Sen. Mark Kirk (Photo credit JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
Republican Mark Kirk says he hopes the debilitating stroke he suffered more than a year ago helps him become a better U.S. senator.
In a column for The Washington Post, the Illinois senator writes about his physical and emotional transformation since his stroke. Kirk made a triumphant return to work last month and walked up 45 steps at the U.S. Capitol to take his place in the 113th Congress.
"I don't expect to be the same senator I was before my stroke - I hope to be a better one," Kirk wrote in the column, which was posted online Friday and will appear in Sunday's editions.
"I want to make my life matter by doing work that matters to others," he said. "I want to do it with the help of my friends, Republicans and Democrats, and to share the satisfaction of knowing we have honored our public trust together."
Kirk recounts his grueling rehabilitation, including how he once threw up on his physical therapist, and how he had to learn how to walk again. He said he was once a believer in Murphy's Law - the adage that if anything that can go wrong, it will - but is now "an optimist, grateful for every blessing."
Since he came back to the Senate on Jan. 3, Kirk has raised concerns over the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of Defense. The Illinois senator has appeared on the Senate floor during roll call votes - such as earlier this week when John Kerry was confirmed as secretary of State - using a cane with his right hand as he walks.