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Emilia Clarke Had Two Brain Aneurysms

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mpthecat

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[...] “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. 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.”

I heard a woman’s voice coming from the next stall, asking me if I was O.K. No, I wasn’t. She came to help me and maneuvered me onto my side, in the recovery position. Then everything became, at once, noisy and blurry. I remember the sound of a siren, an ambulance; I heard new voices, someone saying that my pulse was weak. I was throwing up bile. Someone found my phone and called my parents, who live in Oxfordshire, and they were told to meet me at the emergency room of Whittington Hospital.

A fog of unconsciousness settled over me. From an ambulance, I was wheeled on a gurney into a corridor filled with the smell of disinfectant and the noises of people in distress. Because no one knew what was wrong with me, the doctors and nurses could not give me any drugs to ease the pain.

Finally, I was sent for an MRI, a brain scan. The diagnosis was quick and ominous: 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. As I later learned, about a third of SAH patients die immediately or soon thereafter. For the patients who do survive, urgent treatment is required to seal off the aneurysm, as there is a very high risk of a second, often fatal bleed. If I was to live and avoid terrible deficits, I would have to have urgent surgery. And, even then, there were no guarantees.

[...] That first surgery was what is known as “minimally invasive,” meaning that they did not open up my skull. Rather, using a technique called endovascular coiling, the surgeon introduced a wire into one of the femoral arteries, in the groin; the wire made its way north, around the heart, and to the brain, where they sealed off the aneurysm.

The operation lasted three hours. When I woke, the pain was unbearable. I had no idea where I was. My field of vision was constricted. There was a tube down my throat and I was parched and nauseated. They moved me out of the I.C.U. after four days and told me that the great hurdle was to make it to the two-week mark. If I made it that long with minimal complications, my chances of a good recovery were high.

One night, after I’d passed that crucial mark, a nurse woke me and, as part of a series of cognitive exercises, she said, “What’s your name?” My full name is Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke. But now I couldn’t remember it. Instead, nonsense words tumbled out of my mouth and I went into a blind panic. I’d never experienced fear like that—a sense of doom closing in. I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living. I am an actor; I need to remember my lines. Now I couldn’t recall my name.

I was suffering from a condition called aphasia, a consequence of the trauma my brain had suffered. 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. 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—centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost.

I was sent back to the I.C.U. and, after about a week, the aphasia passed. I was able to speak. I knew my name—all five bits. But I was also aware that there were people in the beds around me who didn’t make it out of the I.C.U. I was continually reminded of just how fortunate I was. One month after being admitted, I left the hospital, longing for a bath and fresh air. I had press interviews to do and, in a matter of weeks, I was scheduled to be back on the set of “Game of Thrones.”

[...] I went back to my life, but, while I was in the hospital, I was told that I had a smaller aneurysm on the other side of my brain, and it could “pop” at any time. The doctors said, though, that it was small and it was possible it would remain dormant and harmless indefinitely. We would just keep a careful watch. And recovery was hardly instant. There was still the pain to deal with, and morphine to keep it at bay. I told my bosses at “Thrones” about my condition, but I didn’t want it to be a subject of public discussion and dissection. The show must go on! 

[...] While I was still in New York for the play, with five days left on my SAG insurance, I went in for a brain scan—something I now had to do regularly. The growth on the other side of my brain had doubled in size, and the doctor said we should “take care of it.” I was promised a relatively simple operation, easier than last time. Not long after, I found myself in a fancy-pants private room at a Manhattan hospital. My parents were there. “See you in two hours,” my mum said, and off I went for surgery, another trip up the femoral artery to my brain. No problem.

Except there was. When they woke me, I was screaming in pain. The procedure had failed. 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.

The recovery was even more painful than it had been after the first surgery. 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.

I spent a month in the hospital again and, at certain points, 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. 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. My mind has blocked them out. But I do remember being convinced that I wasn’t going to live. And, what’s more, I was sure that the news of my illness would get out. And it did—for a fleeting moment. Six weeks after the surgery, the National Enquirer ran a short story. A reporter asked me about it and I denied it.”

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/personal-history/emilia-clarke-a-battle-for-my-life-brain-aneurysm-surgery-game-of-thrones

Edited by mpthecat
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highlikegaga

she's so strong and empowering.

which makes me appreciate her and be grateful for her even more.

he just comes to visit me, when I'm dreaming every now and then
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Nuggets

Everything is so detailed, wow. Glad she's okay now :heart:

I am my biggest fan
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ShockPop

"What could she be worried about? She's rich and famous" 

You never know what's happening to people privately.

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Satans Ex Wife

This is fascinating! It is amazing to hear someone who is such an amazing writer and communicator describe the fear of having that taken away from them. Thanks for posting

On the joke side, her aneurysm happened at the gym, so clearly this is a good excuse for me to never go to the gym again :staymad:

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LaLa

Wow, how terrifying! Very glad to hear she's doing well now, and props to her for her charity work around the issue  :heart:

On a personal note I almost passed out reading that story, as I'm embarrassingly squeamish about certain medical issues. :air:<-- literally me on the couch a few minutes ago :wtfga:

 

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Sky Juil

The Enquirer ran a story and she denied it.  :trollga: She seems to be fully healed. I've run across a number of GOT funny blooper videos and she's funny, really having a good time.:kiss:

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Teal Ambition

Wow that's so scary :giveup: My aunt had 2 brain aneurysms and she sadly never recovered from them :ohno:

So glad she's doing well!

▌│█║▌║▌║ i exist only for me - fallon carrington ║▌║▌║█│▌

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littlepotter

Jesus this made me feel horrified. Emilia is way too precious for us to lose. I can't imagine...

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youandi

This was such a difficult read. So glad she recovered though. What an inspiring woman!

www.sameyou.org - The charity she has launched to help aid the recovery of people who go through similar things

Edited by youandi

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