Just over five months after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot and critically wounded at a congressional event in Tucson, the public got its first glimpse of the Arizona congresswoman via her Facebook page Sunday. Her office posted two clear photos of a smiling Giffords posing outside her Houston rehabilitation hospital last month.
The photos were taken May 17, the day after Giffords attended the launch of the final mission of the space shuttle Endeavour, commanded by her husband, Mark Kelly. The shots depict how far the injured Democratic lawmaker has come physically since she was shot at point blank range in the head during January's deadly shooting.
While her hair has been trimmed short, there are few obvious signs of the trauma she suffered, aside from a tracheotomy scar on her throat.
In one photo, she is looking directly into the camera, and in another, she is sitting next to her mother, Gloria.
The photos were released as Giffords might soon be released from the rehabilitation hospital. Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff, told the Associated Press Friday her boss could exit the hospital by the end of the month. She said the lawmaker's family is considering "the next step" but that Giffords wants to return to Arizona, where she is likely to continue outpatient care.
As The Ticket previously reported, Carusone offered a frank update of her boss's condition last week, acknowledging Giffords has improved but still has trouble communicating. She said it's unclear when--or if--her boss will return to Congress.
Asked for a "blunt assessment" of Giffords condition, Carusone, replied, "She's living. She's alive. But if she were to plateau today, and this was as far as she gets, it would not be nearly the quality of life she had before."
(Photos of Giffords: P.K. Weis/Giffords office via AP)