The first photos of Representative Gabrielle Giffords since she was shot in the head in January in Tucson were released early Sunday on her Facebook page, the AP reports. In the above photo, she is sitting next to her mother, Gloria Giffords, on the hospital lawn, and in the photo below, she is smiling directly into the camera.
Last month doctors repaired Giffords’ skull, freeing her from a protective helmet, and these photos show few outward signs of the gunshot wound. Giffords has made remarkable strides since the shooting, including relearning how to walk and talk, although she still struggles to put sentences together. Her chief of staff told The Arizona Republic that she relies primarily on facial expressions and hand gestures to communicate.
“She is borrowing upon other ways of communicating. Her words are back more and more now, but she’s still using facial expressions as a way to express. Pointing. Gesturing,” Ms. Carusone said. ”Add it all together and she’s able to express the basics of what she wants or needs. But, when it comes to a bigger and more complex thought that requires words, that’s where she’s had the trouble.”
The photographer, P.K. Weis of SouthwestPhotoBank.com, knew Giffords for more than a decade. He released a statement with the photos:
Any photographer in the country would have loved the opportunity to take these pictures and I was delighted to be asked. I’ve known Gabby for more than a decade and her staff asked me to do it because she wanted someone who was not a stranger – someone she would be comfortable around... She was glad to see me, was in a good mood, smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy the experience. I certainly did, too.