One of Sen. Mark Kirk's first moves on Saturday when he noticed he wasn't feeling well was to reach out to a longtime friend.
Dr. Jay Alexander, a cardiologist, has known Kirk for more than a decade, and on Tuesday evening recalled the midday text message he received from Illinois' junior senator.
Kirk said he was having problems with his vision, Alexander recalled, and wanted some advice.
Alexander said he immediately became concerned and picked up the phone to hear details, reaching Kirk in his car.
"He was getting ready to go to a commitment that he had downtown, and he felt faint and noted white spots that covered his visual field. He said it was kind of similar to a snowstorm," said Alexander.
But what the cardiologist heard next is what most bothered him: "While he was in the car he felt an episode where his left arm became numb and tingly, and his left hand drew back a bit."
Alexander happened to be at Lake Forest Hospital checking on patients and asked Kirk to come to the hospital. After determining there was a dissection in one of the senator's carotid arteries, Alexander thought it best to transfer Kirk to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
He rode with Kirk in the ambulance.
"I held his hand, he joked with me and the ambulance attendant," he said. "I just tried to reassure him."
Alexander has already visited Kirk and plans to continue visiting his friend until he fully recovers.
"With a little luck, and a lot of work, I'm hopeful he'll get back to doing the things that he wants to do," he said.
Kirk's physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital said the senator is recovering "very well" mentally, though he does have some facial paralysis. Dr. Richard Fessler remarked Tuesday that Kirk even asked doctors for his Blackberry and iPad.
At the president's State of the Union Address, one seat remained empty in a gesture of Congressional support.
Kirk's family released a statement Tuesday saying they're "overwhelmed" by the support they've received."
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