Dianne Feinstein Reportedly Suffered From Undisclosed Illnesses During Hospital Stay
Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly suffered from undisclosed illnesses during her extended hospital stay for shingles.
The frail 89-year-old senator returned to Congress May 10 in a confused state and entered the Senate chamber in a wheelchair. She appeared to be sick, with one eye closed and a slightly frozen stature.
Feinstein continues to suffer the effects caused by illnesses she developed in the hospital. Her physical appearance was reportedly caused by complications from her shingles diagnosis in February, The New York Times (NYT) reported. The virus reportedly spread to her face and neck, causing a facial paralysis known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Her illness also caused a previous undisclosed case of encephalitis, a rare development from shingles, according to two sources familiar who spoke with NYT on the condition of anonymity.
Encephalitis can lead to long term complications including memory loss, confusion, mood swings, and language problems, the Times reported. Elderly people tend to suffer the most from these complications and have difficulty recovering.
Many people have described her return to the Senate as “frightening,” and raised questions as to whether she is physically and mentally able to serve the remainder of her term in the Senate. The 89-year-old has publicly announced she will not seek re-election at the end of her current term in 2024.
Two unnamed sources previously told Politico in April they are hopeful Feinstein can carry out the remainder of her term, but are not confident she can do so from Washington.
Democrats have urged Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary committee, to return to the Senate to vote and confirm President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees being fought by Senate Republicans. When the frail senator returned, she helped approve three Biden nominees in a party-line vote.
Some Democratic lawmakers, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ro Khanna of California, have called on Feinstein to resign over her long absence. She missed a total of 91 floor votes following her diagnosis.
While recovering in her San Francisco home, she reportedly refused to speak with other California lawmakers who tried checking in on her, the Times reported. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom called her, but it went unreturned by the senator after initially being answered by an aide.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York advised Feinstein to take the advice of her doctors, but she was determined to return to work, NYT reported. She and Schumer remained in touch on planning for her return.