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Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Health Raises Concerns About Successor and Importance of Supporting Elected Officials’ Health

Senator Dianne Feinstein's health has been a topic of concern in recent months after her absence from the Senate due to complications related to shingles.[0] On Thursday, May 20th, The New York Times reported that Feinstein had also been diagnosed with encephalitis, a swelling of the brain, as a complication of shingles. According to two anonymous sources familiar with the senator's diagnosis, Feinstein's case of encephalitis was not previously reported.

Both shingles and encephalitis can have debilitating effects, including memory loss, language problems, mood disorders, and difficulties walking.[1] Feinstein's shingles also caused Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which led to facial paralysis and hearing loss.[2]

Feinstein's absence from the Senate caused concern among Democrats as her vote was needed to confirm President Biden's judicial nominations.[3] Her return to the Senate last week was met with speculation about her health, as she looked frail and used a wheelchair to move around Capitol Hill.[4]

Feinstein's health has been a topic of concern for years, with reports of cognitive decline dating back to 2018. Her current health issues have only intensified those concerns, with reports of her aides and staff performing many of her Senate duties behind the scenes.[5]

Feinstein has dismissed calls for her resignation and has insisted that she is still capable of fulfilling her duties as a senator.[6] Her office has released a statement saying that she is back in Washington, voting and attending committee meetings while recovering from complications related to shingles.[6]

Feinstein's health has also raised questions about her potential successor in the Senate.[4] Representative Adam Schiff has announced plans to run for Feinstein's seat upon her retirement next year, but if Feinstein steps down before the end of her term, California Governor Gavin Newsom has pledged to choose a Black woman to replace her.[5] Representative Barbara Lee has also announced plans to run for Feinstein's seat.[5]

Feinstein's relationship with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's daughter, Nancy Corrine Prowda, has also stirred speculation about political motives for keeping Feinstein from retiring. Prowda has been helping Feinstein navigate the halls of Congress as she recovers from shingles.

Feinstein's health issues serve as a reminder of the importance of addressing and supporting the health and well-being of our elected officials. As public servants, they have a responsibility to fulfill their duties to the best of their abilities, but their health should not be sacrificed in the process. It is crucial that we prioritize the physical and mental health of our elected officials to ensure that they can effectively serve their constituents.

0. “Feinstein Got Encephalitis, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome From Shingles, Office Confirms” Bloomberg, 19 May. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-05-19/feinstein-got-encephalitis-ramsay-hunt-syndrome-from-shingles-office-confirms

1. “Senator Dianne Feinstein suffered brain inflammation” BBC, 19 May. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-65642944

2. “People Close to Dianne Feinstein Are Joking That She'll Resign When She's Dead” The New Republic, 18 May. 2023, https://newrepublic.com/post/172845/people-close-dianne-feinstein-joking-resign-when-dead

3. “Reporter details ‘concerning' conversation with Dianne Feinstein” SFGATE, 16 May. 2023, https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/reporters-detail-concerning-feinstein-encounter-18103053.php

4. “Feinstein's office confirms broader health complications, contradicting senator's denial” CNN, 19 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/18/politics/dianne-feinstein-shingles-complications/index.html

5. “Feinstein Faced More Severe Health Issues Than Initially Disclosed During Months-Long Senate Absence” Forbes, 18 May. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/saradorn/2023/05/18/feinstein-faced-more-severe-health-issues-than-initially-disclosed-during-months-long-senate-absence

6. “Sen. Feinstein's health complications from shingles more severe than disclosed” The Washington Post, 18 May. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/05/18/sen-feinsteins-health-complications-shingles-more-severe-than-disclosed/

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