METAIRIE, La. -- More than 100 days after he was shot while practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is back.
Scalise, a Metairie Republican, stopped by the WGNO studio Sunday to talk about how he survived his life-threatening wounds -- and his long road to recovery.
"You know, I was just looking forward to playing baseball," Scalise said. "It was the day before the big game ... It`s a tradition that goes back more than 50 years."
Scalise was one of four people shot in Alexandria, Virginia, when gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire in June. Hodgkinson was killed that morning in a shootout with congressional police.
"The first shot really wasn't something you were thinking about," Scalise recalled. "So I looked at the direction from where it was coming from. I saw a tractor beyond third base. I was thinking maybe the tractor back fired. And the next thing you know another shot comes and then you realize, OK, somebody is shooting.
"I wasn't sure how bad I was hit," he continued. "I could feel the pain from where the bullet went in. Amazingly, your body shuts down that pain, and I'm just praying that I'll get to see my family again, and that I get through this and that my security detail is successful in carrying out their duties. And they both got hit ... Crystal and David were both shot during the shootout, and yet they stayed engaged and ultimately took the shooter down and saved all of us."
The bullet went through Scalise' hip and traveled toward his other hip, causing serious damage to bones, internal organs and blood vessels.
He was in critical condition for days and has since undergone several surgeries to manage infections and other complications. He's come a long way, and he's got a long way to go.
"I still have a lot of outpatient therapy ahead of me," he said. "I've gotta rehab for months possibly to continue to get better at walking and ultimately learn how to walk on my own feet without crutches. I'm nowhere near being ready for that yet. Each week I get better at things I am doing and building the muscle back. A lot of the nerves damaged from the shooting. It`s a long process. But every week we move forward, and I have a lot of people cheering me on the way, and that's been helpful."
Scalise has improved so much, so fast, that he was able to return to Congress Thursday (Sept. 28). He was met with a standing ovation by his colleagues on the House floor.
"I'll never forget when I walked around the corner on crutches to go into the House chamber on the first time Thursday," he said. "To see everybody standing and applauding. It was like a thunder that was coming over me. I'm seeing all of these faces that I haven`t seen in months, you know, just friends and colleagues, people that had reached out, both Republican and Democrat."
He was also feeling healthy enough to make it to LSU's home game Saturday. Fans cheered when they saw Scalise on the sidelines:
Scalise will return to Capitol Hill Monday and will lead Republican lawmakers on health care and tax reform.