PHOENIX — The doctor for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Tuesday he hopes the wounded congresswoman can make enough progress to attend her husband's space launch in two months, describing it as a goal to work toward as many in Arizona paused to mark one month since she was shot at a political event.
The space shuttle Endeavor will leave April 19 for a two-week mission to the International Space Station, and astronaut Mark Kelly announced last week that he'll be aboard and expects his wife, who was shot in the head, to see him off.
Physician Gerard Francisco said doctors would have to make decisions on a variety of medical issues for that to happen, including whether Giffords can fly to Cape Canaveral, Fla., how much assistance she would need, and how much noise she can tolerate.
"It's too early to say. It's only early February," said Francisco, the head of Giffords' rehabilitation team at TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston. He said Giffords is doing "very well," but wouldn't provide details, including whether she is able to speak or if she's been told about the attack.
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In a Facebook post Tuesday, Kelly wrote it's hard to believe only one month had passed.
"The doctors say she is recovering at lightning speed considering her injury, but they aren't kidding when they say this is a marathon process," he said. "There are encouraging signs every day, though."
Kelly wrote that Giffords has her appetite back and is enjoying three meals a day "even though it's hospital food."
He said he wants the families of the other victims and the entire Tucson community to know that his wife "will soon stand by your side to mourn this tragedy and learn how we can heal."
By appearances, Tucson has largely returned to normal since six people were killed Jan. 8 outside a supermarket. Massive makeshift memorials to the victims have been dismantled and boxed in locked storage for a future permanent memorial. The grocery store has reopened.
But the 13 survivors are struggling with their injuries and the emotional scars.
"People come up and hug me and I just start bawling," said Susan Hileman, 58, who survived three gunshot wounds. "And they feel so bad for making me cry, but my husband says, 'It's all right, it's what we do these days.' "