Should Giffords’ husband leave his recovering wife for space?

The Associated Press is reporting from sources that the astronaut husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will leave his recovering wife for his space mission targeted to leave April 19. Mark Kelly is scheduled to have a press conference later today to officially announce his decision.

It will be the space shuttle Endeavour’s final flight. Kelly has flown three times aboard space shuttles; April’s trip to the International Space Station will be his fourth. He will lead a veteran, all-male, American-Italian crew. The mission is scheduled to last two weeks.

The mission is the next-to-last for the entire 30-year shuttle program. It will deliver an elaborate physics experiment by a Nobel prize winner.

From the AP:

“He took a leave from training after his wife was shot in the head outside a Tucson, Ariz., supermarket as she met with constituents on Jan. 8. Six people were killed and 13 were injured in the rampage; a 22-year-old suspect is in custody.”

“The Arizona congresswoman was in intensive care for two weeks before she was transferred to Houston, where she is undergoing rehab.”

“Kelly, 46, spent the past month debating whether to step down as commander of Endeavour’s two-week mission. As he agonized over the decision, NASA named a backup commander, Rick Sturckow, who joined the crew for training….”

“With Kelly back on board, the launch will “get the same kind of attention that the (1998) John Glenn mission” received, said Howard McCurdy, a public policy professor and space expert at American University in Washington, D.C.”

“McCurdy suggested the public will embrace Kelly’s decision, because it provides a sense of normalcy.”

” ‘We all want her to go back to Congress; we’d like them both to continue their careers and we’d like them to be whole and normal as if this thing had never happened,’ said McCurdy, author of the book ‘Space and the American Imagination.’ “

My problem in analyzing this decision is we don’t know much about how well Rep. Giffords is doing in her rehab. Is she talking? Is she eating? Is she walking? What other family members are around to help take care of her? Also we don’t know how much progress Giffords can make between now and the date he leaves.

From a CBS story:

“Mark Kelly said on Thursday that the health of his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, “continues to improve” daily, and that doctors had told him her progress was “a great sign.”

“In remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Kelly said Giffords, who was shot in the head during a tragic mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, last month, “gets a little bit better” every day.”

” ‘The neurosurgeons and neurologists tell me it’s a great sign,’ he said. ‘The slope of that curve is very important.’ “

Two summers ago when my brother has his heart transplant the family was with him around the clock. As he improved and was more stable we didn’t sleep on the couches like we did at first, but usually one of us was there during the day with him. He had a lot of rehab too, and it is very hard work to relearn how to move and walk. My brother also had a tracheotomy like Giffords had, and it’s a totally different thing to talk through it.

Another concern is can Mark Kelly train for his mission and concentrate on the mission while his wife is recovering? Also can he visit and help her while he trains?

Mark’s brother, Scott Kelly, an astronaut currently on the space station, said their Navy background as high-performance pilots enables them to put their personal lives aside, when necessary, and focus on the job at hand.

” ‘My brother certainly is very good at that’ he told The Associated Press. ‘If he does choose, and NASA management chooses, for him to fly this mission … I am absolutely 100 percent confident that he will have no problem fulfilling his responsibilities the same way as if this incident would have never occurred.’ ”

My husband Michael said that routinely when his dad was in the military men would be pulled from missions if there were issues at home. His dad would have been sent to the first Gulf War but Michael’s mother had died only a few months before, and he wasn’t sent.

What do you think: Should Kelly leave his wife for this important mission in space? Would you leave your spouse? What if the genders were reversed?

90 comments Add your comment

JOD

February 4th, 2011
12:09 pm

Wow – first? I think he made the right decision – this is what he has trained his whole life for, and I were in (God-forbid) Giffords’ place, I would want him to go. I’m sure he took into account all of her needs, and that she will have the best of care and resources while he is gone. This is the sort of decision where regret could haunt him later. This is a great shot at history for him, and I’m glad he will take it.

DB

February 4th, 2011
12:16 pm

Yes, absolutely, he should. And if his wife was able to answer, she’d say the same thing: “GO!”

Rehab for her is going to be a long, drawn-out process. Him sitting around watching her rehab for two weeks won’t significantly affect her rehab and MAY significantly affect the mission. And frankly, if I were her, I’d be more than upset that he was considering stepping down because of a random act of violence.

As far as judging whether or not he should — that’s between him, NASA and his family. We don’t know details, and we don’t know what kind of family backup they have, and for us to make a judgement based on so little information would be rude and unkind. Second-guessing family decisons in this sort of situation is never helpful. We’re going through so many issues right now as we decide care options for my father — if a perfect stranger sat back and started making public judgements on how and why we are making the choices we are making, there might be another not-so-random act of violence . . .

HB

February 4th, 2011
12:35 pm

Well said, DB.

karma

February 4th, 2011
12:41 pm

None of your damn business!

usually lurking

February 4th, 2011
12:43 pm

Really, none of our business. It is newsworthy only because they are both public figures. I too think DB’s comment nailed it.

Me

February 4th, 2011
12:44 pm

This is a non-story — I’m sure that decision wasn’t made half-heartedly. I don’t feel he would be going if he didn’t feel certain that his wife was in agreement.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 4th, 2011
12:49 pm

I am always surprised by how these conversations go. I was just searching our archive for something and found it ironic that while people are saying it’s none of their business whether he goes to space while she is recovering — More than 270 commented on whether the Duggars should continue to have kids after the last baby had so many health problems —
http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2010/02/10/duggars-should-medical-issues-mean-no-more-kids/

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 4th, 2011
12:50 pm

“My problem in analyzing this decision is we don’t know much about how well Rep. Giffords is doing in her rehab.”

No..that’s not your problem in analyzing this decision. Your problem in analyzing this decision is that you think you have any entitlement to analyze this decision….just as it is no one’s place to analyze your decision to sacrifice your seemingly promising career as a journalist to be a stay at home mom so that you get the satisfaction of the “room mom” title. That one stung a little bit didn’t it? Why? Probably because it’s none of my business to “analyze” your decision. And I agree with you…time to agree with yourself and act accordingly.

Joshua Gay

February 4th, 2011
12:52 pm

Why can’t we judge him? He picked space over being there for Gabby.
This doesn’t feel right.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 4th, 2011
12:53 pm

TWG…i remember that conversation…and contributed to the Duggars blog. I think its a little misleading to say that 270 entries were all opining on whether they should or should not have more children..when in actuality a good number of those posts (mine included) were making the case that it wasn’t anyone’s business as to how many children the Duggars had. So maybe you could go back and count the number of posts that said it wasn’t anyone’s business and then give us a factual number of entries that said they should or should not have more children, because that 270 number you so eagerly threw out there is misleading.

Jeff

February 4th, 2011
12:55 pm

The only opinion that counts is his wife’s.

JATL

February 4th, 2011
12:55 pm

I think he should go -especially since the shuttle program is almost finished. For astronauts, you don’t get THAT many chances to really do your thing, and I’m sure she would tell him to go -if she hasn’t in some way already. Other than “being there” what would he be doing for her anyway? I’m sure she probably has friends and/or family who are visiting and being around her as much as is advised right now. I would feel differently if she were still hooked up to life support, in ICU, etc., but that’s not the case.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 4th, 2011
12:55 pm

tiger you guys judge me all the time -Used to hurt — hasn’t hurt in quite some time — —- I am very interested in her health and how she is doing absolutely. I think that is a natural curiosity. Notice I didn’t offer an opinion at all. Just letting you guys comment –

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 4th, 2011
12:55 pm

TWG…and since you brought up the work “ironic”, I’d say it’s also ironic that you would seemingly take offense that people might “analyze” your decision to “analyze” the giffords decision. Funny how that works.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 4th, 2011
12:59 pm

Tiger — just skimmed the first 50 and everyone offering an opinion –

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 4th, 2011
1:01 pm

You’re right…you didn’t say if you thought it was right or wrong, but the statement “My problem in analyzing this decision” implies that you are forming your opinion….and that you feel entitled to do so and ask others theirs. You’ll notice I didn’t say you were right or wrong in your opinion of anything, I left it at it’s not our business nor is it something worth the speculation.

Becky

February 4th, 2011
1:07 pm

I would almost bet that he has factored in her rehab..As DB said, it’s a long road they are going down and they both know it.. I would have no problem with my husband going if this were me..

His job is not quiet like ours and that is something to think about..If the people at NASA have no problems with him being able to train and complete this mission, should we really be worrying about him going?

@Joshua Gay..He didn’t pick space over being there for Gabby..He has pretty much been with her dailey since this happened..The mission is still over 2 months away, so he may change his mind before then..Not to make lightly of the congresswomans condition, but if you’ve never been in a situation like this (or similar to this), don’t judge him..You cannot sit by that person 24/7..He’s blessed that he has a job that does allow him so much time off work, others aren’t..Trust me, I have spent many, many days and nights at the hospital with family members and you have to have a break..So I will pray for him and his family and hope that everything works out for them..

Abbub

February 4th, 2011
1:08 pm

“Why can’t we judge him?”

A) Because it’s none of your business.
B) Because even if it were your business (which it’s not) you have absolutely no visibility into data that would be required to accurately judge him.

Seriously, the moment I read an article on Yahoo! this morning about this guy choosing to lead the shuttle mission, I knew there’d be a bunch of knuckleheads on the internet second guessing him without any real knowledge or insight into the situation. Tiger has it exactly right. People feel that, because the internet gives them a means to voice their opinion, their opinion somehow has merit, and they have a special entitlement to share it with us all. They’re really just the Gladys Kravitz of the internet era.

Kate

February 4th, 2011
1:41 pm

I suppose, given the visibility the individuals involved, I can understand why this is newsworthy, but this is an issue people from all walks of life deal with every day. The planet keeps on turning regardless of what is going in your life. Any reasonable person wants to do what’s best for their family, but sometimes tough decisions have to be made.

A few months ago my son had to spend a few days in the hospital (don’t worry he’s fine now). Thankfully, my son’s stay at the hospital was short and either my husband or I was able to stay with him around the clock, but we both noticed there were a lot of children there by themselves. My husband was horrified that any child would have to stay in the hospital without any family members to keep them company. He was also quick to assume anyone that would do such a thing must be a pretty lousy parent. I pointed out that we probably would have had to do the same thing if our child were going to be in the hospital for an extended period of time and/or we both worked and didn’t have any other family members close by to help out. He agreed.

The point is, you never really know someone else’s situation. I’m sorry Mark Kelly feels the need to hold a news conference to make this announcement. It really isn’t anyone else’s business and I certainly hope he does not feel he has to justify his decision to a bunch of total strangers.

Stacey

February 4th, 2011
1:42 pm

We said DB.

I think it is perfectly normal and even expected to have opinions about things that are “none of our business”. Just because we discuss and/or debate it doesn’t mean that we are trying to influence his decision. JMO

A

February 4th, 2011
1:42 pm

We cannot second guess Mark Kelly, but I for one applaud his decision. This is his last chance to fly the space shuttle. While what happened to Gabby is a tragedy beyond words, she survived and she will improve and get better. Presumably other family (perhaps her mother) will be nearby as are her staff, so she is hardly alone. And from everything I’ve read, this was the right decision for this particular couple. It seems Gabby would want him to go, and I have no doubt he would not leave her if she were touch and go and it was uncertain if she would live.

Stacey

February 4th, 2011
1:44 pm

Meant to say “Well said” to DB.

shaggy

February 4th, 2011
1:47 pm

TWG,
There is absolutely no comparison between the Gifford’s story and the Duggars.
There is more intelligence in either of the Gifford’s little fingers than the “overpopulation picture children” Duggar’s entire family. Might as well compare them to that octo-waste mother and her propensity to keep the oven churning out a litter.

As to his decision to go, I am very sure Rep. Giffords would say, “you better go and fly that thing, or as soon as I am well, I’m kicking your a$$!”

jarvis

February 4th, 2011
1:47 pm

He’ll have to take a psych exam before he gets on the shuttle. So if he’s not mentally prepared, he won’t be able to go.

How long is a mission anyway? A week? Two if you include pre and post work?

There will still be planty of time for him to help with her rehab when he gets back.

shaggy

February 4th, 2011
1:48 pm

TWG,
My post disappeared. I promise I was being mostly nice :)

jarvis

February 4th, 2011
1:54 pm

Was the preempted topic about sleepwalking?
If not, my feelings are hurt.

;-)

HB

February 4th, 2011
2:04 pm

TWG, comparing this situation to the Duggars makes no sense. The Duggars put themselves out there for entertainment purposes — of course people are going to talk about their lifestyle and choices. That’s the whole point of them being on TV. They willingly gave up their privacy by essentially commericializing their lives. I don’t know why anyone would want to think about or talk about them (or watch their show), but it doesn’t strike me as “wrong” for those who do watch to then form opinions and jabber on about it.

On the other hand, I think most of us feel speculating on and trying to analyze the right- or wrongness of private decisions made by people thrown into the spotlight because they are victims of a horrible act in a public forum is distasteful. Do you really not see a difference between the two?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 4th, 2011
2:19 pm

DB — both are public figures . He is a famous astronaut. She is a congresswoman. they weren’t all of a sudden thrown into the spotlight like the aide who help her after the shooting. No on knew that guy. They both are covered by the media in their jobs. Do you not think they are as much public figures as the Duggars? With the Duggars we were talking about whether a couple should continue to conceive babies which seems immensely more private that whether a guy should go on a space mission. (also covered by all media outlets — seems pretty public.)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 4th, 2011
2:19 pm

shaggy I will look for your post.

Cora

February 4th, 2011
2:38 pm

It is our business. We are paying for the mission and there will be other people on the flight. Not sure he is mentally fit after that trauma. Stress.

jarvis

February 4th, 2011
2:41 pm

No need to worry about that Cora. He will have a full physical including pshchological exam pre-flight. If he’s not mentally able to go, they’ll catch it.

Becky

February 4th, 2011
2:42 pm

Yes, they are all public figures, but can you really compare a congresswoman and her astronaut husband in the same category as the Duggars?

As far as I’m concerned, the Duggars can have as many babies as they want, doesn’t bother me in the least..Especially since they aren’t expecting me and my tax dollars to help pay for the kids..As for Mark Kelly, in my opinion,he’s pretty close to being a hero..He has a job that is helping all mankind..Again, that’s just my opinion..

victor

February 4th, 2011
2:42 pm

It is none of our concern, BUTT OUT!!!

jarvis

February 4th, 2011
2:42 pm

That said, the NASA shrinks were completely caught off guard when that broad threw on a diaper, grabbed a garden hose and a shovel, and the drove to Houston to “confront” he ex-boyfriend’s new paramour.

jarvis

February 4th, 2011
2:44 pm

By the way, you sure are an opinionated bunch on the topic of not having an opinion.

HB

February 4th, 2011
2:56 pm

They are public figures (public servants, in fact), but even public figures should be afforded a certain amount of privacy in their personal lives. Bringing cameras into your home and offering up your personal life to the masses invites more speculation, criticism, and judgement on your private life, in my opinion, than simply working in the public sphere in visible jobs does. Sure, an astronaut and a Congresswoman count as public figures and are fair game for writing about however you want as long as you don’t lie, but that doesn’t mean it’s in good taste to encourage people to discuss and judge their private family decisions. I just think they deserve more respect than that and am sorry that you and the AJC don’t.

RH

February 4th, 2011
3:22 pm

This reminds me alot of the John/Elizabeth Edwards Presidential run/cancer scenario. Unfortunately, look how that turned out for both of them! :(

I really don’t think they (Giffords) should have put that out there in the public view, like I guess the Edward’s had to due to the situation. Why do people feel like this is any of our business. Putting it out there is obnoxious and forces us to kind of make it our business. The media should be ashamed, because you know they had a large part in this. The Gifflords should have told them to shove it!

JATL

February 4th, 2011
3:23 pm

@shaggy -AMEN!

It’s worth mentioning that because of their chosen careers, a congresswoman and an astronaut are going to be thrust into the spotlight now and then -even if something bizarre or out of the ordinary doesn’t happen to them. While they chose their careers, they didn’t choose for this shooting to happen in order to garner more attention for themselves. The Duggars have chosen to be in the public eye and to keep breeding so they stay in the public eye -even though it’s apparent that maybe her body is trying to send them a message. The only reason we know about them is because they made an effort for us to know about them, and both they and TLC want to keep it that way for ratings and so their names will stay in the media.

Kami

February 4th, 2011
3:36 pm

When I read about stories like this I am reminded about how blessed I am to have the marriage I have. My husband and I have very different attitudes about our commitment to one another vs our personal goals. But this isn’t my marriage and its not my husband. Its up to them to make the decision, not up to me. But I am grateful that I know my husband would have made a very different choice.

dirty laundry

February 4th, 2011
3:37 pm

The old saying – “no news is good news” should be put into play as well. While I am glad Giffords is doing amazingly well, I really don’t need to hear it daily through any number of news sources. The media has given this story alot more air time than the Fort Hood shootings, whic I personally deem much more crucial to our nation’s security.

The Giffords’ really should have put their foot down early on regarding media coverage, they have every right to do that and I would have given them more credibility for that than the consistent coverage they are obviously getting. It is quite apparent they want us to know their business.

DB

February 4th, 2011
4:32 pm

TWG: I think you meant “HB” and not “DB”, but I’ll respond, anyway.

Everything that the Duggers have experienced have been under their control. They chose to have the number of children that they have, and have sought a degree of celebrity. It’s not a tragedy — it’s a curiosity.

What happened to the Giffords is a tragedy — they didn’t ask for it, and they are just dealing the best they can. I think that buys them a certain degree of slack, IMHO.

JimO

February 4th, 2011
4:39 pm

JOD: “I think he made the right decision ”

Well, I don’t think the decision was HIS to make — he’s the last person to be trusted to self-diagnose his own mental/emotional state. I prefer the blogger’s view about how military personal are judged by competent medical teams and not allowed near critical hardware after experiencing a family crisis. NASA’s track record in detecting and averting psych problems with its astronauts is dubious — viz., Lisa Nowak and the astro-love triangle.

PDQ

February 4th, 2011
4:51 pm

“What happened to the Giffords is a tragedy — they didn’t ask for it, and they are just dealing the best they can. I think that buys them a certain degree of slack, IMHO.”

Agree they did not ask for this tragedy, but much of the media attention since could have been curtailed. Hopefully the Giffords, in hindsight, realize what allowing this tragedy to become a public affair has cost them. THEY put this out there when it is really none of our business, so NO they don’t get a “certain degree of slack”. Please don’t tell me the Giffords didn’t realize they would be scrutinitized for this. They are not that stupid!

PS – Thanks for the reminder JimO. Forgot about the diapered adult astronaut!

END NASA

February 4th, 2011
4:52 pm

Who cares? One way or the other millions and millions of taxpayer dollars are going to be wasted on the giant money pit called NASA. Thank goodness this will be the last shuttle flight. Once it lands, they should just close the doors on NASA and let the private sector decide if any travel to space is worth their financial risk rather than continuing to waste the hard-earned dollars of the taxpayers who are already looking at enough debt to keep the next hundred generations in permanent servitude to the empire.

cynthia

February 4th, 2011
5:01 pm

This situation falls squarely in the category of NOYB: None Of Your Business! This is a personal family matter and the media need to leave them alone. They have enough problems without some busybodies telling them what to do. Get a life folks; you have too much time on your hands.

poison pen

February 4th, 2011
5:09 pm

Opinions are like Tushes, everyone has one.

Bluebell Jones

February 4th, 2011
5:10 pm

Once again, I can’t believe someone pays you to “write” this blog. You can’t find anything else of interest to discuss? This is just rubbish.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vickie Mullins, Space Geek. Space Geek said: Should Giffords' husband leave his recovering wife for space? – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) http://ow.ly/1bbjL1 [...]

Dee Caplinger

February 4th, 2011
5:58 pm

Yes, he should go.

Kat

February 4th, 2011
6:12 pm

He’s making an official announcement, because like it or not, he is a public figure – both by the nature of his job and his wife’s job. If he didn’t do something, people would speculate and wonder and make up their own stories about him and his plans.

Are we allowed to have an opinion on this? In America, you are free to voice your opinion, and others are free to agree with you or to disagree with you, and on and on.

I think he (and his wife to some extent) have come to this decision together. As far as a support system, though family is important, they can stay home for all I care if I’ve got the best medical team there looking out for me. Since this is all speculative, who can say for sure.

Can or should we have an opinion? Well, we do on most every topic on this blog whether we have been there (breastfeeding vs. formula, daycare vs. SAHM, etc.) or not. I don’t have an opinion, because I am not in his or her shoes and know the full story. I just wish both of them the very best.