There’s been a myriad of articles about the upcoming season, mostly focusing on what we can expect, but at the same time there’s been an important story running parallel that may have gone unnoticed.
The Mother of Dragons herself, Emilia Clarke, recently shared a harrowing and inspirational story about how she suffered two brain aneurysms that required life-saving surgery.
The actress – who was 24 at the time – had just wrapped up filming Game Of Thrones in 2011 and was in the gym when she experienced a painful headache that felt like “an elastic band were squeezing my brain”.
Emilia was rushed to hospital where a brain scan revealed she was suffering from a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a kind of life-threatening stroke.
However, the surgery wasn’t completely successful and in 2013 she underwent another operation after a brain scan revealed that her second aneurysm had doubled in size.
Clarke spoke on CBS Sunday Morning to discuss the surgery and shared previously unseen photos of her in hospital after the operation.
Speaking about when she first felt the pain, Emilia wrote in The New Yorker:
“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.”
” 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,” she said.
“Meanwhile, the pain — shooting, stabbing, constricting pain — was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”
After the first operation, Emilia was left unable to remember her name after suffering from a condition known as aphasia – when a person has difficulty with their language or speech caused by damage to the left side of the brain.
“In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug,” she revealed.
“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. I was sent back to the ICU and, after about a week, the aphasia passed. I was able to speak.”
The actress quickly recovered and returned to work six weeks later, but two years on she was rushed to hospital once again with another more serious brain bleed.
“The second one there was a bit of my brain that actually died, if your brain doesn’t get blood to it for a minute it will just no longer work. It’s like you short-circuit,” she told CBS.
“So I had that, and they didn’t know what it was, so they literally were looking at the brain like ‘we think it could be her concentration, it could be her peripheral vision’.”
“I always say it’s my taste in men that’s no longer there,” Clarke joked before adding: “For a very long time I thought it was my ability to act, from the first one as well.”
Emilia also explained what it was like to go back to work following the surgery.
“You go on the set, and you play a badass character, and you walk through fire, and you speak to hundreds of people, and you’re being asked to be – to work as hard as you possibly can,” she said.
“And that became the thing that just saved me from considering my own mortality, yeah.”
What a bold move it was for her to share these images.
Celebrities often get caught up in keeping up their media personas so it’s refreshing to see Emilia be so candid about her health issues.
If her story can help other people going through the same thing then it’s a job well done.
Some things (not many) are just bigger than Game Of Thrones.
Images via HBO/CBS