Doctors on Giffords’s progress: “We’re wise to acknowledge miracles”

posted at 8:33 pm on January 13, 2011 by Allahpundit

The perfect way to flush out a week’s worth of bad vibes. With every new hopeful prognosis, I feel excitement and happiness about her recovery yet nervous that there must, as a purely scientific matter, be some sort of bad news to come. Has there ever been a case of someone surviving a shot to the head, back to front, through and through, and recovering with only minor disabilities? I keep wanting them to say, “She’s going to be fine,” while knowing that they’ll never quite be able to say that, even if her rehabilitation proceeds on its current miraculous path. Her husband reportedly told the doctors, though, that “she’ll be walking in a few weeks, you’ll see.” Imagine.

If you missed it in Headlines earlier, Tapper has the explanation (echoed below by her doctors) for why Obama et al. said yesterday that she opened her eyes for the first time when the medical team had claimed she opened them a few days ago. Very simply: When she opened them for her doctors, it was because they were stimulating her eyes somehow to see if there was any reaction. When she opened them yesterday — just four days after being shot — it was willingly, in response to her friends’ voices. In other words, somehow, her mind is beginning to stir. Again, imagine.

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Incredible. Gaia works in mysterious ways. *runs*

Bishop on January 13, 2011 at 8:38 PM

Much like the climate, there are many things we don’t know and probably never will.

SouthernGent on January 13, 2011 at 8:41 PM

I don’t question miracles…they happen all the time, everyday right in front of us, yet we rarely notice them or remember them. According to national stats, only 5% of gunshot-to-head victims survive. Which makes Gifford one of the lucky, miraculous few.

As always, prayers for her quick and full recovery.

JetBoy on January 13, 2011 at 8:41 PM

Has there ever been a case of someone surviving a shot to the head, back to front, through and through, and recovering with only minor disabilities?

James Brady is the only one I can think of that comes close, but it took a long time for him to do so.

Dusty on January 13, 2011 at 8:43 PM

I pray she improves every day. Hang in there and get better.

ted c on January 13, 2011 at 8:43 PM

I know it’s such a miserable cliche, but, dammit…you GO, girl!

tree hugging sister on January 13, 2011 at 8:45 PM

i treated a little girl once who shot herself in the head with her father’s .22 pistol. She was hit in the forehead and had frontal lobe and motor cortex damage. If you met the girl, you wouldn’t know what happened unless you saw the scar (small) and saw that she had a slight gait deficit. It was a pretty amazing recovery.

ted c on January 13, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Has there ever been a case of someone surviving a shot to the head, back to front, through and through, and recovering with only minor disabilities?

Yes, if the bullet didn’t go too deep in the brain. This happened to a fellow rancher down the road from me, a very similar trajectory and caliber, the bullet fired by an illegal in a firefight on his ranch. It still took him about a year to come back fully, but today he could kick anybody’s ass in this or any other bar.

I’m praying that Congesswoman Giffords has a similar outcome.

TXUS on January 13, 2011 at 8:47 PM

I’m more of a “chance” guy, but good for her nonetheless.

blatantblue on January 13, 2011 at 8:49 PM

The human brain has incredible regenerative capacity as it reroutes and reconnects in almost infinite complexity. We’re just beginning to barely understand what’s going on in there and the miracles can be truly dazzling, especially in a young person of active mentality.
This is going to be something to behold!

Lew on January 13, 2011 at 8:50 PM

i treated a little girl once who shot herself in the head with her father’s .22 pistol. She was hit in the forehead and had frontal lobe and motor cortex damage. If you met the girl, you wouldn’t know what happened unless you saw the scar (small) and saw that she had a slight gait deficit. It was a pretty amazing recovery.

ted c on January 13, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Easier to absorb trauma while the brain is still growing.

the_nile on January 13, 2011 at 8:51 PM

i treated a little girl once who shot herself in the head with her father’s .22 pistol.

ted c on January 13, 2011 at 8:45 PM

ted c:Wow Ted,that must of been something else to go
through.

Question,I always heard that small calibre was worse
due to the fact,that it can raddle around the skull,
as compared to larger,more high-powered calibres!:)

canopfor on January 13, 2011 at 8:51 PM

My wife and I still can’t believe it when we talk about it. You always see the kind of energy a bullet is able to impart on any object whenever you watch a show on Discovery or the Science Channel, and their showing the super slow-mo shot of a bullet passing through a watermelon. It’s devastating! Then you hear a story like this and you simply can’t figure out how it wasn‘t fatal almost immediately. It’s amazing. It is a miracle.

Weight of Glory on January 13, 2011 at 8:52 PM

Me thinks,Miracle!!!

canopfor on January 13, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Has there ever been a case of someone surviving a shot to the head, back to front, through and through, and recovering with only minor disabilities?

There was a British soldier shot in the head, bullet went in over his left eye, deflected off the top of his goggles on the way in and then whacked out the rear side of his head.

He survived though his head is misshapen because the bullet blew off a bunch of bone. The story was in the UK Sun online but I can’t find it again.

Bishop on January 13, 2011 at 8:55 PM

I know we have all been storming heaven with our prayers. This is great news.

katy the mean old lady on January 13, 2011 at 8:58 PM

Question,I always heard that small calibre was worse
due to the fact,that it can raddle around the skull,
as compared to larger,more high-powered calibres!:)

canopfor on January 13, 2011 at 8:51 PM

hmm. i don’t know about that.

ted c on January 13, 2011 at 8:59 PM

I have seen weird and wacky X-rays not made up on hospital ER shows with head injuries. There was even one instance where there was a metal piece quite long and the dude was inside the car in front of the hospital. One wrong move and he would have died.

Imagine the dilemma of the ER staff on how to get the guy out of the car, with that huge piece of metal on his head and not kill him right there.

I keep her in my prayers, present her to our Lord and Blessed Virgin Mary for a great recovery. I tweeted a question to Tapper dunno if he could answer but I don’t know if he’s still here:

1-Was the memorial broadcasted to the ISS?
2-I am of course, concerned at the possible effects of any drawbacks (I went through several myself with TSS) not because she can’t physically, I am more concerned at her memories before she was hit>I hope her brain, as a mechanism of protection, is avoiding such a shock that could affect her recovery.
3-She has one heck of a guardian angel!!!!

ProudPalinFan on January 13, 2011 at 8:59 PM

I hope all who were shot and survived get well soon. As for the miracles comment, how is it a miracle if she was given a 100% chance of surviving? No matter, I’m just glad she’s doing better.

Christien on January 13, 2011 at 9:01 PM

Doctors said on Tuesday it was the other way (front to back).

And, yes, we are witnessing a miracle.

jennifernaz on January 13, 2011 at 9:03 PM

Has there ever been a case of someone surviving a shot to the head, back to front, through and through, and recovering with only minor disabilities?

Absolutely, without question. It happens more often than you might think.

She is very fortunate, and it could have been much worse. But if you’re looking for a miracle to bring you back to the Church, this isn’t it. Because you might feel cheated later on.

Of course, I don’t want to stand in your way of returning to the Church either. ;-)

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Praise be to Obama. For he is the bringer of miracles.

The Notorious G.O.P on January 13, 2011 at 9:05 PM

Question,I always heard that small calibre was worse
due to the fact,that it can raddle around the skull,
as compared to larger,more high-powered calibres!:)

canopfor on January 13, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Sorry, that’s just not true. But that meme is so embedded in popular culture, that there is no way to fight it in the eyes of someone who believes it.

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:05 PM

Good news indeed!

TN Mom on January 13, 2011 at 9:07 PM

Faith and science are perfectly compatible under a just and loving creator. When we are pleased by something inexplicable, we call it a miracle. But that ignores the countless mysteries that delight or discourage us that elude our limited understanding.

Terrie on January 13, 2011 at 9:07 PM

As for the miracles comment, how is it a miracle if she was given a 100% chance of surviving? No matter, I’m just glad she’s doing better.

Christien on January 13, 2011 at 9:01 PM

That is the supposed miracle. People who are shot in the head shouldn’t be given a 100% chance of surviving. They especially shouldn’t be able to open their eyes on their own or understand English.

Esthier on January 13, 2011 at 9:09 PM

In all things give thanks.

darwin-t on January 13, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Sorry, you’re treatment is no longer cost effective. But we hear that there are some important breakthroughs being done by “miracles”. You might want to pursue that course of treatment.

- Future Obamacare Death-Panel

red winger on January 13, 2011 at 9:10 PM

The medical team should give themselves several pats on the back. There was a lot of luck involved here, but they made this happen.

jimdemint2012 on January 13, 2011 at 9:12 PM

By the way. Am I the only one who is sick of the word “hero” being thrown around all too often when stuff like this happens? You would think that staffer of giffords jumped in front of her and took a bullet for her. He did what any sane person would do. How is that heroic? Everytime something like this happens people use the word “hero” way too liberally.

The Notorious G.O.P on January 13, 2011 at 9:12 PM

mir·a·cle
[ mírrək'l ]
To hear the pronunciation, install Silverlight
mir·a·cles Plural
NOUN
1.
act of God: an event that appears to be contrary to the laws of nature and is regarded as an act of God
2.
amazing event: an event or action that is amazing, extraordinary, or unexpected
“It’ll be a miracle if we get there on time.”
3.
marvelous example: something admired as a marvelous creation or example of a particular type of science or skill
“a miracle of modern engineering”

ted c on January 13, 2011 at 9:14 PM

He did what any sane person would do. How is that heroic? Everytime something like this happens people use the word “hero” way too liberally.

The Notorious G.O.P on January 13, 2011 at 9:12 PM

He’ll still get some sort of Presidential award/medal and a citation from the Congress, bank on it.

darwin-t on January 13, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Question,I always heard that small calibre was worse
due to the fact,that it can raddle around the skull,
as compared to larger,more high-powered calibres!:)

Would you rather be shot in the head by a .22lr or a .50bmg?

Bishop on January 13, 2011 at 9:15 PM

The Notorious G.O.P on January 13, 2011 at 9:12 PM

I believe he’s a hero. In the midst of chaos, he kept his mind and render caring and effective aid, maybe even under fire around him. He apparently applied and maintained pressure to her wounds, without such, she may have perished. She was on the scene for ~33 minutes. I saw him with his hand on her as they wheeled her to the bird. The paramedic either allowed him to maintain it, or he refused to release it. He did what was needed for her, when she needed it.

heroic.

ted c on January 13, 2011 at 9:17 PM

Thank you God.

gophergirl on January 13, 2011 at 9:17 PM

My wife and I still can’t believe it when we talk about it. You always see the kind of energy a bullet is able to impart on any object whenever you watch a show on Discovery or the Science Channel, and their showing the super slow-mo shot of a bullet passing through a watermelon. It’s devastating! Then you hear a story like this and you simply can’t figure out how it wasn‘t fatal almost immediately. It’s amazing. It is a miracle.

Weight of Glory on January 13, 2011 at 8:52 PM

I mentioned in another thread that I suspect she was shot with target ammo (FMJ) rather than defensive hollowpoints. Had she been shot with a hollowpoint at close range, the damage would have more closely resembled those watermelon shots you’ve seen on television. However, even with crappy full metal jackets, that she isn’t dead is indeed a miracle.

flyfisher on January 13, 2011 at 9:19 PM

By the way. Am I the only one who is sick of the word “hero” being thrown around all too often when stuff like this happens? You would think that staffer of giffords jumped in front of her and took a bullet for her. He did what any sane person would do. How is that heroic? Everytime something like this happens people use the word “hero” way too liberally.

The Notorious G.O.P on January 13, 2011 at 9:12 PM

It seems to me the instinct of most people would be to run like hell and protect yourself. He stayed at the scene in the midst of chaos and confusion and attended to another person’s injuries. He stayed level-headed under intense pressure. I don’t know. I think he definitely deserves some accolades.

jennifernaz on January 13, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Sorry, you’re treatment is no longer cost effective. But we hear that there are some important breakthroughs being done by “miracles”. You might want to pursue that course of treatment.

– Future Obamacare Death-Panel

red winger on January 13, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Most excellent!

marinetbryant on January 13, 2011 at 9:21 PM

He did what any sane person would do. How is that heroic? Everytime something like this happens people use the word “hero” way too liberally.

The Notorious G.O.P on January 13, 2011 at 9:12 PM

You really think anyone would just do that?

I’m not so optimistic.

blatantblue on January 13, 2011 at 9:21 PM

ted c on January 13, 2011 at 9:14 PM

ted c has a good point with the definition.

In one way, a baby being born is not a miracle. It is extremely common, and with modern medicine, the vast majority of them are successful. So it fails the test of definition 1 and 2. However, by definition 3, yes the birth of a baby is a miracle. And if the definition from the dictionary isn’t enough, the testimony of the parents should suffice.

I think Gabrielle’s recovery is similar. It isn’t contrary to the laws of nature/statistics/probability. (Defintion 1 and 2). So in that respect, it isn’t a miracle at all.

However, to see a person brought out of darkness, and into the light, from death to life, from insenibility to human consciousness…yeah I’ll conceed that that will inspire miraculous feelings. I’ll call it a miracle in that respect.

It certainly is a great thing.

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:25 PM

I mentioned in another thread that I suspect she was shot with target ammo (FMJ) rather than defensive hollowpoints. Had she been shot with a hollowpoint at close range, the damage would have more closely resembled those watermelon shots you’ve seen on television. However, even with crappy full metal jackets, that she isn’t dead is indeed a miracle.

flyfisher on January 13, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Good point. I suspect he bought FMJ. Why? FMJ is a heck of a lot cheaper than hollow points. He doesn’t have any gun background as far as I know, so he probably just bought the cheap ammo without giving it much consideration.

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:31 PM

Praying for a rapid, “miraculously” full recovery. This is encouraging.

ReformedAndDangerous on January 13, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Meanwhile, since her being shot, dozens, if not hundreds of Americans, have been killed by Mexicans illegally in the United States, but she is much more important as every one knows that a regular American citizen is not worth even 3/5,000 of a member of congress.

Luka on January 13, 2011 at 9:37 PM

I mentioned in another thread that I suspect she was shot with target ammo (FMJ) rather than defensive hollowpoints. Had she been shot with a hollowpoint at close range, the damage would have more closely resembled those watermelon shots you’ve seen on television. However, even with crappy full metal jackets, that she isn’t dead is indeed a miracle.

flyfisher on January 13, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Good point. I suspect he bought FMJ. Why? FMJ is a heck of a lot cheaper than hollow points. He doesn’t have any gun background as far as I know, so he probably just bought the cheap ammo without giving it much consideration.

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:31 PM

Yep. He supposedly bought the ammo at Wal-Mart and they mostly stock low-end FMJ.

flyfisher on January 13, 2011 at 9:57 PM

If you missed it in Headlines earlier, Tapper has the explanation (echoed below by her doctors) for why Obama et al. said yesterday that she opened her eyes for the first time when the medical team had claimed she opened them a few days ago. Very simply:When she opened them for her doctors, it was because they were stimulating her eyes somehow to see if there was any reaction.

No. The doctors were checking her level of consciousness. (LOC) But not by stimulating her eyes. To make a long story short, if someone is in a hospital bed/medical situation and you want to test their LOC, you have to determine what level of stimulus will make them react and/or open their eyes.

If they don’t react at all, this is a very bad sign.

If they react to painful stimulus (i.e. rubbing your knuckles on their sternum or a light pin prick), this is better.

If they react to you calling their name, this is better still.

And if they spontaneously open their eyes when you walk in the door and approach them, this is better still.

But they don’t check your LOC by “stimulating [your] eyes” to see if they open.

You are probably thinking about when they shine a penlight in a patients eyes. Different test.

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:59 PM

After watching his clip I stand humbled and in amazement of doctors.

Tuning Spork on January 13, 2011 at 11:01 PM

Question,I always heard that small calibre was worse
due to the fact,that it can raddle around the skull,
as compared to larger,more high-powered calibres!:)

Would you rather be shot in the head by a .22lr or a .50bmg?

Bishop on January 13, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Bishop:Point taken,um .22 Long Rifle!:)

canopfor on January 13, 2011 at 11:41 PM

Miracles do happen. I’ve seen a couple first hand.

iceman1960 on January 14, 2011 at 12:07 AM

I don’t know how people can look around them and not believe in miracles.

Cindy Munford on January 14, 2011 at 1:12 AM

I don’t know how people can look around them and not believe in miracles.

Cindy Munford on January 14, 2011 at 1:12 AM

Well, you can start at the innocent 9-year-old girl whose life was snuffed out in the same shooting.
(ducks)

Good Lt on January 14, 2011 at 7:59 AM

Sorry, that’s just not true. But that meme is so embedded in popular culture, that there is no way to fight it in the eyes of someone who believes it.

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:05 PM

Ahem…

“…while a .22 might not deliver enough punch to take down a cocaine-crazy street golem in one shot, it is the gun of choice for a lot of hit men and women.”

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/crime_stories/42188

mwdiver on January 14, 2011 at 8:32 AM

One of the miracles here is that God has created men and women with the brilliance, dedication, and resolve to become trauma surgeons and neurosurgeons.

Trafalgar on January 14, 2011 at 8:38 AM

There have been other cases of major brain injuries- including multiple (small caliber) bullets in the brain- where there was almost no effect. If not immediately fatal, it is swelling and edema that actually does much of the damage. It really depends on how much lateral damage that is done as the bullet passes through. The miracle is the the ‘computer’ God gave us is so durable.

michaelo on January 14, 2011 at 8:48 AM

There was a working man in the early 19th century, I believe, who had a tamping rod accidentally shot upward through his cheek and head. He recovered, even with the limited medical treatment available to him, although he had little control over his emotions afterward, I think — the part of the brain that governs that was too badly injured. I think his name was Nicholas something.

She is very fortunate, and it could have been much worse. But if you’re looking for a miracle to bring you back to the Church, this isn’t it. Because you might feel cheated later on.

Of course, I don’t want to stand in your way of returning to the Church either. ;-)

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:04 PM

The main miracle that keeps me grounded in the Bible and faith in Jesus is His resurrection from the dead. It turned a group of discouraged, frightened Jewish followers into fearless proclaimers of the Gospel (including “doubting” Thomas). And it has made all the difference to me.

KyMouse on January 14, 2011 at 8:58 AM

KyMouse on January 14, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Amen.

mwdiver on January 14, 2011 at 9:03 AM

In my comment above, I should have typed “Phineas,” not “Nicholas.”

Speaking of fate, there’s a lot in the news right now about how astrological signs might be off somewhat — that each of us might have been born under a different sign than we have been led to believe. I don’t believe in that stuff anyway, but my astronomy professor back in college in Atlanta, Dr. Folsom, told my class about this problem with astrology waaaaaay back in 1971 — four decades ago.

There are other reasons why astrology is bull, such as the fact that no planet could possibly “influence” us more than the one we’re standing on; and the fact that many babies (at least in the Western world) are born after induced labor, thereby putting the timing in the physician’s hands, not the cosmos’s.

KyMouse on January 14, 2011 at 9:05 AM

Speaking of fate, there’s a lot in the news right now about how astrological signs might be off somewhat — that each of us might have been born under a different sign than we have been led to believe

Astrology = complete nonsense

Good Lt on January 14, 2011 at 9:08 AM

After I experienced a miracle involving an incurable worse-than-fatal disease, one of my doctors said nearly the same thing. He said every doctor has had a patient that has had what seems like a divine-intervention miracle, or one of his associates has had such a patient. They all know of it but rarely talk about it.

theCork on January 14, 2011 at 9:45 AM

With every new hopeful prognosis, I feel excitement and happiness about her recovery yet nervous that there must, as a purely scientific matter, be some sort of bad news to come. Has there ever been a case of someone surviving a shot to the head, back to front, through and through, and recovering with only minor disabilities?

Rep. Giffords has made an amazing recovery for someone shot through the brain, with reports of her not only opening her eyes but also moving her arms and legs. This could indeed be miraculous, but it is still too early to know whether she will recover completely.

The true test will be when she tries to speak–then we will discover what she still knows, what she remembers, and how well she can still communicate after the attack. If she recovers enough communication skills to serve in Congress, she will have received a true miracle.

Steve Z on January 14, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Earlier in the thread there was discussion about small-caliber vs large caliber, with the theory that small caliber does more damage by “rattling around”.

I think the “rattling around” part is actually true. It’s at least as important the size of the bullet. Just like a dum dum bullet, the action after impact matters.

I say that because in this case, I think that the fact that the shot was made point-blank actually served to save her. The bullet went through quickly, and relatively cleanly. Not clean, but I think it would have been worse from further away.

And all of that to say, perhaps the hand of God was there also at the time of the shooting itself. The miracle recovery would not be possible had Loughner not fired point blank.

Lot of speculation on my part…but something to consider.

connertown on January 14, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Hospital suspends doctor for stirring up religious right and making people feel uncomfortable.

Greed on January 14, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Astrology = complete nonsense

Good Lt on January 14, 2011 at 9:08 AM

I dont know about “complete”. I belive allot of things are based on some truths ( well maybe not scientology :) ). If the Moon can pull an entire ocean. Whos to say objects in space dont effect humans.

Greed on January 14, 2011 at 12:01 PM

She is very fortunate, and it could have been much worse. But if you’re looking for a miracle to bring you back to the Church, this isn’t it. Because you might feel cheated later on.

Of course, I don’t want to stand in your way of returning to the Church either. ;-)

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:04 PM
The main miracle that keeps me grounded in the Bible and faith in Jesus is His resurrection from the dead. It turned a group of discouraged, frightened Jewish followers into fearless proclaimers of the Gospel (including “doubting” Thomas). And it has made all the difference to me.

KyMouse on January 14, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Yes. This was a bonefide miracle.

EFG on January 14, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Sorry, that’s just not true. But that meme is so embedded in popular culture, that there is no way to fight it in the eyes of someone who believes it.

EFG on January 13, 2011 at 9:05 PM
Ahem…

“…while a .22 might not deliver enough punch to take down a cocaine-crazy street golem in one shot, it is the gun of choice for a lot of hit men and women.”

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/crime_stories/42188

mwdiver on January 14, 2011 at 8:32 AM

You are looking at a very small sub-set of shooters and extrapolating from their preferences to the field of bullet terminal ballistics. But this is a mistake.

Why would a “hit man” carry a .22? A couple of reasons. A .22 is very small and easily concealable weapon. It is much quieter than something like a .44 magnum. And it is much cheaper too. These are all things that could lead the hypothetical hit man in that link you provided to chose to use a weapon that has to be hidden until needed, attract as little attention as possible when used, and be easily disposed of.

But that wasn’t the gist of the original question.

But the gist of the original question was basically this: What type of bullet fired from a gun would be most damaging to a human? Answer: In general, all things being equal, the larger/more powerful the gun/bullet combination, the more damaging it is.

There are always individual exceptions. People have been shot with .50 cal machine gun fire and kept moving, while people who have been shot by small caliber pistols have been killed almost instantly. Luck, chance and happenstance happens.

But in general, all else being equal, the bigger the bullet/gun combo, the more dangerous/damaging.

EFG on January 14, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Is that the doctor or Iron Chef?

Greed on January 14, 2011 at 5:46 PM