GOT Star Reveals She Nearly Died After Two Brain Aneurysms
Emilia Clarke said she nearly lost her life after filming the first season of 'Game of Thrones'.
Clarke has written about the medical emergency in an essay penned for The New Yorker, the first time she's publicly spoken about the terrifying experience that began with a "shooting, stabbing, constricting pain" in her head.
The actor had just wrapped the first season of Game Of Thrones and was struggling to adapt to fame and the intense scrutiny she was beginning to face in her role as the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen.
She explained that while working out at a gym in London, she experienced blinding pain in her head and was then "violently, voluminously ill". Clarke was rushed to the emergency room, where she was sent for a brain scan.
"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," Clarke said.
"I’d had an aneurysm, an arterial rupture," she added.
Clarke explained that a third of SAH patients "die immediately or soon thereafter". She underwent urgent treatment to seal off the aneurysm -- brain surgery that took three hours to complete on the then 24-year-old.
The actor said that the surgery was "minimally invasive", meaning that the surgeons didn't have to open up her skull. But after waking from the procedure, she couldn't recall her own name.
Clarke added that the trauma of surgery caused her to suffer from aphasia -- a condition that caused her to "mutter nonsense" and worry that, as an actor, she wouldn't be able to remember her lines.
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.
The actor eventually recovered and went on with her life but was told during her time in hospital that she did have another, smaller aneurysm on the other side of her brain.
It took her until finishing the filming of the third season of Game Of Thrones to book an appointment to have the growth removed -- except the routine surgery went horribly wrong.
Clarke said when she woke from the two-hour surgery, she was "screaming in pain".
"The procedure had failed. I had a massive bleed and the doctors made it plain that my chances of surviving were precarious if they didn’t operate again. This time they needed to access my brain in the old-fashioned way--through my skull. And the operation had to happen immediately."
The recovery was long and painful, with Clarke said she suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and the fear that she wouldn't be the same again.
But now, on the eve of the premiere of the final season of Game Of Thrones, she said she's finally ready to talk about the experience.
"There is something gratifying, and beyond lucky, about coming to the end of Thrones," she wrote. "I’m so happy to be here to see the end of this story and the beginning of whatever comes next."
Main Image: Getty Images.