Gabby- “The Wonder of Gabrielle Giffords”



[Based on the audiobook:  “Gabby: A Story of Courage, Love and Resilience”]

There is nothing so wondrous as a person who beats the odds in every way, shape or form; who takes a shattered life and rises above, way beyond expectations!  Listening to the audiobook referenced above, two complete times (10 discs) regarding Gabby’s ordeal, her near assassination and recovery pushed many emotional buttons for this writer…

As a former medically  based speech-language pathologist working with brain injured patients; As a driven and inquisitive problem solving woman and someone who always strives to make a difference. As a former resident of Gabby’s beloved Arizona(However briefly-13 months)… and as a recipient  of an extremely lengthy medical history and hospital stays,  Gabby and LJ have much in  common.  This writer will attempt to summarize some of the more salient points and “give a taste” of this book.  Listening to it while driving, provided company, comfort, education on a variety of topics  and entertainment during an  otherwise mundane commute back and forth to work.  Mark Kelly, Gabby’s boyfriend turned husband does the majority of narration, with a special narrative  read by Gabby in the final chapter.

Prior to, during and after the fateful day of January 8, 2011, Mark and Gabby had a symbiotic relationship. They could anticipate each others needs and thoughts about almost everything.

Gabby’s overall progress was described as “nothing short of miraculous”.

  • She had a lot going for her that others in similar situations do not often have….  She was a member of Congress shot “in the line of duty” while involved at a Congress on Your Corner event and therefore entitled tov full medical –worker’s compensation benefits for five months of intensive in-patient Rehabilitation services and outpatient treatment (as opposed to the usual one month per year for the vast majority of brain-injured patients)
  • The trajectory of the bullet entered the left side of the brain affecting the opposite side of the body, damaging speech-language production, and exiting out the front, but not entering areas of the brain responsible for true memory deficits  or emotional-personality changes or impulsivity of the frontal lobe. Motor coordination was severely effected on her right side also. Essentially, the neurological network that was undamaged on the side of the brain would have to learn to form new pathways and take over for the damaged parts.
  • Her tenacious will and motivation to recover
  • Her good health before the shooting
  • Her pre-morbid(previous) intellectual skills
  • Her large network of supportive family and friends.

Topics Covered in the Book:

  • Childhood and family backgrounds
  • Gabby’s political life and her staff
  • Mark and his brother’s careers as  “non-twin astronauts”
  • Gabby & Mark’s courtship and long distance  marriage before the shooting
  • Their parent’s background sand upbringing – Many colorful stories…
  • Circumstances surrounding the shooting
  • Descriptions of all victims
  • Mark and mother Gloria’s life as primary caretakers of Gabby
  • Mark’s daughter’s, step-parent issues and a wonderful recognition of later love and appreciation by teenagers
  • Gabby’s Rehabilitation process
  • The politics of Gabby’s time in office and beyond
  • A historic voter by Gabby on the floor of Congress just months after the shooting
  • Frustration sand Eureka moments in “finding the right word to say  and initiating question son her own – Huge!  All part of the life of a non -fluent aphasic patient.
  • Ladyjustice thought it very strange that any mention of Daniel Hernandez, Jr. Gabby’s student  intern, former Upward Bound graduate and THE person who ultimately saved her life was conspicuously ABSENT…. When even minor players were discussed! WHY??
  • “The Shooter” was barely mentioned, rightfully so…for he deserves “no ink or airtime whatsoever” in this story

A brief  listing  of items having special meaning to the tapestry of Gabby- “to peak your I  interest”

  • Jewelry-  Gabe Zimmerman Bracelets ;the exchange of wedding rings
  • Language Triumphs-  Thumbs Up, Gabby’s First word(s); Her First Question, “Block of Time”
  • Music- “ Tucsooooon, Arizona” “Tomorrow” U2- “A Beautiful Day”
  • Communicating from Space- Phone and E-Mail…

Special Heroes and Painful Losses

  • Nine year old Christina-Taylor Green was bright with a passion for politics. She was the youngest victim. She was born on September, 11, 2001, the day of the  9-11 Twin Tower massive attacks on human lives in New York City. She died wanting to speak to Gabby at her “Congress on Your Corner” on January 8th, 2011. What can we possibly say??
  • Patricia Maisch was a bystander in the crowd who courageously grabbed the gun magazine away from the shooter as she lay next to him on the ground, helping  to save countless lives!

Gabby- “The Wonder of Gabrielle Giffords”

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