and faith,” she wrote.

The chapter is only a single page, a series of short sentences. She wrotethat everything she does “reminds me of that horrible day,” and that it is “hard to sleep at night.”

“Lot of people died. Six wonderful people. So many people hurt. Always connected to them,” she wrote.

The final line: “I will get stronger. I will return.”

But will she return to Congress?

For the last 10 months, Giffords has been working through intense physical therapy in Texas. Her doctors have hailed her progress, particularly as it relates to her speech.

The bullet passed near two key sections of Giffords’ brain, one that controls speech and the other the ability to understand language. According to an ABC News special that aired Monday, it’s still unclear how much damage was done.

When Giffords did speak in the special, it was only in short phrases. At one point, when Diane Sawyer asked Giffords if she will run again, the Democratic lawmaker struggled to find the words she’s looking for.

“No. Better,” she said at first. Her husband interjects, “She wants to get better.”

“So you think to myself, I’ll go back to Congress if I get better,” Sawyer asked. “Yes, yes, yes,” Giffords said.

On Tuesday, Giffords’ office released a one-minute recording of Giffords speaking directly to her constituents. The message, like her speech in the ABC special, is halting. The recording appears to be a series of phrases spliced together.

“There is lot to say. I will speak better. I want to get back to work,” she said. “Representing Arizona is my honor. My staff is there to help you. They keep me informed on your behalf. I miss you. I miss home. I’ll see you real soon.”

The filing deadline, should Giffords choose to seek a fourth term, would be in May. Kelly said he would support any decision his wife makes.

“I’ll do my best to protect her in whatever she chooses to do,” he told ABC.

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