Washington: In a shocking revelation on Thursday, ‘Game of Thrones’ actor ‘Emilia Clarke’ opened up about suffering from two brain aneurysms that nearly took her life.
She revealed that the surgeries were difficult and so was her recovery. She also mentioned that these health issues started in 2011, soon after wrapping filming on the HBO show’s first season, and that she was with her trainer when she felt a severe headache.
“My trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band was squeezing my brain. I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain — shooting, stabbing, constricting pain — was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”
Recalling the incident, Clarke said that she remembers a woman asking if she was okay ad shortly after she was rushed to a hospital. According to a report by people, on her way to the hospital, “a fog of unconsciousness” limited her awareness, and she was immediately sent for an MRI.
“The diagnosis was quick and ominous: a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. I’d had an aneurysm, an arterial rupture. As I later learned, about a third of SAH patients die immediately or soon thereafter. For the patients who do survive, urgent treatment is required to seal off the aneurysm, as there is a very high risk of a second, often fatal bleed. If I was to live and avoid terrible deficits, I would have to have urgent surgery. And, even then, there were no guarantees.”
The surgery, which required opening up her skull, lasted for 3 hours. Yet the pain was unbearable when she woke up.
Following the surgery, Clarke spent four days in the intensive care unit and another week and a half recovering. According to the actor, those two weeks were an important marker to check her progress post surgery. However, the results weren’t entirely positive. She was unable to remember her name and at one point, even wanted to “pull the plug”.
“I was suffering from a condition called aphasia, a consequence of the trauma my brain had suffered. In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die. My job, my entire dream of what my life would be, centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost. I was sent back to the I.C.U. and, after about a week, the aphasia passed. I was able to speak,” she recalled.
While after recovering, she started working again, the doctors had warned her that another, smaller aneurysm on the other side of her brain that could pop the way the other one had. However, they suggested that it may also stay dormant.
In 2013, during one of Clarke’s regular brain scans the doctors noticed that the second aneurysm had doubled in size and needed a simpler but immediate surgery.
However, the surgery was unsuccessful and the actor woke up screaming in pain. Following this, the doctors made it clear that her chances of survival were thin precarious if they didn’t operate again.
The recovery from the second surgery was even more difficult. This time she had to spend one month in the hospital. And this time, she lost all hopes.
“I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. There was terrible anxiety, panic attacks … I felt like a shell of myself. So much so that I now have a hard time remembering those dark days in much detail. My mind has blocked them out. But I do remember being convinced that I wasn’t going to live,” she said.
Well, the good news is that the actor has now fully recovered. “In the years since my second surgery, I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes. I am now at a hundred percent.”
Clarke will be next seen in the eighth and final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ which is scheduled to air on April 14.