Image: JoNel Aleccia
By JoNel Aleccia Health writer
msnbc.com
updated 2/9/2011 4:13:20 PM ET 2011-02-09T21:13:20

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has recovered enough from a bullet to the brain to ask for toast with breakfast.

Few details are available, but Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff, confirmed that the congresswoman made the verbal request on Monday when hospital workers at TIRR Memorial Hermann brought her a meal.

"Yes, that's accurate," Carusone said in an e-mail.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

She is now speaking "more and more" since she uttered her first words several days ago, spokesman C.J. Karamargin said on Wednesday. He said he didn't know what her first words were and couldn't say how her voice sounded, since he hadn't spoken to her himself.

Karamargin said Giffords is undergoing regular speech therapy as part of "aggressive" daily rehabilitation therapy for about six hours each day. Doctors are pushing Giffords, but, even more, she's pushing herself.

"Don't discount the grit and determination of this particular patient," he said.

Though small, the request for toast first reported by Politico marks a milestone for the congresswoman, who was shot in the head in a Jan. 8 shooting spree in Tucson that killed six and injured 13.

In a Facebook update on Tuesday, her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, said that Giffords is eating three meals a day and enjoying it, "even though it's hospital food."

Doctors at Giffords' Houston rehabilitation center, one of the top five sites in the country, on Tuesday said that she's recovering well and that they hope she can make enough progress to attend her husband's space shuttle launch in April.

Kelly is scheduled to command the space shuttle Endeavor on April 19, when it leaves for a two-week mission to the International Space Station. It remains unclear whether Giffords will be well enough to travel to the launch site in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

"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," Kelly wrote on Facebook. "There are encouraging signs every day, though."

Story: Giffords' rehab fully covered, but not so for other victims of brain injury

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Photos: Former Ariz. Representative Gabrielle Giffords

loading photos...
  1. Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who was shot and left handicapped after a gunman opened fire at an event in Tucson, Ariz., and her husband retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly prepare to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 2013. (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, leave the Newtown Municipal Building in Newtown, Conn. on Jan. 4, 2013. Giffords met with Newtown officials on Friday afternoon before heading to visit with families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. (Michelle Mcloughlin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Gabrielle Giffords waves to the Space Shuttle Endeavor with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly as it flies over Tucson, Ariz. on its way to Los Angeles, on Sept. 20, 2012. Kelly served as Endeavour's last space commander months after Giffords survived serious head injuries because of a 2011 shooting. (P.K. Weis / Southwest Photo Bank via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Gabrielle Giffords blows a kiss after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. on Sept. 6, 2012. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Gabrielle Giffords stands on top of a peak in the French Alps with her husband Mark Kelly, right,, and mountain guide Vincent Lameyre, July 23, 2012. On her first trip out of the country since her injury in 2011, she rode a two-stage cable car to a station for spectacular views of Mont Blanc. (Denis Balibouse / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Ron Barber, right, celebrates his victory with Giffords, left, prior to speaking to supporters at a post election event, Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. Barber, Giffords' former district director, won her seat in a special election after she resigned to focus on her recovery. (Ross D. Franklin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, read Rep. Gabriell Giffords resignation speech on the House floor on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. The day after President Obama's State of the Union speech, Giffords formally offered her resignation to Speaker John Boehner. Weeping, Shultz applauded the strength of her friend and colleague, "I'm so proud of my friend." (MSNBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. President Barack Obama hugs retiring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as the president arrives to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., left, and Pelosi, right, posing with Giffords husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly of the Navy, at his retirement ceremony with Vice President Joe Biden in the Old Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. (House Leader Nancy Pelosi's office / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returns to the House for the first time since she was shot, making a dramatic entrance on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, during a crucial debt vote. She drew loud applause and cheers from surprised colleagues. (NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords poses for a photo the day after the launch of NASA space shuttle Endeavour and the day before she had her cranioplasty surgery, outside TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital May 17, in Houston, Texas. Aides of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords posted two recent photos of the congresswoman to her public Facebook page, the first since the January 8 shooting that killed six people and wounded a dozen others. (P.K. Weis / Giffords Campaign / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Emergency workers use a stretcher to move Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. (James Palka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. In this Jan. 5, 2011 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner re-enacts the swearing in of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Susan Walsh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Rep. Giffords, left, speaks during a candidates debate with Republican candidate Jesse Kelly at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., on Oct. 18, 2010. Kelly is an Iraq War veteran and was the Tea Party favorite for the 8th congressional district seat. (Joshua Lott / The New York Times via Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords meets with constituents in Douglas, Ariz., in 2010. Giffords, 40, took office in January 2007, emphasizing issues such as immigration reform, embryonic stem-cell research, alternative energy sources and a higher minimum wage. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Rep. Giffords speaks during a press conference in Washington, D.C., where members of Congress called on the President to secure the border with the National Guard on April 28, 2010. (James Berglie / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. This picture provided by the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Monday, March 22, 2010, shows damage to her office in Tucson, Ariz. The congressional office was vandalized a few hours after the House vote overhauling the nation's health care system. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., center, gives a tour of Statuary Hall in the Capitol to Shuttle Discovery STS-124 astronauts Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide, of Japan, and her husband, Commander Mark Kelly, on Thursday, July 17, 2008. (Bill Clark / Roll Call Photos) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. From right. Rep. Ken Calvert, Rep. Dennis Moore, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and Rep. Heath Shuler, attend a House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security hearing on current and proposed employment eligibility verification systems on May 6, 2008. The hearing provided a forum for lawmakers on both sides of the immigration debate, focusing on a system to verify the legal status of workers and job applicants. (Scott J. Ferrell) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Gabrielle Giffords with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut, at their wedding in Amado, Ariz., on Nov. 10, 2007. Kelly's twin brother, also an astronaut, is a commander on the International Space Station. "We have a unique vantage point here aboard the International Space Station. As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not," said Scott Kelly of the tragedy that befell his sister-in-law. (Norma Jean Gargasz for The New York Times / Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Representatives-elect including Dean Heller, top right, and Gabrielle Giffords, next to Heller, prepare for the freshman class picture for the 110th Congress on the House Steps on Nov. 14, 2006. (Tom Williams / Roll Call Photos) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords rides horseback in 2006. In an interview with NPR last year, she recalled working with horses during her adolescence in Tucson. "I loved cleaning out the stalls, and I did that in exchange for riding lessons. And I continue to ride most of my life. And I learned a lot from horses and the stable people ... I think it provided good training, all of that manure-shoveling, for my days in politics ahead." (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. A page entitled, "Just do it!" in La Semeuse, the Scripps College yearbook in 1993. The photo at right shows Giffords in traditional Mennonite clothing. That same year, she won a Fulbright award to study Mennonites and other Anabaptist groups in Northern Mexico. Gifford's senior thesis was titled "Wish Books and Felt-Tipped Fantasies: The Sociology of Old Colony Mennonite Drawings." (Scripps College) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Gabrielle Giffords' senior portrait from the 1993 Scripps College yearbook. Giffords double-majored in Latin American studies and sociology. A Dean's List student, Gifford won several awards during her time at Scripps. (Scripps College) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Gabrielle Giffords, right, laughs with her mom, Gloria Kay Fraser Giffords, in a photo published in the Scripps College yearbook. Gabrielle received a B.A. in Sociology and Latin American history from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. in 1993. (Scripps College) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. University High School portrait of Gabrielle Giffords, class of 1988. Dr. John Hosmer, taught history to the future lawmaker. He tells msnbc.com, "Gabrielle sat in the front row. She was inquisitive ... She was a very mature person from the moment she walked in the door." (University High School) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Video: With a word, Giffords signals more progress

  1. Transcript of: With a word, Giffords signals more progress

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Another big story tonight, it's been a month and a day since Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head as she met with constituents outside a supermarket. Well, tonight the latest measure of her incredible recovery so far, she is apparently now speaking. Our own Janet Shamlian has the latest from the rehab hospital there in Houston . Hey, Janet , good evening.

    JANET SHAMLIAN reporting: Hi, Brian. It was perhaps the biggest question about her condition after the congresswoman was shot. Would she ever again be able to speak? Well, tonight we may have an answer. It was a single word but it signified an immeasurable step forward in the recovery of Gabrielle Giffords . At a Houston rehab center, Giffords said "toast" when she was served her breakfast on Monday, her spokesman confirmed. It may not have been her first word, but it confirms what was previously

    uncertain: Giffords can speak.

    Dr. GERARD FRANCISCO (TIRR Memorial Hermann): She's a hard worker so I'm pretty sure that her recovery will be phenomenal.

    SHAMLIAN: And there's more news, her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly , writing on Giffords ' Facebook page, " Gabby 's appetite is back, and even though it's hospital food , she's enjoying three meals a day." When she was shot in Tucson a month ago, a bullet pierced the left side of her brain, the side that controls speech, so there were questions about her ability to speak. Her doctors say she continues to improve.

    Dr. FRANCISCO: We're very much encouraged by the progress that she has demonstrated and we're very happy that she's challenging us to come up with a tougher rehabilitation program for her.

    Ms. PIA CARUSONE (Giffords' Chief of Staff): The speech therapy has been ongoing and she's certainly doing very well.

    SHAMLIAN: Mark Kelly , who has resumed his training for the space shuttle Endeavour mission, is inspired by his wife's progress but a realist about the road ahead. Writing on Facebook , "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." Still a long road ahead, but now with one less hurdle. Giffords is continuing her rehabilitation tonight in the building right behind me. There is a lot of work ahead, but, Brian , everyone is encouraged by this development.

    WILLIAMS: We'll take the good news. Janet Shamlian reporting that from Houston tonight. Janet , thanks.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments