U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is speaking and doing better than doctors expected after emergency surgery following a weekend stroke. Dr. Richard Fessler says Kirk is answering questions and is very aware of his surroundings while he is in intensive care at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Fessler says there is some facial paralysis which is causing the senator to speak with a slight slur, but that the slight speech impediment can often be corrected with therapy.
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Kirk is expected to remain in intensive care for five days to a week as the swelling to his brain goes down. Surgeons removed a piece of his skull to alleviate pressure from the swelling. It will be about two weeks before Kirk can again undergo surgery, this time to replace the four inch by eight inch piece of skull. It will be affixed with titanium plates and screws. The stroke affected the senator's left side and Fessler says Kirk is “moving his left side very little,” a fact that Fessler had predicted Monday when he first talked to the media. Meanwhile Gov. Pat Quinn was asked today (Tuesday) if he has thought about a temporary replacement should Kirk step down. Quinn said he knows that Kirk will make a strong recovery and expects him to return to his Senate Seat.