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Emilia Clarke on Surviving 2 Brain Aneurysms: ‘I’ve Cheated Death’


“Every minute of every day I thought I was going to die,” “Game of Thrones” actress says

Emilia Clarke says she is “cheated death” after surviving two brain aneurysms, the first taking place after she had just finished filming the first season of “Game of Thrones.”

In an extensive interview with The New Yorker, Clarke explained that she started training with a trainer to relieve stress from the attention she would receive from her lead role as Daenerys Targaryen. During a training in London, she felt “as if an elastic band were squeezing my brain,” and she began to be “violent, bulky sick.”

“Meanwhile, the pain shooting, stabbing, limiting pain became worse. At a certain level I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged,” she wrote. “I tried to take away the pain and nausea for a few moments. I said to myself,” I will not be paralyzed. ” I moved my fingers and toes to make sure that was true.

Clarke was taken to the hospital, where a brain scan revealed that she had sustained a “subarachnoid hemorrhage”, an arterial rupture aneurysm.


“As I heard later, about a third of SAH patients die immediately or shortly thereafter,” she explained. “For those who do survive, emergency treatment is required to close the aneurysm because there is a very high risk of a second, often fatal, bleeding. If I were to live and avoid terrible deficiencies, I would have to undergo emergency surgery And even then there were no guarantees. ”

In retrospect, Clarke said she saw early signs of what was to come. When she auditioned for “Game of Thrones,” she thought she was healthy, although “I sometimes got a little dizzy because I often had low blood pressure and a low heart rate. Occasionally I would get dizzy and faint. When I was fourteen, I had a migraine that had kept me in bed for a few days, and at the drama school I occasionally collapsed. But it all seemed manageable, part of the stress of being an actor and of life in general. “

The first operation was minimally invasive, but when Clarke woke up, she had “unbearable” pain and limited her field of vision and couldn’t remember her name.

“At my worst moments I wanted to pull the plug,” she wrote. “I asked the medical staff to let me die. My work, my whole dream of what my life would be, was focused on language, on communication. Without it I would have been lost.”

Then Clarke was told that she had a smaller aneurysm on the other side of her brain that could “pop” at any time, but it should be monitored for the time being. She started filming Season 2 and she felt weak and thought she “would die.”

She added: “On the first day of shooting for season 2, in Dubrovnik, I kept telling myself:” I’m fine, I’m in my twenties, I’m fine. “I threw myself into work. But after that first film day, I barely came back to the hotel before I collapsed from exhaustion. I didn’t miss a beat on the set, but I struggled. Season 2 would be my worst. I didn’t know what Daenerys was doing. If I’m really honest, I thought I’d die every minute of every day. “

After finishing season 3, Clarke went to investigate and doctors told her that growth had doubled in size and that care had to be taken. Another operation followed, but the procedure failed.


“I had a major bleeding and the doctors made it clear that my chances of survival were uncertain if they didn’t re-operate,” Clarke said. “This time they had to get access to my brain the old-fashioned way – through my skull. And the operation had to be done immediately. ”

She came out of the operation with a drain from her head, replacing some parts of her brain with titanium.

“I spent another month in the hospital and at certain times I lost all hope. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye,” she said. “There was terrible fear, panic attacks. I was brought up to never say,” It’s not fair; “I learned to remember that there is always someone worse off than you. But by repeating this experience for the second time I was feeling a shell of myself, so much so that I now find it hard to remember those dark days in detail. My mind has locked them out. But I remember that I was convinced that I didn’t would live. “

She wrote: “A few weeks after that second operation I went to Comic-Con, in San Diego with a few other cast members. The Comic-Con fans are hardcore; you don’t want to disappoint them. There were thousands of people in the audience and just before we started answering questions, I was struck by a horrible headache, that sickly familiar feeling of fear came back, I thought: this is it. My time is up; “

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