Almost six months after being shot outside a Tucson supermarket by gunman Jared Lee Loughner, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is almost ready to leave the Houston rehab facility where she's been staying. Where she'll go is still unknown, but friends say she wants to return home.

Meantime, Giffords' chief of staff, Pia Carusone, says her boss is still struggling to communicate and possibly won't be able to run for reelection:

"She is borrowing upon other ways of communicating. Her words are back more and more now, but she's still using facial expressions as a way to express. Pointing. Gesturing. Add it all together, and she's able to express the basics of what she wants or needs. But, when it comes to a bigger and more complex thought that requires words, that's where she's had the trouble."


[W]e'd love to know today what her life will be, what her quality of life will be, which will determine whether she'll be able to run for office and all sorts of other things involving her life. But we just don't know yet.

The most critical part of Giffords' recovery process isn't quite half-over, so there's still a possibility that she'll be well enough again by next May's reelection petition deadline. Given how much progress she's already made, it doesn't seem inconceivable.

[Chronicle, Arizona Republic. Image by AP.]