Washington — Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California faced more health issues than were previously known when she was sidelined from the Senate for nearly three months.
The 89-year-old Democrat faced complications during her recovery from shingles, including encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, and a condition known as, her spokesperson said Thursday.
"The senator previously disclosed that she had several complications related to her shingles diagnosis," the spokesperson said. "While the encephalitis resolved itself shortly after she was released from the hospital in March, she continues to have complications from Ramsay Hunt syndrome."
The New York Times first reported the additional health issues on Thursday.
Encephalitis can cause memory loss, changes in personality, seizures or problems with movement, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also cause changes in vision or hearing. Ramsay Hunt occurs when shingles affects the facial nerve near the ears. It can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Feinsteinlast week, appearing in public for the first time since February. She was wheeled into the Capitol, looking frail and with one eye nearly closed. In a written statement at the time, Feinstein said she had made "significant progress" but was "still experiencing some side effects from the shingles virus."
In an exchange with reporters earlier this week, Feinstein denied she had been absent when asked about any response she has received from colleagues since her return.
During her absence, Feinstein faced calls to resign from some Democrats who said she was hindering their ability to move legislation and judicial nominees. But Feinstein dismissed those concerns.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee of which Feinstein is a member, said Wednesday that her colleagues are "monitoring her medical condition almost on a daily basis."
When asked whether he was confident Feinstein can continue to serve, Durbin said, "I can't be the judge of that," adding, "she has to make that decision for herself."
Feinstein decided earlier this year that she would not run for reelection in 2024.
Nikole Killion and Alan He contributed reporting.
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