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‘Game of Thrones’ star says ‘quite a bit missing’ from brain after suffering 2 aneurysms

‘It’s remarkable that I am able to speak,’ Emilia Clarke said in a recent interview with BBC’s ‘Sunday Morning’

SHARE ‘Game of Thrones’ star says ‘quite a bit missing’ from brain after suffering 2 aneurysms
Actress Emilia Clarke poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film “Last Christmas” in London.

Actress Emilia Clarke poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film “Last Christmas” in London on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Clarke has opened up about two life-altering brain aneurysms she experienced in 2011 and 2013 while filming “Game of Thrones.”

Vianney Le Caer, Invision/Associated Press

It’s been close to a decade since Emilia Clarke suffered two brain aneurysms during her time filming “Game of Thrones,” but the actress continues to feel gratitude for being able to make a full recovery.

“The amount of my brain that is no longer usable — it’s remarkable that I am able to speak, sometimes articulately, and live my life completely normally with absolutely no repercussions,” Clarke said on BBC’s “Sunday Morning,” per Variety. “I am in the really, really, really small minority of people that can survive that.

“It was the most excruciating pain,” she added. “It was incredibly helpful to have ‘Game of Thrones’ sweep me up and give me that purpose.”

When did Emilia Clarke have brain aneurysms?

Clarke, who is currently starring in a West End production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” suffered brain aneurysms in 2011 and 2013 — and both required a long recovery period for the actress.

She has since started SameYou, a charity for brain injury and stroke victims, Variety reported. The 35-year-old actress told BBC’s “Sunday Morning” that “there’s quite a bit missing” from her brain, but that she has moved past the medical setbacks and accepted where she’s at now.

“I thought, ‘Well, this is who you are. This is the brain that you have,’” she said, according to Variety. “So there’s no point in continually wracking your brains about what might not be there.”

Emilia Clarke has talked about her brain aneurysms before

Clarke first opened up about having brain aneurysms in a 2019 piece for The New Yorker. In the piece, she recalled how she was training at a gym when she started to feel a headache come on. The pain increased as she began her workout, and after trying to ignore it, she eventually told her trainer she needed a break and headed to the locker room, where she became “violently, voluminously ill.”

“The pain — shooting, stabbing, constricting pain — was getting worse,” she wrote in The New Yorker. “At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”

In an attempt to keep her memory and consciousness going, Clarke started reciting “Game of Thrones” lines to herself. At the hospital, she received her diagnosis: a subarachnoid hemorrhage. She later learned roughly a third of people who experience this die immediately or soon after. After some time in the intensive care unit, she ended up making a recovery and returned to “Game of Thrones” —  although doctors told her she had a smaller aneurysm on the other side of her brain that could “pop” at any time.

She had surgery for the second aneurysm in 2013.

“I was raised never to say, ‘It’s not fair,’ she wrote. “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. 

“Please believe me: I know that I am hardly unique, hardly alone,” she continued. “Countless people have suffered far worse, and with nothing like the care I was so lucky to receive. ... In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes.”

A change in perspective

Clarke has also said experiencing these life-altering setbacks led to an important change in perspective.

“The happy moments and being happy is what you’re going to see on your death bed,” she previously told People magazine. “You’re not going to remember the times when you took that super cute selfie.

“After the surgery, because I felt so scared and under-confident, I was putting all of that into how I looked,” she continued. “As I got older, I realized that people are at their most beautiful when they’re not thinking about themselves and considering their own beauty.”