'GoT' Star Emilia Clarke Opens Up About Having Two Life-Threatening Brain Aneurysms
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Actor Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in hit TV show Game of Thrones, opened up in a candid personal essay published on the New Yorker, about having to deal with her newfound fame and acting while suffering two brain aneurysms.
An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel. When this occurs in the brain and the blood vessel bursts, it leads to a haemorrhage which is extremely serious and the bleeding can cause extensive brain damage.
In the essay, Clarke revealed that her first aneurysm happened after recording the first season of Game of Thrones. She began by telling the story of how she came about to have her first surgery, after she fell ill whilst in the gym.
"At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged," she writes in the essay. "For a few moments, I tried to will away the pain and the nausea. I said to myself, 'I will not be paralysed'. 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."
The essay explores her fight with not letting the aneurysm affect her career, but also reveals her intense moments of pain, exhaustion and her determination not to let the world know about her state of health.
She also reflects on suffering from aphasia after a second, more painful surgery where they had to cut open her skull. Aphasia is a condition that happens after an injury to the brain that impairs language and the ability to speak, read or write. As an actor who has to remember her lines, this was devastating.
"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," she says. "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-centred on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost."
Despite her terrible ordeal, she remains positive and grateful that she received great care and medical attention. "In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes," she says. " I feel endless gratitude-to my mum and brother, to my doctors and nurses, to my friends."
She now works with the charity organisation SameYou who helps people recover from brain injuries and strokes.
"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."