Do you believe it? Mark Kelly does. He is the astronaut husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who expressed this sentiment the other night when he and his wife, Gabby, were interviewed by Diane Sawyer.
There are several remarkable aspects of their journey from her near fatal gunshot wound to her brain ten months ago to sitting on a couch next to her husband, smiling into the camera at millions of viewers. What lessons can we learn that we can translate to our own experiences with injury and illness?
Mark Kelly told us that as an astronaut he never considered that the “sky’s the limit.” If there was a limit, he never would have been circling the earth in outer space. He knew that from the minute that Gabby was injured that they were “beaten up” but not “beaten.” We do this do ourselves all the time-we set artificial limits that may keep us from achieving better outcomes and our ultimate goals. The student who fails to continue their education or the patient who drops out of therapy because the tasks seem too difficult.
The message is clear: don’t give up. Once you achieve a goal, move forward to the next goal. This is crucial after a brain injury or stroke, since experience tells us that therapy is frequently discontinued when there is still much to accomplish.
I tell patients and families that rehabilitation will be the hardest work they will ever do. The Giffords provided a tremendous service to disabled individuals all over the world by sharing their video record of their journey. You might say that Mark Kelly is wrong and that a person can have too much hope. You need to ask yourself whether you are thinking that a task will be too difficult to perform so you dare not hope to achieve it. Gabby Giffords tells us at the very end of her interview that she wants to be “Better-stronger” and then immediately follows it with the statement, “hard-hard!”
We know that optimistic people are healthier, have fewer heart attacks and strokes and do better in rehabilitation. Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had.” Achieving those goals can be difficult and it helps that Gabby Giffords has a remarkable partner to support her journey toward what the new WebMD Disability Blog describes as a “Different Normal.”
Don’t give up on your dreams to get better because Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords are correct, “You can’t have too much hope.”
Related Links on genConnect:
- Gabrielle Giffords Shows Up for Debt Limit Vote After Shooting
- Husband: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Still an ‘Incredibly Positive Person’
- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Asks for Toast for Breakfast
- For more daily expert updates, follow genConnect on Twitter and Facebook.
- To stay on top of the latest contributions from Dr. Richard Senelick and other gC experts: Sign Up for genConnect.
These are one expert’s views on the news. Share with us your thoughts in the comments box below.