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Feinstein’s health problems were much more serious than was publicly disclosed: what we know

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office confirmed Thursday that the 89-year-old California lawmaker’s complications from shingles were much more serious than previously known.

The revelation came after a New York Times report found that Feinstein’s shingles had spread to her face and neck, “causing vision and balance disorders and facial paralysis known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome” and a previously non- reported case of encephalitis. rare but potentially debilitating complication that causes inflammation of the brain.

Adam Russell, a spokesman for Feinstein, said in a statement that the encephalitis “resolved itself shortly after she was discharged from the hospital in March.” She continues to have complications from Ramsay Hunt syndrome, Russell added in the statement, which came after the Times story was published.

Here’s everything we know about Feinstein’s health and its impact on her work in the Senate, gathered from original reporting and Yahoo News partners including the Times, Washington Post and others.

How rare are Feinstein’s complications?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, is seen in a wheelchair as she returns to the Senate on May 10 after an absence of more than two months.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, is seen in a wheelchair as she returns to the Senate on May 10 after an absence of more than two months.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, is seen in a wheelchair as she returns to the Senate on May 10 after an absence of more than two months. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Terribly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shingles affects a third of Americans, but Ramsay Hunt syndrome and encephalitis are much less common and can be serious.

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Michael Wilson, a doctor who specializes in encephalitis at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Washington Post that the risk of encephalitis after shingles is about “one in a thousand.”

Symptoms of encephalitis include “fever, headache, sensitivity to light or sound, neck stiffness or even seizures and loss of consciousness,” the paper said.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome – which is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles – is also very rare. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is more common in older adults and usually affects people over the age of 60.

But younger people can also get it. Last year, Justin Bieber, 29, announced he was suffering from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, which left one side of his face paralyzed and forced him to postpone his tour.

How long was Feinstein gone?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, appears at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, appears at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, will appear at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on May 11 after an absence of more than two months. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

Feinstein, who serves on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, returned to Washington last week after months away from the Senate as she recovered from her case of shingles, which was diagnosed in February. In the same month, the California Democrat announced that she will not seek re-election in 2024.

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Her extended leave raised concerns among Democrats about missed votes and led to numerous calls for her resignation. Her absence from the Judiciary Committee held up President Biden’s judicial appointments and undermined the panel’s ability to issue subpoenas to investigate the numerous reports of corruption at the Supreme Court.

[Time: Why Diane Feinstein shouldn’t quit]

Feinstein said last month that her return had been “delayed due to ongoing complications” from her shingles diagnosis and that her doctors had not been cleared to travel.

She also asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to “have another Democratic Senator serve on the panel temporarily until I can resume my committee work.”

What happened when she went back to work?

Senator Dianne Feinstein looks very vulnerable and stares at the ceiling as Prowda speaks to her.Senator Dianne Feinstein looks very vulnerable and stares at the ceiling as Prowda speaks to her.

Feinstein, accompanied by Prowda, right, is pushed in a wheelchair as she leaves a meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

When she finally returned to Capitol Hill, she seemed noticeably weak.

“Using a wheelchair, with the left side of her face frozen and one eye nearly closed, she appeared disoriented as an aide led her through the marble halls of the Senate, audibly complaining that something was in her eye,” the report reported. Times.

And speaking to a small group of reporters a few days later, Feinstein, who turns 90 next month, seemed confused when asked about the well-wishes she had received from her Senate colleagues since her return.

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“I haven’t left,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve been here. I voted. Please know or don’t know.”

[Politico: Feinstein’s return leaves her party on edge]

The exchange did little to quell calls for Feinstein to resign, which she opposed.

“The senator still sees the job as her calling and is no more receptive to talk of stepping aside than she was in 2018, when she decided to seek another term despite questions about her mental acuity,” the New York Times said. “People close to her privately joke that if Feinstein is dead, she might consider resigning.”

“I am back in Washington, voting and attending committee meetings as I recover from complications related to my shingles diagnosis,” Feinstein said in a statement Thursday. “I will continue to work and get results for California.”

Who wants to replace her?

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, speaks during a Jan. 6 committee on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, speaks during a Jan. 6 committee on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, addresses a gathering of the Jan. 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill, June 21, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Feinstein will not run for re-election next year and three prominent Democratic representatives are vying to replace her.

Barbara Lee, 76, has been a member of Congress since 1998 and represents the San Francisco Bay Area. Lee was the only member of Congress not to vote to authorize military force after the September 11 attacks and has received a slew of endorsements from progressives, the Congressional Black Caucus and top California officials such as the attorney general and mayors of Los Angeles . Angeles and San Francisco.

[Yahoo News: The 2024 California Senate race could be Democrats’ next big civil war]

Katie Porter, 49, came to Congress in what has been described as the 2018 “blue wave” of Democratic progressives, representing an Orange County district that is more competitive than the one represented by her Senate rivals. Entering Congress, she quickly built a reputation as a tough questioner during committee hearings. Porter recently released a memoir and has received support from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who was her professor at Harvard Law School.

Adam Schiff, 62, has represented a Los Angeles-area district since 2001 and was the lead manager of former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment. The former House Intelligence chairman has won the support of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and nearly two dozen other members of the California House, in addition to a significant fundraising advantage over his opponents.

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