Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke shared her personal story recently about how she suffered nearly two fatal brain aneurysms and two surgeries in the early years of filming the hit series.
The British actress, who plays Daenerys Targaryen on the blockbuster show, made the revelation in a story — A Battle For My Life — she wrote for The New Yorker. The actress said that her health problems began in 2011.
“My trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain,” she wrote in the article. “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. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”
She further wrote, “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.”
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She was 24 at the time of her first brain surgery, and said the recovery period — during which she could not even recall her own name as a result of a condition called aphasia — gave her “a sense of doom.”
“My job — my entire dream of what my life would be — centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost,” she said.
Two years later, Clarke’s doctors found a second aneurysm that required another surgery.
“Even before we began filming Season 2, I was deeply unsure of myself. I was often so woozy, so weak, that I thought I was going to die,” Clarke wrote.
The actress remembers being convinced that she wasn’t going to live. But she has since “healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes.”
“There is something gratifying, and beyond lucky, about coming to the end of (Game of ) Thrones. I’m so happy to be here to see the end of this story and the beginning of whatever comes next,” she said.