In an op-ed published by The New Yorker, actress Emilia Clarke — best known for her role in the hit series “Game of Thrones”— admitted she never told this story publicly before.
The story of how she almost died after enduring two brain aneurysms.
According to The New Yorker, before being diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) in 2011, she experienced pain, a pain so excruciating it was unbearable.
Clarke was in her gym’s locker room when she suffered her first aneurysm. She said:
“I was so fatigued that I could barely put on my sneakers. When I started my workout, I had to force myself through the first few exercises. Then my trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain. I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t.”
After retreating back to the locker room, the actress became “violently, voluminously ill.” Next thing she knew, she was on her way to a local hospital in her native London.
Looking back at her life, Clarke said she never gave the dizzy spells she used to suffer, or the few times she lost consciousness, a second thought.
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It’s that time of year folks… need to drop this shameless selfie to give thanks to the village/town/entire continent it takes to make me feel like a damn KWEEN on the red carpet @georgialouisesk @jennychohair @kateleemakeup @petraflannery these be my PEOPLE. 🔥🏆 Tomorrow morning I will look like a spade found my face en route to the bush my hair ended up in. #emmys2018 #onceuponaredcarpet #❤️ #🙌
According to the Mayo Clinic, a subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding in the space between your brain and the surrounding membrane. If left untreated it can be life-threatening.
The exact cause of brain aneurysm is unknown, but things like older age, smoking, and high blood pressure may increase the risk. As the Brain Aneurysm Foundation reports, an “estimated six million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm or 1 in 50 people.”
However, the “minimally invasive” surgery Clarke needed to stop the bleeding didn’t take care of the excruciating pain.
The then 24-year-old also suffered from memory loss, vision issues, and she couldn’t speak. She said of the experience:
“I’d never experienced fear like that — a sense of doom closing in. I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living. I am an actor; I need to remember my lines. Now I couldn’t recall my name.”
And in the darkest of moments, she asked for her doctors to let her die:
“I was suffering from a condition called aphasia, a consequence of the trauma my brain had suffered. Even as I was muttering nonsense, my mum did me the great kindness of ignoring it and trying to convince me that I was perfectly lucid. But I knew I was faltering. 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.”
Clarke admitted that season 2 and 3 would be her worst, dealing with excruciating head pain and more.
“If I am truly being honest, every minute of every day I thought I was going to die.”
But she never faltered in her work life, until two years later, in 2013.
After a routine brain scan, she was told the second aneurysm they had found while caring for the first had doubled in size.
They needed to take care of it immediately. But when the first “simple” surgery failed, she was quickly taken into a second surgery, this time they would need to cut into her skull.
While recovery wasn’t easy, Clarke says she’s at 100-percent now after “cheating death” twice.
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🙏🏻 A million million thank you’s to everyone who has read shared and sent love for my story, it’s a beautiful thing to behold and I can’t quite believe how many of you this has affected! #❤️@sameyouorg is ready to hear your stories, how you recovered and what could have made that recovery experience better. By hearing your stories we can build a case for an improved aftercare experience for all in the future…who wouldn’t want that! #sameyoucharity #love #sometimestheworldshowsyouwhatkindesslookslike #thankyou #❤️ #💪🏻 #🙌
And as a result of her journey, Clarke wants to help others going through similar experiences. She recently started a charity called SameYou, which “aims to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke.”