""Gabby Giffords, whose political career was cut short when she was seriously wounded by a gunman in Phoenix on Jan. 8, 2011, took the stage at the Democratic National Convention on September 6, 2012 to lead the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance." Ms. Giffords showed true grit in doing so, and puts persons with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) in center stage.
Gabby's Pledge (on YouTube)
Julia Fox Garrison had a promising career in the computer industry when she suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and paralyzing stroke. While recovering, she realized that she had a lot to say. Her book, "Don't Leave Me This Way" is worth reading for anyone with an interest in TBI or Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).
Here are Julia's comments on Gabby's pledge:
"I watched Gabby Giffords deliver the Pledge of Allegiance with a mixture of awe and admiration. This was not just an example of one person's will to overcome, for Gabby has become a role model to the nation that whatever adversity we face, we must never give up or give in to the obstacles placed before us. Think of all the anonymous Gabbys out there persevering in the face of life-altering hardships.
I regularly encounter survivors at brain injury conferences who educate and inspire me by their resolve to get better. They all demonstrate an ability to reach deep within themselves to find the strength to continue the struggle to improve and recover. But they are not alone, for they share the struggle with a support network of family, friends, caregivers, and therapists who encourage and motivate the survivors. Those in the network have their own affliction by association and share a diagnosis of helplessness.
As I watched the broadcast, I couldn't help but contrast Gabby's return to the public spotlight with Dick Clark returning to his New Year's Eve special following his stroke. I recall the public discourse being divided, on the one hand admiring his courage, and on the other, wishing he had not returned to the airwaves. I, of course, aligned with the former, but I understand the latter position. People with no direct link to brain injury don't know what to expect or how react, and so they do not want to be confronted with its impact. The difference, of course, in these two cases is that Dick Clark's speech was seriously impaired, while Gabby spoke forcefully and deliberately, thus gaining the love and admiration of the audience. Clearly, she had worked long and hard to master her delivery. Also remarkable is that Gabby is only some 20 months out from her injury.
The road to recovery from brain injury is slow and arduous, often measured in baby steps. Day to day, we, as survivors, feel like we aren't making any progress, but then we compare where we are to where we were at the time of injury and we realize that all those baby steps add up to a leap. The hard part is realizing and accepting that no matter how much we recover, we will not be the same person we were. How could we be, after what we've been through; we, like Gabby, are so much wiser, stronger, more resilient, and grateful to still be here, making a positive impact."
You my contact Julia at JFG Email.