The 32-year-old actress recently opened about her life-threatening struggles during the start of the show.
The final season of Game of Thrones is getting closer and closer. This May we are going to witness the end of an era, the end of an epic, and as exciting as that is, it is also heartbreaking. The actors in the show have really made their mark in the industry. They have cemented their names among the A-listers. For most of them, this was a big break, a dream come true. However, one of them almost had her dream taken away from her just as she started to live it. In a recent essay released on The New Yorker, Emilia Clarke opened up about how she survived two aneurysms when her career as the 'Mother of Dragons' had just begun. The 32-year-old actress suffered her first aneurysm when she was just 24. She had just become a television actress and things were going great. She started to hit the gym to keep in shape, as all actors do. While working out one day she suddenly felt as though it was all coming to an end.
The incident took place soon after she had finished filming season 1 of the show. An actor's life might look glamorous and filled with fun work and traveling and partying but it is also extremely stressful. To relieve the stress, the actress decided to start working out. While working out with a trainer, Clarke writes, 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. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room.
She continues, 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. For a few moments, I tried to will away the pain and the nausea. I said to myself, ‘I will not be paralyzed’. I moved my fingers and toes to make sure that was true. To keep my memory alive, I tried to recall, among other things, some lines from Game of Thrones. Luckily, a woman from the next stall came to her help. The next she knew, she was in an ambulance on her way to the hospital.
The brain scans showed that Clarke had just suffered an aneurysm. The doctors diagnosed her with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. She later found out that a third of the patients who suffer from SAH die soon after or immediately. The ones who survive need to be given immediate treatment as there are high chances of suffering from a second, more fatal bleed. After a lot of convincing, she finally signed a release form for brain surgery. She didn't think she would have the time for surgery in the middle of her very busy life. It was something she just had to do.
The surgery appeared to have fixed the problem. She underwent a minimally invasive surgery, so the surgeons did not need to open up her skull to fix the problem. Right after the surgery, she suffered from a condition called aphasia, which was a consequence of the trauma her brain suffered. She couldn't remember even her own name and started to talk a lot of nonsense. She felt like it was all done, she could never be an actor again. She wanted to pull the plug on her life but luckily, she recovered within a week. She wrote: This would not be my last surgery, and it would not be the worst. I was twenty-four years old.
Around a month after the surgery, Clarke was back on the sets of Game of Thrones, shooting for the second season. Things seemed to be going pretty good for her as compared most other SAH patients. Even though she was healthy again, the stress and fatigue from filming the second season started to get to her. She mentioned that doing publicity for the second season was a nightmare. If I am truly being honest, every minute of every day I thought I was going to die. Things only started to get worse from there on.
While she was working in New York in 2013, Clarke went in for another brain scan. When the results were out, she was told that there was a massive growth that needed treatment. She underwent another surgery, similar to the first, but this one failed. As a result, doctors had to immediately do an even more intense brain surgery that involved opening up Clarke’s skull. The recovery was even more painful than it had been after the first surgery, Clarke writes.
She further added: I looked as though I had been through a war more gruesome than any that Daenerys experienced. I emerged from the operation with a drain coming out of my head. Bits of my skull had been replaced by titanium. These days, you can’t see the scar that curves from my scalp to my ear, but I didn’t know at first that it wouldn’t be visible. And there was, above all, the constant worry about cognitive or sensory losses. Would it be concentration? Memory? Peripheral vision? Now I tell people that what it robbed me of is good taste in men. But, of course, none of this seemed remotely funny at the time.
The surgeries nearly changed her life for the worse. Luckily, she made it through both surgeries. They did have a huge impact on her life but she has only learned from them. Now, Emilia Clarke is in very good and healthy shape. After experiencing the aneurysms, Clarke has associated herself with a charity called SameYou. The charity helps people recovering from brain injuries and strokes. She concludes, There is something gratifying, and beyond lucky, about coming to the end of Thrones. I’m so happy to be here to see the end of this story and the beginning of whatever comes next.