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Rep. Giffords reveals future plans in Diane Sawyer interview

November 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The public finally heard from Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Monday night, more than 10 months after she was shot in the head during a public event. The interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer was emotional, as Giffords discusses her future plans.

From the struggle to relearn simple words, to the strength of her marriage, Giffords offered the first look into her life after being shot in the head on Jan. 8.

Investigators said Jared Loughner, a mentally disturbed man with a gun, opened fire during a community event outside a Tucson grocery store. By the time the shooting ended, six people were dead and 13 were wounded, including the congresswoman, who was shot right through the left side of her head.

Giffords has no memory of that day.

"The bullet erased that morning and the day, and I even say to her, "Gone?" And she said, "The day is gone," Sawyer said.

Giffords, with her team of therapists, has been working to relearn how to walk and talk. Her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, videotaped the sessions to document the whole process.

"Gabrielle Giffords is too tough to let this beat her," Kelly said.

Sawyer's sit-down interview with the Giffords will shed more light on the recovery process and how much further the Arizona Democrat has to go.

When asked how she felt, Giffords responded, "Pretty good." When asked if the process is painful, she said, "It's difficult."

Video of her rehabilitation shows grueling days, as Giffords fights to re-learn simple words. And there's the difficulty of trying to get her brain to move the right side of her body. But what she thinks of as slow, tiny steps, experts describe as leaps and bounds.

"Her doctors said to me that her learning curve is phenomenal, that she learns in 40 minutes what it takes other people weeks, even months to learn," said Sawyer.

Plus, after an emotional return to Congress last August for the vote on the debt ceiling, Giffords shares her plans for returning to office.

"She loves her job, she loves Congress, but she made it clear to us that she knows how much more she has to get done and that she'll make her decision based on how far along she is," Sawyer said.

While Giffords may struggle to find words, she had little trouble expressing her love for Kelly. When asked what word she'd used to describe him, she said, "Brave."

"Thank you, that's what I think of when I think of you too," Kelly responded to her.

Doctors say one key part to Giffords' recovery has been a therapy technique that uses music. They say that singing or chanting can help patients with traumatic brain injuries essentially rewire their brains.

The Diane Sawyerexclusive, "Gabby and Mark: Courage and Hope," aired at 10 p.m. Monday on ABC7.

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