Feature

The limits of Giffords’ ‘miracle’

Giffords may yet make a full recovery, but her survival itself is a miracle; it would be a tragedy if we all come to expect too much, said Chris Rovzar in New York.

Chris RovzarNew York

Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery from an assassin’s bullet to the head may be encouraging thus far, said Chris Rovzar, but unrealistic expectations “will almost surely lead to disappointment.” The media has seized upon every positive report as evidence of “a miracle,” burying the hedgings of doctors deep in their stories. It’s easy for the millions praying for Giffords to imagine her back in Congress a few months from now, just as perky and adorable as she appears in the stock photos that run with every story. But real life is not a movie.

The reality is that Giffords was shot through the brain, and the damage will almost certainly cause speech, movement, and other deficits; there will be cosmetic damage as well. Seeing her even halfway through the long, difficult rehabilitation process “could come as a shock.” Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, who survived being shot in the head, struggled for years with “slurred speech, memory loss, and partial paralysis.”

Giffords may yet make a full recovery, but her survival itself is a miracle; it would be a tragedy if we all come to expect too much.

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