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Dianne Feinstein was quite sick in the months leading up to her death. According to Feinstein’s official statement, the senator suffered from a bout of shingles near the end of February, which eventually required hospital intervention on March 6 and a sabbatical from her duties. “I have returned to Washington and am prepared to resume my duties in the Senate,” Feinstein wrote on May 10. “I’m grateful for all the well-wishes over the past couple of months and for the excellent care that I received from my medical team in San Francisco.” She continued, “Even though I’ve made significant progress and was able to return to Washington, I’m still experiencing some side effects from the shingles virus. My doctors have advised me to work a lighter schedule as I return to the Senate.”
Unfortunately, it was later reported that Feinstein’s situation was much more serious. According to The New York Times, Feinstein arrived back at work in a wheelchair and had noticeable facial paralysis. These issues were reportedly brought on after she fell ill with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and encephalitis. Only five in every 100,000 people are diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, which was to blame for her facial paralysis, per year, according to WebMD. Meanwhile, encephalitis occurs once the brain becomes inflamed because of a prior infection or autoimmune disorder, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. While it is treatable, it can lead to temporary or permanent cognitive issues, and even death.