Emilia Clarke on Brain Aneurysms: “Amazing I Can Speak”

When Emilia Clarke learned she had brain aneurysms, she was 24 years old. Emergency surgeries followed over the next two years, one of which failed. Today, at 35, the Game of Thrones actor has “quite a bit missing” from her brain, she just told BBC’s Sunday Morning, and she’s lucky to be alive—let alone walking, talking, and working.

“The amount of my brain that is no longer usable—it’s incredible that I can speak, sometimes articulately, and live my life fully regularly with absolutely no repercussions,” the actress added. “I am one of an extremely small percentage of people who can make it through it.”

But she made light of the situation, saying that the fact that some of her brains is gone “always makes me laugh.”

Her words: “Strokes kill you the moment you stop getting blood to any portion of your brain for even a second. “As a result, the blood takes a different path, but whatever was absent is now gone.”

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In a 2019 column for The New Yorker, Emilia Clarke described exactly how the health scare took occurred. She was working out with her trainer when she felt a “shooting, stabbing, and tightening pain” in her head. After getting an MRI, she found out she had not one but two aneurysms, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, are swollen blood vessels in the brain. Over two years, she underwent various surgeries, one of which failed, producing the bleed or hemorrhagic stroke she spoke of on Sunday Morning.

Clarke was in the heart of her job as Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen when the medical crisis took place, and she ultimately found that the gig helped keep her grounded despite so much dread. “It was just the most awful pain, massive vomiting, trying to restore consciousness; I kept asking myself all these questions,” she recalled. I couldn’t stop saying funny lines from the show in my head.

Since recuperating, she’s helping other survivors of brain injury through her nonprofit, SameYou, which gives resources and information to help them get back on their feet. The near-death event changed everything for Clarke, as it would for anyone. Her attitude has changed now; she’s just happy to be on the path she’s on.

“I figured, ‘Well, this is who you are,'” she reflected. On Sunday morning, she said, ‘This is the brain you have. You are wasting your time worrying about something that may or may not exist.

A new role in the West End production of The Seagull, which debuted earlier this month, is exactly what she prefers to do: keep moving forward.

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