Friday, January 6, 2012

The Gabby Giffords Book Review

I read this book for two reasons. First, it’s a great story survival story of recovering from a gunshot wound to the head. Secondly, I feel that I have some kind of psychic connection with Gabby as we both have had significant pieces of our skulls surgically removed, albeit for different reasons, at very similar times.  And then we both had our cranioplaties - insertion of a prosthetic skull - performed the same week.

I am happy to report that the book works on many levels. It's an interesting story of the lives of two highly accomplished individuals - Congresswoman Giffords and Astronaut Mark Kelly. And it’s also an honest portrayal of the trials of rehab and recovery.

The book makes it clear that Gabby's injuries were horrifically acute, and her recovery has been slow and painful. It reports that she has lost 50% of her vision; that her right hand and arm are less than functional; that she wears a brace; and that she has continues to undergo rehab for aphasia (an impairment of language ability). Here’s a link to her Diane Sawyer interview which gives a good sense of her aphasia:

Given where she started from, her recovery is nothing but miraculous.

At times I yearned for a bit more about Gabby and a bit less about Mark, but she's not really ready to talk or write much. And it’s clear that he loves her as you can see from this U2 video:

Importantly, the emotional storyline feels real and heartfelt. Said differently, if you don’t at least mentally tear up during some section of the book, it’s time to get your oil checked, because you’re not human.

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