TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords road to recovery has her staff concerned on whether or not she'll be able to return to Congress. Pia Carusone, Giffords' Chief of Staff, told the Arizona Republic on Thursday her boss is having trouble "communicating" and if her progress were to slow down or stop she wouldn't be able to work in Washington.
Carusone's comments paint a clear picture of Giffords' true condition. It's the first time Giffords' staff has spoken about the real possibilities of what could happen down the road.
"Her words are back more and more now, but she's still using facial expressions as a way to express. Pointing. Gesturing," said Carusone.
Carusone said Giffords can express the basics of what she wants or needs. But, has trouble when it comes to expressing more complex thoughts that requires her to string more words together.
"When she is trying to come up with a word or a sentence and she's clearly struggling, putting everything she's got into it, and sometimes she's not successful," said Carusone. "When she is, there's a relief that comes across her face that she has found the word. But when she can't come up with that, it is absolute frustration."
Endeavour's launch last month also gave 9 On Your Side a glimpse of Giffords true condition.
Giffords' staff released blurry footage taken from a distance that showed the Congresswoman gingerly climbing the stairs of a NASA jet when she went to Florida to see her husband, Commander Mark Kelly, launch into space.
At the time, Carusone also revealed to 9 On your Side that Giffords is able to write.
KGUN9 News Reporter Steve Nuñez asked Carusone: "Did she write the note that she sent with him (Kelly)?"
"She wrote the note, yes," said Carusone.
Nuñez asked: "Do you know what it said?"
"I don't," responded Carusone.
But Carusone did confirm to KGUN9 News that Gifford's is talking more. However, she admitted Giffords used two words to describe Endeavour's lift off.
"And I looked down at her, to me, I can't remember what I said but something like wow and she said "good stuff" sort of in the sense of like wow," said Carusone.
Despite her progress, five months after a bullet pierced the left side of her brain, Carusone told the Arizona Republic staff members are also having a difficult time, emotionally, dealing with the loss of a friend and colleague, Gabe Zimmerman.
During the January 8th shooting, accused gunman Jared Loughner killed six people and wounded 13 others including the Congresswoman.
Carusone is now calling for renewed hope that Giffords quality of life, as it stands today, does not reach its plateau.
9 On Your Side asked the Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Rogers if he has a plan to transition forward with or without Giffords.
"That's way too soon to even speculate about something like that," said Rogers. "I think our hopes and prayers are with her and I think she's going to recover fully well enough to be a great Congresswoman as she was before."
The good news, Giffords is "close to normal" when it comes to comprehending what's being said to her.
As for the legal timetable on when Giffords has to return to work? A decision does not have to be made until May 2012, when petitions are due for re-election.
Doctors have said all along, it takes 12 to 14 months before they'll be able to determine how well Giffords will be able to walk and talk again.
In: Regional News
Tags: US, Congressional, representitive, Gabrielle, Giffords, having, trouble, communicating, return, to, office, unknown, Tucson, Pima, County, Arizona, No, Representation, Still, better, then, McCain,
Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States (load item map)
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