Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk faces a long, tough fight to regain his health.
One of life's grim realities — human frailty — tragically intruded on the Illinois political scene over the weekend when U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, first elected just two years ago, suffered a stroke.
The Illinois Republican remains hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where he underwent surgery to relieve pressure caused by swelling in his brain. We wish him the best of luck as he faces the serious health challenges that lie ahead.
Just 52 and showing all appearances of good health prior to the stroke, Kirk, at best, faces a long recovery that is expected to leave him partially disabled.
Doctors say Kirk's mental acuity was unaffected but that he will suffer a permanent disability on part of his left side, possibly his arm or leg.
This is a tragedy. Kirk, a former Champaign-Urbana resident and a Republican elected in a Democratic state, is an energetic hard-charger who is less interested in partisanship than in getting things done. Well informed in both domestic and foreign policy, his formidable presence in the U.S. Senate spoke well for the judgment of Illinois voters.
Now he'll be sidelined for an indefinite period — for weeks or possibly months, according to his doctors.
Kirk suffered an ischemic stroke, which is caused by an arterial blockage that cuts off blood flow to the brain and leads to swelling. The blockage leading to the stroke was the result of a tear in the carotid artery.
What caused the tear in the artery is unknown. It can result from trauma, but Kirk associates said he had engaged in no unusual behavior, and they speculated it was spontaneous.
In other words, it just happened. It was something that no one can guard against, and no one would expect. Life is like that sometimes. We wish Sen. Kirk the best in overcoming this sad turn of events.