‘My Brain Was Damaged’: 'Game of Thrones' Star Emilia Clarke Recalls Painful Aneurysms During Filming

March 21, 2019 - 2:36 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Actress Emilia Clarke says she suffered two aneurysms while filming Game of Thrones.

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Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen -- the one with the dragons, for those who don't follow too closely -- said the first one came in 2011, after filming the first season.

"I was getting dressed in the locker room of a gym in Crouch End, North London, when I started to feel a bad headache coming on," she wrote in a New Yorker essay. "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."

She had been working out with a trainer at the time and says her initial symptoms were followed by extreme pain.

"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."

"I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill," she added. "Meanwhile, the pain — shooting, stabbing, constricting pain — was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged."

A brain scan revealed that Clarke had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). This type of life threatening stroke is caused by bleeding in the space around the brain.

"I remember being told that I should sign a release form for surgery. Brain surgery? I was in the middle of my very busy life — I had no time for brain surgery," she recalled.

Clarke was just 24 at the time and said she suffered pain and trauma following the surgery. She was also experiencing a condition known as aphasia which impacts the ability to communicate.

"In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug," she wrote. "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."

A second aneurysm on her brain popped in 2013 after filming the third season of Game of Thrones. A brain scan led to another surgery, followed by more pain, and yet another operation.

"I lost all hope. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. There was terrible anxiety, panic attacks. I was raised never to say, 'It’s not fair'; I was taught to remember that there is always someone who is worse off than you," she wrote. "But, going through this experience for the second time, all hope receded. I felt like a shell of myself. So much so that I now have a hard time remembering those dark days in much detail."

Clarke said she's grateful for those who supported her during the ordeal, and has completely recovered beyond her 'most unreasonable hopes.'