Game Of Thrones star Emilia Clarke has spoken out about the two brain aneurysms she has suffered since the age of 24.
The actor, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in the long-running HBO series, said she had the first aneurysm when she had finished filming the first season of the show.
In an essay for the New Yorker, she explained that she began to feel a bad headache while getting ready to work out and had to push herself through her first few exercises. “My trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain,” she wrote. “I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t.”
Clarke said she took a break and made it to the locker room “almost crawling”, where she was sick and the pain got worse. A woman in the next stall came to help her and she was taken to hospital, where she was sent for an MRI scan. The results revealed she had suffered 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,” the actor explained, adding that she then underwent “minimally invasive” brain surgery. “This would not be my last surgery, and it would not be the worst.”
After recovering from the aneurysm, she was told that she had another smaller one on the other side of her brain, which could “pop” at any time. Clarke was told by doctors that it was possible that it would “remain dormant and harmless indefinitely.”
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In 2013, while working on a Broadway play in New York, she had a brain scan that revealed the growth on the other side of her brain had doubled in size. “I was promised a relatively simple operation, easier than last time,” she wrote, but said she was “screaming in pain” when she woke up from the surgery.
“The procedure had failed,” she said. “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.”
After spending another month in hospital, Clarke recovered again, although she wrote about moments afterward where she was convinced she would die. Now, she has launched a new charity called SameYou, which aims to provide treatment for others recovering from brain injuries and strokes.
In a statement on the charity’s website, the star wrote: “As more people recover from brain injury and strokes because of improvements in acute care, we urgently need a major initiative to propel neurorehabilitation support services to the forefront.”
Clarke will return to screens as Daenerys Targaryen in the eighth and final season of Game Of Thrones. A recently revealed clip from the new season showed Targaryen entering Winterfell with Jon Snow and being greeted at the gates by Sansa Stark, who tells her: “Winterfell is yours, your grace.”