Giffords' staffer Carusone reveals more about her condition

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Without question, it is extraordinary Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords survived a point blank gunshot wound to the head.

And many understand her staying completely out of the public eye while she recovers.

But that, also has people wondering about her actual condition. A recent interview by her chief of staff gives a clearer picture.

Ever since January 8. The news from Gabby's doctors has been all positive.

And others who've seen and spoken with her in recovery paint a very positive picture.

But in an interview with the Arizona Republic, Giffords chief of staff Pia Carusone spells out her boss's current condition more specifically.

Starting with the fact Giffords is not close to returning to congress.

She speaks mostly with single words, using facial expressions and gestures to communicate because she struggles to put together sentences.

The only timetable for returning to office is May 2012, because that's when petitions are due for re-election.

The reason its hard to make a prediction of Giffords' potential progress is how complicated brain injuries ares. And carusone says with bullet fragments remaining in Giffords' head, doctors will never be able to perform an MRI.

Carusone says they are all hoping Giffords will improve significantly before she plateaus.

"She's living. She's alive.  But if she were to plateau today, and this was as far as she gets, it would not be nearly the quality of life she had before.  There's no comparison.  All that we can hope for is she won't plateau today and that she'll keep going and that when she does plateau, it will be at a place far away from here," said Carusone.

Giffords reportedly isn't comfortable right now releasing a current picture of herself but she's getting closer to that point.