Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, who will climb the Capitol steps Thursday for the first time since his illness, says his experience has changed him.
“I will look much more carefully at the Illinois Medicaid program to see how my fellow citizens are being cared for who have no income and if they suffer from a stroke,” Kirk said.
He said in general a person on Medicaid would be allowed 11 rehab visits in Illinois. “Had I been limited to that I would have had no chance to recover like I did. So unlike before suffering the stroke, I’m much more focused on Medicaid and what my fellow citizens face.”
Since last year, Kirk has endured an aggressive rehabilitation, including considerable time on the treadmill, which he calls “the dreadmill.” He suffers from paralysis on the left side of his body, which means he had to relearn how to walk.
Kirk’s ordeal has changed the way he looks at things.
“For me, I will say the thing is that I miss most, is to apply what I’ve learned to be more compassionate and to break the partisan rancor that is so evident lately,” Kirk said of the political wrangling of late.
If he could talk directly to Illinois constituents, Kirk said he would say: “Thank you for the honor of representing you. You now have a senator who is totally focused on those who go through stroke and how we can recover their lives and make sure they have a chance to come all the way back.”